Petite Maman makes the arthouse film accessible to everyone

Petite Maman.
(Image credit: Illustrated | NEON, iStock)

If watching this year's Academy Awards ceremony felt like lying awake on a surgical table, then watching commentary on the ceremony felt an awful lot like waking up in a bathtub with nephrectomy stitches. Jimmy Kimmel lamented that not a single one of the Best Picture nominees was Spider-Man: No Way Home; Trevor Noah equated watching those very same nominees with the practice of healthy eating; and Saturday Night Live aired the admittedly amusing music video "Short-Ass Movies," where Pete Davidson, Chris Redd, Gunna, and Simon Rex rap the praises of films that clock in at 100 minutes or less, with John Cherry's work given especially high marks.

Grant that the SNL skit didn't target the Oscars specifically; forget that this year's Best Picture category featured a satire for the "fake news" era of dimwitted American politics (Don't Look Up), a mega-budget sci-fi space opera (Dune), a slick, macabre neo-noir (Nightmare Alley), a hagiographical biopic (King Richard), a 1970s-set coming of age comedy (Licorice Pizza), a crowd pleasing tear jerker (CODA), and a new adaptation of one of the all-time great stage musicals from one of the all-time great filmmakers (West Side Story), among others. Kvetching (partly in jest) about running times, and about arthouse cinema (not at all in jest) either as homework or a necessary but pleasureless prerequisite for salubrity, is sending a clear message: Movies that focus on weighty subjects (performative and sadistic machismo, processing grief), that stretch out over 2 hours or more, and that are produced and take place in other countries and so call for subtitles, are a drag.

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Andy Crump

Bostonian culture journalist Andy Crump covers the movies, beer, music, and being a dad for way too many outlets, perhaps even yours: Paste Magazine, The Playlist, Mic, The Week, Hop Culture, and Inverse, plus others. You can follow him on Twitter and find his collected writing at his personal blog. He is composed of roughly 65 percent craft beer.