In the last 24 hours, I’ve gone from feeling neutral-to-slightly-negative about Boyhood to more or less loathing it. I hate the term “overrated” but I can’t think of another word to describe it. Hey, critics: How did this dumb movie win so many awards from critics groups? Does Richard Linklater have your kids in his basement duct-taped to a radiator? Have you all been hypnotized? Snap out of it! This’ll help:
News comes today that Harvey Weinstein is finally playing the rainbow card in this year’s Oscar race. Here’s the Hollywood Reporter:
I was really looking forward to Jonathan Chait’s essay in New York magazine about the inanity of social media outrage culture and the danger of letting angry name-calling and base grievance-mongering settle debates. And Chait, that cuddly old reactionary, hit it out of the park. The reaction on social media was, how do you say, “not at all surprising.”
The Islamic Human Rights Commission—a U.K.-based human rights group whose “inspiration derives from the Qur’anic injunctions that command believers to rise up in defence of the oppressed”—last week announced the nominees for its “Islamophobia Awards 2015.” The point of this gala is to “subvert Islamophobia through comedy and revue.”
At first, I wondered how many cartoonists would be in attendance; there’s a real deficit of them at the moment in France, for some reason. But then I started looking at the list of films nominated for their terrible, no-good, very-bad oppression of Muslims. And it contained a couple of notable titles. Notable and bizarre. So bizarre, in fact, that one can’t help but wonder if the people nominating these pictures had actually, you know, seen the works in question.
An artist and his art are two different things. There are a great number of people throughout history who have been relatively horrible human beings—abusive, bigoted, etc.—yet relatively brilliant artists. If we started judging every artist’s art by the quality of the artist’s character, we’d be much poorer, culturally speaking. This is why I’ve always tried to keep my opinions about artists and judgment of their art separate. It’s why I’ve always done my best to reject the politicized life, a key component of which is the idea that we can only love art created by artists we agree with.
All of which is to say that I’m pretty comfortable with the argument that Woody Allen’s films should be considered apart from Woody Allen’s character. Even for a filmmaker as inextricably linked to his work as Allen, the film and the filmmaker are separate entities. They exist apart from each other. Manhattan and Annie Hall and Midnight in Paris work or do not work on their own, regardless of how you feel about Woody Allen.
And there are a lot of reasons to think that Woody Allen is a pretty horrible person.
“The best one-liner in Leviathan comes in the opening credits,” the New Yorker’s Anthony Lane noted in his review of the Russian entry for best foreign language picture at this year’s Oscars. “Reportedly, as much as 35 percent of the budget was supplied by government funding. This is like Kazakhstan using oil revenues to pay for Borat.”