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Thread: Film Popism

  1. #31
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    well i won't rise to the point on Sirk...

    though 'what makes him or anyone else 'avant-garde' is an interesting question....it's often used as a synonym for any slightly unusual effect, eg sirk is generally claimed avantish as much for the fact that his lighting tecnhiques were strikingly anti-naturalistic as much for the alleged social criticism, or indeed the fact that he partipated in the 1919 Bavarian Soviet Republic...

    aside- yeah so people didn't generally go see Earth or Man with a Movie Camera- but they were made for a popular audience, so what is interesting is why they failed in this...it can't be just their oddness, as the 'interstellar trotskyism of this-

    was massively successful (solution- to use avant garde techniques and be succesful- set it in SPACE)

  2. #32
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    i wonder if there are even figures on things like, how many prints of 'earth' were struck versus other russian productions versus american imports.

    because of the cost of filmmaking, only tiny numbers of films were deliberately made for small audiences, i would guess.

  3. #33
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    also the defence of sirk for his 'anti-naturalism' is thru the looking-glass: of course, in the 40s and 50s left-wing critics hated on hollywood precisely for its lack of naturalism. now (or rather in the 70s, which in film
    academica have somehow lasted 25 years) for a film to get the nod it *has* to 'lay bare the device' or what have you.

  4. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by henrymiller
    there's nothing remotely avant-garde about sirk -- the whole sirk industry is a big joke being played on us by the '70s.

    but any case large numbers of filmmakers in all industries have avant-garde backgrounds (like sirk). the point is that films have, pretty much since the early '20s, been received as 'art' or 'commerce'. vertov and dovzhenko were nominally making films for popular consumption, but were unsuccessful in this -- and the german expressionists weren't wildly popualr either. the kammerspielen were deliberately made for educated audiences.

    but you'd have to go further and explain what an 'avant-garde background'. what *is* the avant-garde, after the '20s? it's not really clear. so by definition, latter-dar filmmakers don't have one. qed.

    vertov could definitely be considered avant garde, if you use that as a catch all for various early-mid 20th century artistic movements, i don't think you could situate sirk and dozvhenko in that way. the 'sirk industry' claim can dismiss the 70s criticism, the fassbinder-brechtian side of things, then there is the often ephemeral formal side of things, in that respect i think he is one of the favoured classical hwood directors within the american avant garde.

  5. #35
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    obviously one of the things enjoyable about say, 'imitation of life' is that it looks pretty and makes you cry. to suggest that this necessarily conflicts with 'laying bare' etc is a caricature of brecht.

    and forgive me for never having been a film student, but where is this psuedo-brechtianism an orthodoxy exactly? i'm intrigued.
    Last edited by owen; 22-12-2005 at 09:35 PM.

  6. #36
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    i haven't been a film student either, but you'll find the pernicious influence of brecht all over '70s 'screen' (of which 'sirk on sirk' editor jon halliday was an editor -- with laura mulvey he helped 'make' sirk in the UK) and thus in most film studs text books. it was articulated with the lacan-althusser line, and equated with contemporary soviet avant-gardism. i can't think of a more pervasive orthodoxy in academic film studies.

    what's perhaps strange about the sirk-love is that it's generally held that socially critical films were impossible in the '50s, and that sirk thus used some kind of 'coding' to get round this. there's some truth in this, but a) i don't know what radical message he has to impart, b) were people at the time able to see it (if not, the coding didn't work), and c) there *were* socially critical (within obvious limits) pictures made in the '50s, by (critically reviled) directors like kramer and lumet!

  7. #37
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    it seems odd to square brecht and this amorphous 'lacan-althusser', but yr clearly more up on this than me so i'll concede that 'un. nonetheless i still think there are huge differences being obscured here. obviously sirk didn't make 'social critique' on the level of, say, 'the defiant ones', and i don't necessarily think there is an element of 'critique' being claimed for sirk, in eg fassbinder's writings on him- what the latter seems to like, amongst other things, is his fatalism, a singularly un-Brechtian impulse. for instance Sirk on Brecht's version of Antigone (in Sirk on Sirk, obv)

    ‘I think Brecht’s transformation (of Antigone) is very revealing, because it shows up the failure of Marxism to understand religion, among other things- and, perhaps, the irrational…in Brecht’s version, Antigone is victorious. But the lesson is exactly the opposite of what Brecht thought. The Gods are victorious.’

  8. #38
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    Often, social critiques in film can be suggested through a strange sort of negative process- because Sirk shows domestic life as so comfortable, and Hitchcock shows men to be immeasurably more powerful than women, they inadvertently suggest an opposite point of view. The oppressed/repressed becomes a theme in itself. It's in this way that Hitchcock can almost be discussed as a feminist.

    I think the way this "coding" can happen is part of how wonderful film is. Often we really don't know what a director thought, but a film can communicate on many subtle levels. This is why, I think, rockism in many ways is difficult to describe in film- for rockism in film we need something which is auteuristic but which has no meaning outside this auteurism. Ie, the director is the God, on a pedestol. And in general film is too rich for that. Sight and Sound for instance is pretty nuanced in appreciating the way filmic meaning comes as much from the audience and the actor as the director. In fact, wouldn't real rockism in film be self-congratulatory and auteuristic in the way, say, the Sundance film festival is? the real rockism is American independent film? Which is actually a rather small subsection of film.

    More generally, I'm suprised to see people (eg Woebot) on such a downer about art-film generally. Sure there's a lot of dross, but this was always the case, and there's so much fine film making out there that it seems churlish to complain. Asian film, Canadian film, South and Central American film are all really, really strong at the moment, and there's surely as many good films coming out now as ever before?!?!

  9. #39
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    Often, social critiques in film can be suggested through a strange sort of negative process- because Sirk shows domestic life as so comfortable, and Hitchcock shows men to be immeasurably more powerful than women, they inadvertently suggest an opposite point of view. The oppressed/repressed becomes a theme in itself. It's in this way that Hitchcock can almost be discussed as a feminist.
    isn't this a bit of a 'get out of jail free card'.

    "because Pudovkin shows life under Stalin as so comfortable, and Riefenstahl shows Germans to be immeasurably more powerful than Jews, they inadvertently suggest an opposite point of view."

    O RLY?

  10. #40
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    Scorsese and Coppola have both been critical of the Marvel stuff recently.

    “I don’t see them. I tried, you know? But that’s not cinema,” Scorsese told Empire. “Honestly, the closest I can think of them, as well made as they are, with actors doing the best they can under the circumstances, is theme parks. It isn’t the cinema of human beings trying to convey emotional, psychological experiences to another human being.”
    “It’s not cinema, it’s something else,” regarding the MCU movies. “We shouldn’t be invaded by it. We need cinemas to step up and show films that are narrative films.”
    “When Martin Scorsese says that the Marvel pictures are not cinema, he’s right because we expect to learn something from cinema, we expect to gain something, some enlightenment, some knowledge, some inspiration…I don’t know that anyone gets anything out of seeing the same movie over and over again,” the 80-year-old filmmaker said, according to Yahoo! News. “Martin was kind when he said it’s not cinema. He didn’t say it’s despicable, which I just say it is.”
    Ethan Hawke said something similar a while back too.

    “Now we have the problem that they tell us ‘Logan’ is a great movie,” Hawke said. “Well, it’s a great superhero movie. It still involves people in tights with metal coming out of their hands. It’s not Bresson. It’s not Bergman. But they talk about it like it is. I went to see ‘Logan’ ‘cause everyone was like, ‘This is a great movie’ and I was like, ‘Really? No, this is a fine superhero movie.’ There’s a difference, but big business doesn’t think there’s a difference. Big business wants you to think that this is a great film because they wanna make money off of it.”

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  12. #41
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    I find it hard to disagree. I was never into the comics but I get the impression they were better than the films (or do people just have rose-tinted memories cos they were kids when they read them?) but the films I've seen are just total bollocks. One of my friends something about how there is nothing less engaging than watching indestructible people hitting each other and he's right. I really feel like this Marvel takeover is the worst thing to happen to films in years... I mean I don't care what films people watch but if ALL the films (or ninety percent or whatever it is really) are the same then that can't be good.

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  14. #42
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    I find when I see them I'm entertained for as long as the film lasts, but once it's done I don't really think about it again or remember much of it. It's just two hours or so where I was occupied.

  15. #43
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    Ken Loach is laying into them as well today.

    I agree with Rich pretty much. I've seen a few and generally find them fairly boring. I've enjoyed bits of them, probably Guardians of the Galaxy was the one that amused me the most. I guess they're best seen at the cinema with the sound and visuals pummelling you into submission but something about that revolts me. The way they fail to hold interest on the small screen is kinda telling. Its'a bit like having a conversation through a megaphone. I think I've only ever seen one at the cinema, Dr Strange. I've had Ant Man unfinished in my Netflix tab for about a year now - zero desire to finish it.

    What I actually find more interesting is the business model, how they've managed to create such a huge dominant franchise, that's all set in the same universe, with even more content if we factor in all the Netflix series. There must be an office somewhere with whole team of people employed just to think about avoiding continuity errors.

  16. #44
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    On a podcast I was listening to a while back they were talking about how big these things are in China. So big that it doesn't really matter to Hollywood how well they do in the rest of the world.
    Took a rest stop that wasn't on the schedule

  17. #45
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    Do they worry about continuity errors though? Don't they just retcon things so this is the new truth/canon version?

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