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2003 Milk Plus Droogies

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Kill Bill Vol. I

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Quentin Tarantino, Kill Bill Vol. I

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Johnny Depp, Pirates of the Caribbean

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Bill Murray, Lost in Translation

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Uma Thurman, Kill Bill Vol. I

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David Hyde Pierce, Down With Love

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Miranda Richardson, Spider

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Sofia Coppola, Lost in Translation

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Irreversible

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Harris Savides, Gerry

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The Blog:
Saturday, April 27, 2002
 
I don't disagree with anything either yun-fat or shroom have just said. You guys are preaching to the choir. And with great fervor, might I add. This is like seeing Louis Farrakhan enter a room full of militant Black Panthers and yell at them, telling them that the black man is being kept down by the white majority. Who's arguing with that in the room?

I've never said anything was wrong with yun's theory that great, subversive commercial films are being unfairly lumped in with commercial drivel -- in fact, I was defending it. I just think we differ, sometimes, on what those great commercial films are. And certainly no one has made the point that commercial films are inherently inferior to arthouse ones -- not even close. Why else have we all praised Panic Room and Blade 2 as being superior to No Such Thing and Storytelling? But I stand by my assertion that the commercial films that yun-fat praises (and we're talking about Graceland, Furious, and Ghosts of Mars) are aimed at the blue-collar multiplex masses that don't want an art film. Neither of you have presented any evidence to the contrary. You can talk as much about the auteur theory as you want -- no one is disputing the auteur theory here (shit, it was me who argues that David Koepp is inserting his personal home invasion theories about the illusion of safety into Hollywood films like Trigger Effect, Mission: Impossible, and Panic Room) -- but that will never change the fact that Rupert Murdoch, Sherry Lansing, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and any other studio boss makes sure Graceland et. al. are marketed towards people who don't like and don't see Vertical Ray of the Sun. Believe me, they're happy when anyone, academic or not, buys tickets to both Graceland and Vertical Ray. But I think I'm perfectly correct in saying that big commercial popcorn entertainment is marketed at one demographic, and small-budget arthouse fair is aimed at another. That's not a very controversial point; it's downright simplistic. You guys have made a controversy out of it. I'm also correct in saying that there are good popcorn films and bad ones, and that critics and audiences often unfairly lump them all together (this is something yun-fat believes, and I was defending him on). I doubt anyone disagrees with this either, since it's even less controversial a point.

The third point I was making is that yun mentioned four favorite 2001 American films: Tenenbaums, Graceland, Furious, and Mars. The latter three were dismissed by critics (he said as much in his most recent post), and were all lumped in with the Tomb Raider drivel. I may have disliked Furious and Graceland (didn't see Mars), but I never said it was wrong to use the auteur theory to praise them. I was pointing out that those three films were commercial, and not aimed at the art house crowd. Good for them. Who cares? The films are what they are. Shroom says:

"Why can't the the [sic] big budget drivel hold as much aesthetic, moral, ideological, etc., etc. value as an art film? Why should blatantly commercial cinema be precluded from serious discussion?"

Well obviously they can (the first point) and they shouldn't (the second point). If shroom is trying to project that philosophy onto me, there is no empirical evidence that I support such narrow minded thinking. If he isn't, then what's the argument? And as for yun-fat's point:

"what about Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, or The Incredible Shrinking Man or simply Invasion From Mars?"

Again, I don't disagree. You're right that all of those, like Mission To Mars, were commercial entertainment whose directors elevated the material. Shroom indicated that since none of us really disagree, the discussion comes down to a matter of degree -- you guys are on the far end of the auteurist spectrum, making such an apology for Carpenter and De Palma that you overlook all flaws in their films and deem them masterpieces no matter what. While my problem may be too little leeway. But either way, I think we're all in agreement that some commercial product directed by noted auteurs, whether successful or not, is often doing artistic things that go unrecognized by many critics and moviegoers. So don't go and pretend I said something against the auteur theory just as an excuse to defend it again, vehemently. (My throwaway statement at the end of one comment saying yun-fat loves anything that has a dumb script and good coverage was obviously a jokey dig at which even he didn't take offense).