Excerpts from Franco Moretti's introduction to Signs Taken for Wonders: Essays in the Sociology of Literary Forms (1983), "The Soul and the Harpy: Reflections on the Aims and Methods of Literary Historiography":
"[H]ow far has empirical research borne out the antithesis between norm and masterpiece on which literary historiography continues to rest? In what sense does Shakespeare 'violate' the conventions of Elizabethan tragedy? Why not say the opposite: that he was the only writer to realize them fully, establishing as it were the 'ideal type' of an entire genre?" (13)
"I can only say that each time I have studied 'low' genres, 'mass literature' (and despite having done it in a way I no longer find satisfactory: looking for their laws of operation in a single work I thought was exemplary--Dracula, The Paul Street Boys, the Sherlock Holmes cycle--and not in a broader and more systematic corpus of 'middle-range' products) I have always ended up finding meanings that were in no sense 'predictable' or 'banal.' Very often, in fact, they were different or even antithetical to what one generally supposes at first sight." (15)
... moving away from Moretti, there is also ...
"At least I’d learned not to be fashionable — that what’s fashionable, or what the smart boys or the establishment approve of, or choose to acknowledge — all that is only one-tenth of what’s going on, it’s only the top one-tenth and it’s likely to be more volatile than all the boring, inarticulate things, where a culture’s real strength is. That’s what A Mirror for England  is about. The unfashionable, solid, petty bourgeois strain in films."
-- Raymond Durgnat, "Culture Always Is a Fog" (conducted in 1977, printed in Rouge in 8).
Over a year ago (!) I wrote a post on 'impersonal genre cinema' that basically wondered about, specifically, action films and the question of generic expressivity--of films (even if they have 'recognizable-within-limits' directors like McTiernan) not being under-the-radar authorial works, but still being expressive in a sense that went above/beyond mere conventionalism. The point beyond that we usually think of genre as a trap, a textbook with rules that only the foolish or the hackish will follow. And maybe this is one of genre's functions. But I'd like to think of film genres as having more ... I hesitate to say positive or uplifting potential, but something more substantial than simply, merely limits. I wonder what good, concrete, but not simply positivistic (data-gathering) work is being done along these lines. For what it's worth, there's a fascinating Moretti piece on cinema available here (as well as for NLR).