nyreview_3_060918_560-504x360Coming to HBO tonight, Monday, September 29: THE 50 YEAR ARGUMENT

Martin Scorsese and David Tedeschi’s tribute to The New York Review of Books debuted as a work-in-progress at Berlin at the beginning of the year before its office premiere at Sheffield. Other appearances have included Telluride, Toronto, Jerusalem, and the New York Film Festival.

Scorsese partners with Tedeschi, his documentary editor, to celebrate a half century of intellectual curiosity and debate, as realized through the pages of the influential, if rarified, New York City literary institution. Birthed in the vacuum of a newspaper strike that threatened the industry as a whole – and as a direct criticism of The New York Times Book Review – the Review has prided itself taking its own path, criticizing the critical darlings, and spilling ink on the underappreciated. Despite its supposed titular focus on “books,” the publication has always expanded beyond that remit to offer commentary and reportage on a range of non-literary cultural and political criticism. Effectively, then, Scorsese and Tedeschi’s challenge is to condense the major developments of the past five decades – and the viewpoints of editor Robert Silvers and his contributors on this history – into an accessible form. Largely, they succeed, offering viewers a survey of the magazine’s history, an overview of its greatest-hits, and a sense of its recent concerns – represented here by critical voices on Occupy Wall Street and Tahrir Square. The result can’t hope to be comprehensive, but that’s not its intent – instead it’s more akin to skimming through an issue, reading a bit here and there when one’s curiosity is piqued, and bookmarking some articles to delve into more deeply later.

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Filed under Documentary, Film, Recommendations, Releases

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