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3201


From: jaketwilson
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 4:29am
Subject: "Mixed" criticism
 
Addendum: I agree about the need for "sifting", which often means
incorporating some negative criticism into discussions of works we
like, or partly like. It's all very well to talk about accepting
great filmmakers faults and all, but criticism is more than just
vibing along with the object -- just as conversation involves some
measure of disagreement, in any encounter with an artwork there
always comes a point where we bump up against something we're bound
to reject or at least question. As the "flotsam" analogy implies,
maybe it's unfair to talk about "faults" here, because (like in
relationships with people) these kinds of ambivalent feelings are
part of the stimulation we take from encountering something outside
us, and the ongoing quarrel helps keep the movie living in our minds.
But this shouldn't mean bracketing off the disappointments and
frustrations that occur even in our experience of great art, as in
experience generally.

Manny Farber is great at this -- he never lets his liking for Fuller
or Hawks or whoever get in the way of lampooning all the aspects of
their movies which strike him as lame or obnoxious. Playing devil's
advocate like that is a basic part of critical integrity, and a way
of guarding against the psychic over-investment people were talking
about earlier.

JTW
3202


From: Peter Tonguette
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 4:53am
Subject: Re: "Mixed" criticism
 
Jake writes:

> But this shouldn't mean bracketing off the disappointments and
> frustrations that occur even in our experience of great art, as in
> experience generally.

This is a tricky point I'm trying to make, but, no, I don't think we
should bracket off disappointments or frustrations at all. They are
a completely valid part of our interaction with a work of art. I
don't consider any film perfect (well, maybe a handful, but I use the
term "perfect" not so much descriptively but as a way to express my
enthusiasm for those films.)

But what do I even mean by "perfect" in this context? I'd be
suspicious of a perfect art work if by "perfect" I meant that it was
free from challenges to my own sensibilities - challenges which
usually manifest themselves as disappointments and frustrations in my
filmgoing experience. For me, film is all about seeing through
someone else's vision; by definition, there are going to be points of
departure from MY vision and the filmmaker's vision. But becasue of
my commitment of seeing movies this way, I feel as though I have to
reckon with the idiosyncratic or even "bad" things in a great film.
I might end up concluding that, to paraphrase Hugo, those things are
inseparable from what's great about the movie and thus must be
tolerated. Or I might end up concluding that they are, indeed,
simply bad; pockmarks on the film's achievements.

But my philosophy is (and I'm not saying that Jake or anyone else is
writing anything to the contrary): don't dismiss the seemingly
problematic aspects of a great film out of hand.

Peter
3203


From: Peter Tonguette
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 5:19am
Subject: Re: Negative criticism
 
Dan writes:

> I think it's the same with politics as with film: negative
criticism is
> sometimes so incisive that you must agree with it, but positive
> criticism is the only kind can help you form an appreciation.

In a few words, Dan expresses my basic take on this with more
eloquence than I've managed in several posts on the topic. And, of
course, I very much agree with Tag that the ideal way to approach a
film is to be completely open to it.

Drifting back to our original topic...

The Farber/Patterson piece on "Taxi Driver" is, of course, a monument
in criticism. (And reading Farber can be inspiring on a very
tangible level: you read a piece by him, or written in collaboration
with Patterson, and you instantly want to go and write something. At
least I do.) Interestingly, the "Taxi Driver" essay is the textbook
example of how Farber would change positions, or make ambiguous his
positions, on a film in the middle of a piece. I believe that
Jonathan has written that Farber regarded judgment, as such, as the
least of his duties as a critic.

And yet I find myself very much agreeing with Bill that sifting is
the most basic of critical responsibilities. I can say this even as
someone sympathetic to the criticism of beauties tradition. I see a
lot of movies, like a few, love even fewer, and in general choose to
write about the ones in that last category. Maybe it's a
time/effort thing for me - so many of the movies I see are things
which I don't feel are worth the time and effort I put into writing a
piece (and I would maintain that exclusion on an institutional level
[i.e. "Movie" ignoring "Lawrence of Arbia"] can be as much of a
statement as anything).

And then there are things like "Irreversible." I can point to a mini-
"Irreversible" in my own brief career - I was really, really repelled
by a lot of the class attitudes in last year's "About Schmidt"
(attitudes very tied to Payne's mise-en-scene, which, as I recall,
used reaction shots as a way of establishing norms so the audience
would feel free to laugh at its many befuddled, physically imperfect
characters). I felt as compelled to write about this movie as I did
to write about "The Hunted" a few months later (a film I loved).
Maybe it was because of the praise "Schmidt" was getting that I felt
a need to present something like an opposing case - I'm not sure I
did a great job of it, but understand that I am simply talking about
the impulse to write about something other than one's favorite
films. It's one I've had.

Peter
3204


From: Dan Sallitt
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 5:48am
Subject: Re: Re: Negative criticism
 
> So I repeat: How can something like Irreversible just blow into
> town, get screened, get "reviewed" and go to video without
> provoking a single thought in anyone's head? Is that really the
> way it's supposed to be?

We don't discuss new movies too often here on A_Film_By, but on another
movie mailing list I'm on, IRREVERSIBLE generated scores, maybe hundreds
of posts, many of them thoughtful. One of the reasons for the problem
you cite is that there aren't that many magazines these days that would
print the 20 pages you want to see on IRREVERSIBLE; online, it's a
different game altogether.

By the way, Bill, where will your article on CRUISING appear? That film
is a great favorite of mine. - Dan
3205


From:
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 2:07am
Subject: Incidentally
 
I've been preoccupied with the discussion on negative criticism, but thank
you to those who offered comments on Lamont Johnson and late Walsh. On the
Lamont front, I managed to find a tape of "Paul's Case" from Amazon; I figured it
was as good a place as any to just dive in since I've already seen perhaps his
most famous, "The Last American Hero." On the Raoul front, I purchased the
new DVD of "Battle Cry" - simply because it was cheap and easy to find at my
local Virgin Megastore.

JPC - if you check Amazon, "Esther and the King" (unseen by me) appears to
have been released on R1 DVD several years ago. I find it completely weird how
these auteur titles manage to surface on DVD with such little comment.
Cukor's "The Marrying Kind" just came out on Tuesday; his "Justine" is due in
January. But who knows about these things unless you follow DVD release schedule
pages?

Peter

http://hometown.aol.com/ptonguette/index.html
3206


From: hotlove666
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 6:19am
Subject: The Marrying Kind
 
That is such a great film, and Cukor may be the most neglected great
Hollywood filmmaker of all. To those who have not seen it and haven't
gone hogwild over Cukor yet, The Marrying Kind could give you the
needed push.
3207


From: Jaime N. Christley
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 6:54am
Subject: cheapo DVDs and Fox Movie Channel (was: Incidentally)
 
> JPC - if you check Amazon, "Esther and the King" (unseen by me)
appears to
> have been released on R1 DVD several years ago. I find it
completely weird how
> these auteur titles manage to surface on DVD with such little
comment.
> Cukor's "The Marrying Kind" just came out on Tuesday; his "Justine"
is due in
> January. But who knows about these things unless you follow DVD
release schedule
> pages?

Well, one reason (among many) why so many DVDs show up unannounced or
with little fanfare is that the DVD itself is a piece of shit. Now
that the DVD format is so prevalent, we're seeing a parallel increase
in bargain-basement DVD companies that will release anything at all,
without a thought towards quality - or even acceptable presentation.
I'm not talking about the New Yorker DVDs that people complain about
on Mobius and other DVD fansites. These are companies
like "Lightning Entertainment," "LaserLight Video" (responsible for
the horrifying ARKADIN disc and several wicked awful Hitchcock discs)
or "Brentwood Communications." I first saw MY DARLING CLEMENTINE on
a bottom-scraping Hong Kong DVD where movement was accompanied by
image "ghosting," as if I was watching the normal movie on ecstasy.
Mondo Kim's, my video store numero uno, has a section for DVDs like
this, the Clearance section, with discs selling for $5 or $10, rarely
more - and one look at the cover art will tell you that you'd be
paying about 10x too much.

Take a look at this:

http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B00005B7BL.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

This is a Hugo Fregonese film - Fregonese is a name that appears
several times on Dan Sallitt's lists (THE RAID, BLOWING WILD, BLACK
TUESDAY, others), and it was shot using a 70mm process called
Superpanorama. The DVD is pan & scan and the reviews on Amazon say
it looks like hell otherwise. Cinema, where art thou, etc.

===

You mentioned JUSTINE. The Fox Movie Channel airs that film,
letterboxed, fairly often. The next showtime is November 13. This
is a pretty nice channel for auteurists - since I've been following
their schedule, they've shown letterboxed versions of 'Scope movies
like Tashlin's WILL SUCCESS SPOIL ROCK HUNTER?, Fuller's HELL AND
HIGH WATER and McCarey's RALLY 'ROUND THE FLAG, BOYS! and SATAN NEVER
SLEEPS (I missed the latter, kicking myself for it). They're showing
FIXED BAYONETS four times in December.

Upcoming films, of interest to auteurists, also include (and FMC
isn't paying me for this, although they oughta!) SEVEN THIEVES
(Hathaway), THE MEPHISTO WALTZ (Wendkos), MAN ON A TIGHTROPE (Kazan),
THE FLIM-FLAM MAN (Kershner), THE OSTERMAN WEEKEND (Peckinpah),
STEAMBOAT 'ROUND THE BEND (Ford; 1935) DRUMS ALONG THE MOHAWK (Ford,
1939), SLATTERY'S HURRICANE (De Toth), SOLDIER OF FORTUNE (Dmytryk),
CARMEN JONES (Preminger), AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER (McCarey) and many
many more.

-Jaime
3208


From: Damien Bona
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 7:05am
Subject: Re: Incidentally
 
--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, ptonguette@a... wrote:
> I've been preoccupied with the discussion on negative criticism,
but thank
> you to those who offered comments on Lamont Johnson and late
Walsh. On the
> Lamont front, I managed to find a tape of "Paul's Case" from
Amazon; I figured it
> was as good a place as any to just dive in since I've already seen
perhaps his
> most famous, "The Last American Hero."


Johnson's great -- and very much maligned at the time -- Lipstick was
recently released on DVD. My college gang at Columbia -- the same
group that named Man In The Moon Best Picture of 1991 -- cited
Lipstick as the best film of 1976, in a tie with Rohmer's Marquise Of
O.
3209


From: Damien Bona
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 7:12am
Subject: Re: Negative criticism
 
--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "Peter Tonguette"
wrote:
I was really, really repelled
> by a lot of the class attitudes in last year's "About Schmidt"
> (attitudes very tied to Payne's mise-en-scene, which, as I recall,
> used reaction shots as a way of establishing norms so the audience
> would feel free to laugh at its many befuddled, physically
imperfect
> characters). I felt as compelled to write about this movie as I
did
> to write about "The Hunted" a few months later (a film I loved).

I felt the same exact way several years back about American Beauty.
To me it was so awful in so many obvious ways and yet it snookered
mainstream reviewers and I just couldn't contain my anger about how
objectionable the movie was and how idiotic the fawning press was.
3210


From:
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 3:31am
Subject: Re: cheapo DVDs and Fox Movie Channel (was: Incidentally)
 
"Esther and the King" does indeed look like a very cheapo release. But "The
Marrying Kind" (which I am very, VERY excited about seeing after reading
Bill's endorsement; I also believe it's Tag's favorite Cukor) is Columbia. Warners
released two Walshes last spring, "Objective, Burma!" and the aforementioned
"Battle Cry." Those are two big, generally high-quality DVD producers and yet
I wouldn't know about those movies' existence on DVD if I didn't do random
searches on Amazon from time to time for keywords like "George Cukor" and "Raoul
Walsh" and so on.

Jaime's also quite right about Fox Movie Channel.

Peter

http://hometown.aol.com/ptonguette/index.html
3211


From: Peter Tonguette
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 7:34am
Subject: Lamont Johnson
 
Damien writes:

My college gang at Columbia -- the same
> group that named Man In The Moon Best Picture of 1991 --
cited
> Lipstick as the best film of 1976, in a tie with Rohmer's
Marquise Of
> O.

Wow! I'll have to see this one soon as well (as I note that this
film has just come out on DVD from Paramount...)

Somehow I got the sense that maybe Johnson's TV work was
held in better auteurist regard than his theatrical features, but
that doesn't sound like the case.

Peter
3212


From: Jaime N. Christley
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 8:13am
Subject: Re: the lower 90%
 
Recently I've entertained the notion that our relationship with the
cinema is defined by what we do with "the rest of the movies,"
particularly those that trouble us, the ones that we can't quite say
we like but get under our skin regardless. One function of my list
page is to "not forget" the rest of the movies: in most cases, they
are coded by the color purple. I don't love any of them, and I'm not
100% sure that I even like some of them. But I can't dismiss them,
either, and the act of printing their titles for the world to see on
a list of films that I love (while at the same time they are grouped
apart from the real favorites).

The point, though, is this: what if the cinephile who loves the top
30% of cinema is better off than his colleague, who can only
acknowledge 10% or 5%, who can only acknowledge as "worthy" that
which enters some kind of ivory tower/canon of godlike perfection?
The first guy can perhaps see the "flaws," the problematic aspects,
of the second- and third- or even fourth-tier films, but nevertheless
he feels the urge to keep those films close to him, anyway. This
isn't a question of canons but of movie love, of one's hunger for the
cinema. (The reference to Pauline Kael is unintentional; she seemed
only to be interested in the top 0.005%.)

-Jaime
3213


From:
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 5:22am
Subject: Re: An Auteurist Adventure
 
My favorite Samuel Fuller films:

I Shot Jesse James
The Baron of Arizona
The Steel Helmet
Park Row
China Gate
Forty Guns
Run of The Arrow
The Crimson Kimono
Underworld USA
Shock Corridor
The Naked Kiss
Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street

Otto Preminger

Laura
Fallen Angel
Whirlpool
River of No Return
The Man With the Golden Arm
The Cardinal
Bunny Lake is Missing
Such Good Friends

Mike Grost
3214


From: jaketwilson
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 11:59am
Subject: Re: the lower 90%
 
Jaime Christley wrote:

> The point, though, is this: what if the cinephile who loves the
top
> 30% of cinema is better off than his colleague, who can only
> acknowledge 10% or 5%, who can only acknowledge as "worthy" that
> which enters some kind of ivory tower/canon of godlike perfection?
> The first guy can perhaps see the "flaws," the problematic aspects,
> of the second- and third- or even fourth-tier films, but
nevertheless
> he feels the urge to keep those films close to him, anyway. This
> isn't a question of canons but of movie love, of one's hunger for
the
> cinema.

I used to feel that ALL live-action movies were infinitely valuable
and fascinating regardless of artistic quality, simply as records of
the faces, gestures, landscapes and so forth of a particular place
and time. (I'm talking about projected celluloid -- video doesn't
have the same automatic glamour and grandeur.)

I still believe this in a way, but I get bored a lot more easily. I
guess I've lost some of that primal hunger for the medium as such.

JTW
 
3215


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 0:57pm
Subject: Re: The Marrying Kind
 
It's a lovely film, comparable in many ways to Vidor's
a "The Crowd."

--- hotlove666 wrote:
> That is such a great film, and Cukor may be the most
> neglected great
> Hollywood filmmaker of all. To those who have not
> seen it and haven't
> gone hogwild over Cukor yet, The Marrying Kind could
> give you the
> needed push.
>
>




3216


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 0:58pm
Subject: Re: Re: Negative criticism
 
"By the way, Bill, where will your article on CRUISING
appear? That film
is a great favorite of mine. - Dan"

I find that statement utterly mystifying.




--- Dan Sallitt wrote:


__________________________________
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3217


From: Dan Sallitt
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 2:12pm
Subject: Re: Re: Negative criticism
 
> I find that statement utterly mystifying.

Oops - I just read your article.

I don't expect this will change your mind, but when I saw the film I was
a 25-year-old straight kid with a lot of unquestioned discomfort with
homosexuality, and CRUISING was the first experience I remember that
broke down the rigid barriers between gay and straight in my mind. That
was an uncomfortable experience for me at the time, but I think I needed it.

The inscribed audience for CRUISING is straight. And Friedkin always
makes life uncomfortable for his inscribed audience. Your own
description of the plot makes it very clear how a straight male audience
member, identifying with Pacino, is led to a place where he has to
sacrifice some of his straightness to maintain identification.

The film is a nightmare, but that's Friedkin's stock in trade. He's
incredibly not interested in portraying anyone in a positive light, and
so his films are useless for social activist purposes. But I can't
imagine how anyone could come away from the film feeling good about
killing gays. (I do believe there are some good films that make use of
the excitement of violence, and so can be used in the wrong way by
careless audiences. DIRTY HARRY comes to mind. But I don't think
CRUISING is one of them.) - Dan
3218


From: Dan Sallitt
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 2:14pm
Subject: Savage Pampas
 
> Take a look at this:
>
> http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B00005B7BL.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

SAVAGE PAMPAS is a good film, too. Too bad the DVD is bad, as it's
really hard to see. - Dan
3219


From: Dan Sallitt
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 2:18pm
Subject: Re: Lamont Johnson, TV directors
 
> Somehow I got the sense that maybe Johnson's TV work was
> held in better auteurist regard than his theatrical features, but
> that doesn't sound like the case.

I'd say his best films were pretty evenly divided between TV and
theatrical. (Unlike, say, John Korty, whose work is so delicate that he
never seemed to get suitable theatrical-release projects.)

One thing for sure: TV directors of the 60s and 70s like Johnson,
Sargent, Petrie, and Korty got the most prestigious and visible projects
on TV while getting only B movies to direct for theaters. The TV
prestige didn't carry over. - Dan
3220


From: Tag Gallagher
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 2:43pm
Subject: Re: Re: An Auteurist Adventure
 
Mike, it's not clear if you are leaving out certain titles because you
don't like them, or because you haven't seen them yet. Can you clarify?
Thanks.

MG4273@a... wrote:

> My favorite Samuel Fuller films:
>
> I Shot Jesse James
> The Baron of Arizona
> The Steel Helmet
> Park Row
> China Gate
> Forty Guns
> Run of The Arrow
> The Crimson Kimono
> Underworld USA
> Shock Corridor
> The Naked Kiss
> Dead Pigeon on Beethoven Street
>
> Otto Preminger
>
> Laura
> Fallen Angel
> Whirlpool
> River of No Return
> The Man With the Golden Arm
> The Cardinal
> Bunny Lake is Missing
> Such Good Friends
>
> Mike Grost
>
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[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
3221


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 2:54pm
Subject: Re: Re: An Auteurist Adventure
 
My favorite Fullers:

Pickup On South Street
The Crimson Kimono
House of Bamboo
China Gate
The Naked Kiss
White Dog

My favorite Preminers:
Laura
Carmen Jones
Bonjour Tristesse
Anatomy of a Murder

--- Tag Gallagher wrote:


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3222


From: Adrian Martin
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 2:56pm
Subject: Irreversible/Cruising/hysterical cinema
 
Bill - don't you think there's an interesting connection between the film
you've been thinking about lately, IRREVERSIBLE, and the one you have just
finished writing on, CRUISING? (By the way, I join the chorus asking: when
and where will this piece appear?) Or, more generally, the works of Noe and
Friedkin?

CRUISING is a film I have written about closely on two occasions, almost
twenty years apart (the second time focusing on the sound design, which is
quite amazing). I still find it fascinating for many reasons, and watch it
often.

Bill, you indicated (if I followed the allusions correctly) that you are
addressing Robin Wood's famous notion of the 'incoherent text' in your
CRUISING piece - he coined that phrase (I think) in his piece on the film in
the '80s. This is something I have long pondered. I think it's an inadequate
concept on several levels.

On a general level, it's misguided in thinking of films as purely
'unconscious emanations' or pure symptoms, which is a very auteurist reflex
- as if films sprang straight out of their makers' heads and onto the screen
as a mental projection, without a thousand mediations, revisions and
'secondary elaborations' at every step of the way. I see your own work,
Bill, as trying to merge a certain cultural psychoanalysis (of drives, of
ideologies, etc) with a strong sense of the minute decision-making processes
that actually go into the making of a film.

In the particular case of CRUISING, there is a special, pointed inadequacy
to the 'incoherent text' concept. I believe that there are certain films and
filmmakers who very consciously (or at least intuitively) MANUFACTURE
incoherence - it's not something that just 'comes out' of them. Actually,
this kind of manufactured/contrived incoherence has become a staple of
routine horror films and thrillers since at least the '80s - and Friedkin
had a lot to do with fanning that trend in THE EXORCIST and CRUISING (not to
mention RAMPAGE, which is off the chart incoherence-wise).

I once started on a piece called "A Short History of Hysterical Cinema" on
some key films by Friedkin, Ridley Scott, Oliver Stone and some others -
Lars von Trier would probably make it onto the list these days - and now I
know how I would provisionally finish the piece, with Gaspar Noe. Here is a
bit of this project that I wrote in 1991:

"Putting William Friedkin at the head of a family tree of
Scott-Lyne-Parker-Figgis, and adding others including Oliver Stone, Ken
Russell, Martin Campbell (Criminal Law), Morton & Jankel (D.O.A.) and Zalman
King (Wild Orchid), one could hypothesise the existence of a certain
cinematic tradition: the cinema of hysteria. This is a cinema indeed
"saturated in significance", but in a wild, scattershot way - calculated to
press all buttons and have it all ways simultaneously. Robin Wood (in his
book Hollywood From Vietnam to Reagan) diagnosed in Friedkin's Cruising,
Scott's Bladerunner and Richard Brooks' Looking For Mr Goodbar an
involuntary 'breakdown' of meaning, a symptomatic formation of 'incoherent
texts' for our troubled times. What he perhaps did not see is that his
examples were films actively seeking the production of incoherence - mainly
for the sake of spectacular 'effect'.

Effect rules in hysterical cinema: the sudden gasp, the revelatory dramatic
frisson, the split-second turn-around of meaning or mood, the disorientating
gear-change into high comedy or gross tragedy. It is hardly surprising that
what links many filmmakers in this tradition is a background (and continued
employment) in TV advertising and music video - those areas of audiovisual
culture most governed by spectacular, moment-to-moment 'sell'.

It would be far too sweeping for me to now equate hysteria with
inauthenticity. There are many fascinating films in the hysterical mode,
some which have not only their own intensity, madness and inventiveness, but
also their own 'truth'. But hysterical cinema is sometimes certainly empty
and inauthentic cinema - entirely uninterested in its own material and the
issues it raises, merely exploiting it for its artfully spectacular
possibilities."

Adrian
3223


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 3:11pm
Subject: Re: Irreversible/Cruising/hysterical cinema
 
"It would be far too sweeping for me to now equate
hysteria with
inauthenticity. There are many fascinating films in
the hysterical mode,
some which have not only their own intensity, madness
and inventiveness, but
also their own 'truth'. But hysterical cinema is
sometimes certainly empty
and inauthentic cinema - entirely uninterested in its
own material and the
issues it raises, merely exploiting it for its
artfully spectacular
possibilities."

Actually equating it with inauthenticity is a good
place to start. This is especially true of Noe in that
his films always assume a posture of ebing more
"truthful" than others in the way they wallow in rape
and murder. He's that art house Herschel Gordon Lewis.

This sort of thing has so infested film discourse that
Gus Van Sant is accused of doing it in "Elephant" by
Charles Taylor today in "Salon." This review is itself
hysterical in that it makes claims what it is
appropriate for a gay filmmaker to do in a specified
context. The entire thrust of "Elephant" is to move
against the exploitation grain. The same can't be said
of "Cruising."

Or "Midnight Express" and "JFK" for that matter.

--- Adrian Martin wrote:


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3224


From: J. Mabe
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 3:41pm
Subject: Re: Re: Robert Breer
 
---"Jaime N. Christley" wrote:
I'm
> waiting for proper
> and good prints of Jack Smith and Stan Brakhage,
> others, to play at
> Anthology.


Sunday November 2, 5:30 pm
Jack Smith SCOTCH TAPE, FLAMING CREATURES

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3225


From: Henrik Sylow
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 3:46pm
Subject: Re: Irreversible
 
--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, David Ehrenstein
wrote:

"He's (No) that art house Herschel Gordon Lewis."

He is actually art house's answer to William Castle. No employed low
frequence bass to cause nausea in the audience, in some cases making
them vomit and in fewer cases leave the cinema.

No distracts by provocation, making himself out to be a leading avant
gardist (which the french press also calls him) who wants to create
cinema so provocative that no one will see it, yet at the same time he
employs famous actors and makes sure everyone knows about his film. In
many ways it reminds me of the Barnum freak shows, where an announcer
would advertise with the most grusome freaks possible and try to talk
people out of paying money to see them (Beware: The Alligator Boy.
Half Alligator, half human. No one can look at him without fainting.
Only 2 bits. Enter at your own risc...), likewise Irreversible also
reminds me classic explotationfilm (Big letter words warning people,
little value in itself); No actually warned the audience and allowed
them time to leave the theater. (Notes from my upcoming article about
"Irreversible")

Henrik

PS: Cheers everyone - Thank God it's Friday :)
3226


From: Elizabeth Nolan
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 3:53pm
Subject: pseudo-scientism of the university
 
The audience is listening...sorry, couldn't resist that...it is one of
the lines in an advert at a local cinema.
Also, Boolah, Boolah! ... I went to Yale Medical.

I'd like to read your CRUISING article and might recommend a TASTE /
CULINARY article in SEED magazine a few weeks back by a friend, Jonah
Lehrer who also integrates a variety of disciplines.
Such borrowing from other disciplines reminds me of my Ph.D mentor at
Harvard, Jerome Kagan whose psychological papers often read like a
literary work. Makes me think that when a particular phenomenon is
hard to handle, we use whatever we can to communicate with a select
audience.

I'm not so much looking for a reductionist view of cinema as an
understanding of the RULES OF THE GAME...and since those rules are
often applied randomly or not at all, it is hard to grasp them. It may
be the case that a particular auteurist knows his/her own set and
applies them, another auteurist applies their own personal set, etc.
And an auteurist can change as he develops his own understanding and
technique, etc. Makes it hard for the beginner.

I've always been someone who learns by understanding broad patterns,
and comparing and contrasting. Contrasting may be a form of negative
criticism. Interesting that the child is often thought of as learning
through errors, ala Piaget's assimilation and accommodation.

Final note: what hope is there for cinema when the audience might be
listening, but not understanding. I was at a conference the other day
when a producer mentioned that a baseball movie that involved some
scenes with NUNS was just not getting to the screening audiences
because they did not know nuns. The producers resorted to voice-over
about nuns so the audience would get it.

I saw a movie from Singapore recently, I NOT STUPID, and their is a
scene about chewing gum; unless one knows about the fines for
littering, chewing gum in particular, the significance of the scene is
reduced.










> Message: 17
> Date: Thu, 23 Oct 2003 23:15:36 -0000
> From: "hotlove666"
> Subject: Re: Negative criticism
>
>
> A pan by Farber is more interesting - and makes
> the WORK more interesting - than a rave by Reed. Arguably
> Farber-Patterson's famous Taxi Driver piece is not as
> wholeheartedly favorable as some of the raves at the time, but
> which would you rather read? I used to learn a lot from Cahiers
> pans of films, because they analyzed and interpreted better than
> raves here. Etc.
>
>
> As for the pseudo-scientism of the university, if Elizabeth is
> listening, I just finished a piece I'm quite proud of on Cruising
> where I used everything I learned in the humanities at Yale:
> philology, art history, lit crit, history, philosophy. There is nothing
> scientific about what I wrote, although it's fact-grounded (based
> on lots of production archives). It's normal that Elizabeth would
> be looking for scientific certainty, because medicine is a
> science. It scares me to hear that kids in the humanities - or
> "cultural studies" - think they're studying a science. All the old
> disciplines in the humanities need to be kept, analyzed,
> critiqued, transformed and built on. You can't do critical thinking if
> you cut yourself off from those traditions and methods and
> pretend that there was an epistemological "coupure" (cut) in the
> 70s that made it all scientific, and what preceded is like alchemy!
3227


From: hotlove666
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 3:53pm
Subject: Cruising
 
Adrian,

I'll send you the Cruising piece once it's typo-free today. The Wood
piece cites you on the film, and I'd love to see what you wrote.
Actually, Wood calls Friedkin "deliberately incoherent," and I agree
with that. I think his incoherence is carefully constructed through
montage, which is his "axe" as a filmmaker. I also agree with you
that the aims of his incoherence are commercial (which of course is
not synonymous with "bad" in my book) In the case of Cruising, that
obviously didn't pan out.

And many thanks for the accurate description of what I'm doing. That
is definitely what the Birds chapter in HAW is about. It's useful to
posit unconscious processes at work in film, but it's a good idea to
make sure from time to time that what we're talking about is do-able,
and really happened - not so easy in a medium as cumbersome as this.
(The one case I cite as a true Freudian slip was Bogdanovich
unconsciously replicating Courtship of Eddie's Father in Texasville.
When I asked him, he didn't remember the scene in Eddie. And the next
time I saw the film, he had taken the "reference" out.) In the case
of Cruising I tracked the effects of incoherence through production,
but didn't really ask myself what was conscious and what wasn't. It
all seemed pretty deliberate to me, but there is also a large
unconscious component in the film.

As I told David, I didn't try to deal with the sexual politics
myself, at least this time around. I took Wood's interpretation as
axiomatic, in part because before rereading it I had with some
labor "discovered" some of what he was talking about, only to
discover that he had gotten it all when the film was still in
theatres. So I focused on deepening that and taking it further,
bracketing the sexual politics, which is often where commentary
starts. It's also a very complex, thorny set of issues where I don't
feel I can pronounce without a lot more thought - for me, not for
someone like David who HAS given them a lot of thought already.

Maybe it's no accident I saw the Noe finally when I had finally
wrapped the Cruising piece. But I think they're different kinds of
films and filmmaking.
3228


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 4:06pm
Subject: Re: Re: Negative criticism
 
"The inscribed audience for CRUISING is straight."

Precisely. And that's highly presumptuous. No one
could get away with that today. In fact Charles
Taylor's review of "Elephant" in today's "Salon"
centers on his horror of the fact that he "male gaze"
in the film is gay.

I propose "L'Homme Blesse" as an "answer" to
"Cruising." It's a "negative" film about gay life that
was not only made by a gay man but one who was
directly inspired by the West Street scene. Chereau
hung at the "Purple Pit." He went on to direct the
plays of Bernard-Marie Koltes whose "West Pier" was
about the abandoned piers on the West Side.



--- Dan Sallitt wrote:


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3229


From: Tag Gallagher
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 4:08pm
Subject: Re: pseudo-scientism of the university
 
Elizabeth, there are no Rules!

There is a terrible past of a hundred years in which bad people tried to
formulate rules, whose effect was merely to stop people from opening
their eyes. (I could go on for a thousand pages giving examples.)

There is no canon. There is no agreement. There are no accepted
definitions or even a vocabulary.

You have to forge out for yourself and discover the movies you love and
then discover your own ways of dealing with them.

(Of course I don't want to discourage you from reading MY writings.
But, seriously, you have to find your own way.)


Elizabeth Nolan wrote:

>
>
> I'm not so much looking for a reductionist view of cinema as an
> understanding of the RULES OF THE GAME...and since those rules are
> often applied randomly or not at all, it is hard to grasp them.
3230


From: Dan Sallitt
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 4:23pm
Subject: Re: Re: Negative criticism
 
> "The inscribed audience for CRUISING is straight."

But that happens. The inscribed audience for ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS is
female. That's not a prohibition against men seeing it and appreciating
it, though I suppose it's an obstacle that some men don't care to breach.

> I propose "L'Homme Blesse" as an "answer" to
> "Cruising."

That's my favorite Chereau film. I confess that I haven't really liked
his recent work that well. - Dan
3231


From: Zach Campbell
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 4:35pm
Subject: Porn Theater
 
Did anyone catch this? I'd been awaiting it eagerly since John
Waters sung its praises last November, and it finally makes its way
to the Quad, plays for a week or two (midterm time for me), and when
I've finally got a quiet Friday afternoon to saunter down to that
theater, its run has ended. Damn. I think David mentioned it in a
positive context the other day. Anyone else?

Also I'm hoping to see LE PETITE LILI tonight. What's the word on
it? Or the new Klapisch that is also playing at MoMA in a few weeks?

--Zach
3232


From:
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 0:40pm
Subject: Re: An Auteurist Adventure
 
I'm sure when I like a film that it is good. But when I don't like it, have
no idea whether it is "bad" - or whether I just did not "get it".
I thought "Verboten", "Merrill's Marauders", "Hell and High Water", "White
Dog" and "Fixed Bayonets" seemed weak. But this is only after one viewing.
Please do not take this as some sort of active denunciation of the films. All of
them have moments of inspiration - Fuller is very gifted.
Plus I love his novel "Crown of India".
"Pickup on South Street" has repeatedly rubbed me the wrong way. Its hero is
a jerk - the Fuller film I've always liked least. The writing also seems
"un-Fuller-like", compared Fuller's originals, too.
With Preminger, "Anatomy of a Murder" is the famous film I actively dislike.
Reason: the plot depends on that old sexist horror, the idea that women are
running around crying rape for no good reason. This very bad old idea used to
make it virtually impossible for any woman to prosecute her rapist in court. See
Susan Brownwiller's book "Against Our Will" for documentation. This same idea
makes "Rashomon" the only Kurosawa film I don't like.
Other Premingers seem awfully darn grim: "Where the Sidewalk Ends", "Angel
Face", "In Harm's Way", "Rosebud". Once again, all of these have merits. I've
never seen "Bonjour Tristesse" or "Advise and Consent" in Scope, and am
suspending judgment till I do. "In the Meantime Darling" is an early minor film.
"Daisy Kenyon" is good - I should have put it on my list.
The other Fuller and Premingers I have not seen.
Mike Grost
PS This info was dragged out of me. Do not take it to heart. It is in no way
any sort of informed, measured judgement. Thank you!
3233


From: jess_l_amortell
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 5:05pm
Subject: Re: Porn Theater
 
--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "Zach Campbell" wrote:
> Did anyone catch this? I'd been awaiting it eagerly since John
> Waters sung its praises last November, and it finally makes its way
> to the Quad, plays for a week or two (midterm time for me), and when
> I've finally got a quiet Friday afternoon to saunter down to that
> theater, its run has ended. Damn. I think David mentioned it in a
> positive context the other day. Anyone else?


I caught the last screening last night after gleaning from the NY Press listings, useful for once, that it was closing. (Maybe the Press has improved its listings now that the Voice has apparently stopped printing schedules in theirs -- necessitating even more frequent recourse to their continually updated website as each Friday's day of reckoning approaches. I've got to stop spending my life checking that thing.)

It's an interesting film -- I need to know more about him. I thought Armond White overpraised it just a bit! -- but that's OK. It probably ends up being too talky (I think Dave Kehr was right that it would have been better without the monologues -- interesting though they are), but then I had GOODBYE DRAGON INN on the brain. (If we still had repertory theaters, one could look forward to the inevitable double bill...)
3234


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 5:07pm
Subject: Re: Re: Negative criticism
 
"The inscribed audience for ALL
> THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS is
> female. That's not a prohibition against men seeing
> it and appreciating
> it, though I suppose it's an obstacle that some men
> don't care to breach."

True, but there's nothing transgressive about a
straight female spectator. "Cruising" renders gay
spectators invisible.

> That's my favorite Chereau film. I confess that I
> haven't really liked
> his recent work that well. - Dan

Really? Have you read my paen to "Those Who Love Me"?

Of course, I'm over-the-moon about Chereau as he's my
favorite director in three different media (film,
theater,opera) and One Fabulous Babe!

http://www.ehrensteinland.com/htmls/bride/g001/b_patricechereau.shtml

--- Dan Sallitt wrote:


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3235


From: Henrik Sylow
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 5:13pm
Subject: Re: pseudo-scientism of the university
 
10 Enter film school
20 Watch the films we say are important
21 REM: Citizen Kane
22 REM: Le Regle du Jeu
23 REM: Tokyo Story
24 REM: Breathless
...
183 REM: Last Year at Marienbad
...
200 Understand their importance, their historical significance and
expres it using the words below as many times as possible
201 REM: mise en scene
202 REM: Auteur
203 REM: montage
204 REM: spacial use of tense
...
250 Goto 10

This is of course highly sarcastic, but nevertheless...
3236


From: Joseph Kaufman
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 5:45pm
Subject: Re: Lamont Johnson, TV directors
 
Johnson's wonderful voice can be heard dubbing the title character
Itto Ogami in Roger Corman's cut-down of the first two LONE WOLF AND
CUB movies, SHOGUN ASSASSIN.
--

- Joe Kaufman
3237


From: Tag Gallagher
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 5:49pm
Subject: Re: Re: Negative criticism
 
Pardon my total ignorance, but what in the world is an "inscribed
audience" and what equipment does one need to detect such inscription?



David Ehrenstein wrote:

> "The inscribed audience for ALL
> > THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS is
> > female. That's not a prohibition against men seeing
> > it and appreciating
> > it, though I suppose it's an obstacle that some men
> > don't care to breach."
>
>
3238


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 5:54pm
Subject: Whoops!
 
Did I say "Purple Pit"? That's from "The Nutty
Professor" -- quel Freudian slip!

I meant "The Gilded Grape."

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3239


From: jess_l_amortell
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 5:57pm
Subject: Re: Negative criticism
 
> > I find that statement utterly mystifying.
>
> Oops - I just read your article.

The demonstrations against the shooting of CRUISING were historic, but as has surely been pointed out before, they were anything but an expression of auteurism -- they were based on an inspection of the screenplay.
3240


From: Jaime N. Christley
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 6:02pm
Subject: Re: Whoops!
 
Well, there is a popular theory going around that any movie, no
matter how bad or good, would be vastly improved by casting Jerry
Lewis in the lead or one of the leads (male or female).

-Jaime

--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, David Ehrenstein
wrote:
> Did I say "Purple Pit"? That's from "The Nutty
> Professor" -- quel Freudian slip!
>
> I meant "The Gilded Grape."
>
> __________________________________
> Do you Yahoo!?
> The New Yahoo! Shopping - with improved product search
> http://shopping.yahoo.com
3241


From: Dan Sallitt
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 6:05pm
Subject: Re: Re: Negative criticism
 
> Pardon my total ignorance, but what in the world is an "inscribed
> audience" and what equipment does one need to detect such inscription?

I feel an awkward conversation coming on....

"Inscribed" here means built into the film's point-of-view structure.

- Dan
3242


From: Dan Sallitt
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 6:13pm
Subject: Re: Re: Negative criticism
 
> True, but there's nothing transgressive about a
> straight female spectator. "Cruising" renders gay
> spectators invisible.

Some stories can be told without favoring a particular perspective,
sexual or otherwise. But some stories have a perspective built in, and
to avoid the perspective means not telling the story.

I think I'd agree that it's a problem when the inscribed audience is
also treated with the most sympathy. (I had this problem a little bit
with LOST IN TRANSLATION - definitely had it with GHOST WORLD.) I don't
think this happens with CRUISING, though. Don Scardino is the most
sympathetic character, just as Rock Hudson is in ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS.

> Really? Have you read my paen to "Those Who Love Me"?

No, where is it? - Dan
3243


From: jpcoursodon
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 6:41pm
Subject: Re: Negative criticism
 
--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, Dan Sallitt wrote:
> > Pardon my total ignorance, but what in the world is an "inscribed
> > audience" and what equipment does one need to detect such
inscription?
>
> I feel an awkward conversation coming on....
>
> "Inscribed" here means built into the film's point-of-view
structure.
>
> - Dan

One might ask, awkwardly, "what is a film's point-of-view structure?"
Or are you simply saying that the film is what used to be called a
woman's picture -- intended for a predominantly if not exclusively
female audience?
3244


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 6:43pm
Subject: Re: Re: Negative criticism
 
"> Some stories can be told without favoring a
> particular perspective,
> sexual or otherwise. But some stories have a
> perspective built in, and
> to avoid the perspective means not telling the
> story."

And that's exactly what happens with "Cruising."
Gays were meant to be seen and not heard. And Don
Scardino's character doesn't alter the status quo from
which Friedkin proceeds.

My piece on "Those Who Love Me" appeared in the
Winter2002-2003 issue of "Film Quarterly." It can be
downloaded from the University of california press
website.

--- Dan Sallitt wrote:


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3245


From: jpcoursodon
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 6:44pm
Subject: Said and Cyd
 
"Edward [Said] was not an irredeemable highbrow, and he insisted
that one of the most significant moments of his life was getting to
meet Cyd Charisse." Michael Wood, The London review of Books,
October 23.
I wonder if the meeting was one of the most sifnificant moments of
HER life.
3246


From: Elizabeth Nolan
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 6:47pm
Subject: If there are no rules, how are there auteurs/ists?
 
I knew my RULES OF THE GAME would provoke at least one
THERE ARE NO RULES REPLY!

If there are no rules, how are there auteurs/ists?

But there must be something, if not in terms of valuation, there must
be something shared that allows for communication.


I can go to the other extreme and share my three favorite comments when
working as a physician:

It is very hard to know what goes on in the hearts and minds of other
people.
People are different.
No one can feel something the way you feel something.

I have been willing to give cinema and go and am enjoying my
exploration.
Elizabeth

>
>
>
>
>
> Message: 13
> Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2003 12:08:16 -0400
> From: Tag Gallagher
> Subject: Re: pseudo-scientism of the university
>
> Elizabeth, there are no Rules!
>
> There is a terrible past of a hundred years in which bad people tried
> to
> formulate rules, whose effect was merely to stop people from opening
> their eyes. (I could go on for a thousand pages giving examples.)
>
> There is no canon. There is no agreement. There are no accepted
> definitions or even a vocabulary.
>
> You have to forge out for yourself and discover the movies you love and
> then discover your own ways of dealing with them.
>
> (Of course I don't want to discourage you from reading MY writings.
> But, seriously, you have to find your own way.)
3247


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 6:50pm
Subject: Re: Re: Negative criticism
 
It was a lot more than that. Friedkin and company
moved into the West Village like Hitler on Poland --
or Bush on Iraq. They operated on the assumption that
gay activists were merely "troublemakers" who could be
bought off -- just the way the Mafia exploited people
pre-Stonewall. Oh sure Freidkin was able to get a
number of gay Kapos to help him wrangle extras for the
orgy scenes. But in the last analysis gays and
straights stayed away in droves.

This in turn has led to the legend that "Cruising" was
"ahead of its time." Yeah -- just like "Reefer
Madness."


--- jess_l_amortell wrote:
> > > I find that statement utterly mystifying.
> >
> > Oops - I just read your article.
>
> The demonstrations against the shooting of CRUISING
> were historic, but as has surely been pointed out
> before, they were anything but an expression of
> auteurism -- they were based on an inspection of the
> screenplay.
>
>
>


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3248


From: Dan Sallitt
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 7:02pm
Subject: Inscribed
 
>>"Inscribed" here means built into the film's point-of-view
> structure.
>
> One might ask, awkwardly, "what is a film's point-of-view structure?"
> Or are you simply saying that the film is what used to be called a
> woman's picture -- intended for a predominantly if not exclusively
> female audience?

Yeah, I guess, with all that that implies.

In CRUISING, the lead character is straight, a cop assigned to go
undercover as gay. His perplexity at the gay world is both built into
the script (the film shows us gay life at the same time as he discovers
it) and into the visual structure (classically, scenes would begin with
alternation between shots of the lead and reverse shots of the rest of
the environment, with the shots of the lead somewhat bigger and/or
filmed with slightly shorter lenses. Or, in a variation, a shot of the
lead is transformed by a track or pan or zoom into a shot of the lead in
the environment, and the shot gets wider, or the lens gets longer. I
can't remember the exact visual layout of these scenes in CRUISING).
- Dan
3249


From: Fred Camper
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 7:09pm
Subject: Re: The Marrying Kind
 
Well, I'll second Bill (or "third" David); this is a great Cukor. The
sun-drenched "Decoration Day" sequence is especially beautiful.

But I think there are other Cukors that could also be used as
eye-popping proofs of his greatness: "Holiday," "The Women," the
underrated "Winged Victory," of course "A Star is Born," and the
greatly underrated "erotic" masterpiece "Wild is the Wind." Or for those
who favor excerpts, the card-playing long take in "Born Yesterday" or
the Claire Bloom long take in the very uneven "The Chapman Report"
should suffice.

- Fred (who is just back from Brazil, way behind on reading posts, but
recognized a film title...)
3250


From: tag@s...
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 7:53pm
Subject: RE: Re: Negative criticism
 
I am saying that I do think ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS has an inscribed
audience that is female. And I am asking you for evidence I why you feel
that there is such an INSCRIPTION.

It is one thing to postulate that such-and-such a movie was "aimed" at
women. It's quite another to say that a specific audience is inscribed
thereinto.




--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, Dan Sallitt wrote:

> > Pardon my total ignorance, but what in the world is an "inscribed

> > audience" and what equipment does one need to detect such

inscription?

>

> I feel an awkward conversation coming on....

>

> "Inscribed" here means built into the film's point-of-view

structure.

>

> - Dan



One might ask, awkwardly, "what is a film's point-of-view structure?"

Or are you simply saying that the film is what used to be called a

woman's picture -- intended for a predominantly if not exclusively

female audience?


















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3251


From: Dan Sallitt
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 8:10pm
Subject: Inscribed
 
> I am saying that I do think ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS has an inscribed
> audience that is female. And I am asking you for evidence I why you feel
> that there is such an INSCRIPTION.

Well, what do you think of the basic thoughts in my post to Jean-Pierre?
They were pretty general.

> It is one thing to postulate that such-and-such a movie was "aimed" at
> women. It's quite another to say that a specific audience is inscribed
> thereinto.

Yeah, I guess it is different. But "inscribed" seems a good word if you
feel that stuff inside the film, as opposed to a marketing dept., is
helping to do the aiming. - Dan
3252


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 8:29pm
Subject: Re: Inscribed
 
When a spectator is "inscribed" it has to do with a
lot more than marketing. A "Woman's Picure"
presupposes a market, but also a form of specified
address.

Straigh spectatorship is inscribed in every foot of
"Cruising." This is a world that is constantly being
shown to be "not yours."

--- Dan Sallitt wrote:


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3253


From: hotlove666
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 8:30pm
Subject:
 
In CRUISING, the lead character is straight, a cop assigned to
go undercover as gay. His perplexity at the gay world is both built
into the script (the film shows us gay life at the same time as he
discovers it) and into the visual structure (classically, scenes
would begin with alternation between shots of the lead and
reverse shots of the rest of the environment, with the shots of the
lead somewhat bigger and/or filmed with slightly shorter lenses.
Or, in a variation, a shot of the lead is transformed by a track or
pan or zoom into a shot of the lead in the environment, and the
shot gets wider, or the lens gets longer. I can't remember the
exact visual layout of these scenes in CRUISING).
- Dan

It's like one of those Where's Waldo puzzles.
3254


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 8:32pm
Subject: Re: Porn Theater
 
Armond White reviews it in the current issue of the
"New York Press." I've reviewed it for the "New Times"
syndicate, so it should be on-line by next week, I
think.

It's a great film.

--- Zach Campbell wrote:


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3255


From: jpcoursodon
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 8:51pm
Subject: Re: If there are no rules, how are there auteurs/ists?
 
Auteurs need no rules and have none. Auteurists make up rules as
they go along, stick to them or modify them or drop them.
Those "rules" are largely idiosyncratic, not to say solipsistic. Just
listen to the cacophony of conflicting tastes and opinions expressed
in this group of supposedly kindred minds. The something shared is
elusive, largely ineffable. There is an illusion of sharing more than
an actual sharing, perhaps because, as you said, "no one can feel
something the way you feel something."
JPC

--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, Elizabeth Nolan wrote:
> I knew my RULES OF THE GAME would provoke at least one
> THERE ARE NO RULES REPLY!
>
> If there are no rules, how are there auteurs/ists?
>
> But there must be something, if not in terms of valuation, there
must
> be something shared that allows for communication.
>
>
> I can go to the other extreme and share my three favorite comments
when
> working as a physician:
>
> It is very hard to know what goes on in the hearts and minds of
other
> people.
> People are different.
> No one can feel something the way you feel something.
>
> I have been willing to give cinema and go and am enjoying my
> exploration.
> Elizabeth
>
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > Message: 13
> > Date: Fri, 24 Oct 2003 12:08:16 -0400
> > From: Tag Gallagher
> > Subject: Re: pseudo-scientism of the university
> >
> > Elizabeth, there are no Rules!
> >
> > There is a terrible past of a hundred years in which bad people
tried
> > to
> > formulate rules, whose effect was merely to stop people from
opening
> > their eyes. (I could go on for a thousand pages giving examples.)
> >
> > There is no canon. There is no agreement. There are no accepted
> > definitions or even a vocabulary.
> >
> > You have to forge out for yourself and discover the movies you
love and
> > then discover your own ways of dealing with them.
> >
> > (Of course I don't want to discourage you from reading MY
writings.
> > But, seriously, you have to find your own way.)
3256


From: Henrik Sylow
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 8:58pm
Subject: Re: Inscribed
 
Maybe its a mindfart, it never occured to me before, but let me run
it...

When a film has a designated target audience, specified by either
gender, class, race and/or age, shouldn't the "point of view"
structure, its focalizer, at least to a recognisable degree, be in
allignment with the target, and if so, how can the director then be an
auteur?
3257


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 10:14pm
Subject: Re: Re: Negative criticism
 
It's quite simply the audience whose world-view the
film is profoundly concerned with. On the simplest
level a "woman's picture" is made for middle-class
women -- speaking to their interests in fantasy form.
Every dramatic exchange is made with the flattering
such spectators in mind. You don't need a master's
degree to figure this out. With "Cruising" something
far more sinister is involved in that it presupposes a
straight spectator TO THE EXPRESS EXCLUSION OF GAY
SPECTATORS. Things that any gay man would take for
granted are presented by the film as if Friendkin were
delving into the secrets of a tribe of new guinea
jungle natives. it's obvious to any gay person
watching the film that their presence in the
auditorium is deliberately ignored. "Cruising " is a
freak show for straights.

--- Tag Gallagher wrote:


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3258


From: Rick Segreda
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 10:38pm
Subject: George Cukor
 
And let's not forget his last great movie, even if it was made for television, the Olivier-Hepburn 'Love Among the Ruins."
Fred Camper <f@f...> wrote: Well, I'll second Bill (or "third" David); this is a great Cukor. The
sun-drenched "Decoration Day" sequence is especially beautiful.

But I think there are other Cukors that could also be used as
eye-popping proofs of his greatness: "Holiday," "The Women," the
underrated "Winged Victory," of course "A Star is Born," and the
greatly underrated "erotic" masterpiece "Wild is the Wind." Or for those
who favor excerpts, the card-playing long take in "Born Yesterday" or
the Claire Bloom long take in the very uneven "The Chapman Report"
should suffice.

- Fred (who is just back from Brazil, way behind on reading posts, but
recognized a film title...)


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3259


From: Rick Segreda
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 11:01pm
Subject: William Friedkin's "Crusing;" Prescient?
 
Most of us can agree that Friedkin's "Cruising" is nothing aesthetically, but the politics and sociology surrounding the movie are fascinating. I grew up in and around NYC, and I vividly remember the brouhaha reported in the mainstream, left-wing, and gay press. "Crusing," based on a novel written by the gay editor of The New York Times Magazine, was said to have slandered the gay community with it's sleazy (and supposedly dishonest) portrayal of the gay lifestyle, et al, et cetera...and would therefore lead to gay bashing, et al, et cetera.

Flash forward to the late '90's, with ACT-UP in retreat, and we have the emergence of Sex Panic!, a new gay activist group demanding the right to cruise for sex in public places, and to engage in unsafe sex without any legal or social restraints. Sex Panic! chapters on both coasts decry safer sex advocates as "Condom Nazis." Meanwhile, a new wave of HIV is spreading rapidly among gay men in major cities.

I was a kid back then, and as an adult now, to me, things are even worse than what Friedkin depicted in "Cruising," and what's eerie is the apathy. "Crusing" would make fascinating viewing in conjunction with Louise Hogarth's documentary, "The Gift," which has it's own website: http://www.thegiftdocumentary.com/




David Ehrenstein wrote:It was a lot more than that. Friedkin and company
moved into the West Village like Hitler on Poland --
or Bush on Iraq. They operated on the assumption that
gay activists were merely "troublemakers" who could be
bought off -- just the way the Mafia exploited people
pre-Stonewall. Oh sure Freidkin was able to get a
number of gay Kapos to help him wrangle extras for the
orgy scenes. But in the last analysis gays and
straights stayed away in droves.

This in turn has led to the legend that "Cruising" was
"ahead of its time." Yeah -- just like "Reefer
Madness."





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3260


From: Rick Segreda
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 11:36pm
Subject: Le Cercle Rouge & "homoeroticism"
 
I saw Jean-Pierre Melville's "Le Cercle Rouge" last night, and loved it. Due to the fact that women are very marginal to the story, and that the primary allegiances among the Delon, Volonte, and Montand characters are to each other, A.O. Scott (in the New York Times) has described the movie as "homoerotic."

Hmm. Certainly the emotional core of the movie is the camraderie-among-outlaws shared by Alain Delon and Gian Maria Volonte. This brings up an interesting question; at what point does a man-to-man friendship in the movies become Platonically "homoerotic?" And what do we (not just A.O. Scott) mean by "homoerotic" anyway?


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3261


From: jpcoursodon
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 11:51pm
Subject: Re: Negative criticism
 
This is very true, but isn't it the way all minorities are
always, or most of the time, treated in movies? When a western (to
take the most obvious kind of example) shows blood-thirsty Indians
being exterminated, doesn't it deliberately ignore Native Americans
in the auditorium? What's so new about the approach in "Cruising"?
The fact that the gay "community" had not been dealt with in movies
before? If the "point of view" had been gay instead of straight,
wouldn't the whole movie collapse?
What I found annoying in the film was its systematic ambiguity
leading to something close to incoherence -- at least psychological
incoherence. The film is full of red herrings suggesting that the
Pacino character is perhaps himself at least a latent homosexual
("There are things about me you don't know" he tells his girlfriend
in an early scene)and perhaps not just gay but murderous, perhaps the
sadistic killer he is supposed to pursue (the one he arrests may or
may not be innocent. The ultimate victim lived in the hotel room next
door to Pacino!) All this leads to the truly mind-boggling and
dishonest closing scene...
JPC

--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, David Ehrenstein
wrote
> it's obvious to any gay person
> watching the film that their presence in the
> auditorium is deliberately ignored. "Cruising " is a
> freak show for straights.
>
> --- Tag Gallagher wrote:
>
>
> __________________________________
> Do you Yahoo!?
> The New Yahoo! Shopping - with improved product search
> http://shopping.yahoo.com
3262


From: Fred Camper
Date: Fri Oct 24, 2003 11:59pm
Subject: Re: Re: Inscribed
 
Henrik Sylow wrote:

>....how can the director then be an
>auteur?
>
>
>
It is an all too common myth about auteurism and the auteur theory that
it asserts that the director is in total control of every element of his
film, whereas actually some of the richest masterpieces come out of a
tension between the director and his material.

There's a bigger and worse myth that great art always requires that
every element in the work come from the artist. This is just wrong, as
the history of art, poetry, and music shows: some of the greatest works
were "assignments." I don't think anyone claims that the theme on which
Beethoven based his "Diabelli Variations" is any good, for example, and
Beethoven didn't like it either before he used it to create a masterpiece.

In the case of Sirk, we know from interviews that he had mixed feelings,
to put it mildly, about many of the scripts he directed. I think it's
wrong to see the Lloyd C. Douglas "source of infinite power" stuff in
"Magnificent Obsession" as pure kitsch to be laughed at, but it's also
not the case that Sirk, or the film, actually believes in that stuff, at
least not in the simple way it is presented in the script.

- Fred
3263


From: tag@s...
Date: Sat Oct 25, 2003 0:43am
Subject: Re: Re: Inscribed
 
Actually, Fred, in this case we know from the Film Comment interview with
Sirk that he did indeed encounter a guy like the Douglas character who was
a great help to him.


-----------------
From: Fred Camper f@f...

In the case of Sirk, we know from interviews that he had mixed feelings,


to put it mildly, about many of the scripts he directed. I think it's

wrong to see the Lloyd C. Douglas "source of infinite power" stuff in

"Magnificent Obsession" as pure kitsch to be laughed at, but it's also

not the case that Sirk, or the film, actually believes in that stuff, at


least not in the simple way it is presented in the script.



- Fred



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3264


From: tag@s...
Date: Sat Oct 25, 2003 0:48am
Subject: Re: Re: Negative criticism
 
Alas, I have a master's degree and I don't see anything being inscribed
here. If you want to take the film that way, fine. But "inscription"
refers to something technical and objective, and it just an't there, David.



Original Message:

From: David Ehrenstein cellar47@y...
>
It's quite simply the audience whose world-view the

film is profoundly concerned with. On the simplest

level a "woman's picture" is made for middle-class

women -- speaking to their interests in fantasy form.

Every dramatic exchange is made with the flattering

such spectators in mind. You don't need a master's

degree to figure this out.

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3265


From: tag@s...
Date: Sat Oct 25, 2003 0:52am
Subject: RE: Inscribed
 
Ooops! Sorry for typo. I meant to write that I do NOT think there's ANY
audience "inscribed" in ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS.

"Inscribed" does not mean "aimed" or "targeted." It means "written into."


From: Dan Sallitt sallitt@p...



> I am saying that I do think ALL THAT HEAVEN ALLOWS has an inscribed

> audience that is female. And I am asking you for evidence I why you
feel

> that there is such an INSCRIPTION.



Well, what do you think of the basic thoughts in my post to Jean-Pierre?


They were pretty general.



> It is one thing to postulate that such-and-such a movie was "aimed" at

> women. It's quite another to say that a specific audience is
inscribed

> thereinto.



Yeah, I guess it is different. But "inscribed" seems a good word if you


feel that stuff inside the film, as opposed to a marketing dept., is

helping to do the aiming. - Dan











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3266


From: Tosh
Date: Sat Oct 25, 2003 0:57am
Subject: Re: Le Cercle Rouge & "homoeroticism"
 
I sort of understand what Scott is saying, but I think he's wrong
with regard to Le Cercle Rouge or any other Melville film. Basically
it's about a bunch of guys (only guys?) who work together to do
something - more likely some sort of robbery. Also I think one is
projecting things on the beauty of Alain Delon. Come to think of it
- I think Le Samourai is the only Melville film that deals with an
individual that is not working with others...to do something.





--
Tosh Berman
TamTam Books
http://www.tamtambooks.com
3267


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Sat Oct 25, 2003 1:38am
Subject: Re: Re: Negative criticism
 
I'm sorry but "If you want to take the film that way,
fine" is a cop-out. "Crusing" very plainly assumes
that its audence is straight. it spoon-feed the viewer
every damned piece of information about the West
Village as if wewereapack of idiot children.

By contrast "Those Who Love Me Can Take the Train"
declines to posit a straigth spectator. This has
resulted in many straight reviewers, discombobulated
by the fact that their privileges have been igored, to
assume that the film's secon most important
heterosexual character Jean-Marie (Charles Berling) is
gay -- when he quite pointedly isn't.

--- "tag@s..." wrote:


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3268


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Sat Oct 25, 2003 1:45am
Subject: Re: (unknown)
 
There's no way a West Village cop could be "perplexed"
by the gay world since they were all in on the take.
--- hotlove666 wrote:


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3269


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Sat Oct 25, 2003 1:52am
Subject: Re: Le Cercle Rouge & "homoeroticism"
 
"Also I think one is
projecting things on the beauty of Alain Delon."

One of the cinema's greatest pleasures!

I would say that an thin wisp of homoeroticism
occasionally wafts through the air in Melville's
films, thanks to all that shraply dressed
testosterone. But it would stretching things to find
within it anything like the pure homoeroticism of
Visconti or Cocteau. In fact Melville fudges an
opportunity on this score in "Les Enfants Terrible" by
casting a woman as Dargelos.

--- Tosh wrote:


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3270


From: Fred Camper
Date: Sat Oct 25, 2003 1:52am
Subject: Re: Re: Inscribed
 
tag@s... wrote:

>Actually, Fred, in this case we know from the Film Comment interview with
>Sirk that he did indeed encounter a guy like the Douglas character who was
>a great help to him.
>
>
Maybe so, but you'll never convince me that the religious music on the
sound track of "Magnificent Obsession" is meant to have the same kind of
undivided forcefulness of, say, the altar in "The First Legion" or the
mask in "The Tarnished Angels." In many Sirk films there were script
elements that resonated with him (blindness in "Magnificent Obsession"),
script elements he could interact with though often with some tension
(the "source of infinite power" stuff in "Magnificent Obsession"), and
elements he couldn't do all that much with (the scene with the
doctor/med school professor and Robbie Robertson when he's asking to be
considered for residency).

My point here is that the "auteur theory" doesn't claim the director had
control over every element of a film.

- Fred
3271


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Sat Oct 25, 2003 1:58am
Subject: Re: William Friedkin's "Crusing;" Prescient?
 
"I was a kid back then, and as an adult now, to me,
things are even worse than what Friedkin depicted in
"Cruising," and what's eerie is the apathy."

Apples and Oranges. "Cruising" is pre-AIDS and there's
an enormous difference between everyday S&M
role-playing and what happens in "The Gift."


--- Rick Segreda wrote:


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3272


From: Tag Gallagher
Date: Sat Oct 25, 2003 2:13am
Subject: Re: Re: Inscribed
 
1) There's no such thing as "the" auteur theory; only the discordant
babble of us poor sheep and the sheep who have gone before us to pasture.
2) I agree with you that the director does not have control over every
element of a film.
3) But how do we know, from your list below, which of these items Sirk
was all in favor of, not in favor of, or in favor of but not with
"undivided forcefulness"?

In my article on Sirk (for much of whose inspiration I am indebted to
you! -- but not for this part), I wrote:

Almost all of Sirk.s Americans are affectionately drawn. If many of them
are types, this is because Sirk lays out his pieces for contrast, like
in a commedia dell.arte, and because in this way the individual
immediately comes through the type. Sirk often views Americans with a
foreigner.s emotions, initially consigning someone to a certain type and
immediately recognizing the error. Sirk.s real-life encounters with
Americans provided him with real-life models for his weirdest movie
heroes; some encounters had even the same miraculous quality of his
white melodramas.* During the war, Sirk and his wife tried to become
alfalfa farmers. He had fled Germany in 1937, come to the U.S. in 1939,
changed his name from Detlef Sierck and acquiesced in the myth
(perpetuated in Halliday) that he was Danish (both parents were
Germans).and went five years without making a film. The Sirks were
failures at farming as well, and realised they were going to lose
everything, when a neighbor, pointing out their ineptness, sent over two
sons every week for a year to help them, saved the farm, and wouldn.t
take a penny. Another time they were both sick, alone and helpless, and
were cured by a surprise visit by a chiropractor and his new-age wife
who went around .helping people for nothing every-where..like Rock
Hudson in Magnificent Obsession.
.Life is the most melodramatic story of all,. said Sirk

* In the article I distinguish between Sirk's white melodramas and black
melodrama, the former being comedies (like Magnificent Obsession -- not
meaaning "ha ha" but a happy ending), the latter tragedies.

Fred Camper wrote:

>
>
> tag@s... wrote:
>
> >Actually, Fred, in this case we know from the Film Comment interview with
> >Sirk that he did indeed encounter a guy like the Douglas character
> who was
> >a great help to him.
> >
> >
> Maybe so, but you'll never convince me that the religious music on the
> sound track of "Magnificent Obsession" is meant to have the same kind of
> undivided forcefulness of, say, the altar in "The First Legion" or the
> mask in "The Tarnished Angels." In many Sirk films there were script
> elements that resonated with him (blindness in "Magnificent Obsession"),
> script elements he could interact with though often with some tension
> (the "source of infinite power" stuff in "Magnificent Obsession"), and
> elements he couldn't do all that much with (the scene with the
> doctor/med school professor and Robbie Robertson when he's asking to be
> considered for residency).
>
> My point here is that the "auteur theory" doesn't claim the director had
> control over every element of a film.
>
> - Fred
>
3273


From: Fred Camper
Date: Sat Oct 25, 2003 2:59am
Subject: Re: Re: Inscribed
 
Tag Gallagher wrote:

>1) There's no such thing as "the" auteur theory; only the discordant
>babble of us poor sheep and the sheep who have gone before us to pasture.
>
>
I agree wholeheartedly!

> But how do we know, from your list below, which of these items Sirk
>was all in favor of, not in favor of, or in favor of but not with
>"undivided forcefulness"?
>
Well, we have the evidence of the films, first of all, our judgment of
which is subjective, and then we have the evidence of the various things
he said at different times of his life, not all of them necessarily true.

I cannot, however, see Sirk as an unironic lover of American types.
Something like "Take Me to Town" might seem to have unambiguous
affection for small town America, but the greater his films got, the
more distanced they became. As I've posted before to this group, he does
*not* take the Lloyd C. Douglas stuff with the same degree of acceptance
and sincerity as Borzage does in his great "Green Light" and "Disputed
Passage."

Simply saying that Sirk was helped by Americans hardly proves he did not
regard Americans critically. When I met him in 1979, and asked about
whether he had studied interior decorating magazines (he had!), I'll
never forget what I took to be a complex look mixing affection, ironic
distance, and criticism on his face when he said of bourgeois Americans,
"I knew these people."

I don't think I was misreading him, but of course I too had my ideas
about what his attitudes must have been. And he, having already read my
writing on his work, probably had an idea of what I was looking for too.
So how can we tell? We can't for sure. Or, as a famous politician once
said (and was quoted 2,000 years later in Cukor's great "Les Girls"):
"What is truth?"

- Fred
3274


From: Tag Gallagher
Date: Sat Oct 25, 2003 3:28am
Subject: Re: Re: Inscribed
 
I don't question Sirk's irony and critical detachment. Still, I think
he shows greater affection for Americans than, say, Ford. I'm merely
insisting that Halliday grossly misinterprets Sirk's irony as an all-out
attack.

How can we measure Sirk's "take" compared to Borzage's? I agree that
Borzage seems simpler, but that doesn't mean that Sirk's spiritual (in
whatever sense) side wasn't deeper. I really don't know. You guys
didn't question Sirk much about all that.

I think we agree that Mag Obs isn't one of his better pictures. (I'm
capable of persuading myself that Scandal in Paris and Summer Storm are
the best ones, and there's no Lloyd Douglas in sight there.)

Let us not forget that "America" 1943-59 was a vastly different thing
than "America" 1974 (Vietnam). It was certainly possible to see a
betrayal of earlier principles. Sirk doesn't speak kindly of Germans
but he preferred them to Americans when it came to choosing a place to
live after 1959.



Fred Camper wrote

>>
>>
>>I cannot, however, see Sirk as an unironic lover of American types.
>>Something like "Take Me to Town" might seem to have unambiguous
>>affection for small town America, but the greater his films got, the
>>more distanced they became. As I've posted before to this group, he does
>>*not* take the Lloyd C. Douglas stuff with the same degree of acceptance
>>and sincerity as Borzage does in his great "Green Light" and "Disputed
>>Passage."
>>

>>
>>Simply saying that Sirk was helped by Americans hardly proves he did not
>>regard Americans critically. When I met him in 1979, and asked about
>>whether he had studied interior decorating magazines (he had!), I'll
>>never forget what I took to be a complex look mixing affection, ironic
>>distance, and criticism on his face when he said of bourgeois Americans,
>>"I knew these people."
>>
>>
>>
>>



[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
3275


From: Fred Camper
Date: Sat Oct 25, 2003 4:33am
Subject: Re: Re: Inscribed
 
No real disagreements with your last, Tag, except for:

Tag Gallagher wrote:

> ...Sirk doesn't speak kindly of Germans but he preferred them to Americans when it came to choosing a place to live after 1959...
>
>
>
Well, I thought he lived in Lugano for most of his post-1959 years.
Certainly he was living there from circa 1970 until his death, though he
may have stayed in Germany from time to time while teaching in Munich.
But I always thought his choice of Lugano, in the relatively small
Italian part of neutral Switzerland, was telling, suggesting a
detachment from all the "big" cultures, such as America and Germany, and
even from the two largest of Switzerlands language groups, French and
German.

- Fred
3276


From: jess_l_amortell
Date: Sat Oct 25, 2003 4:34am
Subject: Re: Le Cercle Rouge & "homoeroticism"
 
> A.O. Scott (in the New York Times) has described the movie as "homoerotic."


I just looked this up (I couldn't find it in the Times reviews website, perhaps because it wasn't a new film, but it turns up via Film Forum at http://www.filmforum.com/cercnytimes.html ). Scott actually wrote: "This world ... is both passionless and implicitly homoerotic" -- which is a little different from describing the *movie* as *explicitly* homoerotic (and arguably even less meaningful).
3277


From: Dan Sallitt
Date: Sat Oct 25, 2003 4:39am
Subject: Re: (unknown)
 
> There's no way a West Village cop could be "perplexed"
> by the gay world since they were all in on the take.

Maybe even the real-life hetero cops would have become perplexed if they
were asked to participate in the gay world instead of taking money from
it. - Dan
3278


From: jpcoursodon
Date: Sat Oct 25, 2003 4:39am
Subject: Re: Inscribed
 
You just have to look at the films to see how grossly Halliday
simplified and distorted their contents.

Incidentally, Sirk was very careful (and understandably so) to see to
it that is "ironic" and superior take on American mores was invisible
to producers and audiences alike -- only to be deciphered long after
by clever auteurists who them asked him questions with the answers
built in.
JPC


--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, Tag Gallagher wrote:
> I don't question Sirk's irony and critical detachment. Still, I
think
> he shows greater affection for Americans than, say, Ford. I'm
merely
> insisting that Halliday grossly misinterprets Sirk's irony as an
all-out
> attack.
>
> How can we measure Sirk's "take" compared to Borzage's? I agree
that
> Borzage seems simpler, but that doesn't mean that Sirk's spiritual
(in
> whatever sense) side wasn't deeper. I really don't know. You guys
> didn't question Sirk much about all that.
>
> I think we agree that Mag Obs isn't one of his better pictures.
(I'm
> capable of persuading myself that Scandal in Paris and Summer Storm
are
> the best ones, and there's no Lloyd Douglas in sight there.)
>
> Let us not forget that "America" 1943-59 was a vastly different
thing
> than "America" 1974 (Vietnam). It was certainly possible to see a
> betrayal of earlier principles. Sirk doesn't speak kindly of
Germans
> but he preferred them to Americans when it came to choosing a place
to
> live after 1959.
>
>
>
> Fred Camper wrote
>
> >>
> >>
> >>I cannot, however, see Sirk as an unironic lover of American
types.
> >>Something like "Take Me to Town" might seem to have unambiguous
> >>affection for small town America, but the greater his films got,
the
> >>more distanced they became. As I've posted before to this group,
he does
> >>*not* take the Lloyd C. Douglas stuff with the same degree of
acceptance
> >>and sincerity as Borzage does in his great "Green Light"
and "Disputed
> >>Passage."
> >>
>
> >>
> >>Simply saying that Sirk was helped by Americans hardly proves he
did not
> >>regard Americans critically. When I met him in 1979, and asked
about
> >>whether he had studied interior decorating magazines (he had!),
I'll
> >>never forget what I took to be a complex look mixing affection,
ironic
> >>distance, and criticism on his face when he said of bourgeois
Americans,
> >>"I knew these people."
> >>
> >>
> >>
> >>
>
>
>
> [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
3279


From: Dan Sallitt
Date: Sat Oct 25, 2003 5:26am
Subject: Cruising
 
> What I found annoying in the film was its systematic ambiguity
> leading to something close to incoherence -- at least psychological
> incoherence. The film is full of red herrings suggesting that the
> Pacino character is perhaps himself at least a latent homosexual
> ("There are things about me you don't know" he tells his girlfriend
> in an early scene)and perhaps not just gay but murderous, perhaps the
> sadistic killer he is supposed to pursue (the one he arrests may or
> may not be innocent. The ultimate victim lived in the hotel room next
> door to Pacino!) All this leads to the truly mind-boggling and
> dishonest closing scene...

Friedkin almost always tries to make his characters psychologically
opaque: we see them from a distance (often literally - lots of telephoto
shots) and the films often capitalize on the mystery of what's going on
inside them. I think it's more profitable to ask whether the opacity is
used meaningfully than to wish that Friedkin would elucidate their
psychology.

Much of the film is dominated by the killer, who is scary, powerful, and
seemingly unchecked. Pacino's ascension to power at the end thus
catches us in an emotional crossfire. On the one hand, I believe we are
meant to feel relief that the all-powerful killer becomes the prey of
our increasingly confident protagonist; on the other, it's unnerving
that Pacino is becoming capable of frightening violence.

This crossfire is something Friedkin does in other films as well. I'm
thinking of the amazing moment in RULES OF ENGAGEMENT where the
pinned-down Marines suddenly throw off their helplessness and
counterattack; our relief, and the excitement of the crane shot that
shows the counterattack, is quickly tainted by the realization that we
are watching the slaughter of civilians.

Back to CRUISING...The straight/gay ambiguity sort of rides the
coattails of the hero/killer ambiguity. Friedkin uses Pacino's opacity,
and his undercover role, to mask any changes he might be undergoing, so
that it's surprising when Pacino goes hysterical outside Don Scardino's
door: if I recall correctly, it's the first time in the film that his
gay feelings can't be explained by his undercoverness. This is the
scene in the film that most subverted my 25-year-old mind.

All this to say that I think the psychological obscurity is part of an
artistic plan. - Dan
3280


From: Damien Bona
Date: Sat Oct 25, 2003 7:08am
Subject: Re: Negative criticism
 
--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, David Ehrenstein
wrote:
> I'm sorry but "If you want to take the film that way,
> fine" is a cop-out. "Crusing" very plainly assumes
> that its audence is straight. it spoon-feed the viewer
> every damned piece of information about the West
> Village as if wewereapack of idiot children.
>

Tonight I saw the Broadway musical, the Boy From Oz (i.e. The Peter
Allen Story), which, like Cruising packages a gay universe to an
intended straight audience. Somebody in the balcony screamed when
Hugh Jackman kissed Jarrod Emick.
3281


From: Paul Gallagher
Date: Sat Oct 25, 2003 7:31am
Subject: Re: Negative criticism
 
--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, David Ehrenstein
> wrote:
> I'm sorry but "If you want to take the film that way,
> fine" is a cop-out. "Crusing" very plainly assumes
> that its audence is straight. it spoon-feed the viewer
> every damned piece of information about the West
> Village as if wewereapack of idiot children.

David Kehr has an interesting perspective on Friedkin's intentions.

Cruising
Capsule by Dave Kehr
From the Chicago Reader

William Friedkin clearly set out to make a crushing horror film
on the order of The Exorcist, but the people he cast as the
demons--New York's gay community--forced him to back down. What's
left is the framework for a graphic, brutal, sickening film,
without the violent effects that might have made sense
(however illegitimate) out of the conception (1980). Like
The Exorcist, it alternates five minutes of shock with ten
minutes of dull exposition, plenty of time to watch Al Pacino
wrestle with his miserably conceived character. Friedkin's
technique bears unfortunate parallels to the S and M fantasy--
he beats up the audience and some people love him for it. But
here the follow-through's pretty weak, trailing off into some
artsy ambiguity that damaged the film's commercial chances.

http://onfilm.chicagoreader.com/movies/capsules/2311_CRUISING
3282


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Sat Oct 25, 2003 1:55pm
Subject: Re: Re: Negative criticism
 
"forced him to back down"?

He didn't back down at all!

--- Paul Gallagher wrote:


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3283


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Sat Oct 25, 2003 2:02pm
Subject: Re: (unknown)
 
No, no, no. That's NOT how it worked!

The entire film depends on an audinece's ignorance on
that score.

--- Dan Sallitt wrote:
> > There's no way a West Village cop could be
> "perplexed"
> > by the gay world since they were all in on the
> take.
>
> Maybe even the real-life hetero cops would have
> become perplexed if they
> were asked to participate in the gay world instead
> of taking money from
> it. - Dan
>
>
>


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3284


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Sat Oct 25, 2003 2:06pm
Subject: Re: Re: Negative criticism
 
"What's so new about the approach in "Cruising"?
The fact that the gay "community" had not been dealt
with in movies
before? If the "point of view" had been gay instead of
straight,
wouldn't the whole movie collapse? "

Certainly not.

The only thing that would have collapsed would be
straight privilege.

--- jpcoursodon wrote:


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3285


From: Dan Sallitt
Date: Sat Oct 25, 2003 2:30pm
Subject: Re: (unknown)
 
> No, no, no. That's NOT how it worked!
>
> The entire film depends on an audinece's ignorance on
> that score.

I'm not sure I get this. I can't remember for sure, but I presume
Pacino's cop was in homicide, right? In which case he presumably
wouldn't have opportunities to be on the take. - Dan
3286


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Sat Oct 25, 2003 2:49pm
Subject: Re: (unknown)
 
Dan we're operating at cross-purposes.

"Cruising" presupposes an audience TOTALLY ignorant
not only of gay life, but the police corruption that
fed off of it. You don't know anything about the West
Village pre and post-Stnewall. I do. So did everyone
who demonstrated against the film. I'm sorry, but I'm
unable to "un-know" what I know. And when I see
someone like Friedkin, who clearly had access to all
the facts -- and I'm talking most especially of the
real life situations that inspired "Cruising" --
create in its stead a film that caters to the
ignorance of viewers unaware of said facts -- it's the
last straw.

That the film brought things to your attention that
you hadn't thought about personally before is not
without interest, but that HAS to take a back seat to
the truths that Friedkin declines to disclose in favor
of toying with a straight viewer's ignornace.

I know I sound like Big Daddy in "Cat on a Hot Tin
Roof" stalking around and screaming "Mendacity!
Mendacity!" but there's no other possible response.

--- Dan Sallitt wrote:
> > No, no, no. That's NOT how it worked!
> >
> > The entire film depends on an audinece's ignorance
> on
> > that score.
>
> I'm not sure I get this. I can't remember for sure,
> but I presume
> Pacino's cop was in homicide, right? In which case
> he presumably
> wouldn't have opportunities to be on the take. - Dan
>
>
>


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3287


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Sat Oct 25, 2003 3:32pm
Subject: Friedkin Out
 
Bill's essay on "Cruising" is well-written, and
unquestionably thorough in describing the way the
film's narrative incoherence took shape. But as it
deals with "Cruising" solely as a cinematic entity --
and compares and contrasts it to other films and
related genres -- it doesn't address the issues that
spurred the demonstrations against it at all.

The reason why Randy Juergenson was assigned to
investigate murders that the police up to that point
hadn't given two shits about was that gay activists
had protested against police indifference (somethig
the film doens't even so much as allude to) and
Addison Verrill of "Daily Variety" was one of the
victims. When "important" corpses started piling up,
action was FINALLY taken.

I don't know about you, but I think this is a lot more
interesting than ANYTHING in the screenplay of
"Cruising."

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3288


From: Rick Segreda
Date: Sat Oct 25, 2003 5:22pm
Subject: Inscribing/p.o.v.'s
 
"It's quite simply the audience whose world-view the
film is profoundly concerned with. On the simplest
level a 'woman's picture' is made for middle-class
women -- speaking to their interests in fantasy form.
Every dramatic exchange is made with the flattering
such spectators in mind."

Speaking of world-views, I am reminded of something Anna Quindlen wrote back in 1986 for the New York Times, about attending a screening of Woody Allen's "Hannah & Her Sisters" in Africa. Definitely NOT Woody's inscribed audience! The audience didn't know what to make of all the well-heeled character's self-absorbtion. A sort of bracing reminder that Macluhan's Global Village is still more concept than reality.


---------------------------------
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[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
3289


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Sat Oct 25, 2003 5:57pm
Subject: Re: Inscribing/p.o.v.'s
 
Precisely!

That's what's always annoyed me about the glowing
reviews Allen got at that time.he was describing a
subset of a subset of New Yorkers -- not The Human
Condition.
--- Rick Segreda wrote:
>
> "It's quite simply the audience whose world-view the
> film is profoundly concerned with. On the simplest
> level a 'woman's picture' is made for middle-class
> women -- speaking to their interests in fantasy
> form.
> Every dramatic exchange is made with the flattering
> such spectators in mind."
>
> Speaking of world-views, I am reminded of something
> Anna Quindlen wrote back in 1986 for the New York
> Times, about attending a screening of Woody Allen's
> "Hannah & Her Sisters" in Africa. Definitely NOT
> Woody's inscribed audience! The audience didn't know
> what to make of all the well-heeled character's
> self-absorbtion. A sort of bracing reminder that
> Macluhan's Global Village is still more concept than
> reality.
>
>
> ---------------------------------
> Do you Yahoo!?
> The New Yahoo! Shopping - with improved product
> search
>
> [Non-text portions of this message have been
> removed]
>
>


__________________________________
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3290


From: jpcoursodon
Date: Sat Oct 25, 2003 11:22pm
Subject: Re: Inscribing/p.o.v.'s
 
What makes Woody Allen's characters less "human" than anybody else,
rich or poor, New Yorker or African? How is their condition not "The
Human Condition"? How can the mere fact that a filmmaker's characters
belong to a comparatively privileged socio-economic group constitute
a condemnation of his work on aesthetic grounds?
JPC


--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, David Ehrenstein
wrote:
> Precisely!
>
> That's what's always annoyed me about the glowing
> reviews Allen got at that time.he was describing a
> subset of a subset of New Yorkers -- not The Human
> Condition.
> --- Rick Segreda wrote:
> >
> > "It's quite simply the audience whose world-view the
> > film is profoundly concerned with. On the simplest
> > level a 'woman's picture' is made for middle-class
> > women -- speaking to their interests in fantasy
> > form.
> > Every dramatic exchange is made with the flattering
> > such spectators in mind."
> >
> > Speaking of world-views, I am reminded of something
> > Anna Quindlen wrote back in 1986 for the New York
> > Times, about attending a screening of Woody Allen's
> > "Hannah & Her Sisters" in Africa. Definitely NOT
> > Woody's inscribed audience! The audience didn't know
> > what to make of all the well-heeled character's
> > self-absorbtion. A sort of bracing reminder that
> > Macluhan's Global Village is still more concept than
> > reality.
> >
> >
> > ---------------------------------
> > Do you Yahoo!?
> > The New Yahoo! Shopping - with improved product
> > search
> >
> > [Non-text portions of this message have been
> > removed]
> >
> >
>
>
> __________________________________
> Do you Yahoo!?
> The New Yahoo! Shopping - with improved product search
> http://shopping.yahoo.com
3291


From: jpcoursodon
Date: Sat Oct 25, 2003 11:33pm
Subject: Re: Negative criticism
 
My main point, which you deleted, was that minorities have always
been dealt with in the same way by movies. They are "The Other" and
are treated as such. If homosexuals were a huge majority and
heterosexuals a minority movies would be made by, with and for gays
and would show "straights" the way Cruising shows gays.

JPC



--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, David Ehrenstein
wrote:
> "What's so new about the approach in "Cruising"?
> The fact that the gay "community" had not been dealt
> with in movies
> before? If the "point of view" had been gay instead of
> straight,
> wouldn't the whole movie collapse? "
>
> Certainly not.
>
> The only thing that would have collapsed would be
> straight privilege.
>
> --- jpcoursodon wrote:
>
>
> __________________________________
> Do you Yahoo!?
> The New Yahoo! Shopping - with improved product search
> http://shopping.yahoo.com
3292


From: Paul Gallagher
Date: Sun Oct 26, 2003 0:03am
Subject: Re: Negative criticism
 
--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, "jpcoursodon" wrote:
>
> My main point, which you deleted, was that minorities have always
> been dealt with in the same way by movies. They are "The Other" and
> are treated as such. If homosexuals were a huge majority and
> heterosexuals a minority movies would be made by, with and for gays
> and would show "straights" the way Cruising shows gays.
>
> JPC

That's unfair to the movies. There are a lot of movies that exhibit
more intelligence and compassion with regard to "the Other" than
"Cruising" does.

Paul
3293


From: hotlove666
Date: Sun Oct 26, 2003 0:09am
Subject: Minorities
 
If homosexuals were a huge majority and
> heterosexuals a minority movies would be made by, with and for gays
> and would show "straights" the way Cruising shows gays.

One Charles Beaumont story that didn't make it onto Twilight Zone
described an as-if society like that: The Crooked [ie "Straight"] Man.
3294


From: hotlove666
Date: Sun Oct 26, 2003 0:09am
Subject: Re: One-Off
 
Quick Change!
3295


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Sun Oct 26, 2003 0:22am
Subject: Re: Re: Inscribing/p.o.v.'s
 
It's not that they're less human. it's simply that
Allen supporters almost never address the specifics of
the privileged class to which the characters belong.
They jump right ahead into talking about "love" and
"betrayal" and so forth as if the context meant
nothing.
--- jpcoursodon wrote:


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3296


From: David Ehrenstein
Date: Sun Oct 26, 2003 0:24am
Subject: Re: Minorities
 
"If homosexuals were a huge majority and
> heterosexuals a minority movies would be made by,
with and for gays
> and would show "straights" the way Cruising shows
gays."

The notion that "you'd do to me what I'm doing to you
if our positions were reversed" is as one with the
ideological flim-flam that would insist that only a
"left" and "right" exist in political discourse.


--- hotlove666 wrote:


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3297


From: Peter Tonguette
Date: Sun Oct 26, 2003 2:05am
Subject: Re: One-Off
 
Irvin Kershner's "Loving" (recently re-released on DVD) is the only
film by him that I've ever really liked.

Peter
3298


From: Peter Tonguette
Date: Sun Oct 26, 2003 2:12am
Subject: Re: George Cukor
 
Rick Segreda writes:

> And let's not forget his last great movie, even if it was made for
television, the Olivier-Hepburn 'Love Among the Ruins."

I find late Cukor very rich. "Love Among the Ruins" is probably the
best of them, but how about "Travels With My Aunt," "The Corn is
Green," and "Rich and Famous"?

The one I'm not entirely sure about (apart from "The Blue Bird,"
which I've never seen) is "Justine," which Dan includes on his 1969
list. I think it'd work better for me on a second viewing; the first
time around, I was distracted by what I took to me a disjointed feel
to it all (which would make sense given that the picture was started
by Joseph Strick.) Dan, could you give us a few words on it?

Peter
3299


From: Peter Tonguette
Date: Sun Oct 26, 2003 2:21am
Subject: Cukor's Holiday
 
Fred writes:

> But I think there are other Cukors that could also be used as
> eye-popping proofs of his greatness: "Holiday,"

Great to hear you mention this one, Fred. "Holiday" is the only
Cukor which I've managed to see in 35mm and (coincidentally?
uncoincidentally?) it's my very favorite. (Bear in mind that I
haven't yet seen "The Marrying Kind" and I've never been able to
locate a copy of "Wild is the Wind," which Fred also lists among the
greatest Cukors.) But "Holiday"... what can you say? Maybe Dave
Kehr said it best: "There are a thousand nonconformist comedies, but
only one Holiday."

I agree with JPC when he writes in "American Directors" that "A Star
is Born" was a major leap forward in terms of Cukor's visual style,
but that isn't to say that the guy didn't have the chops from
virtually his very earliest solo efforts. I haven't seen all
of "Holiday" since seeing it in 35mm more than two years ago, but I
seem to remember the way Cukor used space to dwarf Cary Grant's
character in Hepburn's family's home as being particularly memorable.

It's also FAR superior to "The Philadelphia Story."

Peter
3300


From: jpcoursodon
Date: Sun Oct 26, 2003 3:59am
Subject: Re: Inscribing/p.o.v.'s
 
What are the "specifics" of the privileged class? Why should
Allen's "supporters" "address" those specifics if Allen himself
doesn't? Are you calling for an old-fashioned Marxist/Stalinist
debunking of the filthy rich? I really don't see what your point is.
JPC


--- In a_film_by@yahoogroups.com, David Ehrenstein
wrote:
> It's not that they're less human. it's simply that
> Allen supporters almost never address the specifics of
> the privileged class to which the characters belong.
> They jump right ahead into talking about "love" and
> "betrayal" and so forth as if the context meant
> nothing.
> --- jpcoursodon wrote:
>
>
> __________________________________
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