(For Andy Horbal.)
This clip of Tarantino talking about Hong Kong cinema and the French New Wave was really galvanizing for me when I was about 16. This was the age when I started to "get serious" about film, tried to stop just mimicking what the entertainment press and awards shows told me was important about movies. I started the long trip, one I'm still on ...
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Tarantino's invocation of the French New Wave, about movie love bypassing the rules of filmmaking, is in one sense, of course, good and celebratory; but just as likely it is part and parcel with a justification of the consumerist ethos in cinema. The standard line about the French film critics in the 1950s and '60s (and their followers) was that they looked at genre cinema and realized some of it was great, contra some moldier bourgeois notions of high (film) art. True enough as a historical summary, assuming we all accept the crudeness of the formulation. But I feel like, in my generation, what this means is essentially now a carte blanche to always defend Hollywood against any attack. "There's no high and low anymore--I reject your false binaries!" Is it just me, or do invocations of nobrow, high-low-boundary-transgressing more often than not come from quarters that wish to defend Hollywood or otherwise corporate product, and almost never in defense of the stuff that doesn't have millions of dollars backing it up? As though stuffy highbrows are/were the real problem with society. (Someone like the great Jahsonic would prove an exception to this rule of course.) Where are the waves of attacks on hi-lo misconceptions that seek to defend the truly marginal works in our industry or in our larger culture, instead of only the movie-with-a-$50-million-marketing-budget? I want to see more cinephiles (this includes myself) write a few words also about some schlocky videofilm maestro, or an avant-garde horror filmmaker causing a stir among locals in the Cleveland area. Renew or re-engage cinema as something that has local clout (rather than being a product of international marketing & distribution schemes), that has to do with people more than the market, something that is wrested just a bit more out of the fingers of profit seekers. (I mean, I think this is more important film cultural and political goal than trying to explain how The Matrix and V for Vendetta are subversive.)
Otherwise, I just feel like the through-line ("Hey, those French guys saw that Hollywood entertainment could also be great art") has become this kind of platonic catch-all, brutally extracted from its historical development and nuances and applied with zeal to any number of for-profit entertainments, so that the origins of the auteurist polemic (which involved standards, erudition, and even a political dimension that was in some cases quite laudable) are appropriated entirely on the basis of their most reactionary-romantic elements to act as mass apologia for all the sanctioned-and-sold Hollywood "auteurs" of today--whether Michael Bay on the disreputable end or Steven Soderbergh on the respectable one.
But an impulse to have faith in the deliberately mass-consumed (whether "low" or "mainstream") in our current age is, if it is indeed to be held as a cardinal rule of cultural connoisseurship, best tempered by a dialectical impulse toward skepticism and mistrust of a spartan/maoist variety, a healthy unwillingness to never take capital or the state on its own terms, to never accept their products, to always read a cultural product in terms of its function in the economy (in this case, generally, as part of culture industry) and as an ideological operation in the interests of its moneyed patrons if not always its authors and craftspersons.