Smart, a clever wordsmith, and clearly getting one hell of a kick out of it all, Bill Gibron loved movies. All kinds of movies. He loved the stories they tell about the world around us and the stories the films tell about themselves. He loved the artifice of the art form. Indeed, pulling back the curtain to reveal the levers — and the busy operators at the levers — was his forté. Lucky for PopMatters and other publications, he loved writing about movies, too. Oftentimes he wrote with tongue-in-cheek, other times with unmistakable appreciation. Always, he wrote about film with a critic’s mind and a fanboy’s heart.
Although his favorite directors — David Fincher, David Lynch, Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese, and Jean Renoir — convey the knowledge, sincerity, and seriousness of his appreciation for the medium (two of his favorite films being Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey) — Bill would approach almost any movie with delighted anticipation — and a grain of salty skepticism, if you will.
His works range from a study of Hitchcock’s iconic Pschyo, in ‘Psycho’ and the Scene that Changed Modern Horror Forever, to films from Disney Studios, e.g., Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book’ and Howard, Moore and Bush’s Zootopia. He loved action, sci-fi, noir, documentary, drama, superheroes, good and bad comedy, and even sports films. Nothing generated by the film industry was beyond his exploration, even the very business of filmmaking itself, as in Ant-Man’ Wants to Be So Much Bigger. He had a soft spot for movies with big hearts, such as Robert Linklater’s work: Minutia Fuels the Masterful Boyhood and Michael Apted’s The Up Series. Bill adored pop culture cross-overs, such as Steve Martino’s adaptation of Charles Schulz’s 20th century newspaper comic, Peanuts (2015). He’d often write with tongue-in-cheek, as in ‘The Angry Birds Movie’ Will Make for a Good Electronic Babysitter.
Minutia Fuels the Masterful ‘Boyhood’
And horror. Like a big brother who’d tease his little sister with something just … icky… he’d explore body horror films fearlessly through his work published in PopMatters. He had a strong stomach, no doubt fortified by a strong sense of humor, as seen in his coverage of Tom Six’s gross-out horror film, The Human Centipede.
Informed and open-minded, Bill would withhold judgment until it was time for that hammer to come down. And when that hammer came down hard, he’d forge some of his best headlines, e.g., Someone Sprayed Paraquat on ‘American Ultra’, and Hank Williams Is Alive in ‘I Saw the Light’, but the Movie Itself Is D.O.A., and ‘Ouija’ Only Works in a Single Digit IQ World, to name but a few — his “negative” reviews are among his most entertaining.
He was a master of lists, ranging from 10 Culturally Iconic Moments in the Career of Albert Maysles (1926 – 2015) to The 10 Best Games/Traps in the ‘Saw’ Franchise to Ranking the Greats: The Films of David Fincher to The Five Biggest Plot “Problems” in ‘Prisoners’ and Jackie Chan’s 10 Best Films — the latter two to this day among the most popular articles on PopMatters. “From drunken masters to rumbles in the Bronx, Jackie Chan’s career is chock full of goofs and kicks. These ten films capture what makes Chan so magnetic,” writes Bill. That spirit pretty much sums up his approach to film.
No matter the subject, Bill’s film criticism is certain to be a fun read and in keeping with PopMatters’ mission to educate as well as entertain, and to document our place on the cultural/historical timeline for future generations. Bill’s body of work is important. This is his legacy.
Of course, Bill was much more than merely a fine and fun to read film enthusiast and critic. Bill was the son of former Chicago Bears football coach Abe Gibron, husband of high school sweetheart Angela, teacher, coach, and mentor to young people, and friend to film lovers and his colleagues at PopMatters. He will be dearly missed.
Bill’s recent passing marks the end of an era in PopMatters’ nearly 19 years of publishing. As his work will remain forever in our archives, so, too, will he forever remain in our hearts. We remember Bill, and our time working with him, with joy.