Rightwing Film Geek

I blame Sonny

My (unfortunately) former colleague Sonny Bunch ruined my day with this tweet:

When it’s said that the right isn’t to be trusted re: movies, it’s because Big Hollywood publishes things like this http://bit.ly/6C1Xs3

… which will take you to the invaluable Andrew Breitbart site, and to an essay by Ben Shapiro that I can only call the most puerile piece of neener-neener adolescent contrarianism I have ever read. (Sonny was no less hostile, calling it “the single stupidest list I’ve ever seen“; his Twitter feed suggests we may see his rebuttal at Big Hollywood soon.) It’s also a credit to Big Hollywood’s readers that the reaction in the combox has been overwhelmingly negative, and with a suitable amount of vitriol.

Shapiro’s list is the 10 Most Over-rated Directors of All Time. And he picks some sacred cows, the two most sacred probably coming at the end:

10.  Ridley Scott …
9.  Michael Mann …
8.  David Lean …
7.  Darren Aronofsky …
6.  Mike Nichols …
5.  David Lynch …
4.  Quentin Tarantino …
3.  Woody Allen …
2.  Martin Scorsese …
1. Alfred Hitchcock …

Ben Shapiro

Now part of me feels like Woody Allen in MANHATTAN, listening to Diane Keaton’s Academy of the Overrated and her slag on Ingmar Bergman (“what next, Mozart?”). But it’s not exactly the names he picks that makes this piece so awful (no artist is literally beyond criticism). No, what makes the article offensively bad is that it’s not even GOOD contrarianism. Even though I actually agree with a couple of those choices, it just embarrasses me more that I agree with Shapiro (I don’t care for most Lynch, most Nichols, most recent Allen and most recent Scott).

Lord knows, I’ve spilled enough 0s and 1s dissing Jean-Luc Godard and Robert Bresson. But I’d like to think I at least give disputable reasons for my distastes, rather than just issue pronunciamento sneers.

And really, that is all Shapiro does — slather adjectives and assertions, both of which make less sense the more you know about the film-makers in question. It is quite literally a worthless article and it seriously calls into question the man’s cine-literacy and his ability to engage a work of art on its own terms.

You think I’m exaggerating? I will go into detail (something he doesn’t). Here is his dis of David Lean:

Everything Lean made is too long by at least half an hour.  I know it’s mortal sin to suggest that Laurence of Arabia, Dr. Zhivago, The Bridge on the River Kwai, and Ryan’s Daughter are anything less than masterpieces, but … they’re all less than masterpieces.  Great Expectations was good.  Everything else was downhill.

It’s hard even to respond to that because there is quite literally not a single critical claim being made. Indeed Shapiro says nothing that even requires that he have seen the movies, or done anything beyond noting their running times. And factual inaccuracies abound. In what universe has suggesting that RYAN’S DAUGHTER is less than a masterpiece been considered mortal sin? Indeed, its commercial failure and critical savaging so devastated Lean that he didn’t make another film for almost 15 years. Is “everything” too long by “at least half an hour”? Everything? No sane man denies that Lean made long films late in his career (you can look that up on that IMDb), but his early films are models of economic editing. IN WHICH WE SERVE follows a half-dozen men on a ship, flashes backs to their pre-war lives, and takes in their homefront families in comfortably less than two hours. OLIVER TWIST and GREAT EXPECTATIONS (it “was good”) get across much of their Dickens novels’ incident and all of their spirit in the same 110 or so minutes. If BRIEF ENCOUNTER were a half-hour shorter, it wouldn’t even fill an hour, and BLITHE SPIRIT barely would. And these five films are not obscure — they were generally popular at the time (they made Lean’s career after all) and most of them are still well-respected. In fact, BRIEF ENCOUNTER (unmentioned by Shapiro) is an all-time Top 10 favorite of mine. One would think a conservative moralist might even approve of its attitude toward adultery, the bourgeois virtues and Romantic heedlessness. And notice how Lean (and that homersexual preevert Noel Coward) made repression in the name of decency seem worthy of tragedy. But wait … I’m going into details about a given work. Forgive me … “less than masterpieces” — that’s it.

On Michael Mann, Shapiro has exactly four words, which I rebut in half that:

9.  Michael Mann: All style, no substance.

Ben Shapiro: Shit sandwich.¹

(See, I don’t even like agreeing with the guy. I’m not unsympathetic to criticism of Mann, who is not a great yarnmeister, as “all style, no substance.” But I don’t want to agree with someone who doesn’t wrestle with the obvious rebuttal — that Mann’s substance IS his style and/or is created by his style. He’s concerned with the impact of appearances and surfaces, and how they create legends and myths that then become reality, like in ALI and PUBLIC ENEMIES and THE MAN WHO SHOT LIBERTY VALANCE.)

I don’t have any great stake in the standing of Darren Aronofsky, though I like him more than some of my cinephile buds. But how can one take seriously a dis on Aronofsky that doesn’t even *mention* THE WRESTLER (his most successful film). If Shapiro is gonna complain that Aronofsky makes incoherent films filled with perverted sex, you can’t not mention the one film of his which he did not script but which complete eschews the mythopoetic rambling of PI and THE FOUNTAIN (successfully “trippy” though they were). And which is also his most narratively coherent. And which even has an entry at the IMDb on the question of whether Evan Rachel Wood’s character is a lesbian, with the answer being that the film hints at it but never “goes there” or makes it explicit (much less gets explicit). And this is just flat wrong …

Not one of his films has been a major commercial success. Yet somehow, someone keeps giving him money.

I question the competence of any film critic/writer who measures directorial worth by the box office, but let that go. “Major” is a relative term, I realize, and nobody would mistake Aronofsky for Spielberg or Bay. But THE WRESTLER — again, unmentioned by Shapiro and probably his best-known film — grossed $26 million on a $7 million budget. It’s not exactly AVATAR, but almost 4-to-1 is a good return on any investment and explains why people keep giving him money. (And PI did even better by that measure, being made for $60,000 and grossing $3 million.)

A little jester in the back of my head hopes that someone at Big Hollywood realized what a putrid piece this was and so played a joke on Shapiro by noting that the Aronofsky blurb doesn’t mention THE WRESTLER and so choosing *as the illustration art* Aronofsky with Mickey Rourke.

But let’s get to the real nadir — Scorsese and Hitchcock. This is what he had to say about Scorsese

In the musical Damn Yankees, a group of hapless baseball players sing the following lyric: “You’ve gotta have heart / All you really need is heart!”  Martin Scorsese never saw that musical.  His films are entirely devoid of anything resembling likable characters.  They are cold and calculating and ruthless – and boring.  Nobody cares what happens to Leonardo DiCaprio in The Departed (in fact, in one screening I saw, people cheered when he got it in the head).  The Aviator takes as long to tell as Howard Hughes did to live.  Gangs of New York featured a brilliant performance from Daniel Day Lewis, and not much else (on a side note, there is no excuse for killing Liam Neeson in the first ten minutes of a film).  Casino is nasty, brutish, and long.  Goodfellas is similarly disgusting – you feel the need to take a shower after watching.  Why anyone would want to spend several hours of his/her life with coke-snorting Ray Liotta and Co. is beyond me.  The Last Temptation of Christ is baffling.  The Color of Money is a snooze-fest (if you want to see a directorial clinic rather than Scorsese’s garbage, try Robert Rossen’s The Hustler, to which The Color of Money is a sequel).  Raging Bull is gross.  Mean Streets is gross and soporific.  Taxi Driver is perhaps the most overrated film in Hollywood history — dreary, grungy, and subzero.  Scorsese has never seen a main character he liked, a villain he hated, or a pair of editing scissors.

Where does one begin?

With the unsupportable and childishly-naive presumption that we must “like” characters in order to care about them? Who is “likable” in MACBETH or MISS JULIE or GREED or MEDEA? That Shapiro sees art as about “a main character he liked [and] a villain he hated” tells me he sees art as a mere object lesson in pointing to white hats and black hats. Grow up, dude.

With the unsupported assertion that “nobody cares” what happened to the lead in THE DEPARTED? How does he know this … did he survey “everybody”? Also, there are many reasons an audience might cheer a character being killed, not all of them favorably reflecting on the audience — the sheer sadism of a good “kill shot,” e.g.

How literally should we take “you can’t kill Liam Neeson in the first 10 minutes”? Why not … he’s not the central character, and his death is only there as a defining formative influence on the central character?

Does he actually think glibly labeling films as “nasty” or “disgusting” or “gross” actually constitutes criticism of them? Why anyone would want to spend several hours of his life with king-stabbing Macbeth and his psycho-bitch wife is probably beyond him too. Sure, GOODFELLAS, RAGING BULL et al depict unheroic people mostly doing bad things. But does he not realize that RAGING BULL’s story arc is Jake’s sin-penance-[tentative] redemption? Or that MEAN STREETS is about Keitel’s trying to save DeNiro from his own worst tendencies? Or that GOODFELLAS is intended to make you dislike the mobsters without simply constructing them as Demon Other? Scorsese understands, even though simple-minded moralists like Shapiro do not, that you cannot say something meaningful about sin without acknowledging and/or portraying its attractiveness.

And FTR, there is only one sequence of significant length in GOODFELLAS centered on coke-snorting (and it happens to be the most fawesome scene in the picture — an “overscored,” “overmixed,” “overdone” exercise in a life finally spinning out of control in a single day, a paranoid man trying to juggle a hundred tasks and get the special sauce ready while the soundtrack constantly rocks and the camera constantly moves).

As for Shapiro on Hitchcock, just read and weep:

He’s not even close to the worst on the list, but he’s certainly the most overrated.  He never made a great film.  He was the Stephen King of the silver screen: he made films with great premises, but he never knew where to go from there.  The psychoanalysis at the end of Psycho is laughable.  North by Northwest relies on the tried-and-true random helpful coincidence to save our hero, time and again.  It brings to mind one of Twain’s rules of writing, directed toward Fenimore Cooper: “the personages of a tale shall confine themselves to possibilities and let miracles alone; or, if they venture a miracle, the author must so plausibly set it forth as to make it look possible and reasonable.”  Not so much for Hitchcock.  Spellbound once again relies on amateur psychoanalysis.  Notorious is the same movie as Rebecca.  Rear Window makes one reach for the fast-forward button.  Vertigo makes one reach for the cyanide.  The Birds quickly becomes inane.  If you want to see good Hitchcock, rent Alfred Hitchcock Presents.  Restricted to the one hour medium, he’s at his best.  Left to his own devices, he’s slightly better than mediocre.

Sonny suggested that …

it’s fair to unilaterally dismiss anyone who says that Hitch is the “most overrated” director of all time

… which is probably correct, but if you’re driven, you’re driven. So into the breach I go:

He never made a great film.

Is that a fact? Who is Ben Shapiro to say that this flatly? I’ll just respond: BLACKMAIL, THE 39 STEPS, SABOTAGE, THE LADY VANISHES, REBECCA, FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT, SHADOW OF A DOUBT, LIFEBOAT, NOTORIOUS, STRANGERS ON A TRAIN, DIAL M FOR MURDER, REAR WINDOW, VERTIGO, NORTH BY NORTHWEST, PSYCHO, FRENZY.

He was the Stephen King of the silver screen: he made films with great premises, but he never knew where to go from there.

Actually, this manages to get it exactly backwards. Hitchcock’s films generally had ludicrous premises, as Joe Queenan had great sport pointing out in “If You’re Talking to Me, Your Career Must Be in Trouble.” But, as Queenan details (in a real work of Hitch criticism), he could make them interesting and “hook us” through his style. It’s old hat that it’s easier to adapt “penny dreadfuls,” full of incident, into movies than great works of literature, but it applied particularly in Hitchcock’s case since he sought to play the audience’s emotions “like a piano.” He had a direct line to the audience’s subconscious fears and daimonic dreams (most prominently, being wrongly accused and nobody believing you).

North by Northwest relies on the tried-and-true random helpful coincidence to save our hero, time and again.

Does it? Our hero is able to make a lot of those coincidences happen, with the help of his girl friday. And the coincidences are just as often unhelpful — indeed, the whole plot begins with the coincidence of Cary Grant calling for service just as “George Kaplan” is being paged. But even so, is a reliance on coincidence terribly relevant to a film that couldn’t be more obvious that it isn’t trying to be realistic? A chase across Mount Rushmore and you complain about realism? (This is what I mean when I say Hitchcock hooks us into ludicrous premises.) The crop-duster attack is ridiculous from a naturalistic perspective; brilliant from the logic of making an archetypal dreamscape of sudden danger from nowhere, with nowhere to hide.

The psychoanalysis at the end of Psycho is laughable … Spellbound once again relies on amateur psychoanalysis.

For sheer “missing the boat,” that first sentence is probably Shapiro’s low point. Did it ever occur to him that the Simon Oakland scene in PSYCHO (which, yes, is laughable … IF you take it to be “the moral of the story”) is then followed by something far darker, something far beyond the rationalistic, clean-scrubbed categories that psychology gives us in its scientistic effort to medicalize sin, madness and human daimons. Couldn’t that, in fact, be the very point? Hitchcock was the most profound critic of psychoanalysis, like … ever (I recommend Jonathan Freedman’s essay “From Spellbound to Vertigo: Alfred Hitchcock and Therapeutic Culture in America”). What is VERTIGO, after all, but a “demolition,” as Freedman calls it, of vulgar pop Freudianism and its attempts to pragmatize the dark side of man’s soul (Scottie’s efforts to “look up … look down” and “I don’t think Mozart’s gonna do it” and the multiple “confront and re-create your past” arcs within the film)? The campy opening crawl aside, what actually happens in SPELLBOUND — the analysis of Gregory Peck and the unrepressing of his memory jeopardizes him criminally. And while analyst Ingrid Bergman saves him, it is by making the final villain a head-shrinker who not only kills himself but, symbolically-speaking because of how it is shot, also kills the audience (a 1940s audience during a period where psychiatry was starting to become respectable — “it will kill you,” Hitch warns).

Notorious is the same movie as Rebecca.

Now as ludicrous as the last sentence about PSYCHO is, it at least proffers a clear (if misguided and beside-the-point) claim. As for this sentence, I have just three words: What? The? Colorful? What does that even mean? REBECCA is a Gothic woman’s picture; NOTORIOUS is a spy thriller. They have practically nothing in common, much less “the same movie” — an assertion here without elaboration, natch. Does Laurence Olivier in REBECCA play the Claude Rains role or the Cary Grant role in NOTORIOUS? (The fact that NOTORIOUS is, in some sense, about two men battling over a woman while there aren’t even two significant men *in* REBECCA should indicate the ludicrousness of Shapiro’s glib assertion.) What in NOTORIOUS is even remotely like the shadow that the dead Rebecca and her loyal servant Mrs. Danvers casts over Joan Fontaine (and no … Rains’ mother is not the correct answer)? Both Fontaine and Ingrid Bergman enter into marriages early in the film, but not for remotely comparable reasons — in NOTORIOUS, it’s a ruse for a spy trap that “ruins” Bergman in Grant’s eyes. But male jealousy isn’t remotely a feature of REBECCA, and there’s nothing like a dead first wife or a murderous(?) husband in NOTORIOUS.² Two more words: shit sandwich.

Rear Window makes one reach for the fast-forward button.  Vertigo makes one reach for the cyanide.

OK, so Shapiro doesn’t like those two films, his two greatest IMHO. No reasons at all are given or even hinted at. Just an assertion of distaste and move along. How lazy. How snarky. How hollow.

If you want to see good Hitchcock, rent Alfred Hitchcock Presents.  Restricted to the one hour medium, he’s at his best.  Left to his own devices, he’s slightly better than mediocre.

And for the piece de resistance, we get some good old factual wrongness that just leaves one thinking (actually, “knowing”) that Shapiro simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

(1) Hitchcock didn’t direct almost all the “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” episodes — just 17 of the 266, so it’s meaningless to talk about Hitchcock as a director from the series in general; (2) “Alfred Hitchcock Presents” only lasted a half-hour, not the “one-hour medium”; (3) there was indeed an hour-long show, but it was called “The Alfred Hitchcock Hour” and Hitchcock never directed an episode of it. (There’s a Website full of neat info like this that Shapiro should check out. It’s called the Internet Movie Database — here are the facts on “Presents” and on “Hour.”)

As for his critical claims — why does Shapiro think Hitchcock would have been more “left to his own devices” on a 2-hour color picture costing millions of dollars than he was on a cheaper half-hour (CQ) black-and-white TV show with his own name on it? When it comes to constraint, a format is a format, a running-time expectation an expectation (Lars Von Trier and Jorgen Leth made a pretty good film on this subject, but it’s got subtitles). And as for Shapiro’s claims, it’s a very good show and some of the episodes indeed are masterful. But they have the common “problem” of basically being structured like jokes — that is, a yarn with a last scene that’s a punch line, often recoding everything we’d seen to that point. This format and formula can, I emphasize, often make an excellent work of art, but it can also tempt an artist into a kind of superficial cleverness and facileness. Which may be exactly why …

I repeat — never have I seen such an awful piece of sophomoric tripe on a film site I respect and admire.

————————————–

¹ No, I won’t explain it. You’ve either seen SPINAL TAP or you haven’t.

² Actually, if there is a murderous husband, it’s Rains’s efforts to poison Bergman (i.e., not Fontaine, the wife in the drama) not his possibly-having-killed an unseen first wife.

January 18, 2010 - Posted by | Ben Shapiro

14 Comments »

  1. Thank you. This was wonderful.

    Comment by James | January 18, 2010 | Reply

  2. And another thing about this dunderhead… he’s not grappling with directors that are outside any sort of “AFI 100” cinephilia. They’re all American and 8/10 have worked only within the last 40 years. Also: how are Aronofsky, Mann, or Nichols canonical enough to be considered overrated?

    Zounds. This guy’s @NatashaVC (of “pool movie” fame) all over again.

    Comment by ptatleriv | January 18, 2010 | Reply

  3. Cathartic. So THAT is the sort of attention to detail and reasoned argument that gets you into Harvard Law. I have no doubt that he has tons of stories about how he was “discriminated” against because he is an outspoken conservative. Congratulations: you’re not a contrarian knocking over the left’s brahman bulls, just an unrequited ass who still hasn’t learned the difference between a label and an argument.

    You neglected to mention his whizz-bang introduction to the list, worth quoting in full:

    “The auteur theory of cinema is idiotic, since writing is truly the key – no director could make a masterpiece out of “The Ugly Truth.” It is one of the great travesties of artistic justice that no one remembers the writers of great movies – nobody knows Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett, for example, but everyone remembers Frank Capra. Together, those three wrote It’s a Wonderful Life. (Together, Goodrich and Hackett also worked on The Diary of Anne Frank, The Thin Man, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and Father of the Bride.)

    Directors get too much credit when a movie goes right, and too little blame when a movie goes wrong. There are certain directors, however, who get credit even when movies go wrong. Here, then, are my top ten overrated directors of all time.”

    Now, I’m no Andrew Sarris, but I don’t know any serious film person who thinks that directors don’t have a degree of influence on movies at least as large as, if not greater than, the director. Nor am I aware of anyone who doesn’t think that auteur theory doesn’t at least explain certain directors fairly well (a lot of the debate on auteurism comes down to how you explain people like Michael Curtiz, who was a good director but made no pretentions of having a “Curtiz style” or anything; the controversy comes more with the auteur theory as an overriding explanation of all moviedom). Of course, I doubt Shapiro has read Sarris, or Pauline Kael, or anyone else with anything intelligent to say about the auteur theory. He probably heard it was some French thing and that was enough for him.

    No, Hitchcock could not turn THE UGLY TRUTH script into a masterpiece, but directors regularly turn dross into gold on scripts of mediocre material (unless Shapiro belongs to the “the book is always better than the movie” school, which wouldn’t surprise me). The Capra example is equally lacking foundation: Capra directed great films with a number of different writers (IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, MR. DEEDS GOES TO TOWN, MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON, ARSENIC AND OLD LACE). Did he just happen to get stuck with two different dynamite writers, over and over again, in his career? What a coincidence! Oh wait, I forgot, Shapiro hates those. I would go into the relative paucity of great movies made from Hackett/Goodrich scripts (if FATHER OF THE BRIDE is on his list, I really don’t know what to say), but that would be overkill.

    Finally, his excoriation of directors completely undermines the whole premise of his list. Hitchcock’s problem, under his theory, isn’t that he is a bad director, but that he never had good writers working under him in the first place. Of course, in the Shapiro Critical Wonderland, arguments only cut in his direction, so directors are completely at fault if a movie stinks, but are barely creditable if they’re good, because that’s all a function of the script. Seriously, Ben. Stick with two-bit conservative punditry and leave the film to people who know better.

    Comment by Gmoney | January 18, 2010 | Reply

  4. Nice post. I saw your comment on big hollywood and followed your link to here.

    Ben Shapiro is an embarrassment to what is otherwise a great site. Top 10 lists are always just opinions, and there will always be disagreements. I have no problem with that. It is the way that he does it.

    Like you, I am annoyed by his reasons, or lack thereof. What Shapiro is doing in this post is actually quite simple: Internet Trolling. It will start a flamewar that will create a bunch of pageviews, sure, but I think that BH should be careful about alienating people by doing that too much.

    Shapiro’s posts always make it quite apparent that he is just a kid who was raised being told constantly how smart he is. Maybe the kid really is smart, but unfortunately we have lost the ability to distinguish between intelligence and wisdom. He may be able to split atoms with his mind, but he is only a kid in his mid twenties. And a pretty presumptuous and immature one at that, it seems to me. I think BH looks really silly just encouraging this kid even more. I literally feel embarrassed *for* Shapiro whenever I read his stuff.

    Comment by dan-O | January 18, 2010 | Reply

  5. >>> Does he actually think glibly labeling films as “nasty” or “disgusting” or “gross” actually constitutes criticism of them?

    I think this is one of the best points you make. Concerning this question, I have 2 thoughts:

    1) He thinks that everyone agrees with him, so these words seem sufficient to him.

    2) He is clearly trying to emulate a witty writer. The best writers will magically be able to use a single adjective to describe something, and you will know *exactly* what he means. The wittiest writers are usually able to express something rather complex with hardly any words at all. This is their gift. It seems to me that Shapiro is constantly trying to emulate this, but fails miserably.

    Comment by dan-O | January 18, 2010 | Reply

  6. dan-O,

    Not to be trollish but isn’t BH basically one big hairy troll glen anyway? Witness John Nolte’s idiotic rebuttal to Shapiro’s high school newspaper article. He’s equally irrelevant.

    Comment by ptatleriv | January 18, 2010 | Reply

  7. ptatleriv,

    I don’t necessarily think so. I don’t think that it is the best-blog-evah or anything, but I go check it out pretty much every day. The way I break it down, there are a few types of bloggers there:

    1) Those that make good points, but aren’t very good writers. This is what most of the contributors are (in my opinion).

    2) People who write up good critiques of stuff. This is mostly why I go here. I don’t always agree with the conclusions (in fact I very often don’t), but their reasoning is very clear and provocative.

    3) People who post funny stuff.

    Then there are a couple bloggers whom annoy me greatly, and don’t fit into any of the above categories. They are:

    1) “Outrage trolls”. Basically, Pam Meister. She always has something to post about that she is OUTRAGED over. It is interesting to note that I almost always agree with her about what she points out, I just get tired of the tedium of it all.

    2) “The-world-sucks Trolls”. This is basically Ben Shapiro and Debbie Schlussel. I can’t stand this stuff because for one, it isn’t insightful, and for two, it makes conservatives look like a bunch of whining, boring, losers.

    Those writers annoy me greatly and actually keep me away from the site sometimes. And as you mentioned, the fact that Nolte just put up a post today encouraging the moronic Shapiro post greatly lowered my opinion of the site.

    Comment by dan-O | January 18, 2010 | Reply

  8. I wish you blogged more often, Victor, because when you do post it’s always something worthwhile and satisfying. Your take down of Shapiro’s article is a thing of beauty. I think I fist pumped a couple of times while reading.

    And dan-O, I cannot believe Nolte wrote that reply. His attitude on this seems to be the embodiment of relativistic, modern-day liberal thinking, i.e.: opinion is the only thing that matters and everyone’s opinion is equally valid. So what does that leave us with? There’s no room for a substantive discussion if everything is just “I loved it!” “I hated it!” “It’s gross!” “It rawks!” It’s fine to go after the sacred cows, but do it intelligently and show that you have an understanding of film history and criticism. Shapiro did not do this.

    Frankly, I think this post by Victor should be required reading for anyone who wants to post on BH. Also, I’m stealing that phrase from you dan-O: “Outrage Trolls” Heh.

    Comment by The Derelict | January 18, 2010 | Reply

  9. […] Morton, the Rightwing Film Geek, posted a very persuasive look at just how awful said list was at his blog.* A taste: Now part of me feels like Woody Allen in MANHATTAN, listening to Diane Keaton’s […]

    Pingback by Conventional Folly » A few last thoughts on “overrated” directors | January 19, 2010 | Reply

  10. A thing of beauty, this post. Shapiro’s comment on Lean is pretty much the same thing David Thomson was saying in A Biographical Dictionary of Film, only done with a verbal peashooter instead of Thomson’s scalpel. (And I love early AND late Lean.) What particulary grates is that despite his evident lack of background, Shapiro seems to think he’s a breath of fresh air. Years ago Tom Shone wrote a contrarian piece on Hitchcock that again, I didn’t agree with, but it came from real thought and analysis, not know-it-all snarkiness. Every director on this list has taken his lumps from far better writers than Shapiro and if Ben wants to pile on, he needs better equipment.

    I have to say though, the reaction of most BH commenters was a pleasure for this liberal to behold.

    Comment by The Siren | January 19, 2010 | Reply

  11. Solid dismantling. I almost didn’t go read the original list after reading this, but then I did, and what struck me immediately is that Shapiro completely, completely, completely misses the point of the ending of The Graduate. Now, I’d never argue that it’s a great film, or that Nichols is an amazing director, but to miss the point? And then to use that missed point as part of your dismissal of Nichols? How do you not understand exactly what Nichols is arguing at the end when you see Braddock and Robinson go from excitement, to smiles, to casting glances at one another (not simulataneously, of course) and “staring blankly” ahead?

    Comment by b23 | January 21, 2010 | Reply

  12. […] conservatives on these here Internetz, both roundly destroyed Shapiro in pieces here, here, and here.  When I say “objectively incorrect,” or offer anything else about Shapiro’s lists, I’m […]

    Pingback by » The wasteland of conservative film criticism Conversation | Film | April 18, 2010 | Reply

  13. […] There’s been a good many tempests directed at Ben Shapiro’s Big Hollywood post “Top 10 Most Overrated Directors of All Time.” Personal favorite response is from Victor Morton of Rightwing Film Geek—a rebuttal entitled “I blame Sonny.” […]

    Pingback by Links for the Day: Blame Sonny, Gray or George? | plugs2 | November 23, 2011 | Reply

  14. […] Morton, the Rightwing Film Geek, posted a very persuasive look at just how awful said list was at his blog.* A […]

    Pingback by America's Future Foundation | A few last thoughts on “overrated” directors | April 26, 2014 | Reply


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: