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Monday, January 08, 2007

Ray Carney says it as it is!



Here are some extracts from the full article. Its the best read I've had in ages. Let's remind ourselves why we love film - and why we struggle to make it work.

All art is supposed to be independent. Independence is its natural, its only true state.

Let's never forget, the independent artists are not the odd ducks in the history of art; the businessmen are.

It's hard to be original. Most of the time we live up to William James' maxim that we think we're thinking creatively when we are just rearranging our prejudices.

Rather than being unique, most movies are recycling operations. I call it the Chicken McNuggets syndrome. It's really always basically the same thing as last time, but you add a different sauce or spice to make it look like a whole new meal.

I know someone who goes around teaching a three-day seminar on how to write a script. Can you imagine someone trying to tell you in three days how to score a great symphony? But people are convinced film is different. It just shows their secret contempt for the art they claim to care about.

As Marshall McLuhan said, when real revolutions come along, they don't look like breakthroughs–they look like chaos... ...My point is that it's easy to praise original, innovative film in the abstract, but the particular case can test our patience. We cry out all of our lives for masterpieces, but face to face with one, we reject it.

Great art makes things hard on us. It makes trouble for us, because it denies us our easy, familiar categories.

The best way to improve attendance at independent theaters would be to charge more for tickets. Much more–say thirty or forty dollars a seat. Star Wars is like a Happy Meal. You can mass-produce both the meal and the movie so cheaply and sell them in such quantity that you can almost give them away. Art is different.

The postmodern dream has come to pass. These directors skate across surfaces and revel in their own deliberate superficiality. That is why these films are all ultimately ironic in tone. It's the curse of postmodern culture. Where nothing is real, irony is the supreme virtue.

Shine and The English Patient are cartoons for adults–no different from Schindler's List, Forrest Gump, or Bambi. They're as simple-minded as a children's storybook. To put it more bluntly, they're a pack of lies. We go in not to be tested and grow but to have our prejudices confirmed.

While the Hollywood filmmaker knows where he or she is going every step of the way, storyboarding scenes days or weeks in advance of the shooting, and going in each day with a set of predetermined points to make in each shot, real artists set off down a road they can't see to the end of. They work in the dark, feeling their way step by step, learning new things as they go along. In our smug, know-it-all era, it is clear that artists are almost the only the real explorers left, and that they come back with the only news that really matters.

True artistic creation is solitary in its essence. It is not done by a group but an individual. It is one heart speaking to one heart. And it doesn't ultimately depend on funding or support groups or government grants.


Take that on a Monday morning!
Cheers to Suki for the link!
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