Bernard, Jami 1956-

views updated

Bernard, Jami 1956-

PERSONAL:

Born August 10, 1956, in New York, NY; daughter of Sam and Gloria Bernard. Education: Barnard College, Columbia University, B.A., 1978.

ADDRESSES:

E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Journalist, reviewer, and author. New York Post, New York, NY, reporter, columnist, and editor, 1978-93, assistant entertainment editor, 1985-87, film critic, 1986-94; New York Daily News, New York, NY, film critic, 1993-2006; Mamm Magazine, columnist, 1996—. Judge for film festivals. Frequent guest on national television and radio programs.

MEMBER:

New York Film Critics Circle (chair, 1991), National Society of Film Critics.

WRITINGS:

NONFICTION

Bantam's Caribbean, Bantam (New York, NY), 1991.

First Films: Illustrious, Obscure, and Embarrassing Movie Debuts, Citadel (Secaucus, NJ), 1993.

Total Exposure: The Movie Buff's Guide to Celebrity Nude Scenes, Citadel (Secaucus, NJ), 1995, revised and updated edition, Carol Publishing Group (Secaucus, NJ), 1999.

Quentin Tarantino: The Man and His Movies, HarperCollins (New York, NY), 1995.

Chick Flicks: A Movie Lover's Guide to the Movies Women Love, Carol Publishing Group (Secaucus, NJ), 1996.

Breast Cancer, There and Back: A Woman-to-Woman Guide, Warner Books (New York, NY), 2001.

(Editor) The X List: The National Society of Film Critics' Guide to the Movies That Turn Us On, Da Capo Press (Cambridge, MA), 2005.

The Incredible Shrinking Critic: 75 Pounds and Counting: My Excellent Adventure in Weight Loss, Avery (New York, NY), 2006.

Contributor of film reviews to periodicals, including Video Review and Video magazine.

SIDELIGHTS:

Jami Bernard's First Films: Illustrious, Obscure, and Embarrassing Movie Debuts explores the screen debuts of over one hundred well-known actors and directors, including Sylvester Stallone, Whoopi Goldberg, William Shatner, Sharon Stone, Kevin Costner, and Julia Roberts. Bernard discusses each personality and his or her subsequent career development, generally with quotes from each subject profiled. David C. Tucker remarked in Library Journal that "Bernard's research is generally excellent, and she writes with the infectious enthusiasm of the true buff."

In 1995 Bernard published a biography of actor/director/screenwriter Quentin Tarantino, who rose to fame following the release of his film Pulp Fiction. Quentin Tarantino: The Man and His Movies is for the casual reader rather than the avid fact-seeker, according to Maria Simson in Publishers Weekly. Noting the abundance of biographical information, Simson characterized the book's details as ranging in value from "choice" to "numbing." The reviewer concluded that, despite her reservations about the actual importance of some of the material, Bernard's opus "does earn the inside track" on the popular director's work. Patrick Goldstein, a reviewer for the Los Angeles Times, called the book "evenhanded, observant, gracefully written and adorned with the most disarming anecdotes."

Bernard again writes about the film world in her 1997 publication Chick Flicks: A Movie Lover's Guide to the Movies Women Love. The author begins by stating the common notion that men prefer war dramas such as The Dirty Dozen while women derive emotional satisfaction from more emotion-driven dramas such as An Affair to Remember. Almost immediately, she makes clear that she does not really believe in such simplistic gender lines, but then goes on to lightheartedly explore dozens of films that qualify as "chick flicks," or movies with particular appeal for women. Recommending the book in the Newark Star-Ledger, Harry Haun commented: "The fun part in this book is watching Bernard stiltwalk her way through the genre without letting any of the inherent goo get on her. No mean achievement, that and further indication why she's the best film critic now at work in New York City newspapers, with fewer pretensions and less attitude than her peers. Who else would jump in there and address the market so frontally?"

Bernard further endeared herself to pop-culture mavens with Total Exposure: The Movie Buff's Guide to Celebrity Nude Scenes, which delivers exactly what its subtitle advertises: an exploration of how screen nudity enhanced or detracted from individual Hollywood careers.

In 1996 Bernard was diagnosed with breast cancer, and underwent surgical treatment, radiation, and chemotherapy during the course of her treatment. Her book Breast Cancer, There and Back: A Woman-to-Woman Guide is a practical guide to managing the troubling side effects often experienced during traditional cancer treatments, including irritated skin, hair loss, lethargy, and loss of appetite. Keeping a humorous tone, she discusses clothing, cosmetics and skin care, wig use, coping skills, and healthful eating. The wealth of information provided will be helpful in encouraging a sense of "staying in control of one's life," commented a Publishers Weekly reviewer. The book is also "knee-slapping, wet-your-pants funny," warned Bette-Lee Fox in Library Journal, concluding: "This is a terrific book, with solid information presented in a warm and very accessible manner."

Serving as editor, Bernard compiled the 2005 title, The X List: The National Society of Film Critics' Guide to the Movies That Turn Us On. Bernard gathers the writings of forty different members of the National Society of Film Critics, offering opinions on movies from mainstream entertainment features such as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid to more obvious pornography, such as Deep Throat. Contributors include, among others, film expert Roger Ebert and Entertainment Weekly critic Lisa Schwarzbaum. Some surprising inclusions on the movie list include films such as the 1939 Wuthering Heights and The Mummy from 1932, which most would not categorize as torrid. However, Bernard stays true to the subtitle of her book, examining movies that in some way or other "turn us on." Writing in January Magazine, Monica Stark noted that Bernard does not attempt a firm definition of what turns on the viewer, rather, Stark observed, Bernard "guides us through some really great writing on film collected around a topic most people never get tired of exploring." Similarly, a reviewer for Publishers Weekly commented that Bernard chose for inclusion "arousing movies varying wildly in quality." The same reviewer concluded: "Aspiring critics and cinema fans should savor these essays." Further praise for The X List came from Booklist contributor Gordon Flagg, who noted, "the collection has going for it, besides its theme, a variety that most critical compilations lack."

Bernard focuses on herself again for the 2006 work, The Incredible Shrinking Critic: 75 Pounds and Counting: My Excellent Adventure in Weight Loss, a memoir originally serialized as a weekly column in the New York Daily News about her attempts at dieting. As with her Breast Cancer, There and Back, Bernard approaches a serious topic—weight reduction—with a humorous tone. She recounts her experiences over two years to slim down, beginning at two hundred and thirty pounds and losing seventy-five through a combination of wise selection of food, regular exercise, and a close look at her emotional state and its influence on her weight. Bernard set herself a goal of losing one pound per week, and to this end was not overly draconian about food reduction. Rather, she avoided certain foods high in sugar, fat, and starch. Working out at the gym with a friend also made the physical component of her diet easier to manage. Bernard's weight-reduction memoir earned general critical approval. A Publishers Weekly critic called Bernard "comical" and "quirky," further noting that "zany quips and quotes … make this volume both endearing and hilarious." Bette-Lee Fox, writing in Library Journal, felt "this memoir-cure-weight reduction program will help those who can swallow [Bernard's] style," which Lee characterized as "droll yet caustic." Higher praise came from BookLoons.com contributor Mary Ann Smyth, who felt Bernard's "book of success is a revelation and should act as a guide for all of us fatties." Smyth advised readers to "sit back, be prepared to laugh out loud and then embark on a new lifestyle that will change your life."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, March 1, 1993, Gordon Flagg, review of First Films: Illustrious, Obscure, and Embarrassing Movie Debuts, p. 1147; November 1, 2005, Gordon Flagg, review of The X List: The National Society of Film Critics' Guide to the Movies That Turn Us On.

Entertainment Weekly, July 16, 1993, review of First Films, p. 62.

Library Journal, March 1, 1993, David C. Tucker, review of First Films, p. 79; September 1, 2001, Bette-Lee Fox, review of Breast Cancer, There and Back: A Woman-to-Woman Guide, p. 222; August 1, 2006, Bette-Lee Fox, review of The Incredible Shrinking Critic: 75 Pounds and Counting: My Excellent Adventure in Weight Loss, p. 113.

Los Angeles Times, February 25, 1996, Patrick Goldstein, review of Quentin Tarantino: The Man and His Movies, p. 5.

New York Times Book Review, March 3, 1996, Todd Gitlin, review of Quentin Tarantino, p. 21.

Publishers Weekly, March 1, 1993, review of First Films, p. 53; October 23, 1995, Maria Simson, review of Quentin Tarantino, p. 61; September 3, 2001, review of Breast Cancer, There and Back, p. 75; October 3, 2005, review of The X List, p. 65; November 7, 2005, Lucinda Dyer, "Porn Again," review of The X List, p. 34; August 7, 2006, review of The Incredible Shrinking Critic, p. 51.

Star-Ledger (Newark, NJ), April 20, 1997, Harry Haun, review of Chick Flicks: A Movie Lover's Guide to the Movies Women Love, p. 7.

USA Today, June 3, 1993, review of First Films, p. 8D.

ONLINE

BookLoons.com,http://www.bookloons.com/ (February 20, 2007), Mary Ann Smyth, review of The Incredible Shrinking Critic.

Internet Movie Database,http://www.imdb.com/ (February 20, 2007), "Jami Bernard."

Jami Bernard Home Page,http://www.jamibernard.com (February 20, 2007).

January Magazine,http://www.januarymagazine.com/ (February 20, 2007), Monica Stark, "Do You Think I'm Sexy?," review of The X List.

RockCritics.com,http://www.rockcritics.com/ (February 20, 2007), Aaron Aradillas, "The Girl Can't Help It."