I began feeling more and more angry yesterday afternoon and evening as it became increasingly evident that a significant percentage of effete critics (i.e., not necessarily a majority) had come down negatively upon Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu‘s Biutiful, an immensely sad and highly poetic little film that needs all the intelligent support it can get. And yet certain dweeb types have, it seems, gotten together and decided to diminish it.
Last night the Indiewire team sent out an e-mail stating that the two critical favorites so far are Mike Leigh‘s Another Year (which I’ve managed not to see — sorry) and Charles Ferguson‘s Inside Job (which I admire greatly), and in so doing obviously declared in blunt, Western Union-style fashion that Biutiful was not a favorite.
I interpreted this as an effort to intimidate the Cannes community into thinking that their hip film connoisseur status will be threatened if they put Biutiful at the top of their lists. The Indiewire guys e-polled a bunch of critics a few hours earlier, and had sized things up and concluded that relatively few critics had gotten behind Biutiful, or perhaps were on the fence about it or insufficiently ardent or whatever. However you want to slice it flatly declaring that a film as rich and strong as Biutiful is not critically favored on the very day that it has screened is basically an attempt by elite know-it-alls who live in a cloistered realm to prod or goad others into getting with the anti-Biutiful program.
I despise this kind of Stalinoid bullying. I despise it because I know that Biutiful is a landmark film, and that it’s easily one of the strongest I’ve seen in Cannes this year, and that people who go around tut-tutting and pooh-poohing it for the usual reasons that they flog Inarritu (i.e., his films are emotional wave experiences that are overly tricky, calculated or overly strategized, or are simply too much of a stacked deck and generally not believable) are, in my mind, coming from a kind of stifled and constipated place.