Who I am and what this is about

Sometime in March I will be marking the completion of 35 years as a published film critic. It seemed like a good time to start a blog. Inevitably, that blog would be mainly (but not exclusively) about film. And this, apparently, is it.

In recent years, I have published mainly on Jewish film, music and religion. My most recent book, Essential Judaism and its follow-up, Essential Torah (which will be published this fall by Schocken Books), are lengthy studies of Jewish practice and thought from the point of view of a serious lay person, and my principal outlet as critic is Jewish Week, the largest-circulation Jewish newspaper in North America. So much of my film writing has been confined to Jewish-themed films, a focus that will be redoubled in my next book, Wounded Images: American Film and the Holocaust. Needless to say, I see a lot more movies than that. And I have intended for some time now to find an outlet for my writing on those other films. I do a quarterly column for INSIDE Magazine, which is based in Philadelphia and distributed by the Jewish Exponent; happily, they have encouraged me to write on anything I choose and, as the column is being transformed from a film column focussing on foreign and indie releases into a similarly oriented DVD column, the possibilities are pretty limitless. But a quarterly venue doesn't offer many opportunities. (Yeah, four a year. I can do that much math.)
For a while I was doing a webpage but that proved to be more work than I could sustain (well, more non-paying work). A blog seemed a much more practical alternative.

So this space will be dedicated to reviews of new and recent films and DVDs, my thoughts on issues of concern to the filmgoing and filmmaking community and occasional diversions into other areas (like human rights, music and even sports -- did I mention that I was a sportswriter for fifteen years?).

I suppose some backstory is in order, but it will have to wait until tomorrow.
In the meantime, if you want to a better idea of where I'm coming from ideologically, cinematically or whatever, I suggest you go to the Jewish Week website (there's a link on the right-hand side of this page), register and search for my byline. You'll find enough to keep you busy for a few months.