Last night I was called a “tragedy” and “pig-ignorant” and “sad” and “lame” and so on by Glenn Kenny and a small team of like-minded thugs for having dissed Abbas Kiarostami‘s Copie Conforme (a.k.a., Certified Copy). In their eyes I was guilty of two offenses. The primary was having said that while I appreciated the purity of mood and technique and mise en scene in Kiarostami’s latest, I found it to be essentially an entombed and lifeless exercise. The secondary was in having used terms that weren’t properly referenced or fully considered enough, or were deemed too hot-dog plain.
What Kenny and others on this thread meant is that there is a Code of Film Dweeb Thought & Behavior, and one of the boldfaced proclamations (found on page 39) states that respected directors from Middle Eastern nations who make highly refined “art for art’s sake” films must always be spoken of in hushed reverent terms and cannot be faulted for the sin of lifelessness, particularly during important cultural gatherings like the Cannes Film Festival.
If you defy this edict and talk about how cinema feels and plays in plain terms — the terms by which most people perceive and absorb movies — Film Dweebs will go Defcon 5 and use whatever withering retorts and diminishments they can think of. Same thing if you dare to speak bluntly and disapprovingly of Douglas Sirk, another Dweeb God.
Film Dweebs are invested in a culture that obviously flourishes online (obviously a great thing) and which holds roll calls at the main film festivals, which act as a kind of professional and cultural life raft, but it is an insular culture protected by a moat and attack dogs (i.e., uglies like Filmbrain) and thick castle walls, and that dreaded substance referred to in some quarters as “everyday hotdog-eating reality” is not permitted inside.
I fell deeply in love with Nuri Bilge Ceylan‘s Three Monkeys here a couple of years ago. That was okay with the Dweebs, of course, and I certainly wasn’t savagely attacked for this because, cutting to the chase, Ceylan belongs to the same elite fraternity as Kiarostami.
But the basic rule stands — i.e., Cannes is a major mecca for Dweebs because it not only focuses worldwide attention upon their passions and whimsies but is one of the few occasions or platforms from which they can really strut their stuff, toot their horns, beat their chests and go nuts for pure-exercise films like Copie Confirme.
One should never argue about religion or politics, it is commonly said, because they’re highly sensitive issues — tethered to primal, deeply cherished beliefs and extra-sensitive emotional nerve endings. You will always get into arguments that you regret, and speak more heatedly and hurtfully than you intended.
The ugliest brawls on this site have come from the words of ardent fanatics and true believers, and what are Film Dweebs if not an amalgam of politics (i.e., looking to fortify and sustain their ranks as long as members have demonstrated sufficient loyalty to Film Dweeb favorites and concepts) and religion and a kind of aesthetic fanaticism? It explains why these discussions are so rank with contempt and disdain and flying spittle.
Kenny can call me a tragedy if he wants. But I despise his despising and general lack of civility when such matters arise. It is genuinely unattractive.
I’ve said before that I’ve been onto Glenn and his cloistered kind for a long time, in part due to having suffered under Dweeb rule and their monk dictums, which is to say there was a period during my early struggling days in journalism when I had to grovel at their feet and speak very carefully in their presence in order to survive. I obviously relate to and feel more aligned in many if not most respects to Dweebs now than I do to the vulgarians at the other end of the scale, but calling a spade a spade as far as the Dweeb agenda is concerned feels awfully satisfying on this end.