Sunday, March 30, 2014

Nightcap 3/30/14-A rambling piece about why I'm not bothering with directors I've never liked

I recently saw A Field in England and was truly confused by what people saw in it.

The film is set during the English Civil War and has several people forcibly helping one to their number find a treasure. What the treasure is best left revealed in the film. The structure of the film is perhaps generously considered rambling, however it was clearly influenced by the magic mushrooms the characters eat. Yes they and we go tripping thanks to a wildly manipulated sound track and strobing visuals.

I don’t think the film adds up to much.

Then again I don’t think any of director Ben Wheatley’s films add up to much (Kill List made no sense to me even if I saw what he was getting at and Sightseers petered out in the final third when I realized there was only one way to go). I know some people feel as I do, but on the other hand I know a good many of you love Wheatley’s films because when I tweeted that I was done with him, a good number of people let me know that me giving up was good riddance to bad garbage. Apparently I wasn’t needed in the club.

That’s fine, I don’t need to be in the club. I can just save time by crossing off any future films from Wheatley off my list to see (with one exception he is doing a JG Ballard adaption which I will try since it’s Ballard). The idea of crossing directors off my list to see is somehow liberating. It wonderfully frees up a good amount of time that can be used to find films I will like. I’m using it at Tribeca where I’m skipping Kelly Reichardt’s film Night Moves because I never really warmed to her other films which I found emotionally distant to me. and with 100 other choices I’ll try something else.

Before you balk and remind me that I’m a film writer and that I should see everything, I will counter to say why should I bother with something I know I’m going to write up negatively? Worse why should I approach films where my prejudices are going to be out and unconcealed? I will not give the film a fair shake- maybe down the road I’ll try the films (say after a friend tells me it will be different this time) but until I can give them the fair shake I’m staying away. It’s kind of like not seeing a film because the hype is too great- For example I’ve been told the Hangover films are amongst the funniest ever made by so many people I won’t watch them until I can see them for themselves and not something that I think should make be die with laughter.

Truth be told I’m at a loss to explain the love many of my fellow writers have been throwing around for various films and directors of late. I keep reading reviews that make me wonder what films they saw because the wonder they feel for certain films- say at New Directors New Films where A Spell to Ward off Darkness or The Story of My Death got glowing reviews. To me they were sleep inducing bores filled with pretensions. People really liked them? I mean genuinely liked them and not pretended to like them because they could then seem to be elitist and above the multiplex?

Far be it for me to forcibly suggest what is good or bad or who should make a movie, but I really have to wander how it is that someone like Story of My Death director Albert Serra can find an so much love abroad when he’s apparently not known at all in his home country. One piece I was reading in connection to the recent screenings of Story said he has no audience at home. While great artists frequently don’t speak to the home crowd there was something about the piece that made me think it was less not knowing who he was and more they just don’t like his films. It makes me wonder why he is hailed, as I’ve seen in some reviews, as the crown jewel of his film industry when no one really sees his films.

Crown jewel? What were the other films like? How can anyone make that claim when odds are they haven’t seen more than the smallest fraction of any countries output.

Sometimes I think critics and writers give filmmakers a pass for showing some intelligence. In Story we have long philosophical discussions, but while that may increase the intelligence of the film to some degree it still doesn't mean its a good film or anything more than a glorified sleeping pill.

I know it will come back to haunt me but sometimes I wonder what planet some writers are from. I'm sure that they feel the same way about me with my championing some of the sleaze that I think is good, But for me film has to engage me emotionally which is something that some people who are too cerebral some times forget. Directors like Serra, Wheatley, Reichardt and some others I'm giving up on worry too much about making a point rather than touching a heart.

Life is to be experienced not thought about.

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