The Real Vincente Minnelli

Film biographers have long ignored the real Vincente Minnelli. But with his new book, Emanuel Levy delves into the complex personal life of the flamboyant Oscar-winning director ... also known as Liza's dad.

BY Harrison Pierce

May 15 2009 12:00 AM ET

You've been a film critic for years, reviewing for both Variety and Screen International. How has the field changed since you started? The Internet changed things radically. Plus there's not much serious criticism because of the economy and the market. The market is dominated by teenagers -- you see that every week with Star Treks and Terminators and horror movies doing so well. Half of my friends are unemployed; it's very sad. It's not a good time to be a film critic. The best time was in the '60s and '70s during the age of Andrew Sarris and Pauline Kael. I benefited from the rise of independent cinema because I was always intrigued by the types of movies very few critics wanted to write about -- independents, documentaries, and foreign language films.

You pride yourself on being an Oscar prognosticator. Have you seen anything this year that's Oscar-worthy? I saw the best picture of the year as of today -- Up, the new Disney animated film. I gave it a straight A on my site . It's terrific. It's the opening film of this year's Cannes festival. That will be a contender. But the American cinema is so divided into seasons. The summer season is all about special effects, blockbusters, and popcorn movies. The good movies begin in the fall.

You can tell from reading your book that you love your subject. So, if you're trapped on a deserted island and can bring only one Minnelli film, which is it? Give me three.

OK, you can have three. I'll take two musicals and a melodrama. Meet Me in St Louis,The Band Wagon, and the melodrama The Bad and the Beautiful.

And now you're off to Cannes. Yes, it's my 26th Cannes. The book is going to be launched there [last Saturday] with a party. Minnelli's almost like a god in France. It's the French critics who discovered him, by the way.

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