Saturday, December 01, 2007

Cowboy Bebop: The Movie d. Shinichiro Watanabe, 2001

Not as successful, not to mention satisfying, as the show, which I very strongly recommend to anyone who can handle even a small taste of anime. The melange of tones and genres that the show so deftly pulls off is muddled a bit here. In terms of tone, especially, the film relies too heavily on a sort of quasi-profound pathos, the type that anyone who has been around a large group of indie-loving freshmen/sophomores knows only too well.

This is a good place to stop. I'm going to leave that up there unfinished. Two reasons: 1) Anywhere I go from there will be more comparison between the show and the film, which isn't particularly generous to the film 2) I don't have the desire, the interest, to devote the time and energy to the film that it deserves. Maybe; I'll clear that up in a moment.

So ends my November Thing, and - in terms of the work of writing something about every movie/television show seen - it has been a success. I still find myself unsatisfied, though. While I'm pretty happy with the style I've developed w/r/t television criticism - especially my bit on the Weeds finale - and various film reviews - my stuff on Chaplin, for instance, or the bits on Happy Together and Nikita, no matter how embryonic and typo-ridden they may be - the highlight of this whole experiment has been the Thanksgiving-weekend exchange between Ryland, Cuyler, and myself, and the ensuing spill-over at their 'blog. Plus, our professor even threw his hat into the fray, sending out a pretty robust email filled with lots of good things that pertained to the matter at hand. Which is to say, I don't know where I stand in relation to film criticism at this point. The critical stance I assumed in my Run, Lola, Run review (aha!) isn't where I'm at - and, honestly, never way; I'd like to think that type of flippant dismissal is a by-product of the constraints of the November Thing - but I can't fully glom onto the type of criticism posited by Ryland and Prof. Gutterriez.

Here's where the dissatisfaction comes from: I'm not sure I've found the right language to express my absolute love and excitement for certain films while also saying something important, intelligent, and relevant. Ryland makes a good point when he writes, and I paraphrase, that when you devote time to writing about something, you're already making a judgment call, already saying that the thing is worth writing about. But I don't think it's necessary, after that, to throw out hierarchies. For instance, I found Million Dollar Baby very much worth writing about, but I despised it as a film. I.e. it is not good; it is bad.

I think, actually, that Ryland and I are after the same thing, or at least something similar; in reading a bit by Manny Farber in Negative Space, I'm struck by how judgmental the language is. While Farber decries hierarchies and simple good/bad judgments, his writing is still rife with the language of judgment. I don't think this is bad thing, at all. Rather, it's the nature of the thing itself. The best writing on film is both critical and judgmental; it has a passion for film, that kind of ebullience that you feel after seeing a really excellent film, or even the kind of despair you feel after seeing something reprehensible. It avoids simple judgments - e.g. don't see this film, it sucks; this film is the best thing EVAR!!1! - but is filled with the adjectives that have judgment implicit to them - compelling, disgusting, etc. I don't think the excitement and love of film that's found in hierarchical judgment can be separated from truly great film criticism.

This is all a bit muddled, but so are my thoughts right now. Anyway, expect less writing - especially until Dec. 15, when finals are over for me - but, hopefully, the writing you find here will be richer, more alive, and more in love with film.


Blogger Ryland Walker Knight said...

I should say that, yes, criticism is an act of evaluation, which implies a judgment. But if you read _Negative Space_ from the front to the back you can see that Farber's style definitely evolved over time. Even the greats keep learning, and perfecting, you know? Like I said somewhere, sometime, his view of _Taxi Driver_ is thorough to the point where you get the sense that he really does like the picture, despite its "negative" elements. "Negative" is primarily used as a pejorative in the sentence but his subtle polyphony also implies it as a descriptor: certain elements portray a kind of negativity. That make sense? Well, back to _Lola_. Be well. See you next Thursday?

08 December, 2007 13:44  
Blogger Michael K. said...

For Silent Light, right? Hopefully. I have finals on Saturday, so I might need to a study, but a four hour break sounds great already.

*Back to Miami Vice*

08 December, 2007 13:52  
Blogger Ryland Walker Knight said...

Crappy thing? I just tried for Thursday tickets, late, and it's sold out. Looks like Sunday is the day for that. No filmmaker-in-person fun... Oh well.

08 December, 2007 13:54  
Blogger Michael K. said...

Well, at least then I can DEFINITELY make it. To be utterly honest, I'm just meh on hearing directors talk about their movies.

Re: Miami Vice, this movie only gets better and better each time you watch it. I also tracked down the trailer - I'd never seen it; no wonder you went opening night. The first trailer, (teaser, I guess) in particular, is astonishing.

08 December, 2007 15:30  

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