Beyond the Blurb: On Critics and Criticism. Published by Cow Eye Press
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Steven Augustine

"...Antonioni contributed early to cinema’s migration from Victorian narrative modes..."

Interesting points well-put, but I wonder why it's so rarely mentioned that film had a major influence on literature as well? The narrative growth away from Victorian modes was a symbiotic effort...narrative compression, for example, was pioneered by film (and it was film that educated the audience to the possibilities). "Ulysses" is the great example of the modern in literature, but it represents the actual opposite of compression, and is really the last great 19th century novel (as written in pig latin).

There's as much Godard in DeLillo as there is (name your favorite seminal male pre-1960s writer).


"If the films of Antonioni and Bergman and Bresson seem self-consciously "arty" it's partly because current films have again become so utterly formulaic."

Or because they have been knocked off their bloated art-house pedestals by other filmmakers discovered before and after their time.

Steven Augustine

Yes, and, as we all know, The Beatles suck, too. Why? Because we live in the ahistorical ETERNAL CONSUMER NOW...all commodities battle all other commodities for that ahistorical consumer's vote/dollar/fandom. There ain't no Pantheon anymore, kids.

To hell with precursors and progenitors (unless, they, like, fit in with a comtempo paradigm), and, um, Wes Anderson *rawks*. Renaissance Perspective is DEAD (or, "so yesterday"), so welcome to the shallow foreground!

Great name for a band, though: BLOATED PEDESTAL. Dali-esque (though Dali sucks, I'm sure).


Would simply saying they're overrated triggered a less dramatic reaction?


Maybe not, but naming some of the "other filmmakers" might have helped.


Aleksandr Dovzhenko
Mark Rappaport
Ritwik Ghatak
Raúl Ruiz
Jean Rouch
Shoei Imamura
Monte Hellman
R.W Fassbinder
F.J. Ossang
Manoel de Oliveira
Robert Kramer
Bela Tarr
Harun Farocki
Andre de Toth
John Cassavetes
Walerian Borowczyk
Edward Yang
Ousmane Sembene
Jean Renoir
Maurice Pialat


Cool. Thanks.

Steven Augustine

Nonsense. How does your list prove anything about the relative merits of "Antonioni and Bergman and Bresson"? A few of those you cite are usually mentioned in the same breath as these three; a few are so different (but equal in talent) that it's a matter of apples and oranges; while at least one (Harun Farocki) could never, ever, without eliciting gales of laughter from an educated audience, be considered in any way superior to Antonioni, Bergman or Bresson. It's difficult to believe you dropped Harun's name intentionally (knowledgeably)...was there, perhaps, a little Wiki magic at work here?


Tons more can be listed. All listed is just a sample, and many of them do share similiar themes, styles, and can be comparatively analyzed - but make Antonioni and Bergman look downright classical. Or Baroque, which is why they are not equal in talent. Bresson is a different story, he is just seen as a litmus of 'seriousness.'

Others, far less conventional and underrated due to amount of attention for Antontion and Bergman. Discrediting the two? No. They're just overrated.

Pialat, Fassbinder, Cassavetes > Bergman

Bela Tarr, Robert Kramer, de Oliveiria, Cassavetes > Antonioni

They're not as iconic nor as conventional in their depiction of ennui or high drama or whatever. Farocki? Far more politically engaged and analytical than B and A, less focused on the ups and downs of the haute bourgeois. It's good he can put a smile on the face on many well-trained people, ridicule or not, even someone as spooky as Beckett had humor in his work.

Wikipedia, FTW.

Dan Green

"Bresson is a different story"

He is indeed. He's one of the greatest filmmakers in the history of cinema, far surpassing most of the directors you listed. Andre de Toth?


Bresson was a bit too sadomasochistic. A bit too fond of suffering, like his idol Dostoevsky.

Steven Augustine

"Farocki? Far more politically engaged and analytical than B and A, less focused on the ups and downs of the haute bourgeois."

"Bresson was a bit too sadomasochistic. A bit too fond of suffering, like his idol Dostoevsky.2

Since when are such observations the basis of serious film criticism?

You're merely stating your personal preference in films. You may well also believe that Victor Hugo and Sinclair Lewis wipe the floor with Harold Brodkey and Vladimir Nabokov, and that nothing that bourgeois hack Henri Matisse ever painted can match Socialist-Collectivist Propaganda Posters. You're obviously free to your own opinion. Establishing your own personal favorites doesn't for one moment prove that the directors under scrutiny are "overrated".

You seem to have a very Darwinian take on the Fine Arts, which brings me back to my original response to your comment. In any case, any attempt to prove your points would surely require an essay-length comparison between one film maker and another (in order to be taken seriously).


Your responses express similar levels of engagement with this topic.

Even serious film critics have their own personal preferences, their personal reasons for liking certain things and are not taxonomic nor populist in their approach to the whole cinema unless if its for historical reasons.

I didn't know I had a 'Darwinian' take on the fine arts, commentary on painting, music, literature, sculpture, architecture etc. notwithstanding. I think I have seen one side of this issue - Movies today fail to live up to Antonioni and Bergman - and am looking at it from another perspective.

Steven Augustine

"Your responses express similar levels of engagement with this topic."

The burden of proof isn't on me, you see, because I didn't come riding into the comment thread, on a flaming donkey (no offence intended, I'm just being twee), to dismiss Antonioni, Bergman and Bresson as being on "bloated...pedestals". Anyway, they're just opinions all around, and only ever are, in the end, aren't they?

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