Film Rant.

4:06 PM

Okay, I know that this is essentially not a post about books but I think this would be a breath of fresh air to some people who still visit my rather pathetic blog. (Do visit my tumblr instead. ** I update that much more frequently) But I have to get something off my chest and this seems like most fitting platform as my tumblr page is rather... catered to a specific set of followers. Here, on the other hand, there are so few that I can do whatever the hell I want.

For those who might know, this semester I am doing a couple of modules in film, particularly film art and the analysis of films as an art-form rather than a product for mass consumption. I was (still am, I think) very excited about these modules. Mostly because I would be exposed to a rather large range of films that are not exactly in my comfort zone and not necessarily something I would have known to have existed otherwise. And if something interests me, sure enough I will spread the word, like I always do. So far the module is treating me quite well.

HOWEVER, what irks me GREATLY is the amount of 'new-age', experimental films out there that are considered ground-breaking and revolutionary, when it actual fact , it is a bunch of pretentious bullshit that is palatable only to a very MINUTE crowd of over-indulgent, artsy-fartsy, over-analysing bunch of people. I am sure I am not the only one who feels this way about certain films. And by large, films (like all other artforms) are very subjective in its reception. But sitting through a movie that consists of long 5min shots of NOTHING or a girl staring into space, or a black & white movie of extreme surrealism in which there is no chronological order or substantial plot... It is a very classy form of torture.

 I sat through the 4-hour "commercial cut" version of the black & white classic "Greed" by Erich von Stroheim. Apparently the original was 9 hours long. NINE, guys, NINE!! But okay, I could handle that. The plot was alright and it depicted the downward spiral of a couple that succumbs to human greed. Nothing new today but I guess it was rather controversial back when it was first released in 1924.  

"Birth of a Nation" was another difficult one to sit through. Though I felt that the epic nature of such a war film that deals with ethnic issues in early America wasn't too bad. It was about slavery and the propaganda of southern political views that the Ku Klux Klan was famous for advocating through its terrorism. I GET THAT. Okay, it was boring to watch, simply because it is so outdated in terms of film making techniques. But ALRIGHT. I can handle. But there are certain films that were just INFURIATING for me to even sit through.

One such film would be "Good bye, Dragon Inn" by Tsai Ming-liang, a taiwanese film. I have nothing against foreign films. In fact, I love them. BUT OH MY GOD. This one was excruciating. And by that I mean excruciatingly slow and mind-numbingly devoid of action. I sat there, as if I had ants in my pants, fidgeting and waiting for something, ANYTHING to happen so as to give me a CLUE of what was going on. Aaaaand nothing. I mean, yes, the director had great technique but his confidence in the audience, that they WILL over-analyse and somehow will go the extra mile to read his hidden message such that he is able to present the bare minimum to his audience; THAT appalls me. Thanks to the internet, I was able to decipher his meaning, but what if there weren't any. I think back to my interpretations of the film and it was NOTHING like that the director intended. And by the end of it, I got so agitated that I rejected the film entirely, hence I couldn't be bothered to rack my brains over what that loooooooooong shot of an empty cinema hall meant. It's all about give and take. And not about over-indulging either parties, the director nor the audience.

Other films that made go "WTF" were:

- 'So Is This' by Michael Snow (a film made of words projected on a black screen)

- 'Meshes of the Afternoon' by Maya Deren (a black & white American silent film with a Japanese music score that follows a surreal dream-like sequence that goes in circles)

 - 'One Second in Montreal' by Michael Snow (A film made of photos)

 - 'La Jetee' by Chris Marker (A film of almost no movement told in time-travel narrative, primarily through the projection of still photographs)

 - 'Blue' by Derek Jarman (A film that consists of a single shot of saturated blue colour filling the screen to the narration and soundtrack that describes the plot)

- 'Poetic Justice' by Hollis Frampton (A film of shooting script)

I can go on and on... I realize that most are made by avant-garde film makers. And as a student taking a film module, I should expose myself to alternative styles of film rather than the linear narrative we are so used to in Hollywood. I AM TRYING, GUYS, I AM TRYING. But damn it, it is SO HARD. Half the time I am thinking, "Do people actually GET this?!". Maybe I am just not artistic enough or philosophical enough or wise enough to decipher the meanings behind these films. Maybe I am just part of the brain-dead masses that are semi-stimulated by action sequences and plot twists. I don't wanna be an average consumer of the arts. But honestly, WTF is all I can think of sometimes when I see these films. And at times their films reek and are dripping with artistic pretentiousness that are essentially egocentric in their execution and presentation of their artform that they feel, to me, condescending rather than inspiring or enlightening. They make you feel like you are too stupid to get their "profound" symbolism.

 And THAT is what pisses me off.  

Because art should be something that inspires all, rich or poor, an art connoisseur or the common man.

But that's just me, I guess.

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