Tag Archives: Books

Cinema in your Library: The Film Snob*s Dictionary

25 Jun

In case of the event that you forget the difference between William Wyler and William Wellman....

Life is too short for resentmeants to fester over this person’s lack of  knowledge over the Iranian New Wave or  that person’s braggadocio over his Mexican-wrestling-pictures expertise. And everyone, it can be agreed, likes “The Wizard of Oz.” Well, except for those who can only tolerate MGM’s visually superior but out-of-print “Ultimate Oz” laser disc edition.

Oh, and the only Tom Cruise movie it’s okay for snobs to like is Ridley Scott’s “Legend.”

In every facet of art, there are the snobs. Modern art snobs, Renaissance art snobs, museum snobs, even dance and music snobs. So, in faithful fandom, film too has its fellow “snobs.” As my handy Encarta describes, a snob is “somebody who looks down on others.” Well, to place yourself on a pedestal requires some sort of accomplishment. For film snobs, that’s appreciating not just the best in cinema, but also the indie darlings no one has heard of and the one camera guy that’s totally unappreciated. Then there’s the cinema trash fans.

Welcome to “The Film Snob’s Dictionary”, a tongue-in-check companion for the average film fan, a person who does not want to sit through that many hours of shitty “chop-sockey” and “–sploitation” films but wants to feel included into the echelons of film snob circles. There’s humor abound, despite the appearance of being a serious dictionary of the strange in cinema.

In film, there is no such thing as an average romance. Still from "Harold and Maude."

Take for example the listing for Bud Cort: Gnomish character actor who, during a dizzying period in 1970-71, emerged as one of that auteur-choked era’s most unlikely antiheroes, playing the title role in Robert Altman’s “Brewster McCloud, the colead in Roger Corman’s Gas-s-s-s, and Harold, the youngster who falls in love for a little old lady in Hal Ashby’s “Harold and Maude.”

And that’s just the excerpt. Hundreds of entries are summarized (or in the case of “I am Curious-Yellow,” explained) in short paragraphs for quick look up and easy to understand. You don’t need a film school certificate to talk to us, we promise.

Above: Art

There’s also fun lists, like how to keep like-sounding names apart and how to tell a difference between films and movies (It’s a MOVIE if it has T & A in it. It’s a FILM if it has penises in it.) Sometimes, the book’s lampooning tone becomes overly apparent, but for the most part, its definitions seems to be whispered with snickering in between. It’s a bit of a  joke that some sects of film fans hold grindhouse genre movies as treasured cinema milestones or how film critics have their own cults (On Pauline Keal: nevertheless inspired fear in her legions of movie-critic acolytes-known as Paulettes-full grown men and women who tremendously sought her unforthcoming approval and pilgrimaged her home in the Berkshires in vain hope of being anointed her heir apparent. )

But that’s part of the appeal for some, to love what no one else does and to claim an obscure subject as their “expertise.” After all, they maybe the ones vying for film snob cred.

You can find the book here or at your lovely public library.

If you have TCM, you can find all these trashy gems and more, at around 2am on Friday nights. Just like what mom said to stay away from.