I've disagreed with a few good friends about The Visitor (for example, with J. Robert Parks on a forthcoming episode of our own podcast), and I can always respect the opinions of someone who has seen and thought about the film, even if they differ from my own.
But I have trouble listening to the casual dismissals by Paul Moore at the aptly named Spout.com. On the site's latest podcast, he briskly characterizes the film as cliché-ridden — and bizarrely calls the ending a "message of hope" — which can only make sense to someone like Moore who says he hasn't seen the film and is offering his synopsis and opinion based on the trailer. Nice job.
But, of course, he also keeps referring to Wong Kar-Wai as "Kar Wai". (They're old drinking buddies, Moore and Wong.)
I often enjoy the Spout podcast, even when Karina Longworth is looking down her nose at Waitress, another light film that I enjoyed, because at least her opinion is well-informed. But specificity is important, and generalizations like the ones in the latest episode, about The Visitor and about the people who like it — all of which are expressed in the name of keeping "indie" filmmakers honest — are a major turn off, especially after these guys have, week after week, championed middling films drawn from a strikingly skinny pool.
The Visitor is a very nicely executed film, perhaps not for its broad strokes but for its fine ones. It's quite easy to make fun of the film by listing the major plot points (ditto for, I don't know, Vertigo or The Son), but plodding through a synopsis of this film overlooks its many assets, starting with the delicate, subtle, and often wordless exposition.
Rob, did we really disagree about The Visitor? It felt like the conversation of someone who'd give it 7/10 while the other irrationally insisted on an 8? :)
On the subject of Wong Kar-wai, this reminds me of an interview I was fortunate to do with Tony Leung. We were talking about 2046 and In the Mood for Love, and he kept referring to Kar-wai, which of course is his "first" name. But I couldn't get over how strange that sounded, since I (and everybody else I know) had always used Wong Kar-wai's full name when talking about his movies. Of course Leung and Wong were drinking buddies.
And one last retarded story on strange encounters with language. At first, I didn't get the pun in the title of this post. So I thought you were inviting us the audience to spout off. I was all set to write 500 words on how much I disliked The Spiderwick Chronicles until I realized how clever you were. Which meant that I dumped my pan on blockbuster children's fare and resorted to name-dropping. Kar-wai, indeed. It almost sounds like a verb. "I was going to kar-wai this Friday until I realized it was Passover."
Feel free to write your 500 words. I'd like to hear your take on The Spiderwick Chronicles, provided, of course, that you've seen it. If not, fear my wrath.
Yes, we didn't have a terrible disagreement, just a minor one. I had a similar chat with Brian Darr who pops up here from time to time.
Does Tony Leung speak English?
You're both wrong; it's clearly a 7.5 movie, and I can't believe neither of you are smart enough to see that.
Sometimes I think I write more about movies I haven't seen than those I have. With all the research and writing I'm currently doing on Jujiro for the Silent Film Festival, I'm not going to get a chance to actually see the film until the festival plays it in July. Not much Kinugasa has been released on home video, even in Japan.
Brian, what you're doing for the silent film festival is grounded in actual real research, and what you consistently do on your blog is prepare us for upcoming screenings, both of which provide important context for the films. That's a far cry from seeing a trailer and saying, This movie sucks for the following reasons, especially the ending, not that I'm gonna watch it. Oh and let me explain why people like it, not that I've talked to them.
Like J. Robert (okay, okay, J. Robert Parks), I often can't tell how clever Rob is either.
And I'm still blinking about the term "actual real", which sounds patently false somehow.
I wish the "actual real" bit were cleverness, but it's just sloppiness. A missing comma, a redundant adjective. Brian is delving into the archives quite literally to research his piece on Kinugasa, and I just didn't want him or anyone else to think it was that sort of "spouting off" that I was talking about. That's the complete opposite.
...and now I can't keep wondering what the past tense of "spout" is. I keep thinking it's "spit"; but, the image of Brian spitting is more than I can cope with right . at . the . moment.