What fantastic answers to my post- I really think we're on the same page here, Brandon. I feel like from start to finish I was on board with what you were saying and the way you were saying it. Balance is something that's very important to me and I saw a lot of that in what you were writing.
A few points of clarification:
1) The reason I cited my use of the Tomatometer was to say that sometimes I will weigh more heavily the audience percentage than the critic percentage because I believe these people are going into a film with fewer preconceived notions and prejudices. These are folks who either like something or they don't- film watching is a much more visceral experience for them, more honest sometimes.
2) I hope that you are getting that I DO very much enjoy slower paced foreign films. It's just that if I try to start one at 10pm, chances are it's going to put me to sleep, where more mainstream horror, action, or comedy won't. It's all about stimulation, not so much about quality or likes or dislikes... After ten is about the earliest I can start a film that my son can't watch because of when he goes to bed. Occasionally if he's at a friend's house, my wife and I will watch something together, and she often enjoys foreign films. So it happens a lot less often than I wish it would.
3) I enjoyed Lady in the Water, but not necessarily because I thought it was a particularly good film. It's Shyamalan's weakest, in my opinion. But I loved his f$%# you attitude towards critics and the movie business in general. The movie had an underlying sass and I really got a kick out of it. I mean, how many times can you take someone telling you you can't make a better film than your first before you just want them all to shut up? The fact that it was in his fifth film that he finally broke says something about how having to put up with it for so long may have affected him.
4) I read Bordwell last night and was impressed. I like how he does focus a lot on technical aspects- frame counting, cinematography, and the like. I picked an entry that I thought I'd have some knowledge of so I could analyze it intelligently: http://www.davidbordwell.net/blog/?p=2713. This is one on superhero films, particularly Dark Knight, which didn't impress him. He's not a fan in general of the genre, and he says so pretty outright, but you don't get the feeling that he's not going to let the reader be a fan, either. He admits that he has a lack of knowledge (or interest) on the subject of superhero comics and it underlies the tone of his post really clearly. He even adds a postscript that includes some new information he learned since writing the post and how it altered some of his opinions. I liked it a lot, and I was taken with how unassuming he comes across for someone who clearly has watched at least three craploads of film, and then some more.
5) I have not seen Tall in the Saddle, obviously, but descriptions of the whiskey drinking scene made me think of a shot in All the Pretty Horses that has stayed with me even though I haven't seen the film in probably ten years. The scene takes place in a Mexican prison (I think) and one of the characters asks an old guy in the prison a question. The old guy doesn't answer and the camera just rests on his craggy beautiful face for a bit longer than you'd expect it to. The film didn't get great reviews, but it really made an impression on me because of how skillfully it was shot (despite, apparently, suffering heavy cuts). Could we say that a powerful moment like that could be compared with similar little moments like those in Tall in the Saddle? Could we leave room for modern films that don't blow us away initially to age better than some of the more high profile Scorceses and PT Andersons and the like? That maybe some kid in 2030 might be writing about All the Pretty Horses and saying that "there's nothing comparable being made today"?