He's the 'Baum | Letters | Chicago Reader

He's the 'Baum 

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Dear Mr. Rosenbaum,

Our names are Philip and Paul Fileri, and we are 16-year-old identical twins who live in Rochester, New York (on Lake Ontario). We are devoted readers of your film criticism, and we thought that you would be interested to learn that you have some regular readers of your work outside of Chicago and outside the age group that makes up the majority of your audience.

We think that you are undoubtedly the best film critic working today. In our opinion, you pen insightful, intellectual, and trenchant columns that analyze films more deeply and skillfully than any other critic currently published, and we are thankful that someone as knowledgeable about film as yourself writes about world cinema when most American critics couldn't care less.

We have read every long review on your Chicago Reader Web site, and after seeing a film, older or more recent, one of the first things we do is search your archive of brief reviews to read your concise but meaningful capsule and compare your impression of the film with each of ours. Lately, both of us have been reading your collection of writings about film, Placing Movies. Reading about your life and career has given us much insight into your film criticism, and we love being able to experience and discuss some of your older pieces of writing. Your articles on The Manchurian Candidate, Orson Welles, Manny Farber, and Samuel Fuller were brilliantly written. Your biting critique of Barton Fink was excellent, and its merciless and stinging insults directed at Joel and Ethan Coen had us laughing.

We know that you show disgust and disdain for the American public's typical viewing habits, most of the crap produced by Hollywood, the isolationism of Americans, and especially the ideology that movies are only a business and not art. We would just like to reassure you that there are teenagers in America who do not make such boneheaded and stupid comments as those made by Kevin Smith and the teenager that you wrote about at the beginning of your first piece on the 1999 Chicago International Film Festival. We regularly see films at a local art-house theater where foreign and independent films are shown, and we see many older films at the George Eastman House, which has an extensive collection of classic American films, silent-era films, and classic foreign films. We also read Film Comment, Sight and Sound, and Film Quarterly.


Philip and Paul Fileri

Rochester, New York


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