Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Art movies: RIP says Camille Paglia

The art movie is dead, says Camille Paglia. She may be right.

I remember being at Sundance nearly 20 years ago, and going to watch an 'art film' made by a friend.

The movie began with long takes of desolate, alienated people. Within ten minutes the audience began to leave. As two men walked past me, I heard one say angrily to his partner "I didn't come here to see experimental film!"

From Art movies: RIP by Camille Paglia
...On the culture front, fabled film directors Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni dying on the same day was certainly a cold douche for my narcissistic generation of the 1960s. We who revered those great artists, we who sat stunned and spellbound before their masterpieces -- what have we achieved? Aside from Francis Ford Coppola's "Godfather" series, with its deft flashbacks and gritty social realism, is there a single film produced over the past 35 years that is arguably of equal philosophical weight or virtuosity of execution to Bergman's "The Seventh Seal" or "Persona"? Perhaps only George Lucas' multilayered, six-film "Star Wars" epic can genuinely claim classic status, and it descends not from Bergman or Antonioni but from Stanley Kubrick and his pop antecedents in Hollywood science fiction.

Tragically, very few young people today, teethed on dazzling special effects and a hyperactive visual style, seem to have patience for the long, slow take that deep-think European directors once specialized in. It's a technique already painfully time-bound -- that luxurious scrutiny of the tiniest facial expressions or the chilly sweep of a sterile room or bleak landscape.

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