Thursday, February 9, 2012

Please, Sir, I Want No More.

Maybe it's just me (in fact, almost assuredly, it is) but I find my generation of film enthusiasts a bit too hung up on the whole pop art aspect of cinema.  I like the popular cinema, I do, really I do.  But I also like film as an art form and as I watch more and more of it, that's the cinema I lean towards.  I understand that as a business, film as a whole can't strut around displaying one Playtime, Persona or Repulsion after another and remain a viable enterprise.  I understand the need for the blending of art and commerce, the kind made so popular and so successful by the likes of Steven Spielberg and I also understand films like Melancholia or Tree of Life don't fire up the imagination of the general citizenry like a good Raiders of the Lost Ark or Jaws (or even Warhorse or Tintin).  I understand that and to take it a step further, I even appreciate the skill and talent behind Raiders and Jaws to the extent that I not only cannot imagine a cinematic universe without them, I wouldn't want to.

But can we stop talking about it?  Or them?  Or just Spielberg?

It's not that I hate Spielberg (I don't and not even Armond White's hyperbolic elevations of Spielberg or his crude put downs of anyone who doesn't like him can totally turn me off of Spielberg - although sometimes White comes close) it's that he is the most popular film maker of the last forty years.  If I never read another thing about him and I live to be 125, I'll never suffer from a lack of analysis of the man and his works.  And that popularity provides the very reason we should move on.

This isn't about Spielberg, it's about the thousands of films still to be discussed, still to be dissected.  It's about the myriad directors whose works are still woefully under-known and undebated.  And I'm not talking about the average, dull film goer.  I'm talking about the goddamn cinephiles that populate my world.  So when I see another piece on the brilliance of, oh I don't know, just pick one... say, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, I can't help but think, "Okay, yeah, great, got it!  Can we talk about something else now?"

Sorry, but I just don't care to rehash the same goddamn "oohs" and "aahs" that I've been rehashing for forty years now.  I see one fucking article or essay or video salute or list after another about Spielberg and his films and the last one was so fucking inane the guy doing it didn't even seem to comprehend that A.I. Artificial Intelligence was a terrific piece of science fiction.

Or how about someone discuss 1941 for a change?  How about that?  It's a step, at least.  It's a gesture.    Discussing what is perceived to be a director's failure is often much more illuminating than discussing a success.  And the miniatures used in that one are amazing pieces of craft work. But, in all honesty, I'd probably hate that, too.

Look, I'm not here to suggest films or tell anyone we should all start discussing underground Lithuanian cinema from the sixties, I just want to move on from Spielberg.  It is my great misfortune to find him rather dull despite the fact that I admire his talent.  This is my misfortune because, lately, online, I've seen him and his films discussed everywhere.

And I'm not talking about Warhorse or Tintin because those are new films and haven't had years and years of discussion yet.  Want to discuss them? Fine.  But don't give me another breakdown of E.T. the Extraterrestrial, please.

I'll shut up now.  It's been inside me for a while.  I have nothing to say to the argument, "But we should be discussing any film maker we want and you're free to discuss someone else, pal, so go ahead and stop your moaning!"  I have nothing to say to that because it's true.  Nothing I've written above (or very little, at least) can be supported by any form of logical argument that cannot be instantly dismissed with a simple, "Oh, so you're saying we shouldn't discuss one of the most critically and commercially successful film makers ever.  Check [rolls eyes]."   Yeah, I know, it's a rant ripe for ridicule.  But it's a bitter piece of bile that made its way down to my asshole years ago and I just finally had to shit it out.  Thanks for listening.