George Grella is an English professor at UR and author of hundreds of reviews of films and books, both fiction and nonfiction. His interest lies in popular literature and culture, connecting the high and low. He has written numerous articles on subjects ranging from baseball to gangster novels. Grella’s classes cover American and British literature as well as novels and film. Grella formerly taught at Bates College and received his PhD from the University of Kansas.
As someone who reviews books and films, how do you determine what is good or bad? If a film wins an award like “Best Picture,” is it automatically good?
The question of value is always complicated, but in general, I try to discover if the work fulfills the demands of its art, its genre, its apparent intentions. Does it demonstrate good writing, characterization, plot, technique? Does it contain some intellectual and emotional content? The “Best Picture” rarely deserves its award, but all prizes are fixes anyway, in any area of human endeavor.
Now that the Oscars have been handed out, what do you think of the results? Especially about “No Country for Old Men” – do you think that any film received too much praise or was under-appreciated?
I think “No Country for Old Men” did indeed deserve the praise it received; I do not think it was under appreciated. Now and then the people who hand out awards get it right, now and then a blind squirrel finds an acorn.
Between American and British literature, mystery and crime novels, baseball and film, you seem to have a wide range of interests. Is there a common theme of sorts that draws you to these things?
I guess the common theme is the relationship of the popular to the high or approved arts, the simple joy of reading and experiencing art of any kind at any level, whether film, literature or sport. Most of these questions actually require an essay in response, but I will quit here.
Bridgers is a member of the class of 2008.