Monday, April 15, 2002

There is a rather snarky attack on Harry Knowles and Ain't it Cool News by Stephen Metcalfe over in Slate. Basically, it acuses Harry and his minions of being obsessed with "generic" Hollywood movies, and being basically a generator of the sort of hype that causes people to overlook quality, and that the site has a "trivial, scoop-grubbing mentality".

Harry Knowles has his faults, and an overblown style may be one of them, but I don't think being obsessed with the trivial is one of them. Actually, what I find interesting about the site is that as a source of information on obscure, foreign, interesting, and esoteric movies, it has few rivals. In the world of film, there are mainstream Hollywood movies, then there are what might be referred to as "festival" films - films that might get shown at Cannes or Toronto or Sundance, and if they are any good might then get a release in (probably non-multiplex) cinemas. Between them, these films are what most mainstream critics will see, and most critics end of year best lists will feature films from these two categories. Then there is the pop cultural detritus of the rest of the world: gangster films from Hong Kong and greater China, Asian animation, weird post-communist stuff coming out of Eastern Europe, and lots more. Harry covers that stuff, and throws everything in together to get excited about. In doing so, he lacks the (sometimes odious) snobbery of a lot of the art film crowd, and he enlightens us about stuff we wouldn't see otherwise. Look at his list of the best movies of 2001. You find a few Hollywood movies, a lot more animated and foreign language films than on most lists (particularly foreign language genre movies), plus the odd eastern European science fiction film or the odd piece of Taiwanese glove puppetry. It's a much more interesting and eclectic list than from most of the film snobs.

No comments:

Blog Archive