Wednesday, December 20, 2023


I normally don’t like when filmmakers poke fun at critics. Their “clap-backs” at negative criticism are either really juvenile or just not very witty. To be clear - I have no problem with a filmmaker defending themselves or even (momentarily) stooping to the level of an immature critic that crosses the line. Just be good with your response. Don't be flat or generic. If you’re going to take a swing at the low-hanging fruit - at least make sure that you knock it out of the park. Filmmakers rarely do this.
Quentin Dupieux’s latest short feature is an exception. I haven't been to excited about the 2023 movie year but Dupieux's Yannick sort of restored my faith. This story is an interesting case because Dupieux takes on the perspective of not only the entitled critic, but he also takes the side of the disgruntled artist as well. In the film we see an audience member (“Yannick”) kidnap a theater troop at gunpoint mid-performance because he’s displeased with their play. The basic story sounds simple enough but this film is very absurd (if you’re familiar with Dupieux’s films then you know he works in absurdity). Yannick is the product of The Exterminating Angel (a group of folks are trapped in one place and can’t leave) and The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie (the majority of Yannick plays out like a particular moment in Bunuel’s classic)...
The Discreet Charm Of The Bourgeoisie / Yannick

Any time someone makes a movie that’s considered “weird” there’s usually an impulse to compare it to either David Lynch or Bunuel. In this case the Bunuel comparison is fair. It’s also not the first time Dupieux has referenced Bunuel in his work…

He[Buñuel]’s some kind of master to me - Quentin Dupieux,

Un Chien Andalou / Lamb's Anger

Men fascinated with women's shoes...
Viridiana / Reality

Quentin Dupieux takes on that brand of modern critic that trashes art because it isn’t immediately deemed a masterpiece or doesn’t speak to their specific needs. In the film, Yannick heckles the play and expresses his frustration early on in the performance and demands that the actors do something else (he eventually uses force).
If you’re on twitter, Facebook, letterboxd, tiktok, YouTube etc - then you’re familiar with that brand of movie “critic” that either tweets in the middle of a film to their followers or has their heavily edited video review ready to go minutes after walking out of the theater. When did you even have time to digest the film? Sometimes you read a letterboxd review and you can tell the person doesn’t even care about the movie they’re writing about. They just want to get a bunch of cheap (unfunny) jokes off.
There’s also that brand of critic that can only process a film through their own unique super personal life experiences and if they don’t see a character or scenario that relates directly to them, then the movie is considered a failure. I have yet to see a movie about a large Black, left-handed, kidney transplant recipient but I still manage to enjoy movies most of the time. I think more so-called marginalized critics might want to follow suit. You might appreciate movies a little more.

This is very much a "Marcus" movie so I guess it isn't for everyone. But with a running time of only 67minutes, I'd recommend anyone give this a shot. If you aren't familiar with the work of Quentin Dupieux, this is the perfect gateway.


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