I remember when excited film nuts were hyping Bon Joon Ho’s Parasite and how happy they were when it won Best Picture at the Oscars. At the time when I started writing this, people were hyping Everything Everywhere All At Once and many celebrated its eleven Oscar nominations.
Parasite is a dark comedy satire that loves emphasising its messages through “hidden” visual clues and metaphors. EEAAO is a genre-bending film that provides a refreshing take on the multiverse. They have genuinely interesting premises.
Some MCU bashers who love the two movies often compare them – especially EEAAO – to Marvel films. They love reminding Marvel fans about the existence of quality cinema.
But, for some reasons, they didn’t hype Drive My Car. I found it baffling.
It was released in 2021 and won many awards, including Best International Feature Film at the Oscars in 2022. Meanwhile, Parasite was released in 2019 and won Best Picture at the Oscars in 2020 and EEAAO was released in 2022 and got nominated in 2023. Basically, it was not in direct competitions with any of the two.
So, why didn’t they hype it?
Well, I have one observation: they are not as sophisticated as they think they are.
Yes, the other two films indeed represent quality cinema, there is no doubt about that. But, they still bear traits of mainstream and commercial cinema: action-oriented, (relatively) fast-paced and visually striking. Traits which Drive My Car lacks.
In fact, not only it is dialogue-driven and slow-paced, it also has a very modest storytelling style; the acting is very deadpan and the story is straightforwardly told, without any symbolism (as far as I am concerned). It also keeps referencing Uncle Vanya, a play which many people – including myself – aren’t familiar with.
Yet, despite what I said above, the film still manages to be rich in emotions. It is a good example of less is more. If I – someone who cannot consider himself a film snob – can appreciate it, then actual film snobs should appreciate it even more.
But, what if they are unable to?
They have expressed what kinds of films they love to watch… and it is very telling.
They love filmmakers like Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino, Francis Ford Coppola, Martin Scorsese and James Cameron. They love films like Jaws, original Star Wars trilogy, Pulp Fiction, the first three Terminator films, the first Jurassic Park, the earlier Indiana Jones, the first and second Mummy, Lord of the Rings and the earlier Alien and Predator films… which “coincidentally” also happens to be films they grew up with.
They won’t mention directors like Luis Buñuel, Andrei Tarkovsky, Ingmar Bergman, Robert Bresson, Atom Egoyan, Robert Altman, Shane Carruth, Jan Švankmajer, Sergei Parajanov, Frederico Fellini, Abbas Kiarostami and Yasujirō Ozu. They won’t mention films like Taste of Cherry, The Sweet Hereafter, 3 Women, Mirror, 8 1/2, Persona, An Andalusian Dog, Primer, The Color of Pomegranates and Tokyo Story.
They love the exciting, fast-paced and nostalgic escapism of mainstream and highly-commercialised Hollywood films. But, they don’t seem to appreciate the oblique, dialogue-heavy and/or calm-paced storytelling of non-Hollywood arthouse films.
Basically, they are basic bitches who criticise others for being basic bitches. Pot calling the kettle black, alcoholics calling stoners addicts, neocons calling Putin supporters warmongers. They don’t have the pedestals to bash the other side. They are each other’s equals.
Being basic is not bad in itself. But, being a hypocrite is.
Oh, and if many/most of the films and directors they praise are also the ones they grew up with, there is nostalgia bias. They cannot expect us to believe it is just a mere coincidence.
Nostalgia is also not bad in itself. But, let’s not pretend your feeling is objective.
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