howard-cantour-shia-short

“Most critics will give any movie three and a half stars if it flatters their self-image.” That’s interior monologe from the title character in HowardCantour.com, in which Jim Gaffigan plays schlubby film critic and self-styled “warrior” Howard Cantour. But the guy’s voice is far more confident and confrontational when passed through a keyboard than when uttered in person. Shia LaBeouf directed the short, which gently mocks Gaffigan’s critic as it observes him flatulently mocking a film director.

This short takes a lot of well-aimed shots at the culture of film criticism and marketing, as it also indulges in hyperbole of its own. In time, it also cuts to the heart of how some people interact with films — noting that lines can blur between wanting to be moved and actually being affected by something. Watch below.

Update: This is getting messy, as the film is very obviously an adaptation of a comic story by Daniel Clowes, with no credit given to the creator. And Clowes now says he’s never talked to LaBeouf.

Update 2: In a string of tweets, embedded below, LaBeouf has offered an extended “apology.”

As of Monday afternoon, 12/16, this embed is password protected. We’ll update when possible.

A couple of notes: this is based on the comic ‘Justin M. Damiano,’ by Daniel Clowes. And, as Devin Faraci notes, the casting choice makes Cantour look a lot like freelance critic Damon Houx.

Mocking film critics seems like launching cannon balls at an easy but insignificant target, but there’s depth here, as the real reasons for Cantour’s complicated and at times inarticulate response to one director are laid bare. This is character study rather than broadside, and in truth I’d like to see more. This sticks to Clowes’ original strip word for word, and so Clowes’ voice is more significant than LaBeouf’s. There’s soon to expand and further articulate this character.

Update: Well, the video is private now, because it has all become very tricky with respect to Clowes. While this short premired at Cannes in 2012, it is only being widely seen now. And so the connection to Clowes’ strip is just being explored today. BuzzFeed was the first to get in touch with Clowes, and he is quoted saying,

The first I ever heard of the film was this morning when someone sent me a link. I’ve never spoken to or met Mr. LeBeouf… I’ve never even seen one of his films that I can recall — and I was shocked, to say the least, when I saw that he took the script and even many of the visuals from a very personal story I did 6 or 7 years ago and passed it off as his own work. I actually can’t imagine what was going through his mind.

What a drag — there’s good stuff in here, but as mentioned above most of it comes straight from Clowes. Now the discussion will invariably turn to the relationship between LaBeouf and the original material. If any of the barbs aimed at critics here are thought to be legit, they’re blunted by the fact that, according to Clowes, this is basically a stolen story. When the short addresses certain journalistic practices, there’s no way that talk of plagiarism will be something LaBeouf can escape.

Update #2: Here’s LaBeouf’s apology, followed by the best response.

 

[via Short of the Week]

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