in nyc | more manohla

by eug
October 1, 2007 7:53 AM
3 Comments
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Movie industry types are afraid of Manohla Dargis. I recently ran across a company exec who was crushed by her review of a new film from his company, while a PR exec at a different company said that she is always afraid when she hears that Manohla is reviewing one of her films. If you ask me, Dargis is an opinionated moviegoer who writes exceptionally well. She is a must-read critic. And even though it may drive some people crazy, I also appreciate when she ties her criticism to a broader examination of the business.

In a week when the heads of four different "classics divisions" complained to me at length about the current treachery surrounding the release of specialty movies, in a recent New York Times article she offered a statement that I firmly agree with. It may not provide answers, but its a truth that should inspire people to try things differently, or at least experiment a bit:

Cinemania is alive and well on the Internet, notably in blogs, where young movie nuts rant and rave and help cultivate one another’s cinematic interests. This is heartening, but film — especially the kind that distinguishes this year’s edition of the New York Film Festival — needs more than passion. It needs an audience, a paying public. If we don’t cultivate a new generation of movie lovers who get excited at the very idea of a Hou Hsiao-hsien film, we may as well hold a memorial service for foreign-language-film theatrical distribution right now.

You bring the flowers; I’ll bring the Scotch.

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3 Comments

  • Sujewa | October 1, 2007 10:26 AMReply

    How's about a link to the Dargis article. I am lazy :)
    Thanks.

    - Sujewa

  • Tom | October 1, 2007 9:37 AMReply

    Been writing about this topic for years and I loved reading Manohla's article this weekend as well... But I also agreed with the cinetrix, who wrote:

    "The cutesy kicker points up part of the problem facing festivals and the future of foreign-language-film theatrical distribution. If art house cinema can be no country for old men if it is to survive, ditch the old-man drinks. And the name-checking of Bergman and Antonioni that smacks of laurel-resting and "kids today" muttering may not be the best way to bring "young movie nuts" through the doors. If they can afford to gamble $16 to $40 on a ticket, that is. It's true that bloggers "rant and rave and help cultivate one another'€™s cinematic interests," but it's not always such a circle jerk."

    I agree with that; Why is the on-line community not enough to get started? This seems to me the place where all consumers are residing, not just film consumers. Add to that the fact that the film industry currently treats its customers like criminals by frisking them at festival screenings, and that the vast majority of people in this country have NO access to a movie theater playing these films and when they do, it is in a shopping mall atmosphere designed for teenagers, and that there is almost NO marketing money spent on these films, well, the industry is sort of its own worst enemy. In addition, when distributors and foreign sales agents treat these films like rarefied objects instead of using regional festivals to their best advantage, they continue to get their films under-screened and under seen, which only hurts theatrical AND ancillary revenue.

    Finally, our nation is at its most isolated and xenophobic right now; People are literally afraid of the outside world. We need a blossoming of international engagement on a political front that will once again inspire curiosity and engagement on a personal front. Until then, people like you and I are outsiders in our own country. Sad, but true. Look at the Top 20 box office for this week and tell me what that says about the nation.

    Good post, Eug.

  • Mark Rabinowitz | October 1, 2007 8:43 AMReply

    Ok, I'll say it: I agree 100% with her on this.
    *shocking!*