Thursday, August 04, 2005

Plays Well With Others

It's my total pleasure to finally share my Film Experience sandbox. Please welcome Joe Reid to The Film Experience with his first column. Some of you may already know his work from his former column "Happy Hour" at 411 Mania or his blog Low Resolution (which has been linked in the side bar here for some time as one of my favorite blogs). For those who are new to Joe...

Joe, You.
You, Joe.

You'll like each other.


adam k. said...

That Prime trailer looks pretty funny. But then, so did the first Something's Gotta Give trailer and that turned out to be bad. Tricky categorizations... but I think Meryl has that comedy globe nom in the bag.

darkcypherlad said...

I like Joe's column. Hope he does more for TFE.

Although he's far from my favorite filmmaker (Salvador and The hand are the two films I can stomach), Ollie Stone, and any other filmmaker not named Michael Bay, has the right to make a 9/11 picture. I'm confused as to why 9/11 should be singled out as the ONLY historical event that shouldn't be represented in cinema. Why? Yes, I know it was traumatic and we're still feeling the implications of it today, but I don't think whitewashing the event from our silver screens is the way to go to "heal." Hollywood certainly didn't hesitate to represent/exploit Pearl Harbor and audiences embraced war pictures during that period. In fact, the cinema was instrumental in helping people cope with a world war that no was sure would ever end.

I realize that our current situation is more comparable to the divisive Vietnam War than the more gung ho WWII so let's examine the cinema of that period. Aside from The Green Berets (admittedly, an offensive picture), Vietnam wasn't really represented onscreen except in vague symbolic parallels and past war parodies (MASH). It wasn't until 1978, with the releases of Coming Home and The Deer Hunter, that Hollywood came to grips with the war and by then, it was over (and if I'm wrong, please correct me). During that time, and especially later, Hollywood was criticized for ignoring what was going on. Do we really want to repeat that mistake?

Look, I'm not looking for a 9/11 Titanic (we'll have that from James Cameron Jr. in 2050) but I do think we should be more accepting of filmmakers wanting to handle the 9/11 tragedy and hopefully establishing a discourse that will get more people involved with what's happening to them now. Lord knows we need that more than yet another edition of Big Brother or a media frenzy over an egotistical star jumping on a piece of furniture.

P.S.-And if music (Prince's Cinnamon Girl comes to mind) and literature can grapple with 9/11, why can't cinema? By saying cinema shouldn't be allowed to, aren't we also saying that it's not as legitimate an art form? That film isn't equipped to handle an immediate historical tragedy? I realize I’m putting words into Joe’s mouth here, but I can’t help but wonder why critics of 9/11 cinema can accept 9/11 in almost any art form except cinema. Is there a distinction I’m missing? And if so, what?

Joe R. said...

I should probably clarify: I don't have a problem with movies tackling the issues brought about by September 11th. Security issues, war issues, freedom-vs-safety, America's place in the global climate, what it means to be an American post-9/11. Those are the kinds of things being dealt with, as you say, in music and literature, and I have no problem with that. I often embrace it.

I generally (and I'll say generally because I know there are going to be exceptions to this even without thinking of specifics) don't like movies mining real-life tragedy for subject matter. It comes across as crass and cheap to me unless it really has something of substance to say. I especially dislike mining recent tragedy - the mining cave-in in Pennsylvania, for example. We needed a movie about that, why?

And I know 9/11 is a much more significant event than a mine caving in, but from what I hear aboout Stone's intentions, I don't think the result will be much different. A triumph of the human spirit? Excuse my cynicism, but I can't think of anything more cliche.

But by all means, explore the issues brought about by the 9/11 tragedy. It will no doubt be of artistic merit. But the event itself? The nuts and bolts examination of senseless violence and doomed heroism? It needs no dramatization.

Joe R. said...

Also? We will ALWAYS need another edition of Big Brother. Always.

darkcypherlad said...

Joe R.-

Agree to disagree? Just one thing though: If the director in question is a Michael Bay-type, then I would hesitate to throw my support behind the project. But like him or not, Stone's hardly conservative, and I really doubt he's going make something that's big, loud, and dumb in the summer blockbuster mold. Looking over his filmography, there's not one picture that's in the triumph-of-the-spirit-mold (you can MAYBE argue a case about Heaven & Earth...maybe). So why should this film deviate from his decades long pattern? (Possible answer: Because Alexander was a flop and Stone needs the cash).

Oh, and I must confess, that Big Brother dig came from my reading your blog. It's not as bad as, say, Britney & Kevin: Chaotic. :)

Anonymous said...

Joe, bravo on your first column! I hope you contribute more to the site. Nathaniel, I hope this means you get more time to contribute stuff as well.

par3182 said...

excellent first column, joe (and well done nate, for finding the perfect addition to an already ace site).

as for real life event movies - spookily enough, last night i watched 'a night to remember', which proves they can be done well if you don't waste more than half the running time of a film on events other than the event itself (cough*jamescameron*cough).

Joe R. said...

Thanks, everyone, for the kind words. I'm glad you've seemed to enjoy the column.

darkcypherlad, agree to disagree sounds good. I definitely see the points you're making, but I'm still way queasy about Ollie's project.

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