Manohla Dargis, Scott Foundas, and the Rest of Your Favorite Writers Are Fighting Right Now


The idea of film bloggers feuding publicly with each other is nothing new -- hell, it's practically what Twitter was invented for. Over the last few days, however, a remarkably juicy battle royale has broken out in the comments section of Thompson on Hollywood, and it's populated mostly by an upper echelon of film writers who tend to stay out of the fray, including NYT film critic Manohla Dargis, outgoing LA Weekly scribe Scott Foundas, and Film Comment's Amy Taubin. It's like Super Smash Bros. for people who love the Dardenne brothers!

TOH's Anne Thompson fired the first shot when she wrote the following passages in her innocuously titled NYFF blog entry, "Scott Foundas Joins Film Society as Associate Programmer":

Film criticism is a dying art. As one of the best critics working today, Foundas should be anticipating a long and happy career. He's giving it up to program movies...Unless Foundas screws up (as one-time heir apparent Kent Jones did), down the line he could be in a position to run the New York Film Festival.

The first comment from "Derrin Zikks" brought up the fact that both Foundas and outgoing programmer Jones signed the pro-Polanski petition ("Would signing a petition defending a child-rapist count as 'screwing up'?"), which brought an immediate rebuke from Premiere's Glenn Kenny: "I would suggest that Derrin Zikks go do several unpleasant things, but I know you like to run a civil comments section." Foreshadowing!

Dargis soon leapt in to defend both Jones and the art of film criticism:


1. Kent Jones did not screw up at the Film Society and it's disgusting that you would write something so utterly wrong and insulting about him.

2. "Film criticism is a dying art"? Did you write that with a straight face?

3. Scott is giving up on slaving for the LA Weekly (meaning, working for those fuckers at Village Voice Media); he's not giving up on film criticism, which you would know if you actually bothered to talk to Scott - or even read Brian Brooks's indiewire report:

To which Thompson directly responded:

There are still many top practitioners of the art of film criticism, obviously, like you, but their numbers are dwindling and you can't deny that the profession is under severe duress. [...] I appreciate your desire to stand up for your friend Kent Jones, but clearly, the Film Society and Richard Pena had hopes for him that he did not fulfill. So he "screwed up" in the sense that he did not mesh with that organization's needs. They did not sync up. And he moved on. I wish him well.

And I look forward to reading your artful criticism every week in the NYT.

But it was not settled yet -- no, not by a long shot. Then Jones himself got involved. Yay!

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