Tuesday, March 29, 2011

An Open Letter to That Guy In the WHALE Comments, Because the Meshugana Blogger Won't Post it as a Comment.

Okay, I'll bite.

First-- apropos the "only conclusion" you can reach, that there's some kind of quid-pro-quo at work here. Well: habeas corpus. I wrote this review, what, two years ago, a year-and-a-half? If I was supposed to have gotten something in return, I'd have received it by now, yes?

Second-- and this is assuming the same person has been responsible for all these recent comments, and if I'm incorrect in that assumption, mea culpa-- it's claimed that there's no "story, plot, conflict, or purpose". I'd say that it's true that the version I saw-- and I must stress that I saw a cut the filmmaker made two years ago, and that the new cut, according to that filmmaker, is different in many ways-- was not overly concerned with "plot", telling a story, or resolving conflicts.

But, you know, I *like* a lot of movies that could be termed "plotless". One of my favourite movies, INTO GREAT SILENCE, is literally 2 and a half hours of monks praying, feeding cats, making wine, and sewing. It's about as far from plot and structure as one can get, and I love it; the film absorbs me into the world of the monastery in which it takes place. And I'd wager that you'd find that film "boring", or that you'd say it was just a worthless bunch of assembled (film) clips.

Motlagh's film *does* have conflict: conflict between the son and his father, the constant sense of the protagonist being outside-looking-in and isolated from the other characters. Isolation that is emphasized not only by the way the film is structured, but by scenes in which he's absent from his own diary-style film. And this is something I really dug about the film, is that he made choices-- experimenting with form and structure to produce different, desired, and on-purpose effects. Like I said in my review-- and, again, I don't know how much this has been altered by the film's newest cut-- I don't think all these choices necessarily work or do all the things Motlagh wants them to do.

But he *doesn't* just shoot a bunch of footage of his friends shooting the shit and slap it on the screen; he *doesn't* just fall into the easy, lazy trap of naturalism; he *doesn't* fetishize verite as the film he made is inherently-- sometimes off-puttingly-- stylized. So, to my mind, just labeling the film a "worthless bunch of assembled video clips", implying that they're haphazardly slapped together with no rhyme, reason, or thought is beyond disingenuous.

Speaking of disingenuous-- I'm sorry, but I have to ask: do you really want to have a conversation/debate/what-have-you about this? Because it's one thing to say, "I didn't like this film," or "I disagree with the reviewer", or "I didn't like the choices the director made," or, "This is why I feel the film was not very good." That's the kind of discussion I'd be very much interested in having.

But when you come around to these parts with a chip on your shoulder-- just decrying how BAD and WORTHLESS it is, and putting the word movie into quotation marks (which, F.Y.I., is a surefire way to make your host lose his temper, and I think I've done an admirable job of not losing that temper during this thread)-- well, it makes me think that you're not really interested in talking about the film, or about the pitfalls of independent films that are too personal to connect with audiences, or whatever. It makes me think you just want to be a Negative Nancy and make jokes about the title of the film and sling the same-old same-old "indie film is an incestuous circle-jerk" bullpuckey.

And, as to that, again: habeas corpus, because our own films, for the most part, still languish in obscurity and have never so much as played a festival.

Now, I could be wrong about this; maybe you do honestly want to have a honest-to-goodness conversation, and if I've misread you, then I apologize.

If you seriously want to talk about Motlagh's film, then I'd ask that-- as civilly and respectfully as possible-- you detail your problems with the film. "Worthless" and "pointless" are not "problems"; they're invective. They themselves are worthless and pointless, because there's nowhere a conversation can go, nothing for an understanding to be built on, no place for anyone to respond.

And if you're not interested in having a conversation, then that's fine; I just won't respond again.

Because I'm a Midwesterner, and as a general rule, I can't see why two human beings can't be polite, respectful, and civil to one another. Whether the discussion is art, politics, or religion-- can't we all just get along?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

haha, "incestuous circle-jerk" so perfectly sums up indie films -- both in terms of their content, and in terms of the shameless promotion/self-promotion that results in reviews like the one you gave whale.

thanks for that.