Born in 1943, grew up in A Frank Lloyd Wright house in Florence, Alabama,, the grandson and son of movie exhibitors. Attended The Putney School (1959-61), Washington Square College (1961-62), Bard College (1962-66), State University of New York at Stony Brook (1966-68), specializing in literature. Lived in Paris (1969-1974) and London (1974-77), working mostly as a film journalist. Then a decade in the freelance wilderness (San Diego, New York, Hoboken, Berkeley, Santa Barbara) before becoming the main film critic at the Chicago Reader, a plum job that lasted twenty years (1987-2008), before retiring and returning to freelance writing and teaching (Virginia Commonwealth in Richmond, FilmFactory in Sarajevo, University of Chicago, School of the Art Institute), Fourteen books as author or coauthor since 1980, five more as editor and/or translator since 1978.

Other Works

  • Cinematic Encounters: Interviews and Dialogue

  • Abbas Kiarostami (with Mehrnaz Saeed-Vafa)

  • Goodbye Cinema, Hello Cinephilia

  • Movie Wars: How Hollywood and the Media Limit What Films We Can See

  • Movies as Politics

  • Placing Movies: The Practice of Film Criticism

  • Midnight Movies (with J. Hoberman)

  • Moving Places: A Life at the Movies

    1980, 1993

Awards and Recognition

  • Selected by Roger Ebert as one of the "five top online film critics," January 1998.
  • John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship Grant, 1996-1997.
  • Winner 1996 Peter Lisagor Award for Exemplary Journalism (Arts Criticism Columns) for reviews of THE UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG< DEAD MAN, and NIGHTJOHN in the Chicago Reader.
  • Nominated and elected as member of PEN American Center, 1997
  • First place, film criticism, over 55,000 circulation, Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, 1997.