Quote of the Week: He Said WHAT ?!?!?

by clarencecarter
July 29, 2009 7:10 AM
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From New Yorker scribe Richard Brody, no stranger to silly proclamations (see also: "If there’s a French filmmaker whose work [Joe] Swanberg’s resembles, it’s Philippe Garrel, who has also made an extraordinary career filming his own stories, starring himself, his family, and his friends."):

This Friday marks the opening of another terrific movie, Lorna’s Silence, by the brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. I’ve long admired their work, and this film is as good as anything they’ve made, but there’s one regard in which Apatow has them beat. The Dardenne brothers capture a significant swath of humanity in their films, but nobody who resembles the Dardenne brothers, whereas Apatow puts himself into his movies.

Huh. So, by that token, the Dardennes should drop the shtick about the poor downtrodden souls left behind in the race for European economic union in favor of making films about a pair of Marxist brother filmmakers, and, until then, Judd Apatow has them beat because he makes solipsistic odes to Hollywood and the fat losers who live there?

Brody does manage to halfway climb out of that doozy of a hole with a ringing (parenthetical) endorsement of the Dardennes' brand of cinema:

(Of course, it’s arguable that, by putting himself into his movies, he keeps out of them precisely those kinds of characters who are the Dardenne brothers’ main subjects: the marginalized, the isolated, or, simply, the poor—the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” who are the despised of the world, the often unwelcome immigrants of today—and “Lorna’s Silence” is precisely about such immigrants.)

Yeah, I think if Knocked Up and L'enfant (basically the same movie, really) had faced off in Cannes, the tables would have been turned on those presumptuous Belgians. The world doesn't need more filmmakers interested in class relations and possessing of phenomenally economical storytelling abilities. What it needs is a parade of charmless, paunchy bourgeoisie man-boys poorly framed by a visually retarded director insistent on piling on the gags until his movies compete with Our Hitler: A Film from Germany for "Feels The Longest" honors.

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More: WTF


  • filmenthusiast2000 | August 6, 2009 4:29 AMReply

    More like Richard Grody.

  • clarencecarter | July 30, 2009 4:22 AMReply

    I think your (charitable) interpretation of Brody's comments is probably not far from what he meant to say. In fact, if he'd written almost exactly that, his post probably wouldn't be worth commenting on. Still, it seemed worth highlighting some of the absurdity in the overall conception (let's be honest: the only point he's successfully making about the relationship between the Dardennes and Apatow is that their movies happen to be opening on the same weekend) as well as the clumsiness in the writing. I think the Dardennes are good enough to deserve more than a parenthetical aside praising their overall project.

    One thing, though: does Judd Apatow truly make films about things he personally has experience with (excluding FUNNY PEOPLE)? Has he been or known a forty year-old virgin who works in a stereo store? Has he been a pudgy dude who knocks up an unapproachable blonde and impregnates her on the first try setting off 140 minutes of cinematic tedium? I don't think so. I haven't seen FUNNY PEOPLE yet, but regardless of Apatow's history as a comedian, I'd be surprised to find anything in the main thrust of its narrative that feels like something that might happen to a real person living outside of a movie.

    Maybe Brody's even more wrong than I initially thought...

  • eshman | July 30, 2009 3:36 AMReply

    What's an educated art type? Maybe I'm lacking selfawareness.

    Now if you'll excuse me, Shakespeare and I will go back to making art about what we know - witches, cross-dressers, murderers, Danes, metaphysical shipwrecks. We like to keep it real.

  • eshman | July 30, 2009 2:53 AMReply

    These middle-aged critics go absolutely ape-shit over Apatow. Likely he appeals to both their ego (they can relate, identify, vicariously indulge) and to their magnanimity (bullshit populism). Remember A.O. Scott's review of KNOCKED UP? He called it an "instant classic," and an "improbably persuasive" love story. Do ya think he regrets that one? Now Denby and Brody are tearing off their clothes in hysterical passion. "Masterpiece"..."Jewish soul music"...excitement over Oscar nominations. This too shall pass, but it's fascinating to watch in the meantime.

  • Brad N | July 30, 2009 2:04 AMReply

    This is not that dumb a thing to say. Richard Brody wasn't saying Apatow was 'better' than the Dardennes. He was saying that Apatow makes films that engage with things he personally has experience with whereas the Dardennes stick to making films about the 'working class' without much selfawareness of their position as educated art types purporting to represent a social assemblage through their work.

    And coming from Australia, most films from here are attempts to commodify the working class; to have an air of art by depicting the grimness of small town life when they really aren't very good. The complexity and truth that comes with 'writing what you know' is exchanged for making so-called meaningful films. I'm not saying Apatow is a great director. (I can enjoy his films while acknowledging his limitations). But I sympathise with Brody's comment.

  • brotherfromanother@yahoo.com | July 29, 2009 8:07 AMReply

    Now THAT's sarcasm!

    Seriously, tho, this Brody quote is one of the dumbest things posted in '09 (a banner year, I should add). There is perhaps an argument to be had about the disparity between those lovable, erudite Dardennes and their furtive, ever-scraping characters, but damned if I know what Judd Apatow has to do with it.