... and speaking of 'slow cinema,' just to put my two cents in ... I have to admit that though I am a "fan" (or whatever) of this contemplative cinema adventure - and though I adore Kiarostami, Hong, Tarr, etc. - I do feel some empathy for people, like Steven Shaviro (or perhaps, I would extrapolate, also Olaf Moeller?), who get a little uncomfortable with the polarization of these taste (sub)cultures. Someone like Takashi Miike deserves his due, too! For I have also sat in on the contemplative films of authors I've loved, as with Tsai Ming-liang in Goodbye Dragon Inn, or Claire Denis with L'Intrus, and thought to myself: 'This doesn't seem rich, heady, risk-taking, or beautiful so much as it seems a bit stale, predictable, hitting only pre-approved notes.' I will go to the mat, anytime, for Tsai and Denis as terrific filmmakers; but if I am honest with myself & you there were also some of their films that seemed to be missteps precisely because they appeared to satisfy the conventions of a mold before anything else. This mold seemed to be the aesthetic/stylistic expression of a highly stratified structure of funding & distribution for an elite minority of audiences.* I mean to effect no posture of "anti-elitism" here, as though attacking the cinema of (e.g.) Carlos Reygadas somehow gave me political street cred. In fact I readily embrace a number of filmmakers who cater to this rarefied pocket of connoisseurs. But I think it is worth noting (again if necessary) that this hierarchy is not at all simply aesthetic or intellectual, that it is bound with actual money and coalesces with certain class positions. And therefore it is crucial to maintain the space in which one can speculate that, yes, these art films cater to an audience and to financial masters too ... if not always in the ways of the more vulgar entertainment industry. And so it is legitimate to suspect that sometimes these slow, contemplative festival films are "playing to their market" just as Twilight and Sex and the City 2 are.
One of the great things about (later) Abbas Kiarostami (whose films after Five I've still not yet seen, though I've seen virtually everything up until then) is just how mischievously he toys with these distinctions, consistently finding a middle line among the viewers who've championed him, and then creating a film that divides them again.
* It should go without saying, I hope, that I mean no disrespect to the many people whose tastes I do respect who like, say, L'Intrus and Goodbye Dragon Inn. I am willing to, sooner or later, go back to these movies and re-evaluate them, and would happily change my opinion if that meant I suddenly loved these particular art films that had initially disappointed me. I'm not trying to argue that any particular title is a bad film, only that one's cinephile card - or taste culture passport - should still be honored if one should be so déclassé as to "raise the question."