By Other Voices voices@moviecitynews.com

LETTERS FROM LARRY

DEAR DAVID:

In case the readers of these posts think I’m a softie who likes everything he ever sees or who is blowing smoke up the ass of the Sundance programming staff let me clarify:

LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO PAN ALL THE BAD FILMS

There are plenty of weak or ordinary films here this year as every year at this and every festival for vastly different reasons.

If a film is weak but likely to be popular, there’s no point in attacking it.

If a film is weak and nobody is going to like it, there’s also no point in attacking it. You’re just piling on a dead horse.

There are plenty of pretty good, so-so movies you find yourself kind of liking. But if your honest in describing your reactions and all the flaws you notice, you can’t help sounding like – or being read like – you’re doing a pan. That’s the bad part of the thumbs up or down consumer culture situation we’re in. So I skip those too.

As a reader I never learn from negative reviews except for learning about the kind of thing those reviewers don’t like.

You learn more from a writer whenever they talk about what they like. You learn the most when they talk about what they love. That’s what they’re motivated to search out and see with precision.

Art, in anything from criticism to filmmaking to pingpong is that seeing with precision. Or as I think Ezra Pound said, “Art is attention.”

Larry
Sent from my iPhone

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Larry Gross is a 25 year screenwriting veteran and Winner of Sundance’s Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award for his most recent release, We Don’t Live Here Anymore.

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“I never accepted the term contrarian. I think that’s offensive, frankly. And my response to that is: if I’m a contrarian, what are other reviewers? What I strive to do is be a good critic, not somebody who simply accepts the product put in front of me. I guess it scares people to think that they don’t have any originality; that they don’t have the capacity to think for themselves.

“There’s a line a lot of reviewers use that I don’t like at all. They say ‘accept the film on its own terms.’ What that really means is, ‘accept the film as it is advertised.’ That’s got nothing to do with criticism. Nothing to do with having a response as a film watcher. A thinking person has to analyze what’s on screen, not simply rubber-stamp it or kowtow to marketing.”m

“To me, everything does have a political component and I think it’s an interesting way to look at art. It’s one way that makes film reviewing, I think, a politically relevant form of journalism. We do live in a political world, and we bring our political sense to the movies with us – unless you’re the kind of person who goes to the movies and shuts off the outside world. I’m not that kind of person.”
~ Armond White to Luke Buckmaster

“One of comedy’s defining pathologies, alongside literal pathologies like narcissism and self-loathing, is its swaggering certainty that it is part of the political vanguard, while upholding one of the most rigidly patriarchal hierarchies of any art form.”
~ Lindy West