Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Inside a Moral Vaccum: Scorsese's New Clothes

I recently saw The Departed and admittedly it was a pirate copy (a perfectly good image but it jumped around a lot), so I can't be sure how much the film lost as a result; but what I saw was an incomprehensible mess and probably the sloppiest filmmaking Scorsese has ever done. Yet the critics raved; many of them even chose it as their film of the year. Are they no longer able to distinguish between intention and result, I wonder, or between the reputation of the maker and the brutal fact of the film itself? These days, even an incontestable stinker like Eyes Wide Shut gets a rapid revisionist take and becomes a "classic" in order for the critical consensus that has canonised Kubrick to remain intact. (As far as revisionist history goes, it's easier to believe the holocaust never happened than accept EWS as a great movie.)

The best way to comprehend the mathematical concept of infinity is to contemplate the stupidity of film critics. But it forces me to question whether I am in the right line of work.

There is a kind of collective dementia running our world. Of course, anyone with the most rudimentary degree of awareness has known that for a long time, and one can even get used to it and find humor in it, when an inarticulate moron like GWB becomes president of the USA. With global exploitation and political corruption reaching new lows of depravity, what is most exasperating is not that it continues to exist, but that one's fellow humans persist in pretending it doesn't, in voting, watching the news, expressing political opinions, just as if any of it had the least baring on what is really happening behind the scenes.

It's not the malevolent iniquity of the dark power elite that bugs me, but the docile acquiesence of the masses. After all, I am forced to live with the latter, at least to some extent, whereas the evil elite doen't really cross my path too often. Ditto with movies. I don't really care if once-gifted filmmakers churn out lifeless, over-stylized but basically worthless, clunky drek like The Departed; it's to be expected, after all. What I really object to is that they get praised to the skies for doing it, and often damned for their best work (Scorsese' Bringing Out the Dead, for example, easily his most impresive film in the last 25 years, and of course the critics ignored it.) How are they even to know when they have delivered the goods, if no one tells it to them straight?

People get the leaders they deserve; and if audiences get served up endless movie shite then it serves them right for taking it and having such lousy taste. What's really demoralizing is that they actually seem to enjoy it. There is a legion of tasteless and moronic film critics to misguide them.

Where oh where is dame Kael to point out the emperor's nakedness to the world and bring shame upon the emperor's head?

It's a lousy job to be a bearer of ethical/aesthetic sanity inside a moral vaccum; but someone sure has to do it

No comments: