What is it that the global pseudo-left in particular objects to about Lincoln and so values in Django Unchained?The intellectually bankrupt defenders of Django Unchained and Zero Dark Thirty by David Walsh, longtime film critic for the World Socialist Web Site. [more inside]
This well-heeled social layer, conditioned by decades of academic anti-Marxism, identity politics and self-absorption, rejects the notion of progress, the appeal of reason, the ability to learn anything from history, the impact of ideas on the population, mass mobilizations and centralized force. It responds strongly to irrationality, mythologizing, the “carnivalesque,” petty bourgeois individualism, racialism, gender politics, vulgarity and social backwardness.
To such people, Lincoln is boring, staid and hagiographic, because it treats ideas and historical actors seriously and even admiringly. A film can hardly be degraded or “dark” enough today for these so-called radical commentators. The latter feel disdain for any expression of confidence in the best instincts and democratic sensibility of the American people, whom they view as always on the verge of forming a lynch mob.
Simply the Worst. Film blog Reverse Shot is looking this month at the worst (by various criteria) films of some major directors, including the Coen Brothers' The Ladykillers, Wes Anderson's The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, Woody Allen's Anything Else, and more.
For Roger Ebert, it's a prayer that made him "more alert to the awe of existence." For Rober Koehler, it's a kitschy New Age con. For Richard Brody, it perfectly captures the essence of a generation by depicting a character thinking "back to the musings and fantasies of childhood, which are the product of a wondrous and fantastic view of science formed by popular-science books for children and by the commercial artists whose illustrations adorned them." For Stephanie Zacharek, it's "a gargantuan work of pretension." For Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, it's "a creation myth in the guise of a crypto-autobiography" that invents a universe of its own only to destroy it. For J. Hoberman, it's lifeless and dull, "essentially a religious work and, as such, may please the director's devotees, cultists, and apologists." It spent thirty years in development, three in editing and, yes, it contains dinosaurs. The Tree of Life, written and directed by famously reclusive Zoolander fan and "JD Salinger of American movies" Terrence Malick , won the Palme d'Or at this year's Cannes Film Festival. Tomorrow, it comes out in the United States. [more inside]
Critics Gone Wild. Rarely do entertainment journalists have as fine an occasion to cut loose and shower their barbs as the opening of Gigli: "I fought the urge to punch someone once it finally ended." Not that anyone's surprised! Enjoy, if you get a kick out of scalding prose.
Real Cinephiles Prefer Reading "Cahiers du Cinema" to Going to the Movies: I stopped reading Cahiers du Cinema - the famously dogmatic French film journal where Godard, Truffaut, Resnais and Rohmer cut their teeth - a few years ago, when it got too arty-farty for its own good. Well, it's slowly becoming essential again. Their website is trés chic, intelectually challenging and a welcome antidote to the usual online movie-reviewing clowns. Or is it still a load of pretentious rubbish? (In French, but with a lovely intro, lots of cool stills and a Quicktime interview, in English, with underrated director Paul Verhoeven)