Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Cyrus: Film critics go all William Wellman on its ass?

Interesting note by Richard Brody at his unmissable film blog at the New Yorker website:

.....cinephiles who are devoted to the great works of classic Hollywood, and who have an ongoing auteurist fascination with the films of today’s Hollywood, have developed a fealty to Hollywood’s styles—its gloss, precision, and dramatic concentration—that is hardly weaker than that of mass audiences. (The celebration of foreign films, even those that differ radically from American commercial productions, is a different story altogether, precisely because of their cultural otherness—and that seat-of-the-pants exoticism also explains the acclaim of many bad foreign films.) As a result, some of the most original and personal independent filmmakers find themselves pilloried by critics—even their contemporaries, who, in a kind of neo-classical rage, complain the way that some art critics used to complain about Jackson Pollock. The simplicity, vulnerability, directness, and immediacy of such films as “Cyrus”—an imperfect work, as I wrote yesterday, but one with unusual and exhilarating virtues as well—comes off to them like an absence of craft.


4 comments:

Generic said...

I'll probably side with Denby. Mumblecore is the work of the devil. Cassavetes only more so. I made it through exactly 20 minutes of the Duplass brothers previous classic, "Baghead."

Kramer, though, was sort of a slovenly director himself. Better known for his heavy-handed humanistic bathos. How about a well-made-movie gloss-meister like William "Best Years of Our Lives" Wellman?

Tulkinghorn said...

Probably right in the immediate instance.

Generally, though, the love of craft at the expense of personality seems endemic in a profession of people who are condemned to spend hours thinking about movies that offer nothing but craft. Gresham's Law and all that....

God only knows what would happen if a shapeless masterpiece like "Breathless" showed up in a marketplace dominated by glossy filmmakers who are enabled by bored and cynical film critics.

Tulkinghorn said...

I also enjoy the thought of a generation of film writers raised on the story of the riots that greeted "The Rite of Spring", growing up to become the very audience it condemned...

Generic said...

Didn't we just have this argument in another form, about the orderly vs. the chaotic in the creative mind? Have we suddenly switched sides?