Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Meme Clearinghouse Part One: These Things I Believe

Just today, my close personal buddy Greg wrote a post called Why Being a Cinephile Matters (enough with the links already!). In it, he talked about things he's learned about movies and cinephilia since becoming a reader, and writer, of blogs, and then asked that pretty much everybody he's ever met do the same. Since I am one of those people, I've been included.

Greg, as he tends to, kept the rules of this already pretty loose meme very open. You can write about whatever the fuck you want to (and I think you can even swear!). You can go on at length, or you can just write a sentence or two. I'm pretty sure the only rule is that you should probably make your observations movie-related. Other than that, you are as free as the hawk in the breeze.

Ho-kay then:

* When I started reading movie blogs a few years ago, I didn't even know what I didn't know. Now I do. This is progress.

* I learned that discussions about Lars von Trier can get pretty heated. Go figure.

* I learned that, in the world of film, there are some things called "mumblecores" and "joe swanbergs". The world, she is mysterious.

* I learned that pretty much every cinephile worth their salt, no matter how long he or she can go on about Rivette or Tarr or Ozu or Brakhage or Roehmer is, at heart, a genre hound. Which makes me happy.

* I learned that nobody doesn't like Werner Herzog. This is as it should be.

* I learned that with film -- and all art, really -- it really is often better to look back, rather than forward, and to wallow in the past.

* I learned that some people will exalt just about anything. I probably already knew this, but the Film Wing of the Internet Institute of Studies has really driven it home. It's okay to love movies, but can we stop pretending that Lucio Fulci was something he wasn't?

* On a more positive note, I've learned that the received wisdom about certain older directors, the kind of wisdom you find in actual, physical magazines, like the idea that Scorsese has lost it, The Departed was his first good movie in more than a decade, and so on, has not been as readily and blindly received by film bloggers.

* I've learned that it's okay if you think that David Lynch's films don't make sense. Seriously, I didn't know that before.

* I've also learned that a lot of people claim to have, say, Inland Empire figured cold, and if the film didn't play to you as clearly as Yankee Doodle Dandy, then you simply weren't paying attention. Those people are fools, by the way.

* Related to my earlier "genre hound" observation, the number of serious film critics or bloggers who are also full-blown horror geeks is off the charts.

* I've learned that film bloggers are like honeyed-sunshine dappling the seas of my...or no, the waters of my...ah, what I like about film bloggers, is that their discourse is of the rarest spun heaven metal...oh fuck it. I think I probably have enough.

Now you go!

35 comments:

Greg said...

A job well done! I was going to mention something like this myself: "It's okay to love movies, but can we stop pretending the Lucio Fulci was something he wasn't?" Since I had my format set up where I was writing every other sentence as "There is more to [insert director name here] than [list his most exalted film]" I figured I might turn it around for the last one and say, "There is no more to [insert derided director's name here] than this movie." But then I couldn't think of a director that wouldn't end up pissing somebody off so I didn't bother.

But you did! Kudos to you my man! Kudos!

And also, thanks for being probably the only person who will do this.

bill r. said...

It took me a long time to land on Fulci. Every other name that popped into my head felt like somebody I'd already mentioned way too often -- or maybe only once, but then at length -- so I have to kind of scramble. But Luci fits my point pretty well. I almost went with another director, but that would have set off fireworks (if anybody reads this), and I didn't want to deal with that.

And no problem, as far as posting this. At the very least, it gave me a topic when I had none.

Greg said...

I almost went with another director, but that would have set off fireworks (if anybody reads this)

It was that loser hack Ingmar Bergman right?

bill r. said...

That's who!

Actually, coincidentally, I think I'm becoming a really BIG Bergman fan. I still have a lot of films to watch, but I checked out Winter Light and Through a Glass Darkly recently, and really loved both.

I've always liked him, but I hadn't seen that much, but now I'm kind of getting swept up in his stuff.

Greg said...

I haven't seen either of those. I've got tons of Bergman I still haven't seen.

bill r. said...

Me too, but I'm tucking in now. Thank God so many are so short!

The next three will be The Silence, Wild Strawberries and (gulp!) Cries and Whispers.

Also, just so you know, the director I didn't mention, in favor of Fulci, is often associated with Fulci, and ISN'T Mario Bava. So there's your clue.

Krauthammer said...

I've only seen Four Bergman, but each one of them was great but in very different ways sometimes.

Wild Strawberries is a real treat.

bill r. said...

Which ones have you seen, Krauthammer?

And man, back in Bergman's heyday, Max von Sydow really was in every one of his movies. It sure feels that way, at least. No complaints, mind you. I just don't think I realized how tightly bound together those two really were.

Krauthammer said...

The Seventh Seal, Wild Strawberries, Fanny and Alexander and Persona. I believe in that order. Persona's probably my favorite, it just blew me away.

bill r. said...

Oh, see, now Persona I didn't "get". I need to get back to that one some day soon.

And I am dying to see Shame.

Fox said...

I would never claim to have Inland Empire figured cold, but I do think it's a masterpiece. I watched it 1 2/3 times in a row, which is pretty telling of how much I loved that movie b/c it's like 31 hours long.

bill r. said...

In a row??? That's insane!! I've NEVER done that. The closest I ever came was back when my wife had a night job, and I was home one Friday night enjoying several beers, and I watched Shaun of the Dead for the first time. When she came home, I could barely contain myself, and told her that if she was up for it I would watch it with her right then and there. She chose to wait until the next day.

But boy, I need to watch Inland Empire again. I can't really offer an opinion on it as it stands. I didn't even get through it in one sitting, but that actually doesn't really reflect how I feel about it, just how difficult I found it.

Fox said...

It was b/c I didn't understand half of it the first time but I was so engulfed in it while I was watching it that I just had to do it again and see if things made more sense...

I do think it works as a continuation of Mulholland Dr.'s "critique" on Hollywood, but I think it's more than that too, and I think some of it is just absurd nonsense (as you mention in one of your other points on this post). But I like that about Lynch. I like that his instincts can create fascinating visuals that come from no source of meaning to him, and that we as an audience attache our own meanings to it.

It's like what Bunuel said about Un Chien Andalou when he was confronted about it's symbolism or metaphors. He was all "Yeah, well, I just wanted to see two dead ponies on a piano. So I did that." And so he did. I get that some people think that is bullsh*t, but I dig it.

bill r. said...

He was all "Yeah, well, I just wanted to see two dead ponies on a piano. So I did that." And so he did. I get that some people think that is bullsh*t, but I dig it...

I don't think it's bullshit at all (what's with the asterisk??) -- I love that way of working. In a weird way, I think it's far more meaningful (when you can pull it off, anyway) than using symbolism to make a single, specific point.

Krauthammer said...

Yeah, I've always preferred that track. Explicit symbolism tends to make art into a jigsaw puzzle, if you know what I mean.

bill r. said...

I do, and amen.

Greg said...

the director I didn't mention, in favor of Fulci, is often associated with Fulci, and ISN'T Mario Bava.

Robert Zemeckis!

Anyway, I've got to go m*ke dinner and then help with homew*rk. FUCKING homew*rk!

bill r. said...

I think it's f*nny how much Gr*g hates his fam*ly.

Fox said...

(what's with the asterisk??)...

I've got to go m*ke dinner and then help with homew*rk. FUCKING homew*rk!...

Ok, you punks! So I'm kind of still a pus*y about cursing. Not so much on my own site, but def when I'm on someone elses. I don't know specifcially how that blog owner will feel about me cursing so I like to toss in an asterix.

Plus, I'm a gentleman. Cursing is trashy. So suck on that!

Fox said...

Also, just so you know, the director I didn't mention, in favor of Fulci, is often associated with Fulci, and ISN'T Mario Bava. So there's your clue....

Corbucci?

bill r. said...

No, the only Corbucci I've seen is The Great Silence (that was him, right?) and while I didn't love it, I liked it, and I understand why others DO love it.

So no, not Corbucci.

Fox said...

It's not Argento, is it?

Krauthammer said...

It's probably Argento.

bill r. said...

Each of you is correct.

Congratulations. I have no prizes for either of you. I am sorry.

Ryan Kelly said...

Wow. I was gonna call my entry on this subject "This Things I Believe", in reference to and reverence of Homer Simpson, but decided against it. Coming here, I'm glad I did.

And I thought Inland Empire and Yankee Doodle Dandy were, in essence, the same movie.

bill r. said...

Ryan, I had that Simpsons quote in mind when I chose that title. I don't know why I didn't just go with the direct quote. It would have been better.

Greg said...

It's not Argento, is it?

It's probably Argento.

Each of you is correct
.

Is it Argento?

Marilyn said...

Your discussion of The Serpent's Egg was too much for its star. David Carradine has died: http://www.comcast.net/articles/entertainment/20090604/AS.Thailand.David.Carradine/.

It's film blogging's fault.

bill r. said...

Holy shit. And it looks like it was suicide...

Kimberly Lindbergs said...

If you think that conversation about Lars von Trier was heated you haven't been blogging long, Bill. That was child's play compared to some of the online battles I've been witness to. Personally I thought I was much too nice. I guess I should be happy that I bit my tongue and bailed.

And until you've seen Howlers of the Dock, Massacre Time, Perversion Story, Beatrice Cenci, A Lizard in a Woman's Skin, Don't Torture a Duckling and Four of the Apocalypse (I'd also toss in White Fang since it's one the best Jack London adaptations ever shot) you're opinion on Fulci is null and void.

Of course if you have seen all these films and still think Fulci's not worth a damn then it's unlikely we'll find common ground on the subject.

But seriously, anyone who has worked with Luchino Visconti, Michelangelo Antonioni and Max Ophüls has got to be worth more than just "something."

bill r. said...

Nice job in tamping down your distaste for me, Kimberly. I came very close to noticing the difference.

Kimberly Lindbergs said...

I do not link to bloggers that I distaste. And if you don't believe me I will happily send you a list of the distasteful bloggers I've ignored who keep emailing me and begging me to link to them.

bill r. said...

And if you don't believe me I will happily send you a list of the distasteful bloggers I've ignored who keep emailing me and begging me to link to them...

No, no, that's okay.

So why the hostility? Why the "your opinion is null and void" comment? Why the "you obviously haven't been blogging for very long" comment (which I haven't, by the way, so good call on that one)?

Kimberly Lindbergs said...

WTF, Bill?

You're really reading way too much into my comment. Why is everyone allowed to joke and nip at each others asses around here but me? I stopped by to be friendly so why do you think I have some kind of weird agenda?

Seriously though have you seen those Fulci fims I mentioned? I'm one of the few bloggers who has wrote spirited defenses of his work so um yeah. It's obviously a subject near and dear to my heart and most people who dismiss Fulci haven't seen many of his films so I'm baffled by why they think he's less important than Bava, Argento, etc.

As for the stuff about that Dancer in the Dark thread, I was the only voice in that thread that wasn't nodding my head in agreement with the crowd so obviously your comment about it being "heated" had everything to do with our brief exchange. I was just pointing out that I've seen much more heated - brutal even - discussions go on about films and I know you must have. Right?

Onward and upward... I hope.

bill r. said...

Okay, well...fair enough. Perhaps I did read too much into your comment. But your initial comment does sound hostile to me, but it's possible I missed the humor -- that's not me being sarcastic, by the way.

I haven't seen all of the Fulci films you mentioned, but I have seen Don't Torture a Duckling (and a few other Fulci films), and, honestly, I kind of hated it. I thought the chain-whipping murder scene had a nasty power, but beyond that...no, sorry.

As for this:

As for the stuff about that Dancer in the Dark thread, I was the only voice in that thread that wasn't nodding my head in agreement with the crowd...

First of all, your language here implies that everyone who disagreed with you had some sort herd-mentality way of thinking about the film. Why phrase it like that?

Second, you weren't alone. At least Marilyn and Rick defended the film (at length), and Pat was at least half-and-half. I'm pretty sure there were others, but I'd have to go back and check. Anyway, I think only Ed and I outright hated it.

But onward and upward. I'm all for that.

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