Film Criticism Quotes

Quotes tagged as "film-criticism" (showing 1-7 of 7)
Christopher Hitchens
“To describe this film as dishonest and demagogic would almost be to promote those terms to the level of respectability. To describe this film as a piece of crap would be to run the risk of a discourse that would never again rise above the excremental. To describe it as an exercise in facile crowd-pleasing would be too obvious. Fahrenheit 9/11 is a sinister exercise in moral frivolity, crudely disguised as an exercise in seriousness. It is also a spectacle of abject political cowardice masking itself as a demonstration of 'dissenting' bravery.”
Christopher Hitchens

Georges Duhamel
“I can no longer think what I want to think. My thoughts have been replaced by moving images.”
Georges Duhamel, Scènes de la vie future

“This is not the "relativism of truth" presented by journalistic takes on postmodernism. Rather, the ironist's cage is a state of irony by way of powerlessness and inactivity: In a world where terrorism makes cultural relativism harder and harder to defend against its critics, marauding international corporations follow fair-trade practices, increasing right-wing demagoguery and violence can't be answered in kind, and the first black U.S. president turns out to lean right of center, the intelligentsia can see no clear path of action. Irony dominates as a "mockery of the promise and fitness of things," to return to the OED definition of irony.

This thinking is appropriate to Wes Anderson, whose central characters are so deeply locked in ironist cages that his films become two-hour documents of them rattling their ironist bars. Without the irony dilemma Roth describes, we would find it hard to explain figures like Max Fischer, Steve Zissou, Royal Tenenbaum, Mr. Fox, and Peter Whitman. I'm not speaking here of specific political beliefs. The characters in question aren't liberals; they may in fact, along with Anderson himself, have no particular political or philosophical interests. But they are certainly involved in a frustrated and digressive kind of irony that suggests a certain political situation. Though intensely self-absorbed and central to their films, Anderson's protagonists are neither heroes nor antiheroes. These characters are not lovable eccentrics. They are not flawed protagonists either, but are driven at least as much by their unsavory characteristics as by any moral sense. They aren't flawed figures who try to do the right thing; they don't necessarily learn from their mistakes; and we aren't asked to like them in spite of their obvious faults. Though they usually aren't interested in making good, they do set themselves some kind of mission--Anderson's films are mostly quest movies in an age that no longer believes in quests, and this gives them both an old-fashioned flavor and an air of disillusionment and futility.”
Arved Mark Ashby, Popular Music and the New Auteur: Visionary Filmmakers After MTV

Stanley Kubrick
[When asked if he had ever learned anything about his work from film criticism]
No. To see a film once and write a review is an absurdity. Yet very few critics ever see a film twice or write about films from a leisurely, thoughtful perspective. The reviews that distinguish most critics, unfortunately, are those slambang pans which are easy to write and fun to write and absolutely useless. There's not much in a critic showing off how clever he is at writing silly, supercilious gags about something he hates.”
Stanley Kubrick

James Agee
“Today, The Birth of it Nation (1915) is boycotted or shown piecemeal; too many more or less well-meaning people still accuse Griffith of having made it an anti-Negro movie. At best, this is nonsense, and at worst, it is vicious nonsense. Even if it were an anti-Negro movie, a work of such quality should be shown, and shown whole. But the accusation is unjust. Griffith went to almost preposterous lengths to be fair to the Negroes as he understood them, and he understood them as a good type of Southerner does. I don’t entirely agree with him; nor can I be sure that the film wouldn’t cause trouble and misunderstanding, especially as advertised and exacerbated by contemporary abolitionists; but Griffith’s absolute desire to be fair, and understandable, is written all over the picture; so are degrees of understanding, honesty, and compassion far beyond the capacity of his accusers. So, of course, are the salient facts of the so-called Reconstruction years.”
James Agee

James Agee
“[On D. W. Griffith]
Even in Griffith’s best work there is enough that is poor, or foolish, or merely old-fashioned, so that one has to understand, if by no means forgive, those who laugh indiscriminately at his good work and his bad. (With all that “understanding,” I look forward to killing, some day, some specially happy giggler at the exquisite scene in which the veteran comes home, in The Birth of a Nation) But even his poorest work was never just bad. Whatever may be wrong with it, there is in every instant, so well as I can remember, the unique purity and vitality of birth or of a creature just born and first exerting its unprecedented, incredible strength; and there are, besides, Griffith’s overwhelming innocence and magnanimity of spirit; his moral and poetic earnestness; his joy in his work; and his splendid intuitiveness, directness, common sense, daring, and skill as an inventor and as an artist. Aside from his talent or genius as an inventor and artist, he was all heart; and ruinous as his excesses sometimes were in that respect, they were inseparable from his virtues, and small beside them. He was remarkably good, as a rule, in the whole middle range of feeling, but he was at his best just short of his excesses, and he tended in general to work out toward the dangerous edge. He was capable of realism that has never been beaten and he might, if he had been able to appreciate his powers as a realist, have found therein his growth and salvation. But he seems to have been a realist only by accident, hit-and-run; essentially, he was a poet. He doesn’t appear ever to have realized one of the richest promises that movies hold, as the perfect medium for realism raised to the level of high poetry; nor, oddly enough, was he much of a dramatic poet. But in epic and lyrical and narrative visual poetry, I can think of nobody who has surpassed him, and of few to compare with him. And as a primitive tribal poet, combining something of the bard and the seer, he is beyond even Dovshenko, and no others of their kind have worked in movies.”
James Agee, Film Writing and Selected Journalism

James Agee
“[On D. W. Griffith]
What he had above all, his ability as a craftsman and artist, would be hard enough—and quite unnecessary—to write of, if we had typical scenes before us, or within recent memory; since we have seen so little of his work in so many years, it is virtually impossible. I can remember very vividly his general spirit and manner-heroic, impetuous, tender, magniloquent, naive, beyond the endowment or daring of anybody since; just as vividly, I can remember the total impression of various major sequences. By my remembrance, his images were nearly always a little larger and wilder than life. The frame was always full, spontaneous, and lively. He knew wonderfully well how to contrast and combine different intensities throughout an immense range of emotion, movement, shadow, and light. Much of the liveliness was not intrinsic to the characters an the screen or their predicament, but was his own vitality and emotion; and much of it—notably in the amazing flickering and vivacity of his women—came of his almost maniacal realization of the importance of expressive movement.”
James Agee, Agee on Film, Vol. 2: Five Film Plays