Monday, July 30, 2018

Art and Craft

Sometimes it may seem that I dislike contemporary cinema on principle, but nothing could be further from the truth. I dislike contemporary cinema in practice, which is a whole different thing and leaves the door open for well-noted exceptions. One of those exceptions is last year’s Maudie, a faith-and-soul-renewing docudrama about folk artist Maud Lewis, who found her way in life while facing challenges that would have defeated most others. No superheroes here, no dragons, no action scenes. Just life and art in 1930’s Canada, photographed beautifully and played with dedication and talent by a cast headed by British actress Sally Hawkins. Ms. Hawkins has qualities of greatness and should be watched. I loved Maudie, the movie and the character, without reserve, and recommend it highly.
D.W. Griffith's masterpiece Intolerance, even when viewed in a smashing HD restoration, is a tough slog today — but then I suspect that it always was. It is three long hours of structural pretentiousness and emotional manipulation (you didn’t think Steven Spielberg invented manipulation, did you?) punctuated by scenes of Babylonian war that are so very spectacular as to remain unsurpassed even today, even by the likes of Peter Jackson. What Griffith invented of film storytelling is not merely impressive, but of paramount importance to film history. Griffith, and especially Intolerance, can not be ignored. But the word for the movie is “ponderous.” Griffith’s theme is much too simplistic to hang an epic upon; he establishes this theme early on and then hammers on it relentlessly for the film’s entire ungodly runtime. No wonder Buster Keaton poked such fun at it with his own The Three Ages. However, there is much in the small details to hold one’s interest (as an example, long-time Laurel and Hardy opponent Walter Long turns up in a prominent role) and enough death, death and more death — some of it pretty gol-danged grisly — to keep even modern audiences awake and alarmed. Undeniably, Intolerance is an important classic; but would anyone, even its most ardent fans, embrace it as one of their favorites? That’s hard to imagine.
I suspect that the reason White Folks have been falling all over themselves to praise Black Panther to the skies has more to do with White Guilt than it has to do with the virtues of the movie. Because, as a movie, it is perfectly OK — it is perfectly serviceable as a superhero fantasy for the bulk of its runtime. It is not, however, the best movie of its kind and not even close. In fact its final third is pretty god damn tedious stuff, and nowhere near as good or as entertaining as the material that precedes it. So the hero has to fight an evil version of himself. *YAWN* Ye gods, but that shit is getting old! They took the name of an interesting and intensely individual villain created by Don MacGregor and stuck it on bland, Tired Old Plot Device that has LONG outlived its welcome. Overall, this chalks up the picture as a disappointment in my book. A smashing first two-thirds does not a classic make. 
— Thorn.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Rump Must Go

I thought Reagan was bad. But at least Reagan was literate and more than literate, he was eloquent with an actor's speaking style. Then Bush the first came along, and he was worse than Reagan, embodying all the Crap Politics without the eloquence. I never imagined things could get worse, until Bush the second came along. Here was all the crap politics, minus the eloquence, COMBINED with the intelligence of a five year old. Somewhere in the middle there was Bill Clinton, and frankly Clinton did not do the Liberal cause any god damn good -- selling middle America down river for the price of a blow job. The only President I have respected since Jimmy Carter was Barack Obama: and look at how history has shit upon him. We now have a Troll Occupant of the White House and let me say this to my Conservative friends: I UNDERSTAND CONSERVATIVE VALUES. I GET IT. BUT YOU HAVE GOT TO FIND SOMEONE ELSE TO REPRESENT YOUR VALUES. Never before has the Presidency of the United States represented So Little To So Few. 45 has all the values of a used car salesman, the soul of a tapeworm, and the literacy of a rock. The only thing 45 cares about or represents is his own ego. 45 makes Ronald Reagan look like Joan of Arc and he frankly makes me Nostalgic for the Reagan days. In case you have not been paying attention, THAT IS NOT A COMPLIMENT.
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