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July 31, 2009


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There's nothing particularly satisfying about a filmmaker dwelling on ugliness in humanity for a film's entire duration, if they're not compelled to explore an emotional spectrum wider than "Look how awful this is...isn't it awful?" If there's not some level of visual or narrative wit involved, if can be an awfully oppressive, tedious, and empty experience.

Of course, were an "entertainment" positioned as such, it would be roundly (and justifiably) trashed by most critics, whereas under the guise of an "art" film, reviewers tend to be more wilfully forgiving. Don't even get me started on some documentaries, which are often given to bland, unimaginative repetition (a long series of talkng heads basically stating "look at this terrible point in history...wasn't it terrible?") in both visual and thematic terms...and yet I very rarely see one of those getting roundly trashed by the critics. 'Cause it's "real", y'know?, so it must therefore be meaningful...


I despise the kind of artier-than-thou criticism that posits negative reactions as the yowling of ignorant, snuffling trolls, while the the high-minded swoop in with intellectualized balm: You didn't get it, dear. You were made uncomfortable.

Seidl urges us to laugh at the grotesquerie of the geriatric patients, get off on the humiliation of the Ukrainian girl failing at internet sex, and revel cathartically, if I remember correctly, in the vicious beat-down of the Austrian kid. You bet I was "uncomfortable." That by sitting there, I was endorsing this thing, more tedious, really, than vile. But also vile. Plus, there was a merguez sausage sandwich calling my name on the boardwalk. Maybe the movie's last half hour would have expanded my aesthetic horizons. I'll never know.


This is largely off-topic, but in FUNNY PEOPLE, does Judd Apatow use Graham Parker's song "Anything for a Laugh" at any point? I was listening to it today, and I figured the chances were at least 50-50.

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