A discussion has been underway about the kinds of critical favorites that many viewers find impenetrable. Dan Kois writes that he watches movies aspirationally but tires of eating his “cultural vegetables.”
A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis take a scolding tone about how boring mass-produced studio films are.
I’m with Kois on this one, not necessarily about the specific films he likes or doesn’t like (he was bored by “Tulpan,” I wasn’t), but I find Scott and Dargis to be unfairly dismissive of someone who watches aspirationally but doesn’t always “get” it. They suggest, I think, that to be bored at a slow movie is to be somehow inferior, or to perpetuate Hollywood’s status quo. That’s unfair. And they don’t really distinguish between slow movies that are good and slow movies that aren’t. They make a blanket defense of “the slow and the boring,” perpetuating a view that the kinds of movies critics like will be slow and boring to everyone else, so most will just shrug their shoulders at the critics and pre-order their tickets for “Transformers: Dark of the Moon.”
I think it’s good to watch films aspirationally. I do so myself and feel sympathy with Kois when he says he feels like he has to fake it rather than honestly report his feelings about certain films. That’s the heart of his article, not that he didn’t like “Meek’s Cutoff” but that the critical climate makes him feel like he’s supposed to, or else be left out in the cold. The problem is not that some films are slow or boring, but that moviegoers who strive to see acclaimed films aren’t allowed to be bored, or else be found unworthy of those films.