NYT Critic Manohla Dargis Shares Some Four-Letter Words for the Industry

I have mixed feelings when it comes to New York Times critic Manohla Dargis’s taste in films, but I always enjoy reading her reviews and apparently it seems I should be on the look out for more of her interviews as well as Jezebel.com has a few words from Dargis ranging from women in Hollywood, thoughts on Kathryn Bigelow and The Hurt Locker and why romantic comedies suck.

Here are some of my favorite moments with pieces cut here and there so as not to steal the entire interview (which I really wanted to do because it’s quite entertaining):

On director Kathryn Bigelow’s success (achieved in part by getting funding outside of Hollywood): Something like a woman winning best director for directing an action movie and not a romantic comedy is symbolically important. Whether it then leads to a lot of women doing things outside of the pathetic comfort zone of romantic comedy — and I say that as someone who loves romantic comedy — we’ll see.

On Bigelow’s chances for Oscar or future commercial success: The only thing Hollywood is interested in money, and after that prestige. That’s why they’ll be interested in something like The Hurt Locker. She’s done so well critically that she can’t be ignored.

Let’s acknowledge that the Oscars are bullshit and we hate them. But they are important commercially… I’ve learned to never underestimate the academy’s bad taste. Crash as best picture? What the fuck.

On male and female directors being held to different standards, as Dargis suggested in comparing Bigelow and Michael Mann in her piece: Do you think that a woman would have been able to get forty million dollars to make a puppet movie the way that Wes Anderson has been able to make, bringing to bear all the publicity and advertising budget of Fox? After two movies that didn’t make a lot of money? I think this is true for a lot of black filmmakers too — they’re held to a higher standard. And an unfair standard. You can be a male filmmaker and if you’re perceived as a genius — a boy genius or a fully-formed adult genius — that you are allowed to fail in a way that a woman is not allowed to fail.

On Nancy Meyers and Nora Ephron: I personally don’t think either of them is a good filmmaker — they make movies for me that are more emotionally satisfying but with barely any aesthetic value at all. I really like Something’s Gotta Give, but I don’t think it’s a good movie… I’m of two minds. Sometimes I think what women should do what various black and gay audiences have done, which is support women making movies for women. So does that mean I have to go support Nora Ephron? Fuck no. That’s just like, blech.

On why so many romantic comedies are so terrible: One, the people making them have no fucking taste, two, they’re morons, three they’re insulting panderers who think they’re making movies for the great unwashed and that’s what they want. I love romantic movies. I absolutely do. But I literally don’t know what’s happening. I think it’s depressing that Judd Apatow makes the best romantic comedies and they’re about men.

Finally, Jezebel asks Dargis about a quote from Hollywood.com’s box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian when he said, “Women like going out in groups to watch women interacting in groups, and they are very loyal… There’s no Bourne Identity with a woman starring in it right now. It’s almost as if in real life, women want to be empowered and in control, but on-screen they seem to like the old-fashioned damsel-in-distress, love-struck female.”

Dargis’s answer to this?

Fuck him. What an asshole. Yes, that’s what I want! That’s exactly what I want. If Angelina Jolie had been cast in a movie as a good as The Bourne Identity with a filmmaker like Paul Greengrass, I would have gone out to see it, and I’m sure I wouldn’t be alone. That is absurd. That’s blaming female audiences — you get what you deserve? Is that what he’s saying?

Perhaps this is why we are getting Salt in theaters next year? I can’t wait to read Manohla’s review.

For now, read the rest of her interview right here, trust me I didn’t steal all the great parts.


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