January 19, 2010

A few last thoughts on "overrated" directors

By: Sonny Bunch

First of all, thanks to Andrew Breitbart and John Nolte for offering some virtual real estate to rebut Ben Shapiro’s awful list of overrated directors. Hopefully some of you Big Hollywood readers swing by and check out what’s going on here at little ole Conventional Folly every once in a while.

Victor Morton, the Rightwing Film Geek, posted a very persuasive look at just how awful said list was at his blog.* A taste:

Now part of me feels like Woody Allen in MANHATTAN, listening to Diane Keaton’s Academy of the Overrated and slag on Ingmar Bergman (“what next, Mozart?”). But it’s not exactly the names he picks that makes this piece so awful (no artist is literally beyond criticism). No, what makes the article offensively bad is that it’s not even GOOD contrarianism. Even though I actually agree with a couple of those choices, it just embarrasses me more that I agree with Shapiro (I don’t care for most Lynch, most Nichols, most recent Allen and most recent Scott).

To be fair, Bergman’s not my cup of tea either. That’s not to say he’s overrated, mind you…

Anyway, this whole kerfluffle reminds me why we need smart film criticism (as well as outlets willing to pay for it): When we lose it, every piece evaluating a movie will come down to nothing more than “I like this! It’s exciting/funny/interesting!” or “I hate this! It’s boring!” That’s not criticism, my friends: It’s a reaction.

*He also convinced me to pick up a used copy of the (sure-to-be) excellent Joe Queenan book, “If You’re Talking to Me, Your Career Must Be In Trouble.” One of the real pleasures of working on the books and arts section of the Weekly Standard was copy editing Mr. Queenan’s work. Very funny guy.