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June 29, 2012

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Matt Zoller Seitz

Edelstein's BEASTS review is one of the best things he's written. Tough, fair, attentive to technique as well as story, lyrical but not sappy, and definitely not trying to outsmart the filmmaker or detach from the movie's emotions.

Dana Olsen

Filmmaking has become a rich kids sport. Just like golf. So I guess it is pointless to bitch about what they make films about, since they are the only ones who get to make films anyway.

Glenn Kenny

Dan Sallitt or Joe Swanberg, you wanna take this one?

Josh Z

Maybe the guy just didn't like the movie as much as you did? Having not seen it (and also having no familiarity with Grierson's other writings), nothing in that article strikes me as so unreasonable as to merit being ripped a new asshole. Edelstein makes a lot of the same points, albeit more eloquently. I guess I'm just not seeing what got you so fired up about this.

Dana Olsen

Your exceptions to the rule do not invalidate the rule, Glenn. And why is it so snarky to point out the obvious? Go visit any major film school sometime, Glenn. Those kids aren't there on scholarship. I'm not saying rich kids make bad movies, or that their movies don't deserve to be taken seriously. I'm just saying.

Pinko Punko

Grierson writes at Deadsping, trust me Josh, he can take it. His article was a generic rant forced onto a movie that might not deserve it.

warren oates

I knew a number of kids on scholarship (and not) at my famous public Cali film school. And whether or how much they paid for tuition had less than nothing to do with the quality of their work or how far they've gotten with it after school. Dana Olsen's line of argument is as false as it is boring. Unless you're in such abject war zone poverty that the very possibility of filmmaking couldn't even occur to you, then you've got as much of a shot to make it as anyone else.

John M

I guess I admire the fiery dedication, but the time taken for the dissection here seems kind of ill-spent. Why attach yourself so vehemently to something you've already dismissed?

I'd much rather see you take on, say, that review in Mubi, because then you wouldn't have to go out of your way to tell us you really really don't respect the writer you're writing about.

warren oates

Eh? I thought the whole point of Glenn's post wasn't curt dismissal but to give highly specific reasons for not respecting the writer in question? There's nothing personal at all in his takedown -- unless you take movies, clear thinking, good arguments and lucid writing personally. Well, okay then, nothing ad hominem.

John M

Oh, didn't mean to imply that it's personal. But I also don't think Glenn thinks very much of the writer in question--which is fine, but, well, a dialogue between (or response between, or whatever) two experienced critics who respect one another would be much more illuminating than a one-sided takedown from an experienced critic of someone who writes reviews for a site that generally focuses on professional sports.

And take it how you will, what's clear with this post to me is that Glenn really, really doesn't take this guy seriously.

Will Leitch

As Tim's colleague at Grierson & Leitch -- which runs on both Deadspin and Gawker -- I'll let him speak for himself as to his piece. (As I suspect he might.) I will say, however, to John M, that I don't quite understand why where a piece runs has anything to do with its quality. Surely, everybody here is a fan of Glenn's -- Grierson and I have been loyal readers for decades -- but no one would ever dismiss his work by simply saying, "Well, this is someone who writes reviews for a site that generally focuses on ads for Sensa and desperate attempts to get people to use Bing." Grierson's the VP of LAFCA, one of the primary critics for Screen International and someone who has written seriously about film for more than a decade. Frankly, he's slumming at Deadspin, and I say that as the person who both adores Deadspin and founded the place.

Tothemaxxx

Thanks for writing this.

John M

Fair enough. I regret the implication.

Though, one does tend to focus in on a work differently depending on where it is run--ultimately this is the fault of the reader (in this case, me), but it's an understandable tendency. Run a great movie review in National Geographic, and part of me will wonder if it's somehow primarily being written for fans of exotic locations and photography, and therefore not a "real" work of film criticism. This is probably just a just-live-with-it hazard of online cross-publishing, but it's still jarring to me.

I should also mention that, while I disagree with various points, I liked the piece more than Glenn. Beasts--which I haven't seen--does sound like, in no small part, a work of social excavation. And Grierson takes those elements on in a more direct fashion than many others have.

Glenn Kenny

It's too late to apologize for what often comes across as a borderline withheld-vituperation tone, and I wouldn't anyway because it was intentional, however...I don't want my irritation with Tim Grierson's piece to translate as a dislike of Grierson, with whom I'm not acquainted, or for anyone to think that I'm trying to school him, or scold him. What i object to in his piece is stuff that he is hardly the only person guilty of (I use that term advisedly) and his piece getting the attention it got from me has a lot to do with the fact that, well, I happened to SEE it. The review by Mr. Vishnevetsky is a different kettle of fish. I would say it's somewhat better, or at least more originally argued than Grierson's. Rather than clichés, Vishnevetsky goes for cherry-picking in the style that I sometimes seem to see my friend Richard Brody doing; having decided that "Beasts" is unclean, he condemns it for doing things he finds at least tolerable if not laudable in other films. This is compounded by dog-whistling to the amen corner at Cinema Scope, and the claque there seems positively giddy at the prospect of finding an American independent film they can piss on, the better to exemplify their principles. "A toast, Jedediah, to love on my terms."

Don R. Lewis

I admittedly didn't read Glenn's stuff above *too* closely as I try to not read reviews/reactions to movies I haven't seen. BUT....and I may be wrong, but I think Glenn's issues with Grierson's piece is that Grierson is responding to the fanfare, press materials and things he's heard about the process rather than the film. In fact alot of his complaints about the film seem to be reactions to other peoples positive reactions.

Again, I may have skimmed too lightly, but many of these big talkin' crits seem to want to make a name for themselves by being pundits or backlashers instead of actually reviewing the film and not the film reviews.

Jaime N. Christley

"Filmmaking has become a rich kids sport. Just like golf."

Airtight, that.

David Ehrenstein

Grierson is a Republican. He hates the poor and wants them dead.

Period.

John M

And in swoops David Ehrenstein with his trademarked Voice of Reason.

David Ehrenstein

You're welcome.

That Fuzzy Bastard

DE is a valuable contribution to the dialogue, demonstrating that you can be acclaimed, widely-published, and still dumb as a rock.

Tom Russell

"Filmmaking has become a rich kids sport. Just like golf. So I guess it is pointless to bitch about what they make films about, since they are the only ones who get to make films anyway."

"Dan Sallitt or Joe Swanberg, you wanna take this one?"

I will if they don't.

David Ehrenstein

"Again, the baggage here is not the film's but the perfectly insipid counterintuitive don't-love-me-I'm-really-not-THAT-kind-of-liberal non-response Grierson's so invested in erecting."

BINGO!

The worst thing that anyone can be is a liberal. IT'S THE LAW!

And fr the record I don't find Louis CK funny in any way.

Ryan Kelly

Looks like Deadspin should stick to being smartasses about sports, instead of being smartasses about films. Thanks for a great read, Glenn.

rdmtimp

Tim Grierson has a response to Glenn up at his blog:
http://timgrierson.blogspot.com/

John M

"And fr the record I don't find Louis CK funny in any way."

Another shocker from Smuggy McCheerless.

John M

And while I think it's ludicrous to state that independent film is solely a rich kids' game--and doubly so to say that FILM SCHOOL, of all things, is only for rich kids--I would argue there's an ever-sharpening distinction between making independent films and actually being able to make a living as an independent filmmaker. And there's a growing convergence of financially stable independent filmmakers who just make films and people who grew up with certain financial privileges.

Heck, even Swanberg would agree with that.

It's always been a little like that, but now that it's gotten so much harder to find a real, money-paying audience, it's a lot more like that.

David Ehrenstein

Evidently antipathy to Louis CK is AGAINST THE LAW!

Jaime N. Christley

Pretty sure he's not saying it's against the law, dude.

Steve

How many people can make a living solely as an independent filmmaker? Very few. Does making commercials and music videos count against that, because in that case, even Michel Gondry and Spike Jonze aren't earning a living strictly off their films? I'd wager that Todd Solondz "grew up with certain financial privileges" - unless you're friends or family with the director, how exactly do you know their financial background? - but as far as I know, he's making a living largely as a college teacher. He may have been making a living off his films in the days of WELCOME TO THE DOLLHOUSE & HAPPINESS, but times have changed.

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