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Chris Bord has theatrical experience across many disciplines. He has designed lighting for hundreds of shows over the past 25 years, including recent productions The Gondoliers (Earlville Opera House), Chicago (New Hartford Masque), Drowsy Chaperone (Rome Community Theater), The Nutcracker (Mohawk Valley Ballet) and Angels in America (Walk the Boards Productions). NYC credits include Merry Go Round and Charles Dickens Sketches of Boz (both at The Irish Arts Center) and St. Hugo of Central Park (Urban Stages). Chris was a manager projectionist at several theaters in Utica, NY from 1989-2004, and is a former member of I.A.T.S.E. both as a projectionist and as a stagehand.
Recent onstage appearances include Stephen Sondheim’s Putting it Together (Moss Island), God of Carnage (Players of Utica), The Who’s Tommy (Outcast), Death of a Salesman (Palace Players), and Avenue Q (Players of Utica). Chris directed and appeared in the musical I Love You Because, and the political drama The God Game. He directed Gilbert & Sullivan’s The Mikado at Earlville Opera House (2014) and produced The Gondoliers (2016). Chris has served as Technical Director at Munson-Williams-Proctor Arts Institute, and is the current Technical Director for Mohawk Valley Ballet.
Chris serves as Liturgical Coordinator at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Utica, where he often cantors the 5:00 Sunday service. He has an MBA in Technology Management from SUNYIT and telecommutes as a Software Developer for Lockheed Martin. He has run 20 marathons.
In Defense of Criticism (1999)
Does the fact that one person raises critical hell with a movie make it dismissible? If so, the critic will be a lonely person, with no one to share ideas with. Just as art raises a mirror to life, so criticism filters art through a set of sensibilities. The criteria might be social or technical, and might encompass a great scope of the work in question or just a certain aspect of it. It’s a terrific disservice for so many movie reviews now to reduce a film to a letter grade, or a set of stars (or thumbs.) Good opinion should define its terms of engagement, and elaborate them based on what the film (or book, etc.) has to offer. It should not (although newspapers and magazines seem to demand it) repeat a plot or give away the surprises. It should encourage thought and conversation, and it should welcome dissent. At its best, fine criticism will suggest new avenues of interpretation, and will assist in the viewer’s own evaluation of a piece.
I Am a Critic (2013)
I’m a critic. This word has a negative connotation in our society, and many artists and audience members say they don’t pay attention to critics. Fair enough, although shortsighted and self-limiting.
I have opinions and I write to clarify them. A critic shouldn’t be out to change anyone’s mind (or, God forbid, to “help the consumer decide what to see”), but should help raise the state of the art by encouraging conversation about what is worthwhile. I hate “thumbs up/down” because it reduces a huge set of things to consider about a movie to a pass/fail grade. Even “bad” movies almost always have something worthwhile in them.
When I was young I watched The Godfather on TV, and it stayed with me because I knew I liked it better than Star Wars, but I didn’t have the language to describe why. I started reading the collections of critics like Pauline Kael and Stanley Kauffmann, and thumbing through volumes of CLC at the library, sitting on the floor between the stacks. These didn’t tell me what to think, but helped me to think for myself. Plus, I really enjoyed their writing – I still find a well-crafted essay to be the most satisfying thing to read.
Our town’s first video rental store required a $100 membership fee and charged $5 per night; I spent so much time looking at the boxes of films that the proprietors allowed me to sweep in exchange for watching everything they had. For better or for worse, I’m part of the first generation of writers about movies to have seen the majority of the canon on a small screen instead of in a theater. It’s the only access I had, living in a suburb.
I became a projectionist when I was 18 (joined the union) and found new ways to watch movies. I’d see the same parts dozens of times, and I loved standing in the back of a packed auditorium to gauge reaction to something I loved or hated. I watched brand new movies every Friday morning between midnight and 8:00 am, to ensure they were ready (reels in order, no out-of-frame splicing errors).
When I was 29 I worked at an arts museum that showed films every Wednesday. Somebody prepared a handout every week which included a photocopied review, mostly Roger Ebert (over-praised and inconsistent, in my opinion.) One week, the person who prepared the handouts was sick. I wrote one myself, including an original, unsigned essay about the film. I prepared the next ten weeks of handouts until I made the error of writing a negative review (for Leon Ichaso’s Bitter Sugar, one of my favorite essays, which is posted in this blog.) Some of the audience complained, calling the author (me) racist for good measure. I was called into the boss’s office, where he professed astonishment that I’d been writing original reviews to hand out to patrons. “You have no education in film! Why does your opinion matter?” And so I was fired (as a critic. I still worked as a projectionist.)
Pauline Kael was once asked if she’d ever write her memoirs, and she replied that she’d been publishing them for years, a week at a time. I can see her point.