« Digital restoration and its discontents: the first in a potentially infinite series | Main | A short break »

April 30, 2009


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Ed Howard

Oddly enough, this morning I got an e-mail from N. Thompson who wrote a piece about Charlie Kaufman's *Synecdoche* that, after some initial dithering about how he's changed his mind about the film and now dislikes it more than before, leaps into a long rant about a DVD special feature that apparently features, yes, Glenn Kenny, the man we love to hate.

There's some real choice bile here, that as usual says a lot more about the author than anyone he's criticizing (who spends half of a movie review chucking personal insults and fashion critiques at critics who disagree?).


Glenn Kenny

I'll take the William Conrad comparison, although I'm in the middle of working off a lot of that weight that Mr. Thompson finds so impressive. I imagine I could quite effectively intimidate the fellow by threatening to eat him whole. Not worth the trouble, really.

Thanks for the tip, Ed. That's really rich stuff.

Ryan Kelly

My Condolences to your kitty. Losing an animal is the absolute pits. Stupid animals, we love them like they're people and then they go ahead and have like 1/8 of the lifespan of us. And then we're devestated when they die, get another one... and then the cycle goes 'round and 'round.


I clicked on the link to the Vanity Fair article with some interest, because I find internet battles to be kind of fascinating, whether I'm taking part in them or not, but I couldn't get through the whole thing. Not because it's badly written or anything, but because the people it's about are so terrifyingly awful. THAT'S what passes for a "literary circle" these days? Do Gould or Gessen have any idea who they've replaced in that regard? The great pulp writers -- even the mediocre pulp writers -- were far more interesting as people and as writers than either of them could ever hope to be. They're so insular and, yes, trivial -- that was dead on, Glenn -- and boring and self-regarding and just terrible. A waste. It's all just a monumental waste.

It reminds me of going to Borders one day, and I went looking for Steven Millhauser, and I found one book by him. Meanwhile, an aisle over, Candace Bushnell had a shelf of her own. A fucking shelf.

Ryan Kelly

"Here’s a sampling of what flew back and forth in the posts of various anonymous commentators, most of it directed at the two writers: You’re a pissy little gossip.… Cheap heartless human being.… Man, you fucking suck.… Liar.… Misogynist.… Get the fuck off the Internet.… Attention whore.… Disgusting person. And the vitriol only intensified when Gould and Gessen started dating each other."

Oh man, do I hear THAT.

Steven Santos

That N.P. Thompson review Ed just linked to pretty much represents all of his writing, which is best summed up as:

"I'm the film writer trying to raise the bar of criticism, which is lacking nuance and scraping the bottom of the barrel. And if you don't appreciate how superior I am as a critic, you must be fat, ugly and stupid!"


I just skimmed the NP Thompson piece, and -- to phrase it in Thompsonese -- one is tempted to regard that shit as nuts.

Even the blog name, "Movies into Film", makes my skin crawl.


Having now seen The Girlfriend Experience, I can't believe you haven't changed this blog's tagline to "Disgusting in every sense of the word."

unreliable narrator

Well, now, but some of us are unwholesome enough to want to read that twaddle she wrote in the wake of Wallace's death. It's sick and wrong I know. Could it be worse than Elizabeth Wurzel's twaddle, though? And could you maybe whisper the name of the forum in which she wrote it? Kind of like that thing where you suspect food has gone off and you say to your dining companion, "Oh my God, this tastes funny—here, you try it"?


No one should ever feel a moments remorse at taking a swipe at Keith Gessen. They guy is a walking turd. Always has been. He was in high school, and in college, and now he's just a walking turd in really nice clothes who wrote a book that no one will be reading in ten years. No one except Keith Gessen.

N.P. Thompson is one power outage away from becoming a survivalist. He is clearly a very smart man who has had something bad happen to him. I don't know what that was, but he is anti-social bordering on sociopathic. I, for one, am happy that he has films to occupy himself with, because if he didn't he is the type of guy who would walk into a Carl's Jr. and open fire. I just hope he is not married and doesn't have any children, because I'm sure anyone who has to cohabitate with him is constantly covered in vomit.

And who is Emily Gould again?


NP Thompson's take on Andrew "Filmbrain" Grant is spot on. I don't know if I really agree with the rest of what he has to say, but Grant's reaction to Synecdoche was truly obnoxious and self-serving. Someone had to say it. Glad it was him.

Ed Howard

I think Thompson is a perfect example of what happens when a critic idolizes Armond White as the pinnacle of criticism.

Glenn Kenny

@R.E.: A few words in defense of Andrew. He's a friend, yes, but I also believe that he has as astute a critical apparatus as any critic working today (and I don't say that because we agree on everything, as we actually do not). It's true there's often a thin line between personal critical writing and abject self-indulgence, and I certainly don't believe Andrew crossed it with his writings on "Synecdoche." At all. In fact I think it took some courage to come out and communicate so frankly his direct experience of the film. And he followed that initial post with some posts that represent the best-researched and most well thought-out hard analysis of the picture I've seen anywhere. So I think your characterization of his work is really off the mark.

Tom Russell

Grant's analysis of "Synecdoche" is what makes me want to see the film (which I am in the queue for at my local library). I'm not really a big fan of films-about-art or artists or the artistic process. And my enjoyment of Kaufman's scripts is usually dependent on whether or not Spike Jonze is directing it (*hated* Eternal Sunshine, hated it, hated it, hated it). But with all that personal prejudice on my part working against it-- I am still possessed of a burning desire-- no, a need!, an imperative!-- to see "Synecdoche" and that's all because of what Andrew Grant wrote about it.

And isn't that, regardless of whether it appears in print or online, what great film writing is all about?


Glenn, I feel bad that you've been marked for internet villainy by that article, and this whole Gould-Gessen-Gawker contretemps is something I wasn't particularly aware of, but that article was kind of worth it just to be able to read this beautiful put-down:

"[T]here’s a certain amount of bullshit you want to call a person on, and she happens to manufacture quite a bit of it."

Hats off, my friend.


Anyone who says that they had to go and pound booze after seeing Synecdoche is being unnecessarily melodramatic. You feel shaken up after seeing, say, Sick, I get that, because watching an actual person die on screen can throw your balance off a little bit. But a Charlie Kaufman movie? Get a hold of yourself. All of you. But then again, when it comes to blogs, the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and I know who "Filmbrain" is, so I guess he did his job pretty effectively. But it didn't make me want to see the movie. The movie made me want to see the movie. All Grant did was make me not want to read his blog anymore because I have no interest in finding out whether or not Il Divo makes him want to shoot smack and dredges up feelings and memories he associates with his freshman year of college. You know, at first I was happy that print was dying. Now I'm not so sure. There is something to be said for professionalism, for having a job and doing it without making the job about you. All I see the internet doing is goading people into crawling up their own ass, which is maybe why so many bloggers champion Charlie Kaufman.


@Bilge -- "marked for Internet villainy." I love it.

I must also speak up for Filmbrain, one of my first friends in the film blogosphere and a fine critic, although we often disagree. I don't see that his Synecdoche review was overly freighted with personal reminiscence. It was, as Glenn points out, published in parts. Read as a whole, as Andrew always intended, the Synedoche posts are a close reading of a film that was obviously meant to hit a man of a certain age right where he lived. I am not sure what Mr. Thompson means to say--is he suggesting that only a pure intellectual response to a film is worth reading? Because Andrew's critique was personal, AND intellectual, which is the hallmark of his site.

As for Thompson's remarks about Glenn, he seems chiefly upset that Glenn reminds him of a TV actor, and that Glenn liked the movie more than he did. I ask you, who is the one responding on an unduly personal level?


Glenn, Tom --

Thanks for the kind words and show of support. I'll admit it bothers me that Mr. E. finds my review self-serving, but then again the piece was written for a personal blog. Isn't that a bit tautological?

R.E. - Believe it or not, I thought long and hard about posting that review, and sat on it for about a month as I'm not in the habit of writing such pieces. Should it interest you that the film drove me to drink? Not at all. But I believe I provided something more than a mere confession, and tried to convey how and why I thought Kaufman succeeded, and to offer some possible sources that inspired the work. That the film didn't move you as much as a doc about an ill masochist is all well and good, but who are you to dictate the (in)appropriate response to a work of art?

That someone within Kaufman's world liked the piece enough to ask me to participate in the discussion was just as much a surprise to me as it must have been to you and Mr. Thompson. I'm a lot of things R., but a squeaky wheel isn't one of them.

Sorry to lose you as a reader.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to writing my piece about Salo and my Junior Prom.


"Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to writing my piece about Salo and my Junior Prom."

Now THAT I'll read.


Campaspe -- seems we posted at the same time. Thanks to you as well.

PS - we still have to finish that Revolutionary Road discussion...


Circle Jerks.


Oh, and by the way, Filmbrain, since you asked the question "who am I to dictate..." I'm no one. Just like you and everyone else here. What, you think since you have some fucking blog that twenty of your friends read that you're somehow elevated to a higher plane of credibility? You're just part of the noise, my friend, just another sound that makes up the overall ambience, just like I am. People shut down their computer and you don't exist anymore. People click to another page and you don't exist anymore. Get over yourself.


My desire to leap into flamewars is dimming, just because I've been doing it for a while. When I was fourteen, I was on AICN, and, yeah, when "Star Wars: Episode I" came out and the site Balkanized, I was right there in the thick of it.

I've noticed as I've gotten older that basically, they're as pointless now as they ever were. That said I will still occasionally step in and kick some ass: I just think very carefully before I do it, first.

Glenn Kenny

And it's official: we have overfed the troll.




Jesus Christ. I was reading Gawker a lot last year because I was bored, and I remember pretty much all of the posts cited, which is really sad. But I have no clue whatsoever why regurgitating the whole thing up in chronological order is valuable. Jessica Roy? I mean c'mon. Maybe I'm just mad because I haven't attained their venerable position, but...yeah, no. That was stupid.

R.E., shouldn't you be on 4Chan or something? You'd fit right in.


Vadim, aren't you late for your date w/ Ryland Walker? Now check your zipper and git.




R.E., I've met Ryland precisely twice in my life. I think. And I've got nothing to do today, so bring it. I'm waiting for the part where you have a point.


You have nothing to do TODAY? As opposed to what, the nothing you had to do yesterday, and the nothing you will have to do tomorrow? And brougham, if you think I have any sort of point to make you're as dull as the rest of your comrades. I mean, what is up with you guys today? Definitely not at your sharpest. Although you do strike me as the type of person who does always need a point to keep you moored. Because if there is no point then what's the point, right? Gotta be a point. There has to be a point in here somewhere. Where is it? Is that it? I think that was the point. No, that wasn't the point. There it is! There's the point! Quick, get it! Get it!

The comments to this entry are closed.

Tip Jar

Tip Jar
Blog powered by Typepad