Andrew Earles

Listen Up, Dimwits!!!

Posted in Uncategorized by Andrew Earles on October 30, 2007


     For all fans of “mumblecore” and Miranda July, it’s time to see how a real movie is made. The Assassination of Jesse James will be my number one movie of the year. I also recently viewed Straight Time on DVD for the first time, though that stands as what may be my 33rd time to watch it. Worth it for the short Edward Bunker/making-of documentary alone, this was also one of the only instances in which I’ve endured a commentary feature (the other notable example: R. Kelly’s Trapped In The Closet). Dustin Hoffman and Ulu Grosbard fire off loose but fascinating facts about this overlooked classic. Then there’s Mamet. You are reading the unfocused ramblings of a David Mamet fanatic, and he is now mentioned because, at this very moment, I’m watching House of Games.

     This all-around level of quality causes me to further dismiss what’s considered “indie” and especially the ”mumblecore” idiocy that resides under its umbrella. I recently attended a local film festival – an “indie” film festival – in which I viewed a couple of films that disturbed me to the core with ineptitude, lack of meaning, lack of talent, and a troublesome dearth of original ideas. One of these films won. Executing a script in which nothing happens, something intentional and done with pride, is not an admiral feat. Supporters and practitioners of Mumblecore need to disappear if films, films as a whole, are to move in decent direction.

    This being a Southern film festival, there was the requisite yet infuriating degree of slumming. I have no time for morons dressed up like rednecks, country-sounding pseudonyms, or any other example of Southern exploitation carried out by hipsters unfamiliar with rural existences or that hail from another part of the country. I’m a little regionally protective, thus naturally appalled by this type of crap. Actually, no, you are not allowed to do these things even if you are from the South. Check your presentation. If anything, it’s tired and boring. Another problem with these films (and their makers) is the calculated ignorance and dignified Luddite drive. People that make films should watch films. They should also watch TV. A paltry frame of reference is not beneficial or something to be proud of. It makes you what you are: Illiterate in your field. Many of these filmmakers like to state this bit of applesauce: “I make movies for myself, not for other people.” I’ll leave you with that bit of nonsense.




11 Responses

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  1. J.J. said, on October 30, 2007 at 11:19 pm

    Totally with you on Jesse James. But have you read the novel it’s based on? I’m making my way through it now and it’s supremely good. Plus it clears up some of the plot confusions of the movie (I assume a casualty of the film’s many studio-mandated edits). Anyway, it’s absolutely worth reading.

  2. John3of4 said, on October 31, 2007 at 8:39 am

    I understand what you’re saying about slumming, rednecks, etc. However, you realize this is what the NIAF says about Goodfellas, right?

  3. Andrew Earles said, on October 31, 2007 at 8:51 am

    Yeah, well, at least that movie took some talent to write.

  4. d. mosurock said, on October 31, 2007 at 9:08 am

    Despite the trends towards self-conscious douchiness in independent film, this year has been pretty incredible for movies overall, and surpasses the past few years by a good bit.

    I’ve missed a lot of this fall’s fare, but “Jesse James” is on the list.

  5. John3of4 said, on October 31, 2007 at 9:32 am

    “Yeah, well, at least that movie took some talent to write.”

    Not disputing that. Just disputing your original premise. Your criticisms will work a lot better if you focus. Just saying.

  6. Bob Mehr said, on October 31, 2007 at 10:15 am

    Whoa, how exactly is Goodfellas considered “slumming” by any stretch of the imagination?

    You’ve got an Italian American writer/director — one who literally grew up in the very Mob neighborhood/environment portrayed in film – making a movie based on true life characters and events. On what level is this “slumming”? Because the NIAF says so? The NIAF making knee-jerk reactions against Mob movies and TV shows is their attempt to pick up the baton from Joe Columbo’s 1970s Italian-American Civil Rights League, a total Mafia p.r. front — so take what they say with a huge grain of salt (or a large dash of oregano, if you prefer).

    If anything, Goodfellas is closer to a narrative documentary than a bit of exploitative cultural voyeurism. The fact that it’s an amazing film — and by all accounts the most accurate depiction of day-to-day Mob life — is beside the point. As a piece of cinema, or a cultural phenomenon, it may be lot of things, but “slumming” it ain’t.

    Whatsa matta you?

  7. Andrew Earles said, on October 31, 2007 at 10:21 am

    …and this is not the place for “focus.”

  8. John3of4 said, on October 31, 2007 at 12:28 pm

    I grew up in suburban Memphis, but spent an enormous amount of time in little towns like Iuka MS, Heber Springs AR & Charleston TN. Does this allow me to use characters and events from those experiences in a work of art? Of course it does. Are many, if not most, rednecks moronic idiots? I think we can agree on that. Can I make fun of them in a work of art? I think so, and I think others can too. I’ve seen a lot of rednecks do and say a lot of stupid shit. I guess portraying this in a work of art is “slumming.” I don’t think “slumming” is the right word, anyway. I think Earles is saying these movies are portraying stereotypes of southerners and rednecks and he, being from the south, finds this offensive, since we all know every person from the south is a well-spoken, literate and thoughtful human being with perfect teeth and a stylish haircut from Dabbles. So, maybe, if I made a movie about a farmer who, while bottle-feeding newborn sheep, hung a dead goose from the rafters of his barn, tied a string through the goose’s beak, so when he talked to the goose, he could pull that string turning the goose’s head like the goose was listening to him. To keep him company, ya know. I guess that would be ok, since it’s a narrative documentary of an actual event, even though it portrays a rural redneck as a fucking lunatic. Or would it be “slumming?” I don’t know, because Andy’s criticism is so unclear. I’m not saying the NIAF is right. I’m saying the NIAF and Earles are both wrong. I mean, what’s Andy saying? “Aw man, real rednecks don’t act like that?” Or that the artistes that are making the film don’t have a firm grasp of redneck/southern values? Or is he just saying the movie sucks because it sucks? Then why? Give me more than, this sucks because they are making fun of southerners or they’re not making fun of southerners in the right way.

  9. your friend k said, on October 31, 2007 at 5:29 pm

    I love Columbo!

    “And anotha thing…”

    Great stuff!

  10. John3of4 said, on October 31, 2007 at 7:15 pm

    I believe the catch phrase is, “Oh, just one more thing.”

    Your helpful pedant,
    John 3 of 4

  11. your friend k said, on October 31, 2007 at 8:16 pm

    Oh, I suppose I must have been thinking he was more of an Italian stereotype.

    You right.

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