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The Reeler Blog

Taubin Brings the Grudge

This picture is not a metaphor. (Photo: Joe Swanberg)

By S.T. VanAirsdale

While I suppose that a subliterate blogger like myself should be flattered to have every point I spent two weeks reporting and substantiating about Mumblecore Inc. show up in the new Film Comment without any attribution whatsoever, I admit: I am not quite feeling the love from Amy Taubin.

Nor is Mumblecore itself, a completely fabricated marketing exercise which Taubin finally got around to addressing about three months after its carefully cultivated shelf life expired. Starting with her "history gleaned from indieWIRE and various linked websites, which, as a way of grabbing attention in a dauntingly cluttered indie landscape, flogged mumblecore as the new happening thing" (as opposed to, say, Dennis Lim's more cerebral, finessed exploitation in The New York Times), Taubin goes a pretty long way to say that some of these films are terrific while others are not. Imagine: Even the bloggers for whom she reserves such contempt deduced this back in the day, and Andrew Bujalski -- whom Taubin praises along with Quiet City director Aaron Katz as a "breakout talent" -- acknowledged on this very site that the films' similarities are "the least interesting thing about them."

Which gets me thinking: Why bother, Amy? You can't really say you told us so, because your magazine's dinosaur lead time disallows such prescience. You can say you piled on Joe Swanberg, but personalized attacks are a petty, bloggy glory far beneath someone of your critical caliber. You can classlessly exploit So Yong Kim, who you claim wasn't invited to "the party" despite the aesthetic qualities shared by her brilliant In Between Days and the films of white male snobs (oh, and "token female" Ry Russo-Young) who all worked on each other's movies, but even you, in your myopic rage, know that's likely the most disingenuous statement ever published in Film Comment. You could even ask your own critics what it proves to assail you after the fact, but without us you're clearly nothing.

That said, the filmmakers can (and will) defend themselves. Moreover, I kind of like witnessing a clusterfuck of institutional mendacity every now and then, and I would gladly spend all weekend trendspotting if it would aid Taubin's next lukewarm, derivative takedown scheduled for six months from now. Just say the word, Amy. Help me help you.

Posted at November 8, 2007 2:01 PM

Comments (3)

She's three months late, but you're two days late...

Harsh but true. It's not like the tenuous nature of the Mumblecore movement was a secret. Anybody willing to spend time composing a "takedown" of a trend that doesn't exist long after it ceased to be an issue is demonstrating a need to belong when it's already to late.

Taubin's article is valid and true simply for its last paragraph. Closing on the real talent that lurks behind this "movement," Ronald Bronstein, whose Frownland is possibly the best and most important kind of "talkie" since the early television work of Mike Leigh.

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