Monday, March 19, 2007

Today, i'm exhausted, and so i just stayed in. Did nothing but looked stuff up on the computer. Various blogs (Matt Zoller Seitz's The House Next Door, Glenn Kenny, Dave Kehr, Michael Giltz, George Robinson). But for some reason... it was because Glenn Kenny's blog had a piece about Eva Green and her parents (i.e., Marlene Jobert and Walter Green) and i know that i heard that whole story when bertolucci talked after the AMMI screening of "The Dreamers". So i wanted to see if i had included that info on my blog, but i think i found out before i started the blog. But then i realized that i used to write a lot, and really go on and on. But now, i make quick little statements, and that's it.

Last night, watched Bresson's "Proces de Jeanne d'Arc" on TCM, and so that's what knocked out my schedule. At 11 AM, the networks were filled with two news conferences, one about the verdict from the grand jury in the case of the police shooting of Sean Bell, and the other by Bush about Iraq. The scandal about the firing of federal prosecutors has finally started to take its toll. We'll see what will happen to this administration: there will have to be new laws to prevent this administration from future prosecution for its various illegal and wrongful acts. If Bush really is "the decider", then he has decided time and again to break the laws.

But who are we kidding? Last night, watched "Real Time With Bill Maher" and Maher had a very funny comment. He noted that people have been saying that the war in Iraq has not resulted in true sacrifices from most of the American public. But Maher notes that the American public has already given up most of the Bill of Rights. We have sacrificed our freedom for this war.

In a lot of the recent critiques of the two biographies on Leni Riefenstahl, there is a lot of equivocating. Years ago, Stanley Kauffmann was one who noted that the reason Riefenstahl is "troubling" is not because she was or was not a Nazi, but because she was undoubtedly talented. There were a lot of no-talent Nazis, and that's ok, but that someone with talent might be so politically (and, by extension, morally) noxious is something that people have such a problem with.

A few weeks ago, i was reading "Fable for Another Time", a (late) novel by Louis-Ferdinand Celine. Even though it's a rather "slender" book, the force of Celine's vitriolic sensibility remains potent, and when you're reading, it's hard not to get swept up in his singular (and often hideous) perspective.

One of the problems with film criticism is that the standards for film criticism have remained (mostly) hopelessly retardataire, so that the standards for most film critics emphasize the type of work encased in 19th century narrative conventions. In 1965 (!), Annette Michelson noted this problem: "Certainly it is true that the generally retardataire character of our film criticism reflects an anxiety about the manner in which postwar cinema, in Europe and America alike, has, at its best, transcended the conventions of a sensibility formed by the premodernist canon of a primarily literary nineteenth century." And it seems to be symptomatic that many of the films which have been so highly regarded in the last few years have been resolutely regressive. "The Queen" might be paradigmatic in this regard. (Which isn't to say that i didn't enjoy it, but even viewed politically it's incredibly reactionary.)

David Edelstein was the substitute on Ebert & Roeper. He and Richard Roeper were very enthusiastic about "The Lookout", written and directed by Scott Frank. It sounds like another neo-noir (Frank previously wrote the scripts for "Get Shorty" and "Out of Sight"), but i'm intrigued.

A while ago, i noted how "uncivil" so much of the exchanges online can be. Over the weekend, i got some responses to various posts on my blog. Nothing bad, but why is it that people never seem to understand certain points? When i noted that Jennifer Hudson's career possibilities might be limited, i wasn't suggesting that she didn't have talent. But one problem is that the insistence on "integrating" the current entertainment industry is (almost) hopeless. Every black star (or almost every black star) has spoken of the problem of going into a meeting with the "suits" and realizing that you're the only person of color in the room, and the incomprehension that is encountered. It's not as if there isn't material out there.

But in the music industry, many of the black artists simply went out on their own. They created their own recording labels, they got involved in their own distribution, they didn't need the established music venues.

And that is how people have to operate. You can't wait for most of the membership of the Motion Picture Academy of Arts & Sciences to take notice. My belief (which derives from my own experiences) is that you just have to do it yourself.

In short: if you want to create a scene, be it underground movies or video art or "new dance", simply do it yourself, the way that Jonas Mekas, Nam June Paik, Yvonne Rainer, Steve Paxton, and cohorts did.

That's what i grew up with, and i think that's the way to go.


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