Boyle's "Slumdog Millionaire": There's really nothing wrong with it, no matter what narcissistic critics sayWe've just come out of that dreadful period when three unwelcomed entities rear their ugly heads.
Oscar-time is when Mr. Blackwell, The Razzies and what I like to call The Cinéphilic Circle Jerk come out of the woodwork like, well, clockwork.
This year, we were spared Mr. Blackwell's unsolicited warblings. He's dead. The Razzies are something in which I vote and, while I question the veracity of the whole thing, it's relatively harmless.
Which brings us to The Cinéphilic Circle Jerk.
Ah, yes, The Cinéphilic Circle Jerk.
Where do I start? This is a group composed almost entirely of men - working critics, wannabe critics and their respective acolytes - who spend most of December, January and February gang-banging a film that they feel is unworthy of the attention/awards that it's receiving. The techniques of The Cinéphilic Circle Jerk are much more vicious than those of The Razzies, although the group's choice of purple-colored exclamations put it squarely in league with the late, unlamented Mr. Blackwell. (One Bay Area reviewer has, in fact, turned narcissism into a form of film criticism.)
Among those past modern Oscar-winners/-nominees which have been derided by The Cinéphilic Circle Jerk are Anthony Minghella's "The English Patient," Gus Van Sant's "Good Will Hunting," Sam Mendes' "American Beauty," Rob Marshall's "Chicago," John Madden's "Shakespeare in Love," Paul Haggis' "Crash" (the worst! - according to the panick-y Cinéphilic Circle Jerk) and this year's victor, Danny Boyle's "Slumdog Millionaire."
There's really nothing wrong with any of these films but The Cinéphilic Circle Jerk becomes so inconsolably angry about whatever regard these films receive that its members lose all sense of magnitude and rationale.
Those films singled out for extermination by The Cinéphilic Circle Jerk are subjected to ridicule so intense that the way these guys carry on, one would think the group was declaring war on something the approximate size of the United States. They behave like school-yard bullies - perhaps because they were once the vitcims of school-yard bullies themselves.
The Cinéphilic Circle Jerk has been around for ages, although its members seem to have multiplied like rabbits in the past decade or so. And as they've multiplied, they've also highjacked a few estimable and essential movie sites. Suddenly, film nerds who weren't satisified with a mere newspaper or magazine byline (or never had a byline) suddenly have a forum - actually several forums - in which to attack and savage.
BTW, you can easily spot one by the way he self-consciously invokes the names of Kael, Sarris, Agee and Thomson while pontificating about films.