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May 20, 2010

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Chris H

GK wass up? No mas twitter for you?

Scott Nye

I've held onto some books I bought for classes in film school, and the collection of Cahiers writing from the 1950s is by far the most rewarding. If there's one thing I ache for in modern film criticism, it's the audacity and enthusiasm the Cahiers crowd had. Every now and then Matt Zoller Seitz will really get on a roll with something, but mostly you just don't see anyone willing to really draw a line and not only say something is worth your time, but that a modern film is a genuine revelation. There's an easy joke to be had in there about the quality of film then versus now until one remembers that this was their modern cinema, and all the prejudices against it were as strong then as now.

The great divide between art and commerce is too great now, I fear. It seems like the best a piece of commerce can do these days is to be called solid entertainment - the word "art" is alien - and I wonder if it's simply a matter of (the majority of) critics accepting the divide and not giving any thought to the idea that a piece of commerce even CAN be art. It doesn't help that when daring, artistic moves are made in commercial films - as in Speed Racer, Domino, or Hulk - that don't fit into one's idea of what cinematic art should be, they're automatically dismissed wholesale.

Glenn Kenny

@ Chris H: No, no mas Twitter for me. A few folks have asked about my retreat from Twitter, and I really don't wanna go into the reasons in any detail. I'll just say that a series of misunderstandings led to the flareup of a personal situation that's fairly traumatic for me and people close to me; the whole thing was like having a scab torn off, and while I value my ability/right to express myself as I see fit in any format or medium, on the other hand, some things aren't just worth the trouble, hassle, or pain. So I quit. It's not likely I'll be back.

bemo

"It doesn't help that when daring, artistic moves are made in commercial films - as in Speed Racer, Domino, or Hulk - that don't fit into one's idea of what cinematic art should be, they're automatically dismissed wholesale."

I don't know about the other two because I haven't seen them but, yes, agreed on Speed Racer.

Jaime

Scott, the kind of approach you are talking about is practiced - on the margins, sure, but it's there. Moreso than "new v old," Cahiers pioneered (and continues to try to pioneer) the practice of promoting "high-brow" art films and "low-brow" entertainments, at the expense of "whitebread" movies of the middle.

(Scare quotes because the terms are loaded with some perhaps unnecessary, or at least needing-to-be-unpacked, baggage.)

Whenever I build a list on Unexamined Essentials, I find it's instinctively right to do the same thing: to sacrifice OUT OF AFRICA in favor of a double feature of HAIL MARY and RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD.

I'm a huge exponent of SPEED RACER, actually (and HULK for that matter; and I'm...sympathetic to the idea that T Scott is an interesting director), preferring it by a wide margin to the two winningest films of the same year, THE DARK KNIGHT and SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE.

The power of these great films of the "high" and "low" brows is, pace Harold Bloom on the literary canon, their strangeness. Films of the middle (which can be great, too, but are far less likely) are the opposite of strange; they are already familiar and their edges are smoothed over.

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