I received this piece of e-mail apropos of my various postings on Jean Renoir’s The Rules of the Game:
I took your word, paid $30 for the film, and was utterly disgusted. What a boring piece of offal. This is your inspiration? I’ll bet you like Last Year At Marienbad.
I’ve sworn off critics for life.
To which I made the following reply, which I thought worth sharing:
As a matter of fact, I don’t like Last Year at Marienbad at all. And I really think you ought to at least consider the possibility that you might be wrong. I can think of a lot of things one might call The Rules of the Game, but “boring piece of offal” is not on my list, or anyone else’s save, I suspect, yours.
When I was a college student, I told a teacher that I didn’t like the music of Schumann, and he replied, very politely, “That may say more about you than it does about Schumann.” Most people who take film seriously consider The Rules of the Game to be a very great work of art. Of course we could all be wrong, but why not give us, and Jean Renoir, a chance? You might just surprise yourself.
As Hans Keller once said in an almanac posting I should probably reprint monthly, “As soon as I detest something I ask myself why I like it.”
That’s worth pondering.