More Writing, But About What the Viewer Views – No Movie Tonight, Again
Part of this project brings me in touch with interesting journalistic and academic articles as well as authors of books about the different filmmakers. In the past, I’ve had critics who I respect and will always happily follow. I have also come across new ones, like Jonathan Rosenbaum, who’d I’d never heard of and people like Richard Roud, who served as editor of Cinema: A Critical Dictionary and Ann Lloyd, editor of The Movie, The Illustrated History of Cinema.
I’ve followed – as much as someone can follow who is living in “the arse end of the world” (attributed by one former Australian Prime Minister to another former Prime Minister, about Australia’s place in the world: “independent. co. uk, Milliken, Robert, June 26, 1994″) – great critics, reviewers and academics like Rex Reed, Pauline Kael, Anthony Lane and Denby, Sarris, Turan, Ebert, Scheuer and Maltin; as well as second-raters like Leslie Halliwell, Manohla Dargis, A. O. Scott, Peter Travers and Rob Lowing.
In Australia, we’ve had only three good critics or reviewers in the last fifty years: David Stratton, Anna-Maria Dell’Oso and Paul Byrnes. One of the most respected was Sandra Hall, but while she was like an erudite Maltin, a thinking-man’s Ebert: consistently inconsistent and off-with-the-pixies half the time, which is now how I am beginning to see Pauline Kael’s contribution.
However, even the haphazard critics who love film are always capable of coming up with an assessment that is spot-on. They have all written well-thought-out reviews amongst their polluted dross. It’s the blind-spots and the consistency (which they lack) that rile the real film-lover: me.
Up until the last couple of weeks months of the last six months, I’ve asked the question: why do people who dislike movies, rejecting 90% of what they review – make a career out of reviewing movies? I probably even asked that question in early blogs entries. I didn’t understand it. I’m intelligent to a degree – the jury is out on that one, should I be judged guilty or innocent? – but that eluded me.
I don’t ask that question anymore. I know that I am alone (and it is not “boo-hoo, woe is me” – it’s an indictment of people’s lack of energy to embrace non-Anglo media) on this voyage. My close friends and my family known that I’m doing this, but no-one is interested in watching the films I’m watching – except one, sometimes. [That one, is not my wife.]
I’ve invited people to join me and watch one or more of these films. I’ve asked people to read my blog and participate in my experience.
Everyone I know wants to watch Star Wars 8, Pirates 9, Transformers 10 or The Crown, Downton Abbey (EastEnders with costumes), The Walking Dead, The Good Wife – and something called House of Thrones or Game of Cards.
I’ll admit it: I’ve watched some episodes or seasons of those show. I’m human.
I decided I wanted more.
In my search to understand the people who directed the films I’ve watched so far, I’ve written my immediate thoughts and then explored, more widely.
Two of the best biographies I’ve read along the way – during my first twenty-five weeks – are Gene D. Phillips book on Coppola and John Baxter’s book on Kubrick. What is extraordinary about books which have this level of detail, is that in the archives, somewhere, are dated drafts of screenplays, which enable mapping of the development of an idea into what the penultimate screenplay looked like, and what the screenplay of the finished film was, as released by the distributor, when it premiered. A third great book I’ve consumed during the first half of this (probably) ill-advised venture is longer than either of these books about the majority of Kubrick’s and Coppola’s films. It’s about just one film: Future Noir. The Making of Blade Runner.