Tagged: film criticism

Remind me

Who would bother to determine whether a fictional narrative is historically accurate? Well, I’ll tell you. There’s a site (with the wonderful title “Information is Beautiful”) that, among other things, purports to assess the “accuracy” of Hollywood films. The unexamined assumption is that fictional narratives on screen should be “true.” Naive realism is foundation of such fake film criticism.

Random thought on the film “Sicario”: the Emily Blunt character is supposed to be the moral center of the film. The audience is expected to cathect to her “outrage” over breaches of the rule of law. Hence, the character should prevent the film from falling into the revenge-fantasy genre (e.g., Kill Bill, Inglourious Basterds, Django Unchained, etc.). Except for the fact that it does so in the final 25 minutes. Sicario is an utter mess.

It is worth recalling that foreign leaders attended Reagan’s funeral.

Theses on popular film criticism

Re “American Sniper” and “Selma”:

Asking whether a fictional film is historically accurate has to be one of the silliest questions ever. And yet it is posed repeatedly by today’s popular film critics.

All bio-pics are fictional! Do people who read Virginia Woolf’s Orlando find it lacking because it has “fictional elements”?

One has to beware of naive realism (and even the more erudite mimetic theory of art) vis-a-vis the visual arts.

What a film sells itself as is bunk. It doesn’t dictate how one theorizes the film, which is narrative fiction.

However, one should acknowledge a distinct danger (which Ava DuVernay, the director of “Selma,” too hastily elides): because many Americans are not historically educated, they take films that are “based on a true story” to be the historical truth. But the antidote to this would be to make it very plain that Hollywood films are not documentaries (which are also narrative constructions), no matter what the filmmaker proclaims about his/her film. One can learn valuable things from narrative fiction, but it should neither be expected to be, nor taken as, the mirror image of reality.

The way of the world

Re “American Sniper”: We’ve reached peak war film. It’s a tired genre. Time to retire it.

A film critic has conscientiously pointed out that a fictional narrative of the life of Stephen Hawking is not a carbon copy of reality: “It would be a big mistake to take The Theory of Everything as a user’s guide to living with motor neurone disease.” Really? I note this not simply because it is my current pet peeve, but only because this sort of nonsense is ubiquitous, universal. I’m only surprised I didn’t notice this tendency earlier in life.

Jodi Ernst is the Marine Le Pen of the Republican Party.

The most noticeable tall buildings in NYC now are the middle-fingers sprouting up in Brooklyn and Queens, which tower over everything around them. But at least downtown Brooklyn was spared the embarrassment of a Frank Gehry toadstool patch when the original Atlantic Yards project crumbled.

Hopefully, Mr Dehlin won’t face banishment to the planet Kolob for uttering twenty-first century views on women and same-sex marriage.

Begin again

Why do film critics expect fictional (or fictionalized) stories to be documentaries?

Mr Putin has turned his lidless, Sauronic eye from Donetsk to Moscow.

Paul Ryan has put out another Republican Party plan to end poverty by regulating the poor, using vignettes that distinguish the “deserving poor” from the “undeserving poor.” This narrative tactic, which substitutes ideological preconceptions of the neo-conservative imagination for facts about really existing poor people, has been popular among the big thinkers of the political right since Charles Murray’s Losing Ground.