My review of the excellent collection Farber on Film: The Complete Film Writings of Manny Farber is now up on Forbes.com.
Manny Farber certainly didn't need a reclamation project; his position in the pantheon of American film criticism was cemented some time ago. But with only one previous collection of writing -- Negative Space, published in 1971 and expanded and reissued in 1998 -- he never had the cultural saturation of someone like Pauline Kael who had numerous volumes of writing. At the same time, Farber's writing is a lot more difficult than Kael's and other well known critics. Farber on Film doesn't make Farber's writing easier -- in fact, it makes the later essays far more complex -- but the publication puts Farber square in the center of the conversation about the art of criticism and criticism's place in the hierarchy of American non-fiction writing while giving readers the first (mostly) complete overview of Farber's film criticism.
I would have liked to see the fantastic, epic 1977 interview between Farber and his wife Patricia Patterson and Richard Thompson originally published in Film Comment and reprinted in Negative Space -- it's excerpted heavily in the notes section of Farber on Film -- but that aside the book is essential for anyone who writes about movies, watches movies, or loves American writing.