Certain filmmakers, say Nicolas Winding Refn or Quentin Tarantino, interest me for a number of reasons - but not necessarily because I think they offer complex investigations of ethics - or, in cases where the ethics might be more complex, because they point to ethically sound conclusions to problems of violence, vengeance, social dysfunction, or representation.
The purely formalist critic can bracket off messier cultural, social, and/or ethical questions to one side; it can be easy then to presume that the thorny questions of non-formal meaning an object offers are containable and possible - even preferable - to ignore. (Even if one's personal political opinions might "happen" to veer toward Straub-Huillet rather than Riefenstahl). But for the critic who is interested in form but also in the world of this form, the world this form must always inhabit, an array of problems come into focus.
One of the major problems, for the critic, is the question of legitimacy. What counts as a proper object of analysis - do we legitimate harmful culture when we give it our attention, and when cultural intellectuals expend verbiage on such products? To an extent, this is true. But if this is the only strategy, the single overall strategy, then the cultural critic has hamstrung herself with the efficacy of the merely personal boycott - i.e., a pointless project whose usefulness is solely inward. To me this suggests something of the "aestheticization of politics" (pace Benjamin) which projects aesthetics onto the final domain of all other human endeavors. It would be better to push outward, instead, and to remind ourselves that the serious investigation of aesthetics need not lead to its supersession over all other domains (ethical, moral, social, and so on).