THE DIRECTORS VIDEO ESSAY SERIES: BY COLE SMITHEY

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

JOSEPH LOSEY: ENIGMA

LINA WERTMÜLLER: THE SOCIALIST AUTEUR

YASUJURO OZU : THE HUMAN PERSPECTIVE

STEVEN SPIELBERG: POPULIST

AKIRA KUROSAWA: PIONEER

TAKESHI KITANO: RENAISSANCE MAN

SOFIA COPPOLA: AUTEUR

 ROBERT ALTMAN: SATIRIST

 JIM JARMUSCH: OUTLIER

 SAM PECKINPAH: LIBERATOR

 KEN LOACH: SOCIAL REALIST

 JOE CARNAHAN: THE BEST-KEPT SECRET

 CATHERINE BREILLAT: TRANSGRESSOR

 WERNER HERZOG: MENSCH

DAVID FINCHER: MODERNIST

WILLIAM FRIEDKIN: THE MUSCLE

JOHN CASSAVETES: INDIE ICON

PAUL VERHOEVEN: REBEL

LARS VON TRIER: PROVOCATEUR

QUENTIN TARANTINO: MAVERICK

 ALFRED HITCHCOCK: MASTER OF SUSPENSE

 LUIS BUNUEL: FETISHIST

September 07, 2018

CRITERION CLASS WITH COLE SMITHEY —THE IMMIGRANT STORY

September 05, 2018

TED RALL BY TED RALL

Ted Rall

August 28, 2018

John McCain Knew the Difference Between Right and Wrong. He Chose Wrong.

During the 2008 Republican presidential primaries, I wrote a syndicated opinion column about John McCain, who then seemed likely to emerge as the GOP nominee. As Americans assess McCain’s life and legacy, this ten-year-old assessment still holds up. Bear in mind, this was written before some of McCain’s more egregious warmongering, such as his attempts to stir up U.S. military attacks against Iran, Syria and Russia, not to mention his decision to pick Sarah Palin as his running mate.

Mccain-palin

Puffing Up John McCain, POW
by Ted Rall
February 5, 2008

“A proven leader, and a man of integrity,” the New York Post called John McCain in its editorial endorsement. “A naval aviator shot down over North Vietnam and held as a POW, McCain knew that freedom was his for the taking. All he had to do was denounce his country. He refused–and, as a consequence, suffered years of unrelenting torture.”

This standard summary of McCain’s five and a half years in the Hanoi Hilton, repeated in thousands of media accounts during his 2000 campaign and again this election year, is the founding myth of his political career. The tale of John McCain, War Hero prompts a lot of people turned off by his politics–liberals and traditional conservatives alike–to support him. Who cares that he “doesn’t really understand economics”? He’s got a great story to tell.

Scratch the surface of McCain’s captivity narrative, however, and a funny thing happens: his heroism blows away like the rust from a vintage POW bracelet.

In the fall of 1967 McCain was flying bombing runs over North Vietnam from the U.S.S. Oriskany, an aircraft carrier in the South China Sea. On October 26, the 31-year-old pilot was part of a 20-plane squadron assigned to destroy infrastructure in the North Vietnamese capital. He flew his A-4 Skyhawk over downtown Hanoi toward his target, a power plant. As he pulled up after releasing his bombs, his fighter jet was hit by a surface-to-air missile. A wing came off. McCain’s plane plunged into Truc Bach Lake.

Mai Van On, a 50-year-old resident of Hanoi, watch the crash and left the safety of his air-raid shelter to rescue him. Other Vietnamese tried to stop him. “Why do you want to go out and rescue our enemy?” they yelled. Ignoring his countrymen, On grabbed a pole and swam to the spot where McCain’s plane had gone down in 16 feet of water. McCain had managed to free himself from the wrecked plane but was stuck underwater, ensnared by his parachute. On used his pole to untangle the ropes and pull the semi-conscious pilot to the surface. McCain was in bad shape, having broken his arm and a leg in several places.

McCain is lucky the locals didn’t finish him off. U.S. bombs had killed hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese civilians, many in Hanoi. Ultimately between one and two million innocents would be shredded, impaled, blown to bits and dissolved by American bombs. Now that one of their tormentors had fallen into their hands, they had a rare chance to get even. “About 40 people were standing there,” On later recalled. “They were about to rush him with their fists and stones. I asked them not to kill him. He was beaten for a while before I could stop them.” He was turned over to local policemen, who transferred him to the military.

What if one of the hijackers who destroyed the World Trade Center had somehow crash-landed in the Hudson River? How long would he have lasted? Would anyone have risked his life to rescue him?

An impolite question: If a war is immoral, can those who fight in it–even those who demonstrate courage–be heroes? If the answer is yes, was Reagan wrong to honor the SS buried at Bitburg? No less than Iraq, Vietnam was an undeclared, illegal war of aggression that did nothing to keep America safe. Tens of millions of Americans felt that way. Millions marched against the war; tens of thousands of young men fled the country to avoid the draft. McCain, on the other hand, volunteered.

McCain knew that what he was doing was wrong. Three months before he fell into that Hanoi lake, he barely survived when his fellow sailors accidentally fired a missile at his plane while it was getting ready to take off from his ship. The blast set off bombs and ordnance across the deck of the aircraft carrier. The conflagration, which took 24 hours to bring under control, killed 132 sailors. A few days later, a shaken McCain told a New York Times reporter in Saigon: “Now that I’ve seen what the bombs and the napalm did to the people on our ship, I’m not so sure that I want to drop any more of that stuff on North Vietnam.”

Yet he did.

“I am a war criminal,” McCain said on “60 Minutes” in 1997. “I bombed innocent women and children.” Although it came too late to save the Vietnamese he’d killed 30 years earlier, it was a brave statement. Nevertheless, he smiles agreeably as he hears himself described as a “war hero” as he arrives at rallies in a bus marked “No Surrender.”

McCain’s tragic flaw: He knows the right thing. He often sets out to do the right thing. But he doesn’t follow through. We saw McCain’s weak character in 2000, when the Bush campaign defeated him in the crucial South Carolina primary by smearing his family. Placing his presidential ambitions first, he swallowed his pride, set aside his honor, and campaigned for Bush against Al Gore. It came up again in 2005, when McCain used his POW experience as a POW to convince Congress to pass, and Bush to sign, a law outlawing torture of detainees at Guantánamo and other camps. But when Bush issued one of his infamous “signing statements” giving himself the right to continue torturing–in effect, negating McCain’s law–he remained silent, sucking up to Bush again.

McCain’s North Vietnamese captors demanded that he confess to war crimes. “Every two hours,” according to a 2007 profile in the Arizona Republic, “one guard would hold McCain while two others beat him. They kept it up for four days…His right leg, injured when he was shot down, was horribly swollen. A guard yanked him to his feet and threw him down. His left arm smashed against a bucket and broke again.”

McCain later recalled that he was at the point of suicide. But he was no Jean Moulin, the French Resistance leader who refused to talk under torture, and killed himself. According to “The Nightingale’s Song,” a book by Robert Timberg, “[McCain] looked at the louvered cell window high above his head, then at the small stool in the room.” He took off his dark blue prison shirt, rolled it like a rope, draped one end over his shoulder near his neck, began feeding the other end through the louvers.” He was too slow. A guard entered and pulled him away from the window.

I’ve never been tortured. I have no idea what I’d do. Of course, I’d like to think that I could resist or at least commit suicide before giving up information. Odds are, however, that I’d crack. Most people do. And so did McCain. “I am a black criminal and I have performed the deeds of an air pirate,” McCain wrote in his confession. “I almost died and the Vietnamese people saved my life, thanks to the doctors.”

It wasn’t the first time McCain broke under pressure. After his capture, wrote the Republic, “He was placed in a cell and told he would not receive any medical treatment until he gave military information. McCain refused and was beaten unconscious. On the fourth day, two guards entered McCain’s cell. One pulled back the blanket to reveal McCain’s injured knee. ‘It was about the size, shape and color of a football,’ McCain recalled. Fearful of blood poisoning that would lead to death, McCain told his captors he would talk if they took him to a hospital.”

McCain has always been truthful about his behavior as a POW, but he has been more than willing to allow others to lie on his behalf. “A proven leader, and a man of integrity,” The New York Post says, and he’s happy to take it. “All he had to do was denounce his country. He refused…” Not really. He did denounce his country. But he didn’t demand a retraction.

It’s the old tragic flaw: McCain knows what he ought to do. He starts to do the right thing. But John McCain is a weak man who puts his career goals first.

Later that year, I reminded readers that there was nothing honorable about the Vietnam War:

Every presidential candidacy relies on a myth. Reagan was a great communicator; Clinton felt your pain. Both storylines were ridiculous. But rarely are the constructs used to market a party nominee as transparent or as fictional as those we’re being asked to swallow in 2008.

On the left–OK, not–we have Barack Obama. “The best orator of his generation!” says Ed Rendell, the Democratic power broker who has a day job as governor of Pennsylvania. “The best orator since Cicero!” Republican strategist Mary Matalin swoons. No doubt, Obama reads a mean speech. Take his Teleprompter away, though, and the dude is as lost as George Bush at a semiotics class. Forced to answer reporters’ questions off the cuff, Obama is so afraid of messing up that he…carefully…spaces…each…word…apart…so…he…can…see…them…coming…wayyy…in…advance.

Still more laughable than the notion of Obama as the second coming of JFK is the founding myth of the McCain campaign: (a) he is a war hero, and (b) said heroism increases his credibility on national security issues. “A Vietnam hero and national security pro,” The New York Times calls him in a typical media blandishment.

John McCain fought in Vietnam. There was nothing noble, much less heroic, about fighting in that war.

Some Americans may be suffering another of the periodic attacks of national amnesia that prevent us from honestly assessing our place in the world and its history, but others recall the truth about Vietnam: it was a disastrous, unjustifiable mess that anyone with an ounce of sense was against at the time.

Between one and two million Vietnamese and 58,000 Americans were sent to their deaths by a succession of presidents and Congresses–fed to the flames of greed, hubris, and stupidity. The event used to justify starting the war–the Tonkin Gulf “incident”–never happened. The Vietnam War’s ideological foundation, the mantra cited to keep it going, was disproved after we lost. No Southeast Asian “dominos” fell to communism. To the contrary, the effect of the U.S. withdrawal was increased stability. When genocide broke out in neighboring Cambodia in the late 1970s, it was not the U.S., but a unified Vietnamese army–the evil communists–who stopped it.

Not even General Wesley Clark, shot four times in Vietnam, is allowed to question the McCain-as-war-hero narrative. “Well, I don’t think riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to be president,” he argued. The Obama campaign, which sells its surrogates down the river with alarming regularity, promptly hung the former NATO commander out to dry: “Senator Obama honors and respects Senator McCain’s service, and of course he rejects yesterday’s statement by General Clark.”

Even in an article criticizing the media for repeatedly framing McCain as a war hero, the liberal website Media Matters concedes: “McCain is, after all, a war hero; everybody agrees about that.”

Not everyone.

I was 12 when the last U.S. occupation troops fled Saigon. I remember how I–and most Americans–felt at the time.

We were relieved.

By the end of Nixon’s first term most people had turned against the war. Gallup polls taken in 1971 found that about 70 percent of Americans thought sending troops to Vietnam had been a mistake. Some believed it was immoral; others considered it unwinnable.

Since then, the political center has shifted right. We’ve seen the Reagan Revolution, Clinton’s Democratic centrism, and Bush’s post-9/11 flirtation with neo-McCarthyite fascism. Nevertheless, the overwhelming majority of Americans–including Republicans–still think we should never have fought the Vietnam War.

“After the war’s 1975 conclusion,” Michael Tomasky wrote in The American Prospect in 2004, “Gallup has asked the question (“Did the U.S. make a mistake in sending troops to fight in Vietnam?”) five times, in 1985, 1990, 1993, 1995, and 2000. All five times…respondents were consistent in calling the war a mistake by a margin of more than 2 to 1: by 74 percent to 22 percent in 1990, for example, and by 69 percent to 24 percent in 2000.”

Moreover, Tomasky continued, “vast majorities continue to call the war ‘unjust.'” Even in 2004, after 9/11, 62 percent considered the war unjust. Only 33 percent still thought it was morally justified.

Vietnam was an illegal, undeclared war of aggression. Can those who fought in that immoral war really be heroes? This question appeared settled after Reagan visited a cemetery for Nazi soldiers, including members of the SS, at Bitburg, West Germany in 1985. “Those young men,” claimed Reagan, “are victims of Nazism also, even though they were fighting in the German uniform, drafted into service to carry out the hateful wishes of the Nazis. They were victims, just as surely as the victims in the concentration camps.”

Americans didn’t buy it. Reagan’s poll numbers, typically between 60 and 65 percent at the time, plunged to 41 percent after the visit. Those who fight for an evil cause receive no praise.

So why is the McCain-as-war-hero myth so hard to unravel? By most accounts, John McCain demonstrated courage as a P.O.W., most notably by refusing his captors’ offer of early release. But that doesn’t make him a hero.

Hell, McCain isn’t even a victim.

At a time when more than a fourth of all combat troops in Vietnam were forcibly drafted (the actual victims), McCain volunteered to drop napalm on “gooks” (his term, not mine). He could have waited to see if his number came up in the draft lottery. Like Bush, he could have used family connections to weasel out of it. Finally, he could have joined the 100,000 draft-eligible males–true heroes, to a man–who went to Canada rather than kill people in a war that was plainly wrong.

When McCain was shot down during his 23rd bombing sortie, he was happily shooting up a civilian neighborhood in the middle of a major city. Vietnamese locals beat him when they pulled him out of a local lake; yeah, that must have sucked. But I can’t help think of what would have happened to Mohammed Atta had he somehow wound up alive on a lower Manhattan street on 9/11. How long would he have lasted?

Maybe he would have made it. I don’t know. But I do know this: no one would ever have considered him a war hero.

August 01, 2018

COMING TO NETFLIX AUGUST 2018

Netflix Now!

Netflix unleashes another month's worth of movie and series titles to keep you glued to your screen. Naturally, they're saving the best for last; "Ozark" season 2 streams on August 31.

August 1 —

Batman Begins

Chernobyl Diaries

Clerks

Constantine

Dreamcatcher

Edge of Fear

Eraser

Gran Torino

House of Deadly Secrets

Los tiempos de Pablo Escobar: Season 1

Million Dollar Baby

No Reservations

Once in a Lifetime Sessions with Moby

Once in a Lifetime Sessions with Nile Rodgers

Once in a Lifetime Sessions with Noel Gallagher

Once in a Lifetime Sessions with TLC

P.S. I Love You

Secretariat

Silverado

Steel Magnolias

Stripes

Switched

The Aviator

The Golden Compass

The Informant!

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement

 

August 2 —

Emelie

 

August 3 —

Brij Mohan Amar Rahe

Cocaine Coast

Dinotrux Supercharged: Season 3

I Am a Killer

Like Father

Marching Orders

 

August 4 —

Flavors of Youth: International Version

Mr. Sunshine (Streaming Every Saturday)

On Children

 

August 5 —

Paid In Full

 

August 9 —

The Originals: Season 5

Perdida

 

August 10 —

72 Dangerous Animals: Asia

Afflicted

All About the Washingtons

Demetri Martin: The Overthinker

Insatiable

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

La casa de las flores

Million Pound Menu

The Package

The Ponysitters Club

Voltron: Legendary Defender: Season 7

Zion

 

August 11 —

No Country For Old Men

 

August 11 —

Alexander: The Ultimate Cut

The Nut Job

Splash and Bubbles: Season 2

 

August 15 —

Adventures in Public School

Hostiles

The 100: Season 5

 

August 15 —

Evan Almighty

Wish I Was Here

 

August 17 —

Disenchantment

Magic for Humans

Pinky Malinky

Spirit Riding Free: Season 6

Stay Here

To All The Boys I've Loved Before

Ultraviolet

 

August 19 —

The Investigator: A British Crime Story: Season 2

 

August 21 —

Year One

 

August 23 —

Deadwind

Follow This

Great News: Season 1

 

August 24 —

The After Party

Ask the StoryBots: Season 2

Bert Kreischer: Secret Time

Ghoul

The Innocents

Trolls: The Beat Goes On!: Season 3

Young & Hungry: Season 5

 

August 28 —

The Good Place: Season 2

 

August 31 —

The Comedy Lineup: Part 2

Inside the Criminal Mind

The Laws of Thermodynamics

Ozark: Season 2

Paradise PD

Ultimate Beastmaster: Survival of the Fittest

Undercover Law

July 24, 2018

TED RALL BY TED RALL

Ted Rall

June 23, 2018

Brie Larson Shills For Positive Film Reviews From Minorities


Brie — the Monster — Larson
Excuse me while I lay out my editorial agenda during this awards ceremony. 

Recently, actress/director Brie Larson used her award acceptance speech (for the Crystal Award for Excellence in Film at the Women In Film + Lucy Awards event) to put forth an ideological agenda intended to push racial and sexual equality among film critics — Rotten Tomatoes’ “Top Critics” specifically.

Affirmative-action comes to film review aggregation. It wasn’t clear whether Larson was attacking Rotten Tomatoes or the corporate media outlets that garner the aggregate film review website’s coveted “Top Critics” designation, but it was clear that she isn’t keen on white male film critics, or even necessarily female film critics for that matter.

DramaBrie Larson savors the smell of her own flatulence.

With heavy sighs Larson quoted stats from a report titled “Critic’s Choice?” by USC’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative under founder and director Stacy L. Smith.

Larson stated, “67 percent of the Top Critics reviewing the 100 highest grossing movies in 2017 were white males, less than a quarter were white women, and less ten percent were unrepresented men, only 2.5 percent of those Top Critics were women of color.”

The authors of Smith’s report propose several solutions for groups that work with or educate critics. Most notably, they offer a set of target inclusion goals for the field.

Smith said, “Groups should think of the phrase 30/30/20/20 — this is the U.S. population breakdown for white males, white females, underrepresented males and underrepresented females.”

“This report reveals the absence of women of color working as reviewers — especially on movies built around female and underrepresented leads.” 

Know that the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative has multiple corporate partners including, but not limited to, Google, Epix, Sony Pictures Entertainment, and Walt Disney. You couldn’t get much closer to Hollywood than USC if you tried. “Tainted by industry involvement” rolls off the lips so easily in this context. 

Rotten Tomatoes “Top Critics” (full disclosure, I am not on that lofty list) is an elite group favored by a system that grandfathers in critics hired to write for old-school media outlets such as Newsday, The Washington Post, or the Village Voice. Jane Doe might never have written a film review in her life, but as soon as she gets hired by the Arizona Republic to write about movies, she wins the coveted crown of Top Critic on Rotten Tomatoes. La dee da.  

This is important to know considering that, in her speech, Larson illogically reached out to minority [would-be] bloggers whose chances at becoming a Rotten Tomatoes “Top Critic” is considerably less than the already thorny task of being admitted as a Rotten Tomatoes critic in the first place. Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t typically recognize independent blogs.

Larson said, “We [Hollywood] are expanding to make films that better reflect people that [sic] buy movie tickets, but they are not allowed enough chances to read public discourse on these films by the people that these films were made for.” 

Captain-marvel-brie-larson

Larson seems to have a blind spot for the blockbuster Marvel superhero franchise movies she’s currently involved with as the first female “Captain Marvel,” since that saturated market caters to lowest common denominator movie audiences rather than to the minority-made independent films that Larson uses to mask her actual intention. Evidently, this is what Larson means when she refers to "films that better reflect people that [sic] buy movie tickets." Cough. 

“It really sucks that reviews matter, but reviews matter. Good reviews out of festivals give small independent films a fighting chance to be bought and seen. Good reviews help films gross money, good reviews slingshot films into awards contenders. A good review can change your life; it changed mine.”

Larson clearly wants “good” (positive) reviews for every movie she makes, and she wants those reviews to come from young, (ostensibly under or unemployed) female, minority audiences who she thinks don’t know any better. Larson blatantly shows just how dumb she considers minorities to be. In Brie Larson’s mind, negative reviews are for suckers. Evidently, harnessing Rotten Tomatoes’ algorithmic groupthink for that all-important 100% mark looms large in a movie industry attempting to manufacture [non]critical opinion.

The intent here seems to be to force a utopic vision of critical equality down the nation’s throat via Rotten Tomatoes. Nevermind that in this utopic vision, critical thought is the bane of its foundation since Larson’s emphasis is on positive reviews equalling to that precious 100% Rotten Tomatoes score that distributors can then use in advertising. Really. 

Me BrieMe, me, me, me, me, me, me.

Larson comes across as tone-deaf to the fact that the number of rent-paying film critic jobs in this country probably falls well beneath 200 positions. In effect, Brie Larson is trolling for free, young, untrained, uneducated, labor (in the guise of independent bloggers), who she imagines will miraculously be anointed as Top Critics on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s strange that Larson doesn’t prioritize the safety of American immigrants and black people being hunted like animals in this country. Larson’s social posturing all about her livelihood, not theirs. 

As has always been the case throughout history, there needs to be more minority critical voices expressing values and ideas that challenge the status quo — that really do challenge the status quo (think John Waters's "Multiple Maniacs" in 1970). Think David Lynch with "Eraserhead" in 1977.

It is clear that challenging the status quo is not what Brie Larson or Stacy L. Smith are encouraging or promoting, quite the opposite. Larson and Smith represent the worst aspects of the status quo because they mask their capitalist motives with a false plea for human equality, the last thing that either of these duplicitous women want for themselves, or for the world. 

Brie Larson didn’t spare the insults. “I do not need a 40-year-old white dude to tell me what didn’t work for him about “A Wrinkle In Time,” it wasn’t made for him. I wanna know what that film meant to women of color, to biracial women, to teen women of color, to teens that are biracial.”

Justin-chang

As Justin Chang pointed out in his brilliant piece for the LA Times on this issue, “Who is this movie for?” is an inherently limiting question” that “leads to ridiculous generalizations.” The result of “writing off men [critics] as a gender is hard to do without projecting a similarly dim view of women.” Yep.

Chang went on to say, “Above all, “Who is this movie for?” rules out the possibility of sympathetic imagination, the ability to empathize with a perspective other than one’s own, as the chief impulse behind artistic depiction and appreciation. We negate the possibility of sympathetic imagination when we assume that someone’s particular affinity for a work of art will be dictated in advance by specifics of race, gender and age. It’s not that those specifics aren’t factors. It’s that some have a tendency to mistake factors for absolutes.” 

It seems that Brie Larson doesn’t know the first thing about film criticism. I didn’t “need” a 55-year-old white lady (namely Pauline Kael) to tell me what "didn’t work" for her regarding Bernardo Bertolucci’s “1900” (my favorite film of all time), but I can re-read Kael’s negative review of that film over and over because her writing and perspective is so rich. Passion. Pure passion. You want to know what makes a great film critic like Justin Chang or Pauline Kael so great? Passion. You either have it or you don't. If you want to be a film critic then you've got to dirty but keep it immaculately clean the whole time. Hunter S. Thompson, I salute you brother. 

I get a serious intellectual and emotional kick out of reading Pauline Kael tear my favorite movie apart. That's entertainment. And, let me tell you I got my money's worth.

Any criticism of art is about resonance, not redundancy. I’d be bored stiff reading a film review that patronized me the way Brie Larson’s idea of film criticism portends. I already have my own opinions, I don’t want to be told what I already think or know. I'm grown up enough to know that different people will have different opinions than my own. So what? That's how we prove our respect for one another. 

Larson exploited the #MeToo movement to smear white male film critics with the same dung used on such reprehensible examples such as Donald Trump, and Harvey Weinstein. Ms. Larson made a point to sniffle for dramatic effect and roll her eyes while reeling off statistics about the disproportionate number of white male critics as opposed to “people of color;” meanwhile Stanislavsky rolled over in his grave. Method acting be damned, this was ham acting at its worst.

“Am I saying that I hate white dudes?” “No (complete with snotty vocal fry), I’m not.” Except, she was; Brie Larson was very clearly stating that she hates “white dudes.”

This is exclusion, not inclusion, territory. Larson isn’t promoting independent thought, far from it. We learn from Larson’s speech that now movies are made for specific classes, if not nationalities, of audiences. White males are not invited to the party.

Larson put a fine point on it. “And, for the third time, I don’t hate white dudes.” 

Believe me, Brie Larson, we “white dudes” get just how much you hate us. You don’t need to deny it anymore. Clearly, Brie Larson has an issue with older white men. All the more reason for Stacy L. Smith to use Larson as a Trojan Horse to smuggle through a pork-barrel ideology designed to push out professional film critics (i.e. film historians) engaging in the demands of the job, which intrinsically prioritizes criticizing faults and flaws of any movie as based on years of experience working in the medium. Larson’s speech (ostensibly authored by Smith) humble shames cheap or free minority labor to do their bidding, namely writing positive film reviews at the expense of professional integrity. It’s as though they [Smith and Larson] were shilling for good Yelp reviews.   

Still, the immediate net effect of Larson’s war on critical thought has been superficially positive so far, if you don’t count the potential effect it will have on film critic jobs currently held by “white dudes over 40.” The Sundance Film Festival and the Toronto Film Festival have pledged that 20 percent of their press credentials be given to underrepresented journalists and critics. There is, however, no small amount of irony in the fact that The Toronto Film Festival famously and frequently charges journalists to attend. Then there’s the fact of a journalist having to bankroll flight and hotel bookings before setting out to complete a workload of writing (if done well) that would make a college student cramming for exams look lazy by comparison. 

From a critical perspective, Brie Larson’s speech was ignorant, preachy, and cynical. It was ageist, racist, and sexist. Larson delivered her frequently patronizing lines like a petulant spoiled child talking above her education level. The actress went so far as to break the forth wall to pat herself on the back during the speech for positive reviews of her own film “The Room.” Larson lacked charisma. The social themes that Larson equated to human equality lacked the necessary humanitarian foundation that she pretended to imbue. She could not conceal the capitalist subtext simmering beneath the surface of her awkward argument. The speech was unwatchable for its pathological loathing of “white” men.

You can easily extrapolate that 10 years from now, another version of Brie Larson will come along to bemoan how he or she doesn’t need 30-year-old woman of color to tell them what didn’t work for them regarding a movie that wasn’t made for them. These are treacherous waters.  

I don’t “need” to be berated by rich white women for doing the work that my passions lead me to do, namely working as a film critic. I consider myself lucky to be able to constantly study, celebrate, and criticize the medium of Global Cinema for its universality of the human condition. I take umbrage when someone goes out of their way to insult and diminish me as a professional and as a human being based on my race and age. I give Brie Larson and Stacy L. Smith a grade of F for attempting to subvert the nature of Cinema as something to be segregated rather than embraced by all.    

May 19, 2018

CANNES 2018 AWARDS COMPLETE

COMPETITION

SHOPLIFTERS

Palme d’Or: “Shoplifters,” Hirokazu Kore-eda

Grand Prix: BlacKkKlansman,” Spike Lee

Director: Pawel Pawlikowski, “Cold War”

Actor: Marcello Fonte, ”Dogman”

Actress: Samal Yeslyamova, “Ayka”

Jury Prize: Nadine Labaki, “Capernaum”

Screenplay — TIE: Alice Rohrwacher, “Happy as Lazzaro” AND Jafar Panahi, Nader Saeivar, “3 Faces”

Special Palme d’Or: Jean-Luc Godard

OTHER PRIZES

Girls

Camera d’Or: “Girl,” Lukas Dhont

Short Films Palme d’Or: “All These Creatures,” Charles Williams

Short Films Special Mention: “On the Border,” Shujun Wei

Golden Eye Documentary Prize: TBA

Ecumenical Jury Prize: “Capernaum,” Nadine Labaki

Ecumenical Jury Special Mention: “BlacKkKlansman,” Spike Lee

Queer Palm: “Girl,” Lukas Dhont

UN CERTAIN REGARD

Border

Un Certain Regard Award: Ali Abbasi, “Border”

Best Director: Sergei Loznitsa, “Donbass”

Best Performance: Victor Polster, “Girl”

Best Screenplay: Meryem Benm’Barek, “Sofia”

Special Jury Prize: João Salaviza & Renée Nader Messora, “The Dead and the Others”

DIRECTORS’ FORTNIGHT

Climax

Art Cinema Award: “Climax” (Gaspar Noé)

Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers Prize: “The Trouble With You” (Pierre Salvadori)

Europa Cinemas Label: “Lucia’s Grace (Gianni Zanasi)

Illy Short Film Award: “Skip Day” (Patrick Bresnan, Ivete Lucas)

CRITICS’ WEEK

Diamantino

Grand Prize: “Diamantino” (Gabriel Abrantes, Daniel Schmidt)

Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers Prize: “Woman at War” (Benedikt Erlingsson)

GAN Foundation Award for Distribution: “Sir”

Louis Roederer Foundation Rising Star Award: Felix Maritaud, “Sauvage.”

Short Film: “Hector Malot – The Last Day Of The Year” (Jacqueline Lentzou)

FIPRESCI

Burning-Lee-Chang-dong

Competition: “Burning,” (Lee Chang-dong)

Un Certain Regard: “Girl,” (Lukas Dhont)

Directors’ Fortnight/Critics’ Week: “One Day” (Zsófa Szilagyi)

CINÉFONDATION

Electric-lion

First Prize: “The Summer of the Electric Lion,” Diego Céspedes

Second Prize — TIE: “Calendar,” Igor Poplauhin AND “The Storms in Our Blood,” Shen Di

Third Prize: “Inanimate,” Lucia Bulgheroni

May 18, 2018

Un Certain Regard 2018 Prizes — CANNES 2018

opening

Un Certain Regard winners 2018 © C. Bouilland/ FDC

Un Certain Regard 2018 presented 18 films in competition. 6 of them were first films. The Opening film was DONBASS by Sergei Loznitsa.
Under the presidency of Benicio Del Toro (Puerto Rican-American actor), the Jury was comprised of Annemarie Jacir (Palestinian director and writer), Kantemir Balagov (Russian director), Virginie Ledoyen (French actress) and Julie Huntsinger (American executive director, Telluride Film Festival).

“We feel that out of 2000 films considered by the Festival, the 18 we saw in UN CERTAIN REGARD – from Argentina to China – were all in their own way winners. Over the past 10 days, we were extremely impressed by the high quality of the work presented, but in the end we were the most moved by the following 5 films.

—The Jury

“UN CERTAIN REGARD” PRIZE

GRÄNS(BORDER) by Ali ABBASI

PRIZE FOR BEST SCREENPLAY

SOFIA by Meryem BENM’BAREK

PRIZE FOR BEST PERFORMANCE

Victor POLSTER for GIRL by Lukas DHONT

PRIZE FOR BEST DIRECTOR

Sergei Loznitsa for DONBASS

JURY SPECIAL PRIZE

CHUVA É CANTORIA NA ALDEIA DOS MORTOS
(The Dead and The Others)

by João SALAVIZA and Renée NADER MESSORA

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