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Jonathan Rosenbaum
Born February 27, 1943 (1943-02-27) (age 66)
Florence, Alabama
Occupation Film critic, essayist
Nationality American
Alma mater Bard College
Official website

Jonathan Rosenbaum (born February 27, 1943) is an American film critic. Rosenbaum was the head film critic for the Chicago Reader from 1987 until 2008, when he retired[1] at the age of 65. He has published and edited numerous books [2] and has contributed to most of the world's notable film publications, including Cahiers du cinéma and Film Comment.

He is considered an important figure in American film journalism because he openly promotes the dissemination and discussion of foreign film. Indeed, his strong views on filmgoing in the U.S. hold that Hollywood and the media tend to limit the full range of the films Americans can see, at the Cineplex and elsewhere.

Regarding Rosenbaum, French New Wave director Jean-Luc Godard said: "I think there is a very good film critic in the United States today, a successor of James Agee, and that is Jonathan Rosenbaum. He's one of the best; we don't have writers like him in France today. He's like André Bazin."[3]



Rosenbaum grew up in Florence, Alabama where his grandfather owned a small chain of movie theaters. His childhood home was the Rosenbaum House designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. He later lived in Paris, working briefly as an assistant to director Jacques Tati and appearing as an extra in Robert Bresson's Four Nights of a Dreamer.


Rosenbaum followed Dave Kehr as the main film critic for Chicago Reader until 2008. He is the author of many books on film, including Film: The Front Line 1983 (1983), Placing Movies: The Practice of Film Criticism (1995), Moving Places: A Life at the Movies (1980; reprint 1995), Movies as Politics (1997) and Essential Cinema (2004). His most popular work is Movie Wars: How Hollywood and the Media Limit What Movies We Can See (2002). He has also written the best-known analysis of Jim Jarmusch's film Dead Man; the volume includes recorded interviews with Jarmusch; the book places the film in the acid western sub-genre. He edited This is Orson Welles (1992) by Welles and Peter Bogdanovich, a collection of interviews and other materials relating to Welles, and was consultant on the re-editing of Welles's Touch of Evil released in 1998, based on a lengthy memo written by Welles to Universal Pictures in the 1950s.

In August 2007, Rosenbaum marked the passing of Swedish director Ingmar Bergman with an Op-Ed piece in the New York Times entitled "Scenes from an Overrated Career".[1]

He is a regular article contributor to the DVD Beaver website, where he offers his alternative lists of genre films. He also writes for the Global Discovery Column in the film journal Cinema Scope, where he reviews international DVD releases of films not widely available.

Rosenbaum has launched a website, Jonathan, which archives all of his work for the Reader as well as pieces written for magazines and film festival catalogues.

Alternative Top 100

In response to the AFI list of 100 greatest American movies published in 1998, Rosenbaum published his own list [2], focusing on less well-established, more diverse films. It also includes works by important American directors (such as John Cassavetes) who were absent from the AFI list.

In Essential Cinema: On the Necessity of Film Canons (2004), he appended a more general list of his 1,000 favorite films of all nationalities, slightly over half of which were American. He starred his 100 favorite films on the list, marking both traditionally canonical films like Greed and Citizen Kane and harder-to-find films like Michael Snow's La Région Centrale and Jacques Rivette's Out 1.


As Author

  • Moving Places: A Life in the Movies (1980)
  • Midnight Movies (1983) (with J. Hoberman)
  • Film: The Front Line 1983 (1983)
  • Greed (1993)
  • Placing Movies: The Practice of Film Criticism (1995)
  • Movies as Politics (1997) ISBN 0-520-20615-0
  • Dead Man (2000) ISBN 0-85170-806-4
  • Movie Wars: How Hollywood and the Media Limit What Films You See (2000)
  • Abbas Kiarostami (Contemporary Film Directors) (2003) (with Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa)
  • Essential Cinema: On the Necessity of Film Canons (2004) ISBN 0-8018-7840-3
  • Discovering Orson Welles (2007) ISBN 0-520-25123-6

As Editor

  • This is Orson Welles (1992)
  • Movie Mutations: The Changing Face of World Cinephilia (2003) (with Adrian Martin)


External links

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