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October 1994


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Shawn Levy <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 21 Oct 1994 20:01:59 -0700
text/plain (88 lines)
To the list as a whole:  I apologize for one final missive from me in
this petulant flame war.  I have e-mailed Murray in response to his
e-mail to me earlier today, and I have no intention of carrying this
any further than this final message, but I just don't feel like
letting some of his points to the whole list go unchallenged.  So this
one message, then I let him 'win' with my silence.  I appreciate your
On Fri, 21 Oct 1994, Murray Pomerance wrote:
> Truffaut, who didn't finish highschool in *Paris* in the 1950s was not in
> the same position as someone, say, who doesn't finish highschool today in
> New York City.  He was, when he made Les Quatre cent coups, an alumnus of
> several years' standing from Les Cahiers du Cinema, where he had studied
> at the side of Bazin and in the company of Godard and Scherer.  Give me
> that to any highschool you can name.  His competence in literacy is
> undisputed (as you know, many of his films are testimonies to his own
> studies in literacy of various kinds:  see the bookburning in Fahrenheit
> for just one example).  And surely you do not put PF in the boat with 400B?
Well, yes:  I do.  But that's my problem.  See, I don't think that MY
taste can be somehow VERIFIED with an appeal to an outside authority.
How, for instance, would you differentiate being an "alumnus" of
"Cahiers" from being a movie-obssessed video store clerk, Tarantino's
most famous occupation?  Don't you think the young Truffaut would've done
the exact same work if he could've?  I wrote what I did about
Truffaut's schooling because earlier somebody had tried to point out that
Welles, et. al., were somehow more qualified to be thought of as important
because their backgrounds were "less narrow."  Well, narrow is as narrow
does, and my definition of narrow would include eliminating or including
people from an aesthetic canon because of their exposure to some
predetermined set of great works.
>    Michael Crichton was an MD--still is--as was--and is--Jonathan
> Miller.  There's a contrast!  Crichton's WESTWORLD doesn't belong in the
> festival with 400 Blows, sorry.
Here's where we begin to get to the root of the problem.  You seem not to
be able to follow what you're reading.  I said that Crichton was an
example of an educated director who produced shit, trying to refute the
argument that it was the well-rounded directors who produced the best work.
Now you tell me Crichton's movies aren't as good as Truffaut's and triumphantly
apologize!  It's obvious we don't share an aesthetic, but don't we share
a language?
>    I don't mean to be affronting here.
> But I really would like to hear
> what you have to say about a film I know and care about (along with many
> other people), like, for instance, Kane, before I commit to reading what
> you have to say about Pulp Fiction.
Ooooooh!  Well, why didn't you say so to begin with!  Let me get this
straight:  I'm allowed to talk about a subject of interest to me (and
many other people) so long as I FIRST pass a kind of litmus test of your
devising, namely speaking in terms you'd admire about "Kane"!  Well,
silly me.  I thought it was SCREEN-L, not SCREEN-M!
> This is *not* because I'm
> ostracizing Pulp Fiction.  Indeed, I'm reserving
> judgment, a process made
> exceptionally difficult by the kind of verbal meandering that's going on
> on these screens.
Frankly, I don't care what you think of "PF," but I'm not going to be
bullied into silence by some censorious bunch of hogwash about what's
GREAT, what's a LEGITIMATE SUBJECT, what films I have to talk
'intelligently' about, or any of the other arguments you seem to be
As for verbal meandering (a nice way to follow up on your earlier comment
about not "affronting" [sic], by the by), give me a long, slow, wet,
passionate break.  Originally, I wrote about the ending of "Pulp Fiction" in
precise terms having to do with the content of the film and specific images,
words and edits in specific response to an earlier post.  You took this
as an occasion to belittle my taste for not being as canonized as yours,
offering nothing but what you thought was wit as your basis of argument.
And speaking of meandering:  Get enough sense to cut someone's .sig before you
respond to their mail....
                        |"I'm a multi-faceted, talented, wealthy,
      Shawn Levy        | internationally famous genius.  I have an
  [log in to unmask]   | IQ of over 190.  People don't like that."
                        |                       -- Jerry Lewis