Monday, November 21, 2005

The Trim Bin #3 (overdue)

- Saw the new Superman Returns teaser before Harry Potter on Friday night. I apologize for any doubts I've expressed in conversation about the film; judging by the trailer, he completely understands the multiple archetypal meanings behind the Kal-El mythos. It made me teary-eyed. I applauded it and a gaggle of thirteen-year-olds laughed at me. Philistines.

- I found out later that Bryan Singer is shooting Superman with the new Panavision Genesis HD camera system. I looked it up here and fell head over heels for it. It's evident from the teaser that the system can create a look that isn't quite film, but instead has its own unique splendor. While I still feel that celluloid should always co-exist with any digital technologies, this is the first digital camera that, for me, opens up new worlds of possibility.

- The latest issue of The Beacon, MCLA's newspaper, features an edtorial by Jen Thomas decrying audiences' desensitized responses to violence in cinema (inspired by Saw II). It's riddled with the sort of generalizations and fallacies that often characterize film writing. "Instead of intelligent content or character development," Thomas writes, "viewers now rely on bang-for-your-buck instant gratification." Is this even typically true? Certainly it would be a convenient way to explain the success of movies like Boogeyman, but what about March of the Penguins or Million Dollar Baby or any other number of recent hits that fly in the face of this oft-echoed sentiment about what audiences want?

The article then goes on to comment upon a class' horrified reaction to documentary footage of animal abuse, wondering why we respond with more horror to cruelty to animals than to human violence. As Max pointed out, the documentary was real. Surely the class would have had a similarly sobering reaction if shown, say, Night and Fog. Thomas cites Jarhead as an example of the audience's disconnect; the audience I saw Jarhead with was certainly involved - perhaps not on a visceral level, but was that the intent? Opinion pieces like this suggest that the primary purpose of filmmaking is to incite sensations that replicate our responses to real-life experiences.

"It's impossible to see any movies now that don't have some sort of unneccessary violence" - that isn't even remotely true. How does The Beacon let stuff like that through? Ah yes, because its editors and writers are largely unprincipled and amateurish. I overheard a conversation in a class recently between the editor-and-chief and a few writers recently about SGA's frequent complaints that The Beacon takes positions on campus issues that don't reflect SGA's policies. One person commented, "But you don't write bad things about SGA, right? So there's no problem." I said that negative comments about SGA shouldn't be a problem - that it would in fact be their duty to keep their financial supporter in check. The editor cited "courtesy, you know..."

I don't want to be guilty of the same things I'm criticizing here, so I'm not going to call The Beacon's staff, made up mostly of perfectly decent people, a pack of gestapo pigs whose grandparents probably started Vietnam. But there it is.

But enough of this business...

- Speaking of MCLA, my "Intro to Mass Media" professor was explaining the nature of independent cinema the other day. Among the examples of independent movie houses he gave: Cannon, Polygram, Spike Lee (the person, I guess), and MTM (Mary Tyler Moore Productions). He left out Carolco, RKO, and Wilbur J. Cobb.


Anonymous said...

I lost what little faith I had remaining in the Beacon between their interviewing me for Anime Club and messing up many facts.

And if that didn't do it, seeing the word "proudingly" used at some point last year in one article did it for sure.

Andrew Bemis said...

What do you have against "proudingly," Doug? It's a perfectly cromulent word.