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Go out with you? Why not... Do I like to dance? Of course! Take a walk along the beach tonight? I'd love to. But don't try to touch me. Don't try to touch me. Because that will never happen again. "Past, Present and Future"-The Shangri-Las

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Sniff Sniff.

I'm reading "An Actor's Business" by Andrew Reilly, an informative book about making a living as an actor. It's full of useful-seeming info (I say seeming because I haven't put it to the test yet) but I was taken aback by one passage in which, while explaining the nuts and bolts of the film business, the author goes on a tangent about how foreign films sukk. To whit:

"Some foreign filmmakers... seem to be enamoured with myriad camera angles that communicate no new information and symbols that do not advance a story but but turn the story into a crossword puzzle."

And there's more along those lines. Perhaps in the next edition Mr. Reilly will take the time to explain how modern art is flimflam and rap isn't really music.

I wonder which filmmaker, exactly, he's talking about. Peter Greenaway, perhaps. And here's Mr. Greenaway's retort (Taken from "Peter Greenaway: Interviews" edited by Vernon Gras and Marguerite Gras):

"...Cinema basically is illustration of the 19th century novel, ways and means of examining the world very much in the way that perhaps Dickens organized his narrative scheme. And you know, American cinema is a bit like telling children stories, to placate them-make sure the moral code is all right, and now we'll tuck you up in bed..."

Obviously I'm all in favor of telling children stories, and I'm sure Greenaway is too, but his point is well taken... Film tends to be organized around 19th century fictive modes, but it can be organized around 20th-century fictive modes, or any century's poetic or painterly aesthetics as well. Hollywood hasn't trained us for that, but that's no reason for a reverse-elitism against films that are about images, ideas or formal play rather than conventional narrative. Or as Robert Altman put it, Hollywood wants shoes and he makes gloves.

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