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Topics/Questions/Exercises Of The Week—4 December 2009

Are You Missing The Spout Blog Like I Am?: You really don't know what you've got till it's gone, do you? Regular readers of this column know that is is often—too often, some believe—a repository for its author's snark. And that often the snark was directed at the Spout blog, which stopped posting original content at the end of October. And I find myself sincerely missing it. Not, I repeat, not just because it frequently provided me with snark fodder. But because it was, I only now really understand, one of the few movie websites besides this one that boasted a multiplicity—some would call it a diversity—of voices. Voices which frequently seemed to contradict one another—Karina Longworth's championing of the obscure and artistic would frequently butt heads with, say, Kevin Kelly's fanboyish enthusiasms and near-disdain for actual critical practice. The closest we've got to this messy but interesting model is Movie City News, but I find it so thoroughly dominated by the dyspeptic and self-important voice of David Poland (oh, look: "The Idiot Awards continue to roll out this week..." man, why are you so bitter?) that it's almost impossible for anybody else's to even register. And beyond that, it's all homogeneity—the guys with the beards at CHUD, the guys without the beards at AICN, etc.—and soloists. For better or worse, the Spout blog had something unique, and that's why I genuinely miss it. Isn't that weird?

What Does It All Mean?: Your correspondent hoped to return from Thanksgiving break rested, ready, and raring to tackle the cinematic topics of the day, and instead finds that, as frustrated comics like to say, he's got nothin'. You try doing this sort of column in the midst of awards season after you've vowed that the column will simply refuse to have anything to do with...awards season. (What on earth was I thinking?) Some questions do occur this week; but do they animate? Let's try a few.

* What does it mean when a Joel Schumacher film is accepted into the Sundance Film Festival, and nobody exclaims, "How the hell did a Joel Schumacher film get accepted into the Sundance Film Festival?"

* Does writing about the marketing challenge of Up In The Air in any way ameliorate the marketing challenge of Up In The Air? And didn't George Clooney say, years ago, that he wasn't interested in "opening" movies anymore? And if he did, why do film journalists still expect him to "open" movies? How many more related questions before we get to the dreaded one about whether stars "matter" or not?

* What does it mean to spend six months of one's life working on a project that should never have been broached in the first place, and then walk away from it? What kind of crazy place is Hollywood, anyway?

Armond White-ism Of The Week: Actually, I've got two. "Jason Reitman’s movies come in three forms: Rubbish (Thank You For Smoking), Crap (Juno) and Swill (Up in the Air)." Ouch! Quite the zinger, that. A little unfair, though, as Reitman the younger has only made three feature films total.

How long has A.W. had this hard-on for George Clooney? Was it before Good Night, And Good Luck.? In any event, in his review of Up In The Air Armond does a nice job of displacing his Clooney hostility on to Reitman, and on to anybody who likes the largely well-regarded picture: "Only seriously deluded people could enjoy Reitman’s funny-sad whiplash." I love it when he diagnoses people. I get reminded of Lucy putting out her "The Doctor Is In" sign. Also: "[Reitman is] playing that same Hollywood game: keeping people ignorant of political economy." What does that even mean?

Those are the questions, then.

“[Reitman is] playing that same Hollywood game: keeping people ignorant of political economy.” What does that even mean? His cinema does not promote revolutionary communist goals! He is a capitalist roader and must be abolished!
I think Armond White and David Poland would be evenly matched adversaries in a ’60s era Toho-produced creature feature. “Gasbag vs. Flame-Thrower,” anyone?
So Spout just shut down completely? I thought it was just Karina Longworth quitting. Odd.
“As if grasping the secret motive of TV’s The Office, Reitman disregards the boredom of routine…” Uh, sure, Armond, Reitman just found out while making this movie about TV’s The Office—
Agree with Glenn – am missing Karina Longworth’s insight. as for Armond White – i think his views are extremely valuable – don’t always agree but he always provokes thought, which almost no other critics do - + plug plug – we had him on our show: and i thought he acquitted himself quite nicely! (glenn’s also been a guest – he’s very sweet actually! ;)

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