Posted from 35,000 feet, American Airlines flight from JFK to Las Vegas: Over the years I’ve developed an ability — call it a knack — of reading between the lines of Venice Film Festival reviews, and thereby discerning what’s really being said. Because there’s often a certain amount of political deference and ass-covering mumbo jumbo in any trade review of any Venice premiere.
Case in point: Those overly obliging Variety and Hollywood Reporter reviews of Downsizing, posted from Venice. It wasn’t until that Alexander Payne film hit Telluride that a few cut-the-crap assessments (including my own) began to be posted.
I’ve also developed sensors (i.e., insect antennae) that can spot movies aimed at film snobs a mile away — highly intelligent films with an ultra-refined or uncompromised aesthetic that just lifts you out of your seat (i.e., Cold War). Except sometimes they’re coupled with a lack of interest in providing any semblance of an emotionally engaging current or, failing that, at least an attempt to meet the viewer halfway.
We all know what dweeb cinema is and we all know what dweeb elites look and talk and dress like. They’re a breed apart, a club, a cloistered semi-secret order with their own way of being and relating, a fraternity that insists that applicants prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are fundamentally opposed to the concept of commonly-defined movie pleasure.
That said, I wouldn’t want to live in a world without film snobs because their influence delivers a much-needed cultural counter-balance to philistine-idiot popcorn movies. (Note: portions of the preceding were originally posted in a piece called “Dweeb Manifesto,” dated 11.29.15.)
“The Film Snob’s stance is one of proprietary knowingness — the pleasure he takes in movies derives not only from the sensory experience of watching them, but also from knowing more about them than you do, and from zealously guarding this knowledge from the cheesy, Julia Roberts-loving masses, who have no right whatsoever to be fluent in the works of Samuel (White Dog) Fuller and Andrei (the original Solaris) Tarkovsky. The Film Snob fairly revels, in fact, in the notion that The Public Is Stupid and Ineducable, which is what sets him apart from the more benevolent film buff, the effervescent, Scorsese-style enthusiast who delights in introducing novitiates to The Bicycle Thief and Powell-Pressburger movies.” — from “The Film Snob’s Dictionary.”