The Earth Dies Streaming, by A. S. Hamrah

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“Hamrah is committed to his ambivalence, conveying it with a mixture of precision and conviction that will remind you how much more there is to be gleaned from a review than whether a movie is good or bad (even if it’s a movie you happen to deem very good or very bad indeed) . . . A political awareness imbues Hamrah’s criticism without weighing it down. He doesn’t succumb to a leaden moralizing because he pays close attention to the medium he’s writing about, alert to what he sees and hears.
—Jennifer Szalai, New York Times

The Earth Dies Streaming collects the best of A. S. Hamrah’s film writing for n+1, The Baffler, Bookforum, Harper’s, and other publications. Acerbic, insightful, hilarious, and damning, Hamrah’s aphoristic capsule reviews and lucid career retrospectives of filmmakers and critics have taken up the mantle of serious American film criticism—pioneered by James Agee, Robert Warshow, and Pauline Kael—and carried it into the 21st century. Taken together, these reviews and essays represent some of the best film criticism in the English language. The Earth Dies Streaming showcases a remarkable critical intelligence while offering a cultural history of the cinema of our times.

ISBN: 978-1-7322941-1-0

Praise for The Earth Dies Streaming

“A. S. Hamrah’s criticism is hilarious, irreverent, full of passionate and ingeniously defended judgments. He can be relied upon to push things to a point of delightful perversity, which is part of what makes his work so fun (truly fun) to read. But he is also up to something subversive and political: his work brilliantly torpedoes the tedious conventions, commodifications, and clichés of the corporate entertainment complex.”
—Dana Spiotta

“Hamrah’s writing on movies—he’s the film critic for n+1—is form-bending, disobedient, saturated with history, and at times deliciously nasty. Neither hatchet man nor pushover, Hamrah makes exacting technical judgments while maintaining both levity and a sense of moral stakes. His book is a totem to the crucial role of scrutiny in the era of the fanboy and the recapper.”
Christian Lorentzen, New York Best Books of 2018

“Indispensable . . . A procession of ideas that speak with unrivaled immediacy to the cultural moment . . . Operating outside of the model that Hollywood expects and relies upon in its advertising, A. S. Hamrah’s columns stand alone in their ability to evoke what it feels like to go to the movies in the 21st century . . . The Earth Dies Streaming solidifies Hamrah’s place as our age’s most irreplaceable critic.”
—Kyle Paoletta, Guernica

“For the past decade, A.S. Hamrah has been the sharp-tongued, rain-lashed drifter of American movie criticism . . . Invigorating . . . Essential reading.”
—Max Nelson, The Nation

“One of our most unerring critics, A. S. Hamrah is a soothsayer, a sidesplitter, a crank, and a moralist. . . . [He] preserves criticism as a form of resistance, and as a form unto itself.”
—Jennifer Krasinski, Bookforum

“A.S. Hamrah is one of the most incisive film critics working today. His capsule reviews—two to three neat paragraphs—get right to the point, homing in on a particular detail from or angle on a film, and connecting it to larger currents in cinema. He’s pithy, evocative, and mordantly funny—a voice that cuts through the din.”
The A.V. Club

The Earth Dies Streaming [is] 433 pages of acute, often brilliant writing. And also often funny as hell.”
—Gerald Peary, The Arts Fuse

“A. S. Hamrah rides into film-crit town like The Man With No Name, delivering rough justice. He tells the truth, mordantly and precisely, and is witty, engaging, and painfully accurate whether he is trashing some Hollywood parade float or salvaging a zero-budget foreign independent nobody else bothered to see. His book manages to be at once chillingly ominous and just optimistic enough for our grim time.”
—Lucy Sante

“An essential compendium of A. S. Hamrah’s film writing.”
—Screen Slate

The Earth Dies Streaming is a wry catalogue of our cinematic present . . . The essays, which range from capsule reviews of a few paragraphs to elaborate career profiles, are marked by acerbic wit and droll insight. Hamrah’s writing distills grim political realities into commentary that is quick and cutting. Taken together, the collection is an irreverent and addictive index of our cultural present.”
TANK Magazine

A. S. Hamrah’s writing on film is a delight. I don’t know anyone else who does roundups like that, where he goes through like ten movies and it always feels cumulative and hilarious and somehow life-affirming, like everyone is unwittingly—some less wittingly than others—working through the same problems facing film-producing civilizations at the moment. Like all the best criticism, The Earth Dies Streaming makes art and life feel less lonely.”
—Elif Batuman

“One of the very best books from this dispiriting year. . . . A. S. Hamrah is great company, a friend. He does what most writers ought to do better. He makes unexpected arguments about cultural texts, in an idiom that is undogmatic and comprehensible, and he changes how we make arguments about our own inmost arks of books and films. . . . Hamrah is a genius.
Kenyon Review

“You learn something even when Hamrah is beating up a movie you like . . . Hamrah practices the kind of acid criticism that divines the difference between gold and iron pyrite . . . Today, it’s quite hard to tell where the political spectacle begins and the cinematic spectacle ends. But pull threads as deftly as Hamrah does, and the whole ugly tapestry falls apart.”
Metro Silicon Valley

“Finally, a collection from A. S. Hamrah, a film critic who qualifies as an auteur— formally creative, convention-busting, and always insightful. Reading Hamrah on movies is almost always better than seeing the actual movies themselves.”
—Astra Taylor

A. S. Hamrah’s capsule reviews of commercial releases in The Earth Dies Streaming—nobody explores the explosive art of the capsule like Hamrah—are threaded together to form great frescos of roiling discontent: discontent with the state of the cinema, the state of America, the state of things generally. A must-read.”
—Adrian Martin, Film Alert 101

A. S. Hamrah’s lucid, lively writing is so far removed from the tired conventions and polemics of contemporary film reviewing that he sometimes seems to be forging a genre of his own. His arguments are original and he wears his wide-ranging erudition lightly. The Earth Dies Streaming is a reminder that the best film critics care deeply about cinema but not only about cinema.”
—Dennis Lim

“Renata Adler once described the best film critics as those ‘without reverent or consistent strategies,’ who put movies ‘idiosyncratically alongside things they cared about in other ways.’ A. S. Hamrah does exactly that in every piece in this tonic collection.”
—Melissa Anderson

“The best collection of 21st century film criticism I’ve encountered . . . fresh, politically conscious and funky.”

“Like Agee on Film for the coming apocalypse.
Peter Keough

A. S. Hamrah was n+1’s film critic from 2008 to 2019, and was the editor of the magazine’s film review supplement. He has worked as a movie theater projectionist, a semiotic brand analyst, a political pollster, a football cinematographer, a zine writer, and for the film director Raúl Ruiz. He lives in New York.

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