Cranky Hanke’s Screening Room: Are you a movie snob?

Cranky Hanke’s Screening Room: Are you a movie snob?-attachment0

Before it’s possible to entertain the question of movie snobbery—and are you or aren’t you?—it’s necessary to arrive at some kind definition of what constitutes a movie snob. One way and another, almost all of us are some kind of movie snob. I think I once heard of someone who wasn’t, but he ended up as curator of the Martin and Lewis archives and was never heard from again (apart from strangled cries in the night of “Hey, Dino!”). We won’t mention him again. There is, after all, a very fine line between “discerning viewer”—generally defined as being capable of recognizing that anything from Michael Bay should be avoided—and the outright “movie snob”—an altogether more slippery proposition. I tend to think of the true movie snob as looking like Ernest Thesiger at his most condescending in Bride of Frankenstein (1935).

Of course, the movie snob in his or her purest form is the one who looks down on movies of any kind. You can find this expressed quite clearly in Mart Crowley’s 1968 play The Boys in the Band, where one character tells another that he can understand having an interest in the theatre, “but movies are such junk.” He is somewhat put in his snobby place by the other character apologizing that there was “no Shubert Theatre in Hot Coffee, Mississippi,” making it also a kind of regional snobbery that culture can only be found in certain places.

I’ve encountered this same thing in my own life, though not for many years. Back in the late fall of 1977, a friend of mine (who had accompanied me on four out of my five trips to see Ken Russell’s Valentino) and I were asked by an excessively pretentious gentleman bearing an umbrella what the best movie we’d seen recently had been. We both answered in something like unison, “Valentino,” to which the bumbershoot-brandisher looked pained and sneered, “I simply couldn’t believe that Nureyev had lowered himself to the point of making a … movie.” My friend later commented that it required his best self-control (which frankly was none too hot at the best of times) to not do something proctological involving the umbrella and the questioner.

These, of course, are examples of an extreme form of essentially anti-movie thought that isn’t central to this idea. I mean, chances are that anyone reading a column on movies probably doesn’t have this attitude. We can then move that notion to one side and look within movie fandom proper for our purposes. This is much more tricky, because it comes a wide variety of styles and is constantly in flux. I can reasonably state, for instance, that I started out as what I’d now call a nostalgist.

The youthful nostalgist is a curious creature, because it requires he or she to be nostalgic for a time of which he or she has no personal experience whatever. It is perhaps a case expressed by the immortal words of the great Preston Sturges—“People always like what they don’t know anything about.” (Of course, it’s perhaps worth noting that I’m citing a line from a film released 13 years before I was born, and from a man who died slightly before my fourth birthday.) In my case, I tend to blame it on the frequently awful movies I was dragged to by my parents in the late 1950s and early 1960s. There’s nothing like a dose of ‘50s-‘60s soap, Doris Day and live-action Disney to send you in search of a different era.

That doesn’t explain why forms of it are still evident in some young people today. I know what seems like an inordinate amount of people in their 20s who are more attuned to older movies—which now includes movies that were new when I was their age—than are wholly comfortable with today’s offerings. That’s not an across the board thing, of course, and neither was mine, since I recognized a connection between myself and some contemporary films. This at least kept me out of the “they don’t make ‘em like they used to” mindset. Considering that nearly every great movie is the result of someone—from whatever era—going out of their way to not “make ‘em like they used to,” it’s basically reactionary nonsense.

Fortunately, I grew out of the nostalgia phase in my teens when I started to realize that a great deal of contemporary film simply never penetrated into the provincial world of my own version of Hot Coffee, Mississippi, known as Central Florida (vaguely defined). I don’t think I even conceived of such a thing as a subtitled movie until PBS’ “Film Odyssey,” which came about during the second half of my senior year in high school. I know I never saw a subtitled film on a movie screen till I started seeing them at the University of South Florida that same year, followed by seeing them at rep houses a little later. It’s sobering to realize that I didn’t start seeing subtitled films as first-run releases until I moved to Asheville in 2000, and now I take them for granted, which is very wrong of me.

However, subtitled movies—which is to say foreign-language films—are frequently a point of departure for a certain variety of movie snob. “The chaps who run film festivals think that an event is cultural if it’s foreign,” proclaims TV announer Robert Robinson in Ken Russell’s debut feature French Dressing (1964), but it’s an idea that seems to permeate a much broader world than that. The idea is not new. W.S. Gilbert made sport of it back in 1885 in The Mikado by including “the idiot who praises, with enthusiastic tone, all centuries but this, and every country of his own” on his list of people who would not be missed. (He kind of skewers the nostalgist, too.)

There is undeniably a certain type of film snob, who invariably believes that a film that is made in a foreign language is superior in some magical way to one that is made in English. Why? Well, apart from the implicit sense of cultural inferiority, I can come up with no good reason. (And Americans don’t hold the exclusive rights to this.) I often think that some people mistake things which are merely cultural differences for depth. Then again, let’s also consider the fact that we get just about everything of note that’s churned out by American movies—and to some degree by the British, though less now than was the case in the 1960s and 70s—but we rarely get anything other than the most acclaimed foreign-language films.

For that matter, the foreign-language playing field is not itself a particularly even one. I’ve seen some pretty unalloyed crap get a free pass into American art houses because it’s French. A classic example of this was when the flat, unfunny and creepily reactionary My Wife Is an Actress (2001) played locally. This was not much removed from the time when Guillermo del Toro’s The Devil’s Backbone (2001) did not play here. That, however, was before Spanish-language cinema that wasn’t signed by Almodovar exploded in the moviegoing consciousness. But French film still has a certain edge in some corners.

Of course, there’s also the interesting tendency evidenced in other viewers to prefer only the most obscure foreign films. The idea seems to be that the more obscure a movie is, the better it is. I’ve never bought into this, though I kind of understand its appeal. It’s always cool, after all, to be one of what you at least perceive to be “the select few.” This, of course, is not limited to foreign-language movies. Nothing—no, not even The Beach (2000)—damaged Danny Boyle’s standing with the art film crowd as the popularity and acclaim for Slumdog Millionaire (2008). Nevermind that it was a low-budget movie that very nearly didn’t even get a theatrical release, it made him too popular for the cult set.

This goes hand-in-hand with those who think that any movie that’s popular is automatically bad. I grant you that one should be cautious of the movie that appeals to a very wide audience. After all, the thing that is designed to appeal to “everyone” is generally compromised in some significant way in that attempt. However, the idea that something is bad simply because it’s popular is patently ridiculous.

That brings us to the terminally trendy. These are the folks who are always on the prowl for the next “in” thing. I think their numbers have grown with the internet, since it has increased the ability to be clued in what this next thing might be. And many times, it seems to me that they’ve already decided to love what they’ve been told to love—just as vehemently as a lot of us are primed to loathe anything from Michael Bay or his more comical counterpart Roland Emmerich. The only difference is that the trendy don’t always require previous knowledge of the filmmaker’s work. The mere fact that it’s “in” can be enough.

We might also consider the “Nasty Medicine” school of movie snobbery. This one works on the basis that movies are inherently important if they are—for one reason or another—difficult to sit through. It doesn’t particularly matter why, just as long as they are. It can be because they’re relentlessly ugly, utterly depressing, or just plain butt-numbing dull. The movie that dares to entertain is out of bounds for the adherents of this school. Personally, I have nothing against the ugly or the depressing—as long as there’s a point to it all—but I don’t want a steady diet of it, I don’t find it an automatic plus, and I draw the line at dullness.

No mention of movie snobs would be complete without some mention of that most virulent of creatures—the ones who look down on others because of their taste. OK, this is a game that all of play one way and another, but usually that’s based on a fairly comprehensive knowledge of someone’s taste. It, however, is also used to denigrate anyone who likes a film that the snob thinks is unworthy or insufficiently serious to be liked. Readers may recall that someone recently decided that I wasn’t worth reading because I liked Drive Angry 3D, though quite honestly I doubt he was the “regular reader” he claimed to be. (Too bad he presumably won’t be around for the edition of June 8, when I’ll wax ecstatic over Hobo with a Shotgun.) There is, of course, a fanboy version of this where anyone who doesn’t like a given movie becomes anathema.

One thing about the school of “if you liked this movie, you are in idiot” is that it’s not infrequently found in the same folks who think movies that are not in English are magically superior to movies that are. That’s actually pretty funny, especially if these same people like French New Wave film, since that movement was in part the result of 1950s French critics and theorists turned filmmaker—Truffaut, Godard, Rohmer etc. And they had been fed a heavy diet of American movies by Henri Langlois (at right) at the legendary Cinematheque Francais. Langlois was a man who indiscriminately showed and housed all movies. These men were not being primed on the great American classics, but on films that might traditionally be labeled junk or trash. Bear in mind, that Godard’s Breathless (1960) was, in fact, dedicated to Monogram Pictures, the poverty-row studio that churned out Bela Lugosi B-horror movies, the East Side Kids/Bowery Boys, later day Charlie Chan pictures, mysteries, and cheesy crime thrillers.

So with all this in mind, are you a movie snob? I know that in some ways I am, because I bristle at the idea that movies like E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982) and Spider-Man 2 are among the truly greatest films ever made. Oh, my, no, I can’t go there.

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About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

58 thoughts on “Cranky Hanke’s Screening Room: Are you a movie snob?

  1. lisi russell

    Great column, especially for someone from Vaguely Defined, Central Florida. O yes, I’m a snob. Great movies by great directors or including great actors (you know who they are) are very different from “bubblegum” movies. And I’m a reverse snob. What’s the movie where the woman falls overboard fro a long time? L’Avventura. Not great. I’ll root for Blow Up and even The Passenger. But L’Avventura? Yawn. Star Wars? Bring a pillow. And that’s the alpha and omega of my snobbery, unless you’re counting Pootie Tang.

  2. The most common form of film snobbery found around these parts is the anti-Hollywood, anti-dramatic kind. It is especially prevalent among aspiring filmmakers.

    These snobs eschew anything that reeks of ‘cliched, mainstream Hollywood movies’, which translates to ‘characters who do anything’ and ‘stories where things happen’.

    They wouldn’t be caught dead watching a film with a budget higher than $30 million, and tend to favour movies about crack addicts who can’t admit their feelings for each other because of their case of existential ennui and poor lighting.

    The idea that there might be merit in something like, say, PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN, INCEPTION, IRON MAN 2 or HARRY POTTER (to choose some recent examples) is anathema to them.

    Unfortunately, this attitude is reflected in many Australian films.

  3. Ken Hanke

    Great column, especially for someone from Vaguely Defined, Central Florida.

    I strive daily to overcome that.

    I’ll root for Blow Up and even The Passenger. But L’Avventura? Yawn. Star Wars? Bring a pillow.

    Even the late great William Hootkins can’t save the latter.

    And that’s the alpha and omega of my snobbery, unless you’re counting Pootie Tang.

    Doesn’t everyone?

  4. Ken Hanke

    These snobs eschew anything that reeks of ‘cliched, mainstream Hollywood movies’, which translates to ‘characters who do anything’ and ‘stories where things happen’

    Then they sort of fall into the “Nasty Medicine” category.

    tend to favour movies about crack addicts who can’t admit their feelings for each other because of their case of existential ennui and poor lighting.

    I saw that. It was called Candy, it was from Australia, and it damn near emptied the closing night screening at the 2006 Asheville Film Festival!

    The idea that there might be merit in something like, say, PIRATES OF THE CARRIBEAN, INCEPTION, IRON MAN 2 or HARRY POTTER (to choose some recent examples) is anathema to them.

    Is this also why they seem to have turned on Baz Luhrmann once he had a budget?

  5. Is this also why they seem to have turned on Baz Luhrmann once he had a budget?

    I doubt they were that keen on Luhrmann in any form, as he’s obviously having too much fun for them. But there is a great sector of our population who resents an Australian who leaves the country and makes it big overseas. It’s much like the kind of people who stopped listening to the Who after they got an audience beyond Shepherd’s Bush.

  6. lisi russell

    I love big budget films like the ones Jeremy names partly because I can take home a little action figure from MacDonald’s later and extend the good feeling. Much of my snobbery is honed on the fact that good films and good Australian filmmakers don’t get money thrown at them so they can be seen. Even so, I’m a sucker for crack addict-incomplete-love films (not that I’ve ever seen one or the famous CANDY, other than Marlon Brando/Ringo Starr’s). I like to see suffering on the screen, but not because I’m a snob, but a voyeuristic empath. I want the extremes of human experience on film. And though I adored Harry Potter, the lighting sucks in some of part 4.

  7. I love big budget films like the ones Jeremy names partly because I can take home a little action figure from MacDonald’s later and extend the good feeling.
    Aaah, but that would require eating at McDonald’s – which I consider the culinary equivalent of a Michael Bay picture.

    I like to see suffering on the screen, but not because I’m a snob, but a voyeuristic empath.
    The area where it tips over for me is – is there any point to this film other than the portrayal of suffering? If not, it’s unlikely to interest me.
    Ninety minutes of dourness is not my idea of a good time. Which is not to say I dislike unhappy endings.

  8. Mike

    L’avventura is brilliant. Do yourself a favor and try it again, but make sure you are prepared; well-rested and/or well-caffeinated. I couldn’t get through it myself the first time and had to come back to it years later. Really glad I did.

    I like to think I’m “over” any kind of movie snobbery since I’m willing to watch anything at least once, but after conversations with folks that are excited about the likes of The Hangover 2, Fast Five, or the latest Madea flick my inner “you’ve got to be kidding me” monologue reminds of latent elitist tendencies.

    I don’t think any less of them, though. I mean, I just got done watching (and loving) the bulk of Gregg Araki’s filmography, a divisive filmmaker if there ever was one. They take away film snob credentials for admiring movies like his, don’t they?

  9. Ken Hanke

    I doubt they were that keen on Luhrmann in any form, as he’s obviously having too much fun for them.

    That’s probably very true.

    But there is a great sector of our population who resents an Australian who leaves the country and makes it big overseas.

    Though, of course, he came back to Australia to make both Moulin Rouge! and Australia (the latter would seem a given) — and in so doing almost certainly injected some much-needed money into the Australian film production. Or is all this against the rules somehow?

  10. Ken Hanke

    I love big budget films like the ones Jeremy names partly because I can take home a little action figure from MacDonald’s later and extend the good feeling.

    I don’t remember Inception action figures at McDonalds. Did I miss something?

    Even so, I’m a sucker for crack addict-incomplete-love films (not that I’ve ever seen one or the famous CANDY, other than Marlon Brando/Ringo Starr’s). I like to see suffering on the screen, but not because I’m a snob, but a voyeuristic empath.

    The Candy in question could probably cure that — and make the Ringo/Brando one look better, too.

  11. Ken Hanke

    Aaah, but that would require eating at McDonald’s – which I consider the culinary equivalent of a Michael Bay picture

    Clapton knows I’ve eaten at McDonald’s much oftener than I’ve sat through a Michael Bay movie. Plus, Lisi and I had an assignation of sorts in the Weaverville McDonald’s parking lot years and years ago.

  12. dpewen

    Yes, I am a movie and music snob … only go to movies showing at the Fine Arts or the Carolina … and only for art house/indie movies.
    Can’t remember the last time I saw a mainstream movie.

  13. LYT

    I spent years of Internet dating in L.A., something I don’t really recommend to anyone…and noticed that a good 75% of women’s profiles would say something like “I only like foreign and independent films.” I was always so tempted to suggest a double-feature of Godzilla and The Toxic Avenger.

  14. Ken Hanke

    They take away film snob credentials for admiring movies like his, don’t they?

    In some parts of the world, they may do worse.

  15. Ken Hanke

    Can’t remember the last time I saw a mainstream movie.

    I’m not going to try to persuade you of changing your ways, but I do think you’re missing out on some things.

  16. Ken Hanke

    I was always so tempted to suggest a double-feature of Godzilla and The Toxic Avenger.

    Cemetery Man might be a good one, too.

  17. Son of Rufus

    I try to be more of a movie nerd/geek then a snob, but it comes out every now and then. Though, according to this, if you’re from a central Florida cow town then it’s impossible to be a snob because of your sheer inability to be better than anyone else.

    Though I’m a partaker of many a piece of fine cinema, I still have big budget junk movies that are guilty pleasures. One of them is by Michael Bay even. I hope I’m not kicked out of here for saying it…….Bad Boys II. *hangs head in shame*

  18. Mike

    You’re not alone, Son of Rufus. I think Bad Boys 2 is a blast. The Island is pretty alright too, for that matter, and I still say that as ridiculous as Armageddon is it’s immensely watchable. As a comedy, of course…

  19. Ken Hanke

    Though, according to this, if you’re from a central Florida cow town then it’s impossible to be a snob because of your sheer inability to be better than anyone else.

    Nonsense. You merely have to travel or import your material. It’s actually fairly easy — unless you’re talking about legitimate theatre, then you’re kinda screwed.

    One of them is by Michael Bay even. I hope I’m not kicked out of here for saying it…….Bad Boys II. *hangs head in shame*

    I will merely look askance at you. (I remember that it made my no. 1 worst film of its year. Isn’t this the one with the trained rats that get conjugal on cue?) For your penance watch two Ingmar Bergmans, a Fellini, and an Ed Wood movie, and say three Our Lubitsches.

  20. lisi russell

    Meet me in the McDonald’s parking lot again and I’ll show you my INCEPTION action figure – which looks a little THORish unless you’re dreaming on the dream-within-a-dream level. I like your church – I am presuming Clapton is God and Ringo Pope – and I am going to sin really badly with VENOM or MEDEA (or HANGOVER 2 or Crack CANDY) so I can get me some of that penance. I am thrilled to hear L’Avventura improves with age and coffee – both of which I had none of first go round. That could very well have been it. How askance do you go for ROMY and MICHELLE’S HIGH SCHOOL REUNION?

  21. Steve O'Rourke

    Reminds me of the story Ken Russell tells of his mother’s movie snobbery, that she refused to see any film made in Britain, AKA “a British Picture”. As well as giving KR an autobiography title, she probably also sowed a seed of challenge in his mind and imagination. So, in this case, Mum’s snobbery led to an enrichment of cinema, British and otherwise.

  22. Ken Hanke

    This coming from a guy that gave Burton’s Wonderland five stars…

    Did not. It was 4 1/2, though I would now drop it to 4.

  23. Ken Hanke

    Meet me in the McDonald’s parking lot again and I’ll show you my INCEPTION action figure

    Just tell me when.

    I like your church – I am presuming Clapton is God and Ringo Pope – and I am going to sin really badly with VENOM or MEDEA (or HANGOVER 2 or Crack CANDY) so I can get me some of that penance.

    I thought it was theologically settled that Clapton is God. And St. Ken appointed Ringo Pope. We’re having trouble finding a Virgin Mary, though. All the candidates have been guys who watch Star Wars just too often.

    How askance do you go for ROMY and MICHELLE’S HIGH SCHOOL REUNION?

    I hesitate to tell you, but…I haven’t seen it.

  24. Ken Hanke

    Reminds me of the story Ken Russell tells of his mother’s movie snobbery, that she refused to see any film made in Britain

    Strangely enough, my parents had the same attitude, only they called them “English movies.”

  25. lisi russell

    It wasn’t a Tom Berenger doll (which I am all for collecting, Jeremy) that was flying off the shelf in McD’s, it was a tin-foiled robotized Leo-DiCaprio-looking GI Joe (see/hear podcast of Elitist Bastards). Hmm, good point, that Ken Russell made movies his mom couldn’t call “a British Picture. . .” And Mr Hanke, your mom didn’t like English movies? (That’s hilarious – my mom preferred English movies unless they had 12-foot-long penises in them, which makes her a movie snob.) Ken, you can only see Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion with Mr Russell. You’re off the hook on that one.

  26. Coming from a retail side of things, it has definitely been a balancing act between films that I feel are “worthy” of stocking and films that will actually make money.

    That being said, I have turned down my inner snob working behind the counter, and hire those that can do the same. Who am I, when a women rents a cheesy Jennifer Aniston chick flick, to scoff at her when my favorite movies include car chases, farting and heads exploding? Is Zombie 4 REALLY that much better than THE NOTEBOOK?

    I like hiring people without much movie knowledge. In most cases, they are discovering film the same time as our customers, and they can get a lot more excited about something than I can sometimes. And with an inventory of 40,000 titles between the two stores, those employees are taking the time and watching the most obscure films that I stock.

  27. Ken Hanke

    It wasn’t a Tom Berenger doll (which I am all for collecting, Jeremy) that was flying off the shelf in McD’s, it was a tin-foiled robotized Leo-DiCaprio-looking GI Joe (see/hear podcast of Elitist Bastards).

    That makes more sense.

    And Mr Hanke, your mom didn’t like English movies? (That’s hilarious – my mom preferred English movies unless they had 12-foot-long penises in them, which makes her a movie snob.)

    Well, by the time of Lisztomania, she wasn’t as down on “English movies,” though I don’t think she cares for it — which means I delight in having it on when she’s here. James Bond and, to a slightly lesser extent with her generation, Dick Lester took the mickey out of “English movies.”

    Ken, you can only see Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion with Mr Russell. You’re off the hook on that one.

    I’m kind of relieved. It occurs to me that all I’ve seen with T’other Ken are The Squid and the Whale, Tommy, Dance of the Seven Veils, Crimes of Passion, and whatever that awful thing was that you and I kept falling asleep in at the Florida Film Festival.

  28. Ken Hanke

    Who am I, when a women rents a cheesy Jennifer Aniston chick flick, to scoff at her when my favorite movies include car chases, farting and heads exploding?

    Considering some of the crap you’ve made me sit though…

    Is Zombie 4 REALLY that much better than THE NOTEBOOK?

    I’d call them equally bad for different reasons.

  29. Dionysis

    After considering the various types of movie snobbery you’ve identified, I guess I have to conclude that I am not really a movie snob. The only element described that I can personally identify with would be the nostalgia bit. While I am of the same generation as you, and certainly saw plenty of “of ‘50s-‘60s soap, Doris Day and live-action Disney” films,” I watched many, many more genres of movies I liked, which during those years tended to be horror, science fiction and peblum films. I was also privy to seeing many foreign films (dubbed and with subtitles) at a very early age, so I was used to them.

    I’m open to watching any type of movie, of any era, if it is entertaining (broadly speaking).

    Upon reflection, I’ve never been too keen on putting up with movie snobs of any kind. People like what they like, and harboring some kind of disdainful, condescending or ‘elitist’ attitude seems kind of childish to me. I do agree, however, that when people cite contemporary dreck as examples of ‘great movies’, I tend to just shake my head.

    Does anyone really expect to see a ’25th Anniversary Special Edition’ DVD of ‘Transformers 2′?

  30. DrSerizawa

    Can someone whose avatar is a character from GoJira be a movie snob? Why yes! Note that I used the Japanese name for the original movie thus placing myself firmly above those who sadly use the Americanized name Godzilla.

    Seriously, the snobs who entertain me most are those who gush over Terence Malik. You can recognize them because anyone who expresses a dislike for his movies is immediately branded an idiot or someone with a short attention span. Internet snobs for Malik abound. Never mind that his The Thin Red Line is one of the most painfully slow viewing experiences since L’Humanite (2000). L’Humanite makes Bergman’s the Seventh Seal look comparatively as fast moving as a Shaw Brothers Hong Kong action film.

    That in turn brings up the danger of watching a foreign film because won a major award at Cannes. After watching such several “award winning” flicks I tend to shy away from them. I freely admit to my snobbery there. The Sundance Film Festival is starting to raise my ire are well.

    I imagine that we each have our own form of movie snobbery. But I do try to keep an open mind about things. I would define a true movie snob as someone who feels compelled to make degraded remarks about those who disagree with the snob’s opinion. I don’t care for Michael Bay movies but I don’t automatically think less of people who do. (NOTE that I said “automatically”. I do begin to watch them a bit more closely though for other signs of deficiency.)

    P.S. Does anyone really expect to see a ‘25th Anniversary Special Edition’ DVD of ‘Transformers 2’?

    Sadly I think we will.

  31. Ken Hanke

    I was also privy to seeing many foreign films (dubbed and with subtitles) at a very early age, so I was used to them.

    I did, too — and not just giant-monster-stomps-Tokyo and those peplum things (never took that much to them, but I remember liking The Minotaur), but the occasional Bergman, Edgar Wallace krimis, and a French comedy about a talking bear called The Bear. They were, alas, all dubbed.

    I do agree, however, that when people cite contemporary dreck as examples of ‘great movies’, I tend to just shake my head.

    I think that’s at least passive snobbery — mildly.

  32. Ken Hanke

    Seriously, the snobs who entertain me most are those who gush over Terence Malik. You can recognize them because anyone who expresses a dislike for his movies is immediately branded an idiot or someone with a short attention span.

    Oh, I’ve been branded that without invoking Malik, simply because I think only a very few movies justify being much over 120 minutes. (Oddly enough, I kinda liked The New World.)

    After watching such several “award winning” flicks I tend to shy away from them.

    Be particularly skeptical of “audience award” winners. First off, they tend to be indigestible goo, but, more, the filmmakers are often there schoozing the audience. I know of one film that snagged that award at the old AFF for exactly that reason.

    I don’t care for Michael Bay movies but I don’t automatically think less of people who do. (NOTE that I said “automatically”. I do begin to watch them a bit more closely though for other signs of deficiency.)

    It kind of depends on what else they like, too.

    Sadly I think we will.

    I figure there’s a good chance I won’t live to see that.

  33. Dionysis

    “I think that’s at least passive snobbery—mildly.”

    Perhaps, although that reaction is based more on my belief that people who make such comments lack much of a ‘frame of reference’ (they really haven’t seen that many films to compare), and that such a view will change ultimately.

  34. Jake

    I’m a director snob.

    I’ll go see anything the Coens make. I like all of Kubrick’s ouevre. I like Kazan, Kurosawa, Tarantino and Rodriguez.

    If a movie has a director that I’m not familiar with, I am a lot more skeptical about going to see it.

  35. davidf

    I’m happy to gush over Malik, because I’ve loved everything I’ve seen from him, but you won’t find me insulting anyone one who doesn’t enjoy his films.

    An especially frivolous sort of snobbery can be seen in the realm of comic book fans – a breed of what might be called and Adaptation Snob. There are those filmgoers that won’t enjoy anything based on history if it doesn’t precisely conform with the viewer’s idea of what ‘really’ happened, which I can understand to an extent. When this is applied to classic literature, faithfulness to the original work can be a plus in many circumstances, but lack of faithfulness certainly won’t keep me from enjoying a film if it stands up on its own merits. When this form of snobbery is applied to comic book story lines, however, I often have to chuckle. Comic book characters so often have their identities and storylines rebooted that complaining about particulars of faithfulness to the original seems a little silly (for example: conversations about the upcoming X-Men movie). The real snobbery kicks in when it manifests less as a dislike of the film and more as an opportunity to explain to those unfamiliar with the original material all of the infidelities they should have noticed if only they were real fans.

    In other news, why isn’t Banshee in the new X-Men Irish? That’s so stupid. I mean, he’s supposed to be Irish, am I right?

  36. Ken Hanke

    I’m a director snob.

    I’ll go see anything the Coens make. I like all of Kubrick’s ouevre. I like Kazan, Kurosawa, Tarantino and Rodriguez.

    That seems less snobbish to me than just reasonable bias — you gravitate toward films by directors you like. Of course, I could easily find someone who’d be snobbish about some of the names on your list. And you might be snobbish about some of theirs.

    If a movie has a director that I’m not familiar with, I am a lot more skeptical about going to see it.

    I’d say I’m less skeptical about a movie from someone I’m not familiar with than one from someone whose work I’ve intensely disliked, e.g., Brett Ratner.

  37. Ken Hanke

    An especially frivolous sort of snobbery can be seen in the realm of comic book fans – a breed of what might be called and Adaptation Snob. There are those filmgoers that won’t enjoy anything based on history if it doesn’t precisely conform with the viewer’s idea of what ‘really’ happened, which I can understand to an extent.

    Comic book fans are especially bad as concerns being able to comprehend that a.) there aren’t enough of them make a movie a hit without crossing over to a larger audience, b.) most people don’t care about these things to the degree they do, and c.) that Tim Burton was right all along when he said that no matter what he did with Batman he was going to piss some of the fans off.

    In the broader sense, I recently was disappointed to see someone — with a very firm idea of what really happened and what the characters should be like — upset over Ken Russell’s Savage Messiah. I actually felt bad for them because the movie didn’t do what they wanted it to do, but I also wondered why they’d no room for someone else’s take.

    When this is applied to classic literature, faithfulness to the original work can be a plus in many circumstances, but lack of faithfulness certainly won’t keep me from enjoying a film if it stands up on its own merits.

    I’m kind of in the Orson Welles school that when you make a film, it’s yours and that you have every right to handle the material in any way you choose. Of course, that leaves you open all manner of criticism if what you’ve changed doesn’t work.

  38. lisi russell

    I have no snobbery at all when it comes to translating adaptations to the screen. Two different art forms, literature and films. If a book is great (GREAT GATSBY, SAVAGE MESSIAH by Ede, WIDE SARGASSO SEA, ALICE IN WONDERLAND, WOMEN IN LOVE), you are only serving the book if you get the essence, the impact, the energy and a few perfect lines. (Although I do feel Burton, who got all of those right, started day-drifting into someone else’s film by the end.) To do any book too faithfully would make all movies exceed that painful 120 minutes. (I evilly believe Shakespeare plays should be intelligently cut in performance for the sake of sore bums.) Given that, I love Malick because Richard Gere lyrically chewing wheat shafts was just what the doctor ordered that year. To each his own bout of puberty. And Von Trier’s mad KINGDOM at 6 hours was like a pajama party for the audience – a kind of Woodstock. I am a snob who thinks people who don’t like superhero movies are
    snobs and who don’t like Ken Russell movies are without grace, perception or passion.

  39. LYT

    “Does anyone really expect to see a ‘25th Anniversary Special Edition’ DVD of ‘Transformers 2’? ”

    Considering that the Imax cut was a Wal-Mart exclusive, we had BETTER!

  40. I’m a director snob.

    I’ll go see anything the Coens make. I like all of Kubrick’s ouevre. I like Kazan, Kurosawa, Tarantino and Rodriguez.

    If a movie has a director that I’m not familiar with, I am a lot more skeptical about going to see it.

    People come in asking if we have actors grouped together. I tell them that we only have directors grouped. If they don’t look at me funny and get excited I know that they will stick with us for awhile.

  41. Ken Hanke

    I have no snobbery at all when it comes to translating adaptations to the screen. Two different art forms, literature and films. If a book is great (GREAT GATSBY, SAVAGE MESSIAH by Ede, WIDE SARGASSO SEA, ALICE IN WONDERLAND, WOMEN IN LOVE), you are only serving the book if you get the essence, the impact, the energy and a few perfect lines.

    This is exactly why I prefer the film version of Brideshead Revisited from a few years ago to the interminable TV version.

    Given that, I love Malick because Richard Gere lyrically chewing wheat shafts was just what the doctor ordered that year. To each his own bout of puberty. And Von Trier’s mad KINGDOM at 6 hours was like a pajama party for the audience – a kind of Woodstock.

    I concluded some time back that your tolerance for really, really slow movies was higher than mine.

    I am a snob who thinks people who don’t like superhero movies are snobs

    I don’t dislike superhero movies — at least in measured does. My problem is when they get touted as the pinnacle of cinematic creations and I find myself envisioning a list of all-time greatest movies that runs like Sunrise, The Seventh Seal, Potemkin, Rules of the Game, Lawrence of Arabia, Spider-Man 2

    who don’t like Ken Russell movies are without grace, perception or passion.

    Well, yeah.

  42. Ken Hanke

    People come in asking if we have actors grouped together. I tell them that we only have directors grouped. If they don’t look at me funny and get excited I know that they will stick with us for awhile.

    In the main, that’s reasonable, though there are exceptions — like I see it as more practical and useful to even most of the movie savvy public to have, say, a W.C. Fields section rather than an A. Edward Sutherland, Edward F. Cline, Norman McLeod, etc. section. Of course, if you want to be a completist, you have to have a region-free player and get them from the UK (same with Laurel and Hardy). And how do you handle box sets?

  43. DrSerizawa

    This is exactly why I prefer the film version of Brideshead Revisited from a few years ago to the interminable TV version.

    I got the mini-series from netflix a couple years back and sat through that entire grueling mess. Punishingly slow hours of people acting like cads to each other. By the end I was surprised that I hadn’t read of more suicides related to the PBS broadcast of it. Now, I do enjoy a lot of PBS type stuff, mainly Masterpiece and Mystery, and they do tend to be slow pieces. But BR was punishing.

    I guess that one has to claim they love that series if they want to be part of the elitist white whine crowd… but, I agree the movie version was much better. Some stories can benefit from a long mini-series treatment. Brideshead Revisited didn’t.

  44. Ken Hanke

    I guess that one has to claim they love that series if they want to be part of the elitist white whine crowd… but, I agree the movie version was much better. Some stories can benefit from a long mini-series treatment. Brideshead Revisited didn’t.

    The problem with the mini-series is that it’s more interesting and entertaining in the first part or two. Once it starts being Charles and Julia rather than Charles and Sebastian, it starts moving at a snail’s pace and becomes one of those soapy things about people with too much money.

  45. lisi russell

    “I find myself envisioning a list of all-time greatest movies that runs like Sunrise, The Seventh Seal, Potemkin, Rules of the Game, Lawrence of Arabia, Spider-Man 2…”

    You got me there. Makes me envision retrospectives of Saw IV in 2020.

    Brideshead Revisited was too yawn, I mean long, even for me. Women In Love mini-series had me looking at the clock while we learned more than we ever needed to know about everyone’s expository history. Love the phrase “white whine crowd,” DrSerizawa.

  46. Ken Hanke

    You got me there. Makes me envision retrospectives of Saw IV in 2020.

    Oh, it will happen, I’m sure. I’ve had my “snob stance” increased the past few days by making the mistake of reading the comments in a couple of places on Rotten Tomatoes with fanboys going wild over someone “spoiling” the 100% fresh rating on X-Men: First Class, piling on any critic who dares not to wax rhapsodic over it, and generally displaying a dubious command of English. (“Based off?” “Based off?” In what debased alternate realm of communication did “based on” become “based off?”)

  47. lisi russell

    Is X-Men any good? (Will consult your review as it will be weeks before it gets to UK.) Conventions are where the truly obsessive let their fanboy flags fly, based off (hahahaha) what I’ve seen. I still have ringing in my ears T’Other Ken’s loud explosion for the benefit of the viewing audience after Thor (which was a good popcorn movie considering we’re in Podunk, Merry Olde Hampshire): “C.R.A.P.”

  48. Ken Hanke

    Is X-Men any good?

    I enjoyed it. T’other Ken will not, I pretty much assure you.

    Conventions are where the truly obsessive let their fanboy flags fly, based off (hahahaha) what I’ve seen.

    Remind me to have my revenge for that.

  49. Steven Adam Renkovish

    People have accused me of film snobbery for as long as I care to remember, and I guess that, in some ways, they are correct. I tend to avoid most mainstream fare, unless I find that it appeals to me – for instance, I am really looking forward to Super 8. However, there is no way in hell that I would ever pay money to see Fast Five.

    I’ve never been one to like what I have been told to like. I hated Avatar with a passion, and loved Terry Gilliam’s Tideland, which most critics deemed unwatchable. I watched Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere last night and loved it. From what I understand, most thought it was extremely dull.

    I guess I’m one of the more discerning viewers rather than a snob. I dunno. I can get pretty defensive! :)

    I can’t wait for The Tree of Life, by the way…Ken, I’ll be looking for your five star review! ;)

  50. Ken Hanke

    I am really looking forward to Super 8. However, there is no way in hell that I would ever pay money to see Fast Five.

    There we definitely differ. I can accept mindless junk that admits that it’s mindless junk better than mindless junk that poses as something else. Then again, it’s no secret that I am not a fan of either Spielberg, or J.J. Abrams.

    I hated Avatar with a passion, and loved Terry Gilliam’s Tideland, which most critics deemed unwatchable.

    I wish I could tell you what I thought of Tideland. Unfortunately, I bought it and almost immediately lost it. I refuse to buy it again sight unseen.

    I watched Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere last night and loved it. From what I understand, most thought it was extremely dull.

    Less dull than I thought it was going to be, but pretty dull, I’d say. Certainly not something I’ll ever watch a second time.

    I can’t wait for The Tree of Life, by the way…Ken, I’ll be looking for your five star review!

    I’m curious about it — though there are other films I’m looking forward to more. In any case, we’ll see about that five star review.

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