The Movie Club

Enough With the Worship of Old, Dead Directors
Critic vs. critic.
Jan. 3 2008 3:46 PM

The Movie Club

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Just a quick note to Scott:

Let me give you a hand with that cleanup job: I meant no disrespect to the legacy of Messrs. Antonioni, Bergman, Yang, or Sembene, all of whose work I revere (actually, Bergman not so much and Mickey A. only in small doses). Ditto the irreplaceable persistence of those indefatigable masters Oliveira, Godard, Rivette, etc. But their day is done, their legacy is now that—a legacy. As a living critic, I side with the living. John Ford still kicks massive ass, but, well, he's dead, and with him a particular type of moviemaking. And so what? That's not some great national tragedy—it's just part of how art evolves. Why is it that the discourse around movies gets so caught up in nostalgia in a way you don't see in art, music, or architecture writing? ("This M.I.A. girl has some interesting ideas, I suppose, but she's no Edith Piaf!")

It's with love, not hate, that I salute the passing of the elders—then brush them off the stage to make way for the Apichatpongs and Kellys of the world. We need a new generation of artists on the order of Sembene and Altman and Ford, may their blessed souls rest in peace and their movies find a place on your Netflix queue. 

Nathan

Nathan Lee is a film critic for the Village Voice.