Jan 14, 2010

Eric Rohmer: at a rough estimate, 90% twaddle

"Now I yield to no one in my ­admiration for Rohmer. Yet his ­characters are among the most ­foolish and ineffectual milquetoasts ever to have graced a cinema screen; 90% of their celebrated talk is ­unadulterated ­twaddle. This is ­absolutely not a flaw: it is, rather, a ­species of trompe l'oeil (or trompe l'oreille). Rohmer jangles the small change of wit with such unfailing ­mastery that, just as his characters are persuaded they are making clever ­remarks, so most of the audience are persuaded they are hearing them... dialogue was crucial to ­Rohmer's (often surprisingly plotty) narratives."— Gilbert Adair on Eric Rohmer
I get the point: its not that the dialogue is twaddle, but the characters speak twaddle 90% of the time. That still means that for 90% of the time you are listening to characters spouting twaddle. There's no getting around it. Rohmer never gets fed up of the twaddle and goes off to find characters who aren't so pretentious. We're stuck with them, too. What I want to know is this: if even the fans of Rohmer admit the scripts are 90% twaddle and are still willing to acclaim him as a giant of cinema, then why can't James Cameron catch a similar break? Seriously. If Eric Rohmer films are great despite the fact that their scripts are pretentious crap, why not Avatar's script, which is at least unpretentious workmanlike crap?

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