Saturday, February 26, 2011

Episode 8: Igor Yankilevich

Hi all, here it is, our interview with filmmaker Igor Yankilevich, director of feature film "Untitled Chapters" and short "The Rainbow Room", now playing at a variety of festivals. You can check us his production company site here - Enjoy!

Word to the wise, this is a solid short, so definitely check it out - "The Rainbow Room" will be screened at the Queens World Film Festival on Friday, March 4th as part of a screening block beginning at 9:15 pm. Details can be found on the festival website:

Friday, February 25, 2011

Episode 7: The Oscar Podcast feat. Eric Gentry-Weeks

This week, the Brooklyn Film Theorists take on that most hallowed of awards shows, with special guest Eric Gentry-Weeks.

Disclaimer: We told you we love to talk, right? So...our Oscar podcast was originally going to include an interview with filmmaker Igor Yankilevich, but we got into the discussion and spent the bulk of our time arguing with each other and reading Robert G. Christman's phenomenal Oscar picks. That said, here at BKFT, we are nothing if not gracious, so look for a separate podcast featuring just our interview with Igor, dropping tomorrow night at the latest.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Final Note on The Oscar Process

With only a few days left before the 2011 Academy Awards, as well as the release of the BKFT Oscar Podcast, I wanted to state for the last time that I still believe Darren Aronofsky's Black Swan is the best film that is nominated for Best Picture. The fact that the film has been swept up in the marketing machine that is the pre-Oscar push made by each film's distribution company is a genuine shame. I would also like to reiterate that even though I appreciated both Tom Hopper's The Kings' Speech and David Fincher's Social Network, they are not as daring or complex as what I believe will one day be a horror-macabre classic, The Black Swan. That said, the only films I seem to hear about- because, I have to admit I avoid most Oscar blogs- are The King's Speech and Social Network. This forces me to conclude that it was great that the Academy of Motion Pictures of Arts and Science decided to nominate 10 films, but the Best Picture race is still only two front-runners both representing different ideals (last year it was James Cameron's Avatar versus Kathryn Bigelow's The Hurt Locker) battling it out for the award that is determined by how many millions of dollars is spent on marketing and how much person-to-person buzz a film builds. That's right, I'm talking about Slumdog Millionaire, which everyone has forgotten a mere two years later, whereas Aronofsky's The Wrestler, nominated against Slumdog Millionaire in 2008, is now regarded as a modern feat of filmmaking. Here's to you, Mr. Aronofsky, I only hope and shudder at the thought that you might win Best Director and a Best Picture Oscar for your installment of the next Wolverine film.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Episode 6: Top $ Raz!/"Waiting For Superman"

This week on BKFT, Mark and Rick interview up-and-coming MC/screenwriter Top $ Raz, author of our intro/outro song "The Man"! Plus, a discussion on the merits of "Waiting For Superman".

Thursday, February 17, 2011

More Human than Human: Are Individual Film Critics still Relevant to Modern Moviegoers?

In Roger Ebert’s seething 2008 Chicago Sun-Times diatribe, “Death to film critics! Hail to the Celebcult!” Ebert decries the recent layoffs of many of his former colleagues and competitors at newspapers around the United States. He is right, as several well-known film critics have been ousted from positions that once seemed tenured, such as Nathan Lee from the Village Voice, David Ansen from Newsweek (who now works as a part time “contributing editor”) and Todd McCarthy from Variety. Ebert’s spews venom throughout his article; placing the blame for the critics’ expulsions on the dwindling readership of newspapers, particularly amongst younger generations who he believes only crave celebrity gossip. There may be some merit to his theory; however, many film critics, such as Todd McCarthy and Leonard Maltin at indieWIRE, have found employment in the once threatening world of online reviewing and blogging. The fact that established reviewers are surviving in a modern forum, as Ebert himself won a Webby Award in 2010 for person of the year for his thriving website that includes an online journal, exemplifies a point that there is still a place for critical discussion about film. Yet, there is a another question to be asked, one that is surely depressing for aspiring film critics everywhere: with the success of aggregate movie review websites like Rotten Tomatoes, are the critical rankings of individual film reviewers still vital to today’s filmgoers?

Before any further discussion on the validity of individual film critics, it is important to note the reach of Rotten Tomatoes, which- in a Los Angeles Times article- reported over 10 million unique visitors in the month of December 2009, and the site’s wildly popular Tomatometer. The Tomatometer calculates a film’s critical ranking by taking the number of positive reviews and dividing by the total number of reviews. If a movie has a ranking over 60%, it is considered fresh and recommended by the site. Anything below is regarded as rotten and the site has clear visual aides next to films specifying its freshness and overall percentage grade. For a reviewer to be included in the ranking process, known on the site as an Approved Tomatometer Critic, he or she must be employed at a Tomatometer-approved publication or media outlet for at least two calendar years. In the case of an online critic, he or she must have reviewed at least 100 films in a two calendar year span and the reviews must have a minimum length of 300 words. One telling option of the Tomatometer that proves that at least the creators of Rotten Tomatoes respect established film critics is the Top Critics option.

The process to become a Top Critic is much more difficult than simply being an Approved Critic and involves working for a highly celebrated media outlet or website and for a longer period of time, but there is also a subjective aspect to the selection process. As stated on the Rotten Tomatoes website, “a Top Critic may also be recognized as such based on their influence, reach, reputation, and/or quality of writing as determined by Rotten Tomatoes staff.” Clearly, celebrated reviewers are celebrated at Rotten Tomatoes. In an interview with Tim Ryan in 2008, one of the creators of the site, Senh Duong, stated one of the largest influences on the site was, “watching Siskel & Ebert. When I was picking a domain name for Rotten Tomatoes, I was gonna call it “Thumbs Up” as a tribute to them.”

So if an aggregated movie reviews site worships established film critics, then why are so many critics considered expendable by their employers? The answer of course is in the beautiful simplicity of the Tomatometer. As stated by every critic of modern cultural times, from Charlie Chaplin to Roger Ebert, moviegoers and the general public simply do not have time to accomplish all the tasks they want to achieve in a day. Do to this modern time crunch (that seems to have been afflicting people since the industrial revolution, yet every generation swears is growing worse with every oncoming generation), people are told they do not have time, or money do to this ongoing three year recession, to read newspapers. To combat this lack of time and wealth, people skim through news and movie reviews online because it is much faster and because it is free. Why should someone spend $2.00 on a New York Times and the 25 minutes reading A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis reviews, when he or she can go on Rotten Tomatoes and view a films’ aggregated ranking in 10 seconds for no charge whatsoever? A response to that question is that it is more intellectually stimulating to read an entire review from a trusted source on a film before or after viewing it. The comeback to that is that a person can easily click on a Scott or Dargis review link on Rotten Tomatoes that takes the reader to the original review for zero charge.
Roger Ebert is right in his original assessment in “Death to film critics! Hail to the Celebcult!” that potential readers are the reason so many film critics are losing their jobs at major publications and media outlets, but his explanation is wrong. People still want critical analysis on films and from authoritative voices, they just want it in a streamlined form that Rotten Tomatoes provides and at an excellent price: free.

My First Post

Hey Mark,

I DID IT!...


Thanks everyone for your interest in the blog and the BKFT podcast. Write me at to let me know how you feel about the podcast.

PS- Click on the link to understand why I told Mark "I DID IT!"...

Friday, February 11, 2011

Episode 5: "Never Let Me Go"/Music Video Favorites

This week on a very special episode of The Brooklyn Film Theorists, Mark and Rick explore their emotional sides and realize that we're not so different after all. Briefly featured is a segment on Mark Romanek's "Never Let Me Go" and something about music video favorites. Check us out at

Opening music: At Rest - Kevin MacLeod.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Episode 4: "The Mechanic"/"Let Me In"

This week on The Brooklyn Film Theorists, Rick and Mark tackle Jason Statham vehicle "The Mechanic" and Matt Reeve's much-debated remake "Let Me In". Also, why Mark can't go to the Super Bowl. Check us out at

Thursday, February 3, 2011

New York No Limits

For even more info, check out Episode 3 of our podcast.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to check out the NY No Limits 2011 Winter Series film festival. It was held over at The Wild Project (195 East 3rd Street), a small but comfortable venue.

I turned up to support my friend Igor Yankilevich's film, which you can see listed below - he will, hopefully be guesting on a future podcast to talk about his experiences making "The Rainbow Room" as well as the feature film "Untitled Chapters", which I worked on.

I also spoke briefly with Rafael De Leon Jr., director of the horror comedy "Waffle". Rafael is a big fan of the French horror New Wave and strongly recommends the films "High Tension" (from director Alexandre Aja, whose "The Hills Have Eyes Remake" I am very fond of), "Inside", and the notoriously controversial "Martyrs" (the mighty Scott Tobias did a great piece on it over at the A.V. Club). Rafael will hopefully be making an appearance in a future podcast - he's a great guy and a director going places, as evidenced by his short.

You can check out the line-up and more over at the NY No Limits site.

Episode 3: "Biutiful"/"Takers"

It's in the books! Episode 3 of The Brooklyn Film Theorists, with Rick Rosset and Mark Zhuravsky. Do you know about Orange & Teal? What about Javier Bardem's mullet? You will! Then, Mark wages war on Orange & Teal and takes Takers to task as Rick tries to keep the peace. Check us out at

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Orange and teal

A visual companion to Todd Miro's excellent breakdown of the orange and teal craze currently sweeping Hollywood.
In preparation for our "Takers" podcast which we recorded Monday night, Rick and I poured over these materials. Any up-and-coming listener would be wise to check them out ;)

In defense of color correction:

Movie posters seem to be catching it too:

"Saltwater" Teaser Trailer

Renaldy Smith in Ethan Donnelly's "Saltwater"
In our premiere episode, we sat down with writer/director Ethan Donnelly, who had just finished production on his short film "Saltwater". The film is now in post and has a teaser trailer out on Youtube. The link is in the title, check it out and let us know what you think!

Episode 2: "The Green Hornet"/"Enter The Void"

Listen as we tackle Michel Gondry's "The Green Hornet" 3D!, plus our smattering of special features, a lively discussion of Mr. Noe's "Enter The Void" and more! Check us out at

"Nowhere Boy" Review @

Afternoon listeners (and readers),

Besides podcasting relentlessly in the pursuit of truth, justice and the silver screen way, Rick and I make an effort to put in the time to develop our passion for writing. That said, here is my newest DVD review for, an excellent website for entertainment news and reviews. The film is "Nowhere Boy", chronicling John Lennon's younger, pre-Beatle years. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Our Producer Extraordinaire

Just wanted to take a moment to give a heartfelt thanks to Robert G. Christman, our producer. Without his hard work, equipment and space, we wouldn't sound half as good as we do. So...thanks Rob, keep up the good work!

"The Fighter"/"Exit Through The Gift Shop" Part 2

Click on the title for the podcast! A detailed interview with Ethan Donnelly, director of "Saltwater", followed by a discussion of Banksy's documentary "Exit Through The Gift Shop". Check us out at

Pilot Episode: "The Fighter"/"Exit Through The Gift Shop" Part 1

In our premiere episode, we tackle David O. Russell's "The Fighter" and Banksy's "Exit Through The Gift Shop". Plus our special weekly segments! Check out the podcast by clicking the link in the title!
Guest: Ethan Donnelly, director of "Saltwater"

Intro music: "The Man" by Top $ Raz

Check us out at