One more time: the experience of art is personal. We like and dislike art the same way we like and dislike each other: some works are generally likable and some are generally not, but every one of us has works we love above all others, and also works we don’t like, even when everyone else seems to, even when some misguided souls tell us we should. Yes, there are canonical works, but the canon isn’t there for us all to agree how good the films are; it’s there because seeing them helps us understand more about cinema, apart from any question of liking it. (The Dissolve’s “Essential Viewing” tag nailed this idea perfectly: you don’t have to like it, but you do have to see it, with Sleepaway Camp perhaps the definitive example.) The necessary virtue of criticism isn’t affection, but respect: the ability to see the worth in something, whether you like it or not.
Spinning off of NerdInTheBasement’s respectful article on Breathless, and Son of Griff’s comment on same, what are the canonical works you don’t like? For me, it’s Rashomon, which has always struck me as the perfect film for learned conversation rather than enjoyment or transformation, a chance to meditate on the imponderable nature of knowledge and how, like, whoa, we all have different perspectives on stuff and blah blah blah, a validation of a viewpoint that places contemplation above action as a virtue. (Also, it’s raining, so we all know it’s serious.) Give me Toshiro Mifune owning everything in the frame over this exaltation of mopiness any day of the week, and twice on Sundays; and at the same time, I’d recommend this in an instant to anyone who wants to see how well Kurosawa manipulates atmosphere and point of view.
‘Fess up, Soluters. We’re not here to judge (YOU HEAR THAT, COMMENTERS WHO JUDGE? YES YOU), we’re here to be honest about what we like and don’t like and to talk about it. What works in the canon of film don’t do it for you, and what would you rather see? Answering this question isn’t a mark of disrespect to the film in question, because we’re not saying no one should like it, just that you or I don’t. Answering this question doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it means you’re a person, who lives and breathes and loves and hates, ‘cuz that’s what people do. And if that makes us wrong, well, I don’t think any of us wanna be right.