26 mai 2012

Repeat Whiner (Cannes) Season 2 Episode 4

Cannes Roundtable II: On Carax, Resnais, Kiarostami, Lee Daniels, and more (FilmLinc; 25 May 2012)
With : Joumane Chahine (Profil), Stefan Grissemann (Profil), Marco Grosoli (La Furia Umana), Amy Taubin (Film Comment), Gavin Smith (Film Comment), Scott Foundas (Film Comment)

The second part is a little better, but there are still unforgiveable B.S. that professional journalists (let alone critics) should never utter...

Scott Foundas: "People who have been coming to Cannes much longer than I have seem to be saying this Cannes is the most this, or the least this. But this is my ninth or tenth time here, and I’ve rarely felt that one year is so dramatically different from another, and once five or six months go by, you still usually see the major films of the year at Cannes."
He's got a momentary surge of wisdom!

Amy Taubin : "But this is just a terrible Cannes. There are a handful of films that are very good, but I can’t make a list of 10 films that I want to report about. That’s never been the case."
Do you need me to dig up all the garbage you review all year long, when the American distribution system dictates what approved titles you're allowed to talk about? Hypocrit !
"never" I like how definite and assertive she is... never room for nuance. See Foundas's comment above.
Then she speculates on why a film was lined up on this section rather than that section, and based on these allegations blames the festival for not satisfying her dictatorial whims... Yeah sure, Amy's feeling of a perfect festival is what EVERYONE must agree the festival must be like.

So you will only be remotely happy with the achievement of a Cannes selection when 10 out of 10 films on your year-end top10 are from Cannes? Thus, Cannes would have ALL the world's best films, consequently Venice, Berlin, Toronto and all the others would have none, and fill in with below-par material? You need to stop whining like an amnesiac baby at every festivals and start considering the material constraints and limitations of a festival on the festival circuit, in the world industry, on the yearly calendar... incorporating the fact that some masters prefer to premiere at other festivals, or didn't finish their films in time... and of course, the human fallibility of the curatorial team... We don't expect the Cannes team to get it right 100% of the time, not in a world where taste is so diverse and antagonistic! There will always be a whiner to find the "perfect selection" not to his/her taste... Live with it!

Joumane Chahine : "[..] I think Hong Sang-soo is bringing meaninglessness to a new level. People around me seemed to enjoy it but I saw no whimsicality, only emptiness."
Gavin Smith : I feel as if Hong is committing himself to being a minor filmmaker and staying in a narrow field.
Wow. Thanksfully, there are actual critics who disagree with that. Hong Sang-soo is one of the greatest fiction maker working today. The inability to sense the subtlety of his cinema is proof that todays journalists are stuck in the XXth century. La critique de Papa... The problem is not that I disagree with your uninspired taste, dude, it's how disrespectful and condescending is the expression of your misunderstanding of an art form you're unable to grasp.

Scott Foundas : "I agree on the Hong, but I quite like Kiarostami’s In Another Country."
Let's ignore the fact he mismatched Hong's film title with Kiarostami's, and that nobody EDITED this on the website... Oh the irony of the superiority of print journalism editors... But it doesn't matter, American readers don't process whatever is published in the American press, they just swallow undiscriminatively, uncritically... and film writers abuse this blissful complacency by publishing bullshit.
Scott Foundas : "This to me is Reygadas’s Tree of Life or 2001. [..] I don’t think something like Uncle Boonmee is minor—in his way, that’s his Tree of Life or 2001."
Compare Mexican or Thai cinema to American-centric models, the only thinkable model possible... right? why do you have to compare Reygadas to Kubick or Malick's experimental one-off masterpiece? It's not like if Reygadas made conventional films in the past...

Amy Taubin : "I’m suffering from digital depression at this festival—one digital film after another in which there is a total absence of light."
Why don't you fight the digital conversion in your country then? Hollywood pushes for an ALL-DIGITAL by the end of 2012 (and sets the world standards in the industry worldwide, unfortunately), and the ridiculous number of 250 arthouses in the USA will shrink even more because of the Digital conversion necessary investments, instead of building up to a more healthy number. I didn't see Film Comment do ANYTHING, so don't complain all of the sudden when you're outside of your country... this is hypocritical. 
Amy Taubin : "I don’t care about those films either because they’re minor. Do I want to sit through a language of that? I don’t at all."
See roundtable part 1. She's got only one catchphrase... lol

Amy Taubin : "You can take a grand subject and still make a minor film. He’s still a minor filmmaker and he’s only interesting to people who have not grown up with the avant-garde. And that’s what’s happening here. People who have no knowledge of the first avant-garde or even the second avant-garde think these films are fantastically experimental and they aren’t."
Wait. I was agreeing with you when I thought you meant Réalisme Poétique (French Impressionism), Cinéma Pur, Dadaïsm and Surréalism (which were the First and Second Avant Garde of Silent Cinema in the 20ies). But if you believe you've "grown up with the AG"... you obviously mean New American Cinema (Structural-Materialism, Underground) of the 60ies, unless you're 100 years old... So your attempt to be condescending to the new generation of "ignorant" viewers is a fail and comes back biting you in the ass! Silent Impressionism was a better aesthetic reference for this Reygadas film.
Besides, there is nothing wrong with actualizing formal experiments made in the past, with a totally contemporary touch to it. There is really no point to reject a film proposition based on such a superficial aspect. If anything, there isn't enough truly creative formal experiments (ground-breaking or not) in today's cinema.

After bitching about world cinema's more narratively inventive, more formally experimental... they gush blissful praises to the American films in competition... which most of the press agrees are failures and don't deserve to be in competition. So I guess people don't judge films based on merits but based on fanatical irrational patriotism... which is sad. They are unnecessarily nitpicky (petty, superficial, knee-jerk) with world cinema, and overpraising mediocre American movies (again based on superficial whimsical feelings)... this is not film criticism, this is not fairness, this is not impartiality.

Scott Foundas : "I think everything you say is the intention of the film [The Paperboy] —and it was rendered slapdash without any guiding principle of style or tone."
Stefan: "I think it’s all style and no story."
Self-contradictory comment on the SAME film. Either it's all style or no style... Because they don't know what they're talking about, and use words with their own idiosyncratic/contradictory definitions of them.

Joumane Chahine : "No Latin Americans."
WTF? Walter Salles and Carlos Reygadas are in competition. And a dozen others in the parallel sections (Benjamín Ávila; Yulene Olaizola; William Vega; Pablo Stoll Ward; Pablo Larraín; the cuban omnibus; Michel Franco; Pablo Trapero; Juan Andrés Arango, Raul Ruiz; Juliana Rojas, Natalia Garagiola)
See : Les nouveaux noms du cinéma latino-américain (Débats de la Quinzaine 2012)
Marco Grosoli : "Aida Begic’s Children of Sarajevo is a medium but good film. Why not put that in. It seems like a statement to have no women."
Sure! Last year Cannes puts 4 women in competition and gets praised for it. This year, there's none and now the festival has a known agenda to suppress women... Oh the convenience of short-term memory...! Get real dude! Are you a critic who thinks critically or just a fucking pundit out there to spew random talking points to fire up your readership??? Giving opinions about a synopsis is rather easy for anybody to do... But if you want to tackle grand political subjects, make sure to KNOW how CRITICISM works.

Scott Foundas : "Last year there were quite a few women, so it’s quite random. It’s not unique to Cannes. People invent trends or scandals that are quite banal, and it’s a way of avoiding actually engaging with the films and the content. It’s just smoke and hype."
Words of wisdom. I wonder how he wisened up... See Roundtable 1 and The log in the eye of the beholder
Gavin Smith : "Oddly enough, France, which is one of the most sexist countries in the world, has more active female directors than others."
Yeah right. It's up there along Afghanistan, Iran, Pakistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Sudan, Algeria, Egypt, China, India, Malaysia... French women can't vote, drive, marry freely or divorce, live alone, wear flesh-revealing clothes, get an education, vote, get a job, hold political offices... LOL Gavin Smith has no clue what female discrimination amounts to in the world, and surely wouldn't pass on an occasion to pull random libel out of his ass... I wonder if the USA is any less culturally sexist than France (which it is, because we live in a patriarchal/fallocrat WORLD, in almost every country as a matter of fact, unfortunately). 
Amy Taubin (follow up): "That’s because of the state support for filmmaking [in France], like in Australia."
Sure smartass. All you have to do is to pour money and women will change overnight from being a suppressed demographic to a creative artist community. As if there was less money available in Hollywood than in the French industry to justify the lower number of prominent female directors... Go tell Alice Guy, Germaine Dulac, Marguerite Duras, Agnès Varda, Claire Denis, Pascale Ferran, Ariane Michel, Catherine Breillat, Julie Bertuccelli, Sandrine Veysset, Zabou Breitman, Agnès Jaoui, Emmanuelle Bercot, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Dominique Cabrera, Catherine Corsini, Julie Delpy, Virginie Despentes, Lola Doillon, Nicole Garcia, Delphine Gleize, Brigitte Roüan, Lucile Hadzihalilovic, Jeanne Labrune, Isild Le Besco, Maïwenn, Céline Sciamma, Ounie Lecomte, Noémie Lvovsky, Laetitia Masson, Danièle Thompson Isabelle Mergault, Coline Serreau... that they only got famous because of subsidies and not thanks to their own talents and the feminism of French society. LOL

What a bunch of clueless talking heads! How do they get an accreditation at Cannes is mystery to me... Cannes must be really desperate to get broad press coverage in the USA! That's what I find outrageous in the making of this festival, not whether the yearly film batch is a little better or little worse than the previous year... To each his own priorities.

I don't think it should be this easy for me to make fun of their ignorance, clumsy ideas and uncalled-for insults. Not for people who call themselves "critics". You're a critic when you are able to manage rhetoric to serve grand ideas, not to manipulate your dumb readers and get away with it because you're too lazy or too deceptive to seek truth instead of facile sensationalist controversies... so-called "seasoned reviewers" should aim for higher standards than that.
There are so many ways honest, competent critics can and should debate over contrasted taste, argumentative views, valid opinions... to nurture a rich and profound film discourse about serious things and credible thoughts. That we could do without all the worthless shit that careless pundits put out, like the Fox News of film criticism... disparaging films and critics you disagree with, with total disregard for objective understanding of reality and the limits of decent educated taste...

I don't write these counter-reviews, or meta-criticism, to convince the writers in question, cause they're probably too far up their own asses to even consider being wrong or too proud to accept having to make amends. But I'm writing this in the hope that some people on the interwebs will read this in 100 years and think for themselves whether I am being utterly subjective and gratuitously aggressive or if I'm making sense and pointing at unacceptable mistakes. Maybe a few readers will stop swallowing this shit blindly and take what they find in the press with a grain of salt and not put these journalists on an undeserved pedestal... Only then general culture will improve and useless reviewers will have a harder time getting prominent positions in the institutional press to dumb down the masses. Because, contrary to them, I believe in higher cultural aspirations and higher standards for the film press. 


2 commentaires:

HarryTuttle a dit…

Who would have thought? It is possible to teach an old dog a trick... Gavin Smith apparently did his homework on his way back from Cannes and attempted to sound a little less dumb, 2 months later when writing about Cannes again, in the summer issue of film comment :
Tough Luck (Gavin Smith; Film Comment; July 2012)

I wonder what could have possibly changed his mind...? LOL

HarryTuttle a dit…

"Behind the camera, the gender inequality is just as dramatic: only 3.6% of the directors and 13.5% of the writers on the top-grossing films of 2009 were female, according to the study."
Gender inequality still has a starring role in Hollywood, USC study finds (LA Times; 22 Nov 2011)