• 300 pages
  • 5 halftones

Vulgar Modernism

Writing on Movies and Other Media

J. Hoberman

For the past dozen years, J. Hoberman has been publishing witty, impassioned, vivid film criticism in the pages of New York's alternative weekly, The Village Voice. His first collection includes a variety of these (mostly) movie reviews, as well as a number of longer essays and film-festival reports, all written during the 1980s. For Hoberman, film criticism is a form of social commentary, and his articles reflect a decade when an actor was president, the Vietnam War was refought on the nation's movie screens, and soundbites determined elections.

The variety of Hoberman's interests and the intellectual depth of his critiques are remarkable. Writing from the perspective of Lower Manhattan, he places movies in the context of the other visual arts—painting, photography, comics, video, and TV—as well as that of postmodem theorists such as Leslie Fiedler and Jean Baudrillard. Demonstrating the widest range of any American film critic writing today, Hoberman is equally at home discussing the work of Steven Spielberg and Andrei Tarkovsky, films by cutting-edge artists Raul Ruiz and Yvonne Rainer, and historical figures as disparate as Charles Chaplin and Andy Warhol.

Vulgar Modernism offers an entertaining, trenchant, informed, and informative view of the past decade's popular culture.


"Nobody since Andrew Sarris and Pauline Kael has done more to deepen the way we think about films."
The Nation

"This witty, erudite collection of reviews and longer essays is as much a commentary on the politics of the spectacle as it is a retrospective of the movies of the past dozen years."
Village Voice

"One of the most intelligent an thought-provoking critics in the United States, though he doesn't always like my films."
Martin Sorsese

"This is in the tradition of great American movie books—James Agee, Andrew Sarris, Manny Farber, Pauline Kael—in which an author's collected reviews have the emotional force of a recherché du temps perdu. Reliving the '80s with Hoberman, we can marvel at the weirdness and richness of world culture. Hoberman's writing offers impressive erudition, emotional intensity, and wiseguy wit. If Siegfried Kracauer and Patti Smith had bumped into each other on Second Avenue one night, maybe they could have produced a book like this."
Marshall Berman, author of All That Is Solid Melts into Air: The Experience of Modernity

About the Author(s)

J. Hoberman, film critic for The Village Voice, is the author of a forthcoming history of Yiddish cinema and the co-author (with Jonathan Rosenbaum) of Midnight Movies.

In the Series

Culture and the Moving Image

No longer active. The Culture and the Moving Image series, edited by Robert Sklar, seeks to publish innovative scholarship and criticism on cinema, television, and the culture of the moving image. The series will emphasize works that view these media in their broad cultural and social frameworks. Its themes will include a global perspective on the world-wide production of images; the links between film, television, and video art; a concern with issues of race, class, and gender; and an engagement with the growing convergence of history and theory in moving image studies.