Taxonomies/I'll Be Around
(1) In an essay on Raymond Durgnat, here's a classification of film critics proposed by Jonathan Rosenbaum in 1973:
Many (if not all) critics tend to fall into two categories, which might be called the Big Game Hunters and the Explorers. The Big Game (read: masterpiece) Hunters are basically out for trophies to possess, stuff, and hang on their walls; the Explorers usually poke around simply to see what they find. The Hunters are a relatively Apollonian group – disciplined, academic and generally traditional in their aesthetic values: immediate examples that come to mind are Robin Wood, James Agee, William Pechter, Stanley Kauffmann, Dwight Macdonald, John Simon, and historians like Georges Sadoul, Jean Mitry and Lewis Jacobs. The Explorers, a more Dionysian group, are relatively cranky, kinky and eclectic: Jean-Luc Godard, Manny Farber, Robert Warshow and Raymond Durgnat are four eminent examples.
(2) The Argentine film critic Quintin, writing in Cinema Scope about two types of cinephilia:
Type (a) could be named “my videotheque is too small” cinephilia. Type (b), “life is too short” cinephilia. Type (a) is all encompassing and bulimic, while type (b) is selective, or anorexic. In the centre of this argument lies the auteur problem: depending on what you think of auteur politics, you’re either bulimic or anorexic. In my opinion, auteur politics was a coup d’état manned by the anorexic cinephiles against the bulimics. Concepts like le cinéma de qualité or the Sarris pantheon helped to displace lots of films from the pedestal on which critical laziness had put them.
(3) Andrew Sarris, in his influential text The American Cinema (1968), divided filmmakers into several categories, three of which were: (a) Pantheon Directors (Chaplin, Flaherty, Ford, Griffith, Hawks, Hitchcock, Keaton, Lang, Lubitsch, Murnau, Ophuls, Renoir, Sternberg, Welles); (b) The Far Side of Paradise (Aldrich, Borzage, Capra, Cukor, De Mille, Edwards, Fuller, La Cava, Losey, Mann, McCarey, Minnelli, Preminger, Ray, Sirk, Stevens, Stroheim, Sturges, Vidor, Walsh); (c) Expressive Esoterica (e.g. Boetticher, De Toth, Donen, Dwan, Karlson, Lewis, Mulligan, Penn, Siegel, Tashlin, Tourneur, Ulmer).
One of his other categories was Subjects For Further Research (e.g. Clarence Brown, Tod Browning, Paul Fejos, Henry King, etc.)
As a viewer, I started out in the Explorer end of the continuum as a kid (saw everything that came to town, both Bollywood and English-language), moved abruptly to Big Game Hunting upon becoming a cinephile (e.g. making lists of "must-see" canonical movies from Sight & Sound polls) and am now wandering around somewhere in the middle. On Quintin's classification, I'd lean towards the bulimic side of the spectrum (stacked Netflix queue; several-movies-a-week regimen). My "subjects for further research" would include: (1) Horror films (not a popular genre in India, so I never grew up with them); and (2) Martial arts films.
Please feel free to record your own "subjects for further research" (e.g. genres, directors, national cinemas, periods) if you feel like.
"I'll Be Around," by the Spinners, is a well-acknowledged soul masterpiece. It was written for them by their producer/composer/impresario Thom Bell; the record was made in their hometown of Detroit in 1972. A great hooky opening, with acoustic guitar and congas: "This/is a fork in the road/Love's/last episode."
The Spinners' version is classic, downright holy, but one I like even a bit more is a beautiful, lo-fi, slightly ragged and woozy reggae cover recorded by Otis Gayle at the historic Jamaican label Studio One ("The Motown Of Jamaica"). It also has the most soulful organ solo I've ever heard. Kicks in at 2:13, lasts 35 seconds.
Here's proof of how good this song is. Russ Freeman & the Rippingtons, a smooth-jazz (ugh) group, dunk it in an ocean of schmaltz: the production is squeaky clean; the drums are processed and in-your-face in the mix (a jazz no-no); the saxophonist sounds like Kenny G, only playing tenor intead of soprano; and the arrangement is whorishly eager-to-please. But you know what? The damn thing sounds good. This song is undestroyable.