The Critic Strikes Back or Criticizing a Critic Part II

About a month ago I wrote Criticizing A Critic. In this diatribe I blasted LA Weekly film critic, Scott Foundas, for wasting ink and paper with what I considered to be ineffectual reviews. Below is his response which I have reprinted in its entirety.

Dear David:

How lucky for you that, effective January 1 of next year, I will be leaving the Weekly to assume the position of Associate Programming Director at the Film Society of Lincoln Center. You’re less lucky, I suppose, that my bosses here at the Weekly have kindly invited me to continue to make occasional contributions whenever my schedule allows, and that the editors of Film Comment, the official magazine of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, have already added me to their masthead as a Contributing Editor.

But I guess I’m really the lucky one, seeing as how you’ve only just outed me now as such a know-nothing bore. I mean, had it happened sooner, it might have dissuaded my bosses here at the Weekly from giving me so much support over the last seven years; or stopped the editors at our affiliate papers in the Village Voice Media network from reprinting my reviews, interviews and essays from coast to coast; or at least given pause to the editors at The New York Times, Slate and Cahiers du Cinema who have asked me to make guest contributions over the years. Who knows?–it might even have prevented the Cannes Film Festival from making me the first American critic to serve on an official jury there since Pauline Kael, or the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis from inviting me to conduct master classes with such visiting filmmakers as Milos Forman and Mike Leigh, or filmmakers from Paul Thomas Anderson to Clint Eastwood from granting me a level of access to them and their working methods extended to few if any other working journalists. I guess we’ll never know.

For whatever it’s worth, a lot of readers of the Weekly (much less discerning than you, it goes without saying) have seemed appreciative of the products of these labors over the past seven years. But now that the job is officially open, I humbly suggest that you submit your own resume to the appropriate agents, or at least help to publicize the vacancy among the next group of rowdy teenage moviegoers you encounter.

Kind regards,

Scott Foundas

Film Editor

L.A. WEEKLY

3861 Sepulveda Boulevard

Culver City, CA 90230

I felt petty when I received this e-mail. I obviously upset a sensitive individual and he was decent enough to even give me a heads up about a job opening. So this was what I wrote back to him.

Dear Mr. Foundas,

Thank you for responding. I apologize if you took my pointed criticisms of your work personally. I have never met you and I am certain you are a fine and decent individual. I wish you only the best as an associate program director, but I can not help but feel proud that my words lit a fire under your behind.

Your three paragraph letter was the most passionate writing I’ve read from you. Perhaps in your future contributions you can channel those same emotions and bring readers something equally soul baring. (Although you did lose me for a bit in paragraph two with your list of accomplishments.)  I will take your advice and throw my resume in the direction of the LA Weekly. Is it inappropriate to ask you to be a reference?

Warm Regards,

David Rolland

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13 thoughts on “The Critic Strikes Back or Criticizing a Critic Part II

  1. Mr. Foundas brings up an interesting topic – which is the delusional mindset in 2009, of an American film critic as an elite arbiter.

    Let’s recap Mr. Foundas has his grandstanding namedrops….

    1. Film Comment Magazine.
    “What’s on the cover of the current issue of Film Comment?,” you ask? Why it’s none other than the new stop-motion film from Wes Anderson. “Wait, is he even known for doing animation?” No. Wes Anderson is a pastiche artist, who just cuts out clips out other people’s work and makes a collage of it. This time for credibility, rather than cutting and pasting Franny and Zooey, he’s trying to take credit for a format he has no connection to. Does Film Comment mention anything about how he and Spike Jonze are boring, self-involved hipsters and the current low-point of American film? But a great magazine to write for, Mr. Foundas???

    2. Cannes
    Let’s see, you keep namedropping France with Cahiers du Cinema and Cannes, despite that being a hey-day era. So what film won when you were on the jury… Let’s see. Well, you’re such an influential critic that Google has turned up no results for “Foundas Cannes Jury.” However, with your glowing review of Synecdoche popping up, I can imagine you would go along with awarding elitist tripe like Hanke and Cannet. I mean, why would you champion anything that wasn’t established? Right?

    3. Art Center in Minneapolis?
    What? Did the place in Phoenix not call you back?

    Congratulations on landing the esteemed position of Assistant to the Regional Manager. I look forward to having you tear my ticket stub and bore us with pretentious quotes that you heard French people say.

  2. Brilliant!! I was shaking with laughter at your response. Man that guy was so offended he actually listed his credentials. Once again Rolland great comeback.

  3. This is one of of the most embarrassingly infantile and narrow minded ‘criticisms’ I have had the displeasure to read. You should be ashamed.

  4. foundas makes it sound like he’s jean luc godard or something… which, i am assured, he isn’t. very immature, thin-skinned response to your criticism, and i am really appalled at this behavior from a so-called “professional” … shameful. well, that’s one less critic who’s opinion i have to worry about.

  5. wow. talk about how NOT to respond to criticism… by getting up on your high horse and listing ’20 reasons why i am awesome’. classy.

    but i know someone here in la who knows scott well, and she assures me that, like any true film geek, these achievements are seriously all he has in his lonely little life. (She also claims that he only got to be ‘the first American critic to serve on an official jury there since Pauline Kael’ by cultivating some very strategic friendships with the tastemakers, both here and abroad. apparently his nickname is ‘eve harrington’ among the film-crit set, a reference I’m not ashamed to say I had to look up…..)

    so in the words of homer simpson (who I dont think has lectured at the walker art center yet), “let the baby have his bottle!”

  6. Doesn’t being the the associate whatever of programming at Lincoln Centre pretty much automatically put you on the Film Comment masthead anyway? I mean, they’re effectively two arms of the same organisation, no?

    What a dick.

  7. I’m sure Foundas regrets firing that one off. But i can certainly relate.

    I mean, who isnt overly sensitive to criticism from time to time? And who doesnt use pride in their accomplishments to steel themselves against insecurity and rebukes? Shit doesnt smell like ice-cream and you hypocrites need to stop licking between your legs.

    In sum…

    This pablochiste guy is an idiot. And this david rolland guy is a double fucked idiot. I mean, the guy admits to taking “pride” in being able ruffle Foundas’ feathers. Ha. Who’s the master and who’s the slave in that situation?

    I suppose Foundas would be more respectable to you all if he were emotionally impervious to personal/professional attacks. But, hey, keep scratching at his ankles. You’re bound to collect some dead skin underneath your fingernails….which you can sell on ebay! Cannes Juror epidermis! No reserve!

    • Yes, it would take a lot to remain emotionally impervious from personal attacks. To be called a double fucked idiot and not roll off your resume… that would take a cool cucumber. Someone who’s had sex twice. That is what double fucked means, right?

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