This past September, movie fans received a big gift -- 'At the Movies' would be back. Back in Roger Ebert's hands, back on public television and free of the folks (Disney) who ever thought that Ben and Ben was a good idea. The show would feature the AP's Christy Lemire and NPR's Elvis Mitchell, with a slew of rotating guests including Kim Morgan and Omar Moore.
But last month, the soon-to-be-revived show hit a snag. Mitchell was out of the program, leaving a starring spot to fill. However, sources revealed that two replacement choices were already being pondered -- "a young male in his mid-20s with little or no experience as a movie critic or as a TV talent,' or another critic said to be the "female version of tart-tongued former 'American Idol' judge Simon Cowell."
And now we'll just have to keep wondering who the female Cowell was because the 'At the Movies' team has decided to go with the young man -- Ignatiy Vishnevetsky.
Vishnevetsky might be a new name on the scene, but he's got a slew of solid references. He's a critic and essayist at Mubi.com (previously The Auteurs), which features streaming arthouse and foreign films, he co-founded Cine-File.info, writes for The Chicago Reader and is a programmer for the University of Chicago's Cine-File Selects series. Having moved to the U.S. from Russia when he was 9, he's also only 24 years old.
According to Ebert's press release, he was "struck by the depth and detail of [Ignatiy's] film knowledge, and by how articulate he was." To give you a feel for his spin:
On 'My Little Chickadee': "Mae West is paired with (or, really, against) W.C. Fields, whose nose is roughly the shape and size of one of her breasts. West had by this point already graduated from plump, foul-mouthed sexpot to biologically female drag queen. Fields, vaudeville juggler turned hooch-scented misanthrope, misogynist, mis-everything, seems like the perfect foil to deflate her everything (not the least of which is her ego)."
On 'Centurion': "The writer/director's usual men vs. women dynamics (or, more accurately, characters governed by allegiances and social conventions against characters governed by principles) get a good workout, and there's almost enough ridiculously-hard-boiled dialogue and narration to qualify this as a 'Roman noir.'"
On 'True Grit': "'True Grit,' for better or worse, is an object d'art, and at a certain point it becomes impermeable. This makes it all the more ironic (and fascinating) that the character-driven non-plot of 'True Grit' -- a small group of people whose sense of identity, purpose and the world expresses itself through 'inevitable' petty actions, and ultimately through a selfless act -- is essentially the story of the old (still extant) cinema."
As for his televised persona, Ray Pride offers up the below taste, at 1:03.
The show debuts on January 21. Will you tune in?