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Topics/Questions/Exercises of the week—17 July 2009

Pool Party: Some not very bright person over at Gawker concocts a rather remarkably stupid article about so-called "pool movies," that is, movies that once-great directors sold themselves out to make, so they could buy a pool. Or something. I myself was inclined to stop reading after the part where the author averred that '90s Hollywood produced a "hefty amount of grit" and cited several films that represented "a great mix of pulp and substance;" but people are getting so agitated about it I had to read the whole thing, as they say. The Trouble With Truth About Charlie ? The Good German? Watchoo talkin' bout?

I wouldn't bother if I were you—instead, go straight to Karina Longworth's deconstructive evisceration of the piece over at Spout. Which in turn inspires yet another Complete Mental Breakdown from David "Yes You Did You Invaded" Poland: "Really... sometimes I just want to get in these people's faces and scream, Fuuuuuuuuuuckkkk YOU!" Steady on, fellow. (For an exercise in amusement, check out any one of Poland's "rambling" video reviews—I'm particularly keen on his assessment of the new Harry Potter film, of which he says, "It's fine"—and imagine that self-satisfied milquetoast getting in your face and screaming "Fuuuuu..." etc.)

My friend Jeffrey Wells takes note of the noise machine these posts have created, and, feigning nonchalance, revs it up, launching into an imitation of Robert DeNiro in Raging Bull, as it were: "I'm disgusted wit da both a yas." Ain't the internet grand?

Did I mention that I myself bought a kiddy pool with my Girlfriend Experience money?

In sadly related news, Gawker's Nick Denton is claiming a 35% rise in ad revenue. I have seen the future, and Mike Judge's Idiocracy may be preferable.

On The Other Hand: As strangely seductive as it is to chronicle the massive amount of Teh Stoopid out there, it's not all bad. This week the great Girish concocted some thoughtful questions on bridging the too-present gap between critical thought and historical analysis. And in the process reminds us how much we're missing David Hudson.

Slow News Week? Wait, Here's A Fifty Greatest Films List!: The One Line Review, brave enterprise that it is, conducted a survey of critics worldwide to concoct yet one more Fifty Greatest Films Of All Time List. (I was invited to participate, and would have, except I'm a fuck-up.) I don't know whether to take comfort in the fact that it's such a warm and cozy list, with Citizen Kane still tucked at the top, or to complain of rampant critical inertia. There's more idiosyncracy to be found in the list of films receiving five votes or more. Go, Fantomas! Go, L'Age d'Or! Go, Murnau's Faust! Can you believe those three films only got five votes each?  Damn, I should have sent in a ballot...then at least one of them would have gotten six.

Discuss, as they say.

Armond White-ism Of The Week: "Basing Tom’s emotions on Belle and Sebastian’s The Boy With the Arab Strap (not even the band’s best album) recalls the presumptuous Away We Go, which used its super-cute bourgie characters as the exemplars of modern life." Oh, Armond, you tease—what IS Belle and Sebastian's best album, then? From A.W.'s dis of 500 Days of Summer, which really does sound rather hideous.

Angelina, Can You Feel It?: Screen goddess and human adoption machine Angelina Jolie, a being so full of contradiction that she wants to save the world through giving and play Dagney Taggart in a screen adaptation of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, cuts such a formidable figure that it's difficult to imagine that she ever was a wee gentle child. But she was, and GreenCine Daily editor Aaron Hillis has the screen cap to prove it, in a piece about the "director's cut" (sort of) DVD of Hal Ashby's ripe-for-rediscovery Lookin To Get Out.

Wow, Armond completely fucked up that reference — the Belle and Sebastian quote in the film comes from the Zooey Deschanel character, not Gordon-Levitt’s. (The gag was that Deschanel used a B&S lyric as her yearbook quote, and sales of the CD spiked 2000% or something in her hometown.) Why can’t Armond get basic info like this right?
I was disappointed to see Renoir place so low on that list… but of my 50 votes, I think 9 were for movies that no one else voted for, so what do I know? If You’re Feeling Sinister
Why, oh why doesn’t someone produce an actual show called “Ow, My Balls!”? I would watch diligently.
I thoroughly enjoy Armond’s assumption that only a band’s “best” work could be worthy/capable of having a profound impact on someone’s life. Never change, Armie, never change. Also: Tigermilk.
fold your hands child you walk like a peasant (the model; the wrong girl,). best non full length: I’m Waking up to Us
i really need to add that this just reminded me of the time AW used a Cinerama song (David gedge’s post wedding present grp) to characterise an entire film. The film was Eternal Sunshine of the SPotless mind. i think the song was Careless, but im not sure. Whichever song it was, i know it and it does not remind me at all of that film.
Tigermilk (thirded) or 3…6…9 Seconds of Light EP. No, If You’re Feeling Sinister Live at the Barbican. Wait, no, the This Is Just a Modern Rock Song EP. Actually, this is a really difficult question, and I’m glad White has found the answer to it — maybe he’ll be so kind as to someday share the revelation.
Nah, it goes: 1) If You’re Feeling Sinister 2) Tigermilk 3) Everything else.
Well, now we know where everyone went after closed.
I think Stephen Wells described Belle & Sebastian best as: “self-loving, knock-kneed, passive aggressive, dressed-up-in-kiddy-clothes, mock-pop-creepiness peddling, smug, underachieving, real-pop-hating no-talents celebrating their own inadequacy with music so white it’s translucent"
I think the Guardian described Stephen Wells best as “the most impossible person to work with because he knew no form of compromise, had little true interest in music, was narrow-minded and his personal hygiene and dress sense left so much to be desired that the company nurse once appeared and ordered him to remove and burn his stain-covered tracksuit bottoms.”
To which I’ll add that provocation is always interesting, but Wells wrote more about what he imagined music to be like than what the music actually was. That is, he would imagine a stance based on the music (or whatever snatches he might catch of the music), and critique the stance. The interviews he did are very funny. His criticism was very good fiction.
Regarding that Gawker piece: I know we all make mistakes from time to time, but who the fuck doesn’t use spell-check? One of the worst and most annoying articles I have ever read. Sorry, “listicle”. Christ…
Can we really call Fincher a sellout? His first movie was in a major Hollywood franchise, for Christ’s sake. I can’t wait for around 2013, when “Hulk” is given a critical re-evaluation and suddenly it’s the “thinking-man’s superhero movie”. You know it’s coming.

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