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Written by: Sam Fragoso on June 10, 2012

June 10, 2012 | 13 comments | Featured

An Interview With Michael Phillips

Part 1 & Part 2

(Combined duration: 1 hour)

Michael Phillips, the perceptive and observant film critic for the Chicago Tribune since 2005, strikes all the right chords in his writing. His musing on contemporary and classic cinema often finds the perfect blend of intellectualism and entertainment.

When I take a step back and attempt to imagine the ideal film critic, Phillips may just be it. He’s knowledgeable enough to know that being well versed in all facets of film is the key to versatile and invaluable writing. In short, he’s the type of film critic that’s able to differentiate between Bergman and Bay, Scorsese and Sandler, Renoir and Ratner, while still appreciating (or at least understanding) each filmmaker for what they’re worth.

Our conversation ranges from his inspiration to go into film criticism, to some of his favorite films ever made, to even his perplexing year as co-host of At The Movies.


There are 13 comments for this post.

  1. SJHoneywell on June 10, 2012 7:07 am

    Phillips is one of the few critics I try never to miss. It might be my connection to Chicago, but it’s far more likely it’s simply that he’s one of the best critics working.

  2. Sam Fragoso on June 10, 2012 1:42 pm

    He truly is Steve. It’s good to know others feel the same way I do about a certain writer.

  3. Colin Biggs on June 10, 2012 2:38 pm

    Excellent nab of an interview, Sam. Did you email him for it?

  4. Sam Fragoso on June 10, 2012 6:42 pm

    Did I email him to ask him to do the interview? Yes. I sent him an email more than a year ago in which I just asked for basic film criticism advice. Being the kind person he is, he sent me a reply with some notes that I’ll keep for the rest of my life.

    Thankfully we found time to actually sit down and talk for full length discussion.

  5. CS on June 11, 2012 4:50 am

    I will have to give this a listen when I get home, I tried listening to it at work but the audio did not come through for some reason.

    While I like Phillips, he is not one that I go out of my way to read each week. Though, whenever I hear him on Filmspotting I always say to myself “man, I really should read Phillips more often”. It is a vicious cycle.

  6. Sam Fragoso on June 11, 2012 5:43 am

    He’s very good on that podcast – then again, everyone on there is. I don’t read his reviews every weekend, but pretty close to it. Hopefully you can get it to work.

  7. CS on June 11, 2012 6:25 am

    I finally got this to play in the office, great interview overall. It was interesting to hear his take on the state of critics today in this “noise” centric culture that we all contribute to in some form or other. I also really liked Phillips comments on Hitchcock in part one, especially how each film was like a great new discovery. I have slowly been working through all the Hitchcock films in my personal blind spot over the last few months. While not all of them have been winners, I have been rather impressed with the quality of some of his lesser known titles. Even in the films that do not work, there are elements that are still immensely fascinating.

  8. Sam Fragoso on June 11, 2012 8:49 am

    I tend to agree with his and your sentiments on Hitchcock. Granted I’ve only seen some of his best films — Psycho, Rear Window, Vertigo, The Birds, and North by Northwest — they’re all fascinating to some degree.

  9. Nick on June 12, 2012 7:31 am

    Nice interview, Sam (and really cool that you got to do this). I liked the insight into the At the Movies situation. Kind of shows that he’s not only a knowledgable, valuable critic (obviously) but a humble guy who’s just grateful that he got the chance to step into those shoes for awhile. And he and A.O. (my favorite film critic) did a great job with that opportunity.

  10. Sam Fragoso on June 12, 2012 5:37 pm

    I agree …. there time on the show was invaluable. And thanks for listening Nick — always nice to know that people enjoy these pieces.

  11. Everybody’s Talkin’ 6 – 15 (Chatter from Other Bloggers) | The Matinee | Cinematic Passion & Perspective on June 15, 2012 5:01 am

    [...] It was a stellar week all around for podcasts, but much of it paled in comparison to an unexpected interview. Listen in as Sam Fragoso talks to a critic whose work I very much admire, Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune. [...]

  12. Danny on June 16, 2012 10:44 am

    Finally listened to part two today, and that was really nice stuff. I agree with Phillips on White though– I don”t think he’s purposefully a contrarian, but watches film on a different level than a lot of people. Not a good or a bad thing, but certainly different.

  13. Sam Fragoso on October 1, 2012 1:13 am

    Glad you enjoyed it Danny.

    Thanks for listening.

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