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Critic’s Choice: The work of the great film critic Jim Ridley endures in ‘People Only Die of Love in Movies’

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Keith Carradine and Shelly Duvall in the 1975 movie “Nashville.”
(Paramount Pictures)
Film Critic

“In my dreams, heaven is a movie theater.” So begins a review of Hirokazu Kore-eda’s “After Life” by the late Jim Ridley, who spent more than a quarter-century as a writer, editor and film critic at the Nashville Scene. That superb piece and many others are included in “People Only Die of Love in Movies: Film Writing by Jim Ridley” (Vanderbilt University Press, 254 pp.), a newly published collection impeccably curated and edited by Steve Haruch.

Here can be found Ridley’s staggering 4,500-word estimation of Robert Altman’s “Nashville” on the occasion of its 20th anniversary; his hilariously withering observations on “Little Miss Sunshine” (“[it] seems to have developed its impression of human behavior from incomplete space transmissions”); and, most beautifully and tenderly, his 2014 Criterion Collection essay on Jacques Demy’s 1964 masterpiece, “The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.” To read these pieces again, rich in scholarship and suffused with pleasure, is to understand Ridley’s conception of the cinema as an inexhaustible paradise.

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justin.chang@latimes.com

@JustinCChang

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