How does that Randy Newman song go? “I just want you to hate like I do…” Seriously, if you’ve kept your passion burning and you’ve done your homework all along, you really do get to a point where you just know. I don’t think or feel a film is good or bad — I know it is like I know an apple is red or a dog has fleas.
I know when a film is good even when I don’t like it. Saying “I almost hated it but it’s obviously very well made” — that’s what separates the men from the boys. (This is what I said about Amour after my first viewing in Cannes. And then I came around.) Not everything is subjective and “to each his own” and blah-dee-blah. There really is such a thing as taste, and it comes “from a thousand distastes,” as Francois Truffaut once said.
When I use the term “hater,” I’m speaking of someone who is apparently reacting adversely to a film for reasons that are all pushed and mashed down in his or her psyche, and he/she hasn’t copped to it. And I know what it is to be an “apologist.” That’s when you like something even though you know it has problems, but you can’t help yourself because it’s gotten to you. As long as you cop that helplessness, you’re fine.