I sometimes find myself defending accessible mainstream movies vs. more inaccessible, arcane fare. I often get mad at pretentious or indulgent airborne movies that never touch the ground, that don't make sense. (I embraced Miranda July's The Future
but rejected The Limits of Control
, from a filmmaker I usually admire, Jim Jarmusch. I couldn't believe that anyone took Southland Tales
seriously.) I believe in communication between moviemaker and audience. But you will never find me arguing in defense of the middlebrow vs. the highbrow. I seek smart, sharp, innovative, authentic movies, not ones that pander to some perceived middle ground. With many studio movies, I often wish I was watching the leaner art-film version that didn't try to appeal to everyone. But I dove headlong into the IMAX 3-D of Avatar
and Transformers: Dark of the Moon
--both were worth every penny.
I was appalled by Stephen Farber's essay defending the middlebrow in the LAT last week, which argued in favor of old-fashioned movies such as The Help. Clearly, so was LAT contributor Mark Olsen, who responds here. Olsen argues:
The retort to Farber's position is simply and obviously this: Today is not 50 years ago… and the best films should aim to reflect that with a clear-eyed awareness in their context and perspective and a strong reach for more...The problem is not with the middlebrow in itself — and really, a film such as “Bridesmaids” likely represents the true New Middle more than “The Help” — the problem lies with opting for the obvious and becoming complicit with the incurious. Aiming for the middle is too often an excuse to aim too low.”