Mick LaSalle – Movie Critic Interviews

Thursday, March 18, 2010 at 5:18 pm

Our Critical Juncture segment has been graced by many fine movie bloggers, but this week brings a true big shot in the field. By that, I mean someone who actually writes movie reviews for a major American periodical. I’m talking about Mick LaSalle, the resident movie critic for the San Francisco Chronicle. With over 1,500 printed reviews under his belt (and podcasts since 2005), he’s one of the titans of the industry. In fact, I imagine he’s part of some secret club of film critics who get together and fight crime in their spare time (let’s call them The League of Extraordinary Critics). I’m betting that Leonard Maltin specializes in fighting with knives.

In addition to the achievements listed above, he’s penned two books on film:

He’s also lectured and served on panels at various film festivals, taught classes on cinema at UC Berkeley and Stanford, worked as an on-air critic for KGO-TV, and brought an air of sophistication to the San Francisco Film Critics Circle.

You can read his reviews for the San Francisco Chronicle by clicking on the link, and you can take a look at all the reviews submitted by Mick LaSalle to Rotten Tomatoes. If all that isn’t enough, you can also follow Mick LaSalle on Twitter.

Now let’s dive into the questions before Gene Shalit gets him embroiled in another globe-spanning adventure…

Only Good Movies: What’s the first movie that you remember seeing?
Mick LaSalle: It might have been A Hard Day’s Night, in the theater. I wondered why everybody was screaming. I was about five years old.

OGM: What’s the most recent movie you’ve seen?
ML: Les Regrets, with Yvan Attal and Valeria Bruni Tedeschi. Terrific.

OGM: Is there a particular film that you feel is criminally underrated?
ML: So many. Lady of the Night (1925) is a masterpiece. The Divorcee (1930) is one of the most important women’s films ever made — and one of the most cultural important films of the 1930s. And on and on.

OGM: Which director do you feel has turned out the best overall body of work?
ML: Wow. That’s a hard question. In a way I’d say Lubitsch, but he didn’t live long enough. Of the living directors, probably Woody Allen. Though the best director of the last 10 years has been Clint Eastwood. Talk about a growth spurt. The best 8th decade any director has ever had.

OGM: From an artistic standpoint, which film do you think is most important?
ML: There is no one film. I don’t even think there’s one film that I can pretend is the one film for the sake of the question.

OGM: All artsy considerations aside, which movie is your personal favorite?
ML: The Gold Diggers of 1933.

OGM: In your opinion, which film is entirely overrated?
ML: Slumdog Millionaire.

OGM: Have you ever walked out of the theatre during a film? If so, what movie was playing?
ML: All the time. Never, ever, ever when reviewing, but if I’m not reviewing, and it’s not good after 45 minutes, it had its chance, I’m gone. They rarely get better.

OGM: In your mind, what’s the ultimate goal of a movie critic?
ML: To give people a way of seeing things–an entry point into art.

OGM: Time to look into the future. Do you predict any major changes for the movie industry over the next 25 years?
ML: No. Not really. Just technological stuff, but none of that really matters. The real changes are changes of consciousness, and those are brought about by social catastrophes like Depressions and World Wars.

OGM: Here’s another chance to predict the future. Name a relatively unknown actor or actress who’ll be a huge star within five years.
ML: Geraldine Pailhas.

OGM: Who’s your favorite movie critic to read?
ML: Dead: Otis Ferguson
Living: Come on, man, don’t make me say it.

Thanks so much to Mick LaSalle for participating in our humble little segment, and be sure to join us again next week for another round of Critical Juncture. Until then, you can check out some of our previous reviews below:

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