Well-known member
i thought everyone knew america's ruling class was made up of liberal robbe-grillet-referencing would-be novelists...


(Between Blank & Boring)
i almost started another thread about this but...

h-crimm said:
those psuedo-brechtian white box scenes in american splendor make you feel all warm and artily innovative, but they are meaningless prosaic pointless signifiers of excitement (like franz ferdinands choppy guitar) and they should leave you feeling hollow

I really liked American Splendour and I’m not sure that it’s playful, elastic reality has anything to do with Sideways apart from Paul Giamatti [amusingly the spell checker wants to turn ‘Giamatti’ into Gamete]. It seemed to me like a vivid and valid attempt to tell stories about the modern world. I thought the boxes were meant to be evocative of comic panels but they could have been ‘pseudo-Brechtian’ I guess…


Well-known member
stelfox said:
how the two people who, either directly or indirectly, accused this film of being "pretentious" have the gall to *use* the word, i don't know.

for fuckssake get off your high horse for once in your precious (and i use the word advisedly) life. don't extrapolate flaws in my character from the fact that i liked a sodding film and you are very very wrong about this, anyway.

hey i'm sorry, it wasnt meant to be a personal attack on your character at all. or on people who happen to be in the target audience, which would probably include myself. i just find the engineering of films by hollywood that are supposed to appeal to 'us' abit unpleasant.

i feel like all those films mentioned (as different as they are) are conciously designed to be sold to people who like cinema and who want to go see a sort of film that due to the dominance of the major film distributors is not always available.

i wasnt saying 'youve been duped' or that you consider yourself an 'arty outsider' :)
but that people deciding what films to make are thinking about us in those terms, they take afew of the signifiers of indie films and package them up and in the mix they through afew assumptions about who we are; that we're male, that we can be beguiled by the finer things, that we dislike the tasteless new rich (the immigrant fiancee) and the tasteless poor (the pleb winery) and that underneath our analytic exterior we secretly want the love conquers all ending.
that's not too different from franz ferdinand.

i dont think it was pretentious, it felt like going thru the motions and in the end only revealed afew ordinary false truths.
probably the film just wasnt pretentious *enough* for me

hmm i'm affriad this still comes across as me trying to be withering and superior :(
which isnt the intention.
i just found the film abit frustrating and wanted to try to express some of the reason.
in the town where i grew up the choice at the cinema was always very limited and every now and then the indie kids would get chucked a bone like this... access to cinema can still be a very closed club outside cities, maybe like music pre-filesharing but with fewer reissues and hardly any second hand stores.
this history has obviously informed and possibly clouded my judgement but there it is...

i can respond some more but i think i've written enough for now already. :rolleyes:


Well-known member
Well quite honestly I think you need to detach your (in some ways reasonable) dislike for the "target audience" of this film from the actual film itself.

Yes, middle-class educated people are going to enjoy this film, no that doesn't IN ITSELF make it bad.

I also think the adjective "sneering" is misplaced - to me this word implies that a piece of art presents one point of view as valid and mocks all others. This film gently mocks ALL points of view presented within. Giamatti is clearly a pretentious and weak-willed individual who is neither scrupulously honest nor loyal to his friend. So his sneering at the pleb winery doesn't translate to the filmakers disdain for the petty bourgeoisie. Every character in the film (with the exception of Maya who is deeply bland) is shown as very flawed.

Personally I just liked it as a nice little tale of people who are awful in the way that real people are, and likeable despite their awfulness in the way that real people are. Maybe it's the dread "middlebrow", but the ire directed at that word itself is, i think, deeply elitist and boring.

But yeah, not as good as Election.


Beast of Burden
henrymiller said:
i thought everyone knew america's ruling class was made up of liberal robbe-grillet-referencing would-be novelists...

nice bit of sarcastic, superior, yank-bashing knobheadery, there.
giamatti's character in sideways would not have voted bush, therefore would not be part of the *ruling* class at all.
he's a classic nyt-reading, school-teaching, underachieving pissed-of-with-his-lot, barely-scraping-by liberal.


Well-known member
chill the fuck out dave, that's exactly what i was saying. someone else had said the film depicted the US' ruling class. i poured some water on this. jesus.

simon silverdollar

i really, really liked this film. it struck me as very true- the central relationship was very like some friendships i have. and it was funny.
i don't see how it was 'pretentious' or a pseudo-arthouse film at all. it was a a very straight narrative, with no attempts to do anything even remotely 'out there'/'arty'. in a way, it was film making at its simplest.


Well-known member
stelfox said:
for non-americans, really, this one, because if you are american and have any sense you'll already have seen it. euro folks, though, go see this film as soon as it comes out (jan 28 in london). probably one of the most sharply observed, understatedly funny bits of cinema i've ever seen. pisses all over napoleon dynamite and absolutely destroys the life aquatic (which is truly, truly dire). lead actor paul giamatti (harvey pekar in american splendour) is making quite a career out playing the antithesis of the all-american archetype - a hunched up, angry underachiever who you still end up liking. if i had to draw a comparison with any other movie, though, i'd say it's swingers with a much, much darker heart and is all the more successful for it.

i dont see where the dark heart is in this film. if anything it was far too subtle, than dark or neurotic or disturbing. if anything it has a perfectly fine heart, just one that was often in danger of being slightly too understated for its own good.

swingers was far far better IMHO.

i also cant help thinking that films like this, garden state, the good girl and their ilk are basically 90s indie american flicks churned through hollywood's safety filter which removes all trace of any unsettling or slightly pertubing elements and makes them into the film equivalent of i dont know, snow patrol or someone.
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Beast of Burden
It struck me as a really good advert for Pinot and Virgina Madsen.

I enjoyed it. But then I define 'sub-ruling'.