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September 19, 2012

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That Fuzzy Bastard

Now everyone's making me sad that we'll never have an Altman adaptation of "Mason & Dixon", which could be packaged with MCCABE and NASHVILLE and INDIANS for eternal awesomeness.

BLH

Home-video close-ups? So I shouldn't feel too bad about never having seen a Sternberg film projected theatrically?

Joel Bocko

Oliver & co.,

Ozu's seems the odd man out in that trio because his films aren't really transcendent, and don't seek transcendence; they are about stoicism and graceful endurance. If they really 'hung out' I see Ozu getting along better with Dreyer who strikes me as more humble than Bresson, although maybe I'm wrong there.

Joel Bocko

A question for Glenn & his readers - what did you think of the dueling essays of David Thomson and David Denby in the New Republic? Both touch on the how-new-technology-is-changing-film-aesthetics with Denby striking an apocalyptic note and Thomson more cautiously optimistic. I seem to recall Glenn disdaining David D's angsty earnestness a few years back, but this piece contained so many right-on observations I felt myself literally cheering along while reading. But I think he kind of drops the ball in detecting the silver lining; meanwhile Thomson's observations about Man with a Movue Camera and its relevance today seemed on target in that regard.

Joel Bocko

Nuthin', folks?

I realize a Swanberg-Faraci fistfight speaks louder than words on the subject of cinematic decline but still, those articles are worth a read/comment. So self-bump and a couple links to make it easier (though hopefully they don't get the comment blocked):

http://www.tnr.com/article/books-and-arts/magazine/107212/has-hollywood-murdered-the-movies

http://www.tnr.com/article/books-and-arts/magazine/107218/not-dead-just-dying

Zach

@ Joel - I haven't finished Thomson's piece, but Denby's was a mixed bag, I thought. I agree that there is trouble in the American movie business, but I'm not sure that Denby diagnosis is as accurate as it could be (for instance, his deprecatory stance towards what he terms "fantasy" seems to be misguided; fantasy, if done with artfulness and imagination, is essential to art). I think Denby's right to cast aspersions on what he calls the "conglomerate aesthetic" but he then retreats from what I think the obvious critique is, which is that conglomerate, mass-scale entertainment is a natural byproduct of a conglomerate, mass-scale economy. And he also runs a little inconsistently around the idea of cinema being nuanced, rooted in a place, and "local," while at the same time longing for a kind of cinema that can appeal to "everybody" or, perhaps, the USA. So my first impression is that it's a bit confused, as a piece, but motivated by some good ideas. I think his comments regarding emotional engagement, and especially the way in which the depiction of space has become degraded, are pretty much right on the money.

Joel Bocko

I think that, while it is missing a few components (particularly how the cinema might be cured of its ailments) this is one of the best diagnoses of what ails contemporary film that I've ever read. I suspect that the mixed message about local vs. universal is down to Denby longing for the latter but feeling he has to pay lip service to the former; that if he's going to condemn the contemporary forest, he has to at least spare some of the trees. Denby himself kind of notes this when he mentions exceptions to the general trend but remarks, "not everything a great director wants to say can be said for $3 million" or something to the effect.

Although I share some of Denby's implicit frustration with excessive narrowness, I'd argue that vision and focus need not be dictated by budget, but that's where I think Thomson's last page comes in handy. Make sure you check that out; 3 pages in his tone changes course - up til then he seemed like he was playing 'I'm-so-over-cinephile' shtick but then he goes into an interesting, different direction.

Cadavra

For the record, I have absolutely no desire to be Paul Thomas Anderson.

I want to be Mel Brooks.

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