Justin Lin may be a Hollywood director working in a popular mold, but close readings of his films makes it clear that he is imparting a personal imprint. His Tokyo Drift configures Japan as a fully realized, lived-in space visited by an outsider, the film's sense of dislocation not unlike Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation. Fast Five, likewise, imagines Brazil as a multicultural mecca, and it remains one of the precious few Hollywood blockbusters to wholly embrace the racial diversity of its cast. These are valuable elements of films that have been widely dismissed as vacuous and trashy. Vulgar auteurism means respecting such films enough to give them the careful evaluation they deserve.

It's important to recall that the "vulgar" part of vulgar auteurism doesn't refer to crudeness, but to commonality; it argues against the notion that the only films worth talking about are those designed for an arthouse audience. Much like the Young Turks of the French New Wave, who aimed in their Cahiers du cinema writing to bring critical appreciation to Hollywood filmmakers widely considered unworthy — and from Alfred Hitchcock to Samuel Fuller, their efforts have since been vindicated by history — it is the task of the vulgar auteurists to find the value buried in films we otherwise think of as trashy, unsophisticated, or obscene.

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