Cinema Psycho

"You know what? You have a losing personality." – Manhattan

Archive for September, 2012

Fight For Your Right to… Do What You Were Going to Do Anyway

Posted by CinemaPsycho on September 30, 2012

By now, most of you have probably heard about the debate/boxing match between “mumblecore” filmmaker Joe Swanberg and Internet critic Devin Faraci at Fantastic Fest. For those who haven’t, the gist of it is that the two of them debated the merits of Swanberg’s films and the mumblecore movement in general, then they got in the ring and Swanberg quickly cleaned Faraci’s clock. The video is all over the internet, and is quite amusing to watch.

But the whole thing is pretty silly, don’t you think? Does it actually prove anything? Of course not. The merits of the actual debate are what they are, but the results of the fight only prove that Swanberg is a better fighter than Faraci. That doesn’t prove that Faraci is wrong about Swanberg’s films. Maybe he is, maybe he isn’t. But did it really need to come to blows? Is this the future of film criticism? Will every debate be reduced to the MMA mentality from here on in? “I don’t like your films, let’s fight!” “I don’t like that you don’t like my films, I accept your challenge!” Joel Schumacher better watch his back.

Seriously though. Admittedly, I have never seen any of Swanberg’s films myself and I have no opinion on them whatsoever. They don’t sound like my cup of tea, but the fact that he gave Faraci a beating makes me strangely more interested in giving them a chance. My problem with Faraci is that he says astoundingly ignorant things like “mentally ill people should just get over it” and just shrugs it off as if it shouldn’t piss anybody off. If I said something like that, I wouldn’t expect anybody to read another word I ever wrote. Having said that, I do agree with his argument that filmmakers have a responsibility to the audience to make films that are interesting and/or entertaining to the viewer and keeps them engaged. That’s my opinion, and I’ve said that many times. On the other hand, I would never say that a filmmaker has no right to pick up a camera and make any film that they choose to make. Of course not. I may not be interested in watching said film, but they absolutely have the right to make it. No question about that. I would never deny anyone the right to make any film, no matter how boring, lousy or wrongheaded it may be. If it doesn’t appeal to me, I just don’t watch it. Problem solved.

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On the other side of the coin, I don’t really get why today’s filmmakers care so much what people think about their films. I don’t like Michael Bay’s Transformers movies, and I’m damn sure that Bay isn’t exactly broken up about it. I don’t watch them, and I doubt he would care if he was even aware of that, which I’m sure he isn’t. So why does Swanberg care what some dude on the internet thinks? As he himself put it, he’s out there getting it done. He’s getting his films made and released regardless what guys like Faraci think about them. So what does it matter if internet critics take shots? That comes with the territory of being an artist, doesn’t it? No matter what you do, some people are going to like it, and others not so much.

I call this the Kevin Smith Syndrome. I actually like Kevin Smith (and most of his movies), but the guy takes the internet way too seriously for his own good. You know what I would do if I was Kevin Smith? Well, I’ll tell you what I wouldn’t be doing – I wouldn’t be spending my time scouring the internet for every single negative mention of my name. No, I’d be banging my hot wife, writing comics, laughing all the way to the bank, and oh yeah, making movies. I certainly wouldn’t be giving a shit what every douchebag on the internet thought of me. It’s not even just critics, it’s guys on comment sections and message boards that he’s constantly arguing with. Why? Why does he care? Why does Swanberg care? Do you think Alfred Hitchcock, John Ford or Billy Wilder spent every waking moment obsessing about bad reviews? Of course not. I’m sure they gave them a few minutes of thought, but then they went right back to work. They didn’t let the critics run their careers or lives. That’s not how it’s supposed to work.

Look, I think film criticism at its best provides a valuable service. For the audience. It tells the reader what they should see, where they should spend their money and their valuable time. That’s the point. It’s a place for discussion about a subject that people still care about, and that’s worth something. I think that’s important. But when it becomes about the critic’s ego, then it’s just pointless chest-beating, and no one wants or needs that. I just think that filmmakers are supposed to do what they do, regardless of what the critics think. They should follow their personal muse, do their thing. I know, that’s easier said than done at times. Bad reviews usually equal fewer asses in seats. It’s hard not to take that personally. But think of it this way: if all of these guys actually liked what you were doing, you’d probably be doing something wrong.

I just think it’s silly for filmmakers and critics to actually punch each other in the face over their differences. Indie films are still going to get made (thankfully) and film criticism is still going to be written. Same as it ever was. Watching them fight might be a great spectacle, but it doesn’t change anything. It just makes each camp seem like a joke, and I think that’s the last thing they need right now. As we rapidly approach the Death of Film, can we at least try to have a little dignity left? I think that’s the least we can do.

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Voice of Reason: No Politics, No Endorsements, No Apologies

Posted by CinemaPsycho on September 2, 2012

I try very hard to keep politics off of this blog for a number of reasons – the main one being that I’m sick to death of hearing about it and I think a lot of other people are too. This is a blog about movies, and I intend to keep it that way. I don’t really want to discuss politics here, but I do want to talk about the culture that surrounds it and how it seems to be bleeding into the world of entertainment. I don’t intend to discuss my personal views or point fingers at any politicians or parties. That’s not what this is about. I don’t care to start any political arguments or debates here, and I will not engage in any in the comments section. If you want to spout off about how much you hate somebody, do it somewhere else. I’m not interested in hearing it. OK? Everybody got that?

This whole Clint Eastwood thing has got me thinking about the whole culture we live in right now and how divisive things have become. Now, I really don’t care what Eastwood or anyone else thinks about politics. I’m not here to debate anything he said. Do I agree with what he said? Not really. Do I think he’s being used? Absolutely. Will it prevent me from enjoying his movies in the future?

No, not particularly.

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This is where people get tripped up – the idea that every public figure has to agree with you all the time. I don’t feel that way. I don’t really care what actors or celebrities think about anything, much less politics. Too many people seem to take this stuff so seriously. “I’m not seeing this movie because so-and-so hates America” – shut up. No one cares what movies you see or don’t see. Really. No one asked, and no one cares. No one cares what TV shows you watch, what music you listen to, what you spend your money on generally. It affects nothing. Anyone who thinks otherwise is a naive fool. I think it’s silly not to see a movie because an actor who has political views you disagree with is in it. Some of my all-time favorite films star actors who have (or had) political opinions I don’t agree with. And I don’t really care. I care about the movie. I’m not going to refuse to watch something because of what an actor thinks. Let’s face it – they’re actors, not rocket scientists. I take their opinions about as seriously as I take those of circus clowns. Whether I agree or disagree with them, it doesn’t affect what movies I choose to see. If I’m interested in a movie, I fucking go see that movie. If I’m not, I don’t. I avoid political and religious propaganda films, and I don’t support people who practice hate speech. Otherwise, I could really give a shit what some actor thinks. Most of the time, their personal views aren’t reflected in the movies they make anyway. (For example, Kevin Costner claims to be a fiscal conservative, yet he made Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. Try and figure that one out.) So who cares? I never asked these people for their opinions, and I’m not really interested in what they think. It doesn’t stop me from watching movies.

No, what bothers me is when people force their views on me when I didn’t ask for them and I don’t care to hear them. It’s gotten to the point where I can’t go to any website, message board or comment section without being bombarded by the politics of total strangers. I don’t understand why these people think I care. I don’t force my views on others, and I expect the same in kind. Sure, I’ll discuss it amongst like-minded people that I know and respect, if and when it comes up. But I don’t assume that anyone really cares what I think. I would never be so rude and obnoxious as to force my beliefs upon people who may not care to hear them. My beliefs are my business, your beliefs are your business. That’s the way it should stay. I’m political at the voting booth, and everywhere else I’m a human being first and foremost. Have people really forgotten how to do that? I don’t want to argue about it with people I actually know, so why would I want to argue about it with total strangers on the fucking internet? I don’t know you personally, so I don’t care what you think. Why should I? Why should anybody?

It’s just gotten ridiculous. Honestly, don’t people have anything better to do with their time? It gets ludicrous when you hear about B-list and D-list celebrities “endorsing” candidates as if anyone really cares who they’re voting for. Is anyone really interested in who Gene Simmons or Jenna Jameson “endorse”? Come on. “Oooh, a former porn star is voting Romney, so that means I should too!” Give me a fucking break. I’ve never voted for anyone because an actor or celebrity “told me to”, and I never will, because I’m not a fucking sheep. I vote what I believe. I vote for the candidates who best represent my beliefs; I don’t change my beliefs to toe the party line. I feel sorry for anyone who actually cares what a washed-up rock star or reality show contestant thinks about something as important as politics. Who gives a rat’s hairy ass? I don’t, and never will. Why would you? If you want to listen to people, listen to experts. Listen to people who actually know what they’re fucking talking about. Don’t rely on famous people to do your thinking for you.

It’s OK if you don’t share my political views. Really. I don’t care. But if you’re going to be an asshole about it, then fuck off. Seriously. If you can’t be civil, then I don’t want to know you. I’m sick to death of people shoving their opinions in my face like James Cagney’s grapefruit. I fucking hate the taste of grapefruit. I didn’t ask. I don’t care. Keep it to yourself. Why is that so difficult for people? I don’t force my views on others – I don’t have bumper stickers on my car, I don’t wear political T-shirts or buttons, and I don’t even use my own blog to talk politics. I don’t listen to talk radio or seek the opinions of strangers in any way. So why force them on me? It doesn’t change my mind about anything; it just makes me think you’re a fucking dick. If you’re not a politician, a pundit, a professor or even a comedian, no one cares what you think. Stop behaving as if your opinion is the only one that matters. Your opinion is your business, and yours alone. No one else is interested.

Now, if you want to talk movies, I’ll talk movies with you all day long. Happy to do it. If you want to talk TV, music, books, I’m absolutely cool with that. But there’s an old adage that one shouldn’t discuss politics or religion in mixed company, and I’m a strong believer in that. I don’t ask people their political affiliations, and I really don’t want to know. It’s not my business who you vote for, so don’t make it my business. I am not interested in arguing about it all the goddamn time. Is that really so hard to understand? If so, maybe that’s your issue, not mine.

Seriously, when did politics and entertainment become the exact same thing in our culture? Honestly, if you really hate Hollywood that much, my advice would be to just stop watching movies and TV shows altogether. Just stop fucking doing it. That way, you don’t have to get pissed off about it, and the rest of us don’t have to hear you bitch and whine. If you choose not to watch a movie because an actor in it is political, that’s your choice. But you’re going to miss a lot of movies. So you might as well just give up on the whole thing. Find something else to do with your time. Either way, I don’t want or need to hear about it. I’ll go to the movies I choose to see, and you can do whatever you want to do. Someone needs to start a “keep it to yourself” movement in this country, to get people to shut up already. You can call it “KITY” if you want. Run with it. Please.

I’m CinemaPsycho, and I approved this message. And if you don’t like it, keep it to yourself.

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