The Film Snob*s Dictionary begins by describing the archetypal Film Snob as:
[F]amiliar to anyone who has walked through the doors of an independent video store and encountered a surly clerk - hostile of mien, short on patience, apt to chastise you for not intuiting that Wes Anderson’s Bottle Rocket is in the James L. Brooks section “because Brooks was the movie’s executive producer!”
This might sound a tad mean-spirited, but authors David Kamp (who co-wrote The Rock Snob*s Dictionary) and Lawrence Levi (who blogs at Looker) have their tongues planted firmly in their respective cheeks. To employ an old saw of the playground, it takes one to know one, and if Film Snobs (as they charge) are employing a form of “Reverse Snobbery” when they favor the “soapy, over-emotive shlock of India’s Bombay-based ‘Bollywood’ film industry” over the “artful, nuanced films” of Satyajit Ray, then surely the authors are indulging in Reverse-Reverse Snobbery when they embrace Spaghetti Westerns as a “Worthwhile Snob Cause Célèbre" but then reject L’Atalante as “Fraudulent.”
Like those video store clerks who proudly grant their recommendations a section of their own, at the end of the day the authors of A Film Snob*s Dictionary are motivated by a desire to spread the word, to share a canon of unjustly neglected cinematic pleasures with other like-minded but unenlightened souls. Kamp and Levi presume a certain knowledge of and interest in film history, eschewing canonical directors like Federico Fellini and Ingmar Bergman ("mere name-drops for bourgeois losers wishing to seem cultured") in favor of more obscure figures like the actor Walter Beery or the sound designer Walter Murch.
And herein, ultimately, lies the book's greatest strength - at its heart is the idea that there is more to love about the movies than simply their capacity to entertain or educate. If Ingmar Bergman is "so PBS tote-bag" then so, by now, is les politiques des auteurs. A Film Snob*s Dictionary challenges the notion that the best films are the most "intellectual," the most "important" by focusing on different aspects of the film experience: the faces, the sounds, the cinematography, the personalities.