Blogging film art and commerce

I should probably blog more about my thoughts about film art, which I actually practice, than about the business of film, which I have only a layman’s knowledge and no real interest in practicing.   I follow the film business mostly like a soap opera fan follows a soap: I know how it works, I know the characters, so it’s interesting to me.  And I tend to be outraged more as a consumer of films these days than I do about the state of the art. I think that there are great films out there – mostly from outside America – but we’re not getting to see them.  And I’m sick of only seeing superhero movies in the theater.

I don’t like to talk about other people’s films because I like to feel like I’m part of a community of filmmakers and it’s hard enough to get people to see your film without some asshole telling people that it sucks.

Then there’s the whole employment problem. I’d love to go on about the dangers of taking Ron Howard seriously as a director, or how Sandra Bullock is proof that talent has nothing to do with success in film, unless you only count by the dollar. But what if Ron Howard was thinking of producing my film, then he saw that I think he sucks and changed his mind? Because, to steal a line from Broadcast News, “that changes everything.” Of course, I loved Apollo 13 and Far and Away actually gets better as it gets older, the way classics do. What a scumbag I am, huh?

I have the same worries about the blogging about the art of films. I have put some thoughts on here, including my manifesto, and who knows what producers think. One of my producers, who is actually producing one of my films, kept asking me if I thought this or that was too Hollywood, or not arty enough. I couldn’t help thinking he’d been reading my blog. Luckily, he had seen past my egotistical rants, because I doubt that he has the same feelings I do about what a film should be. Not everyone thinks that realism sucks, or would even agree about what realism is. It’s dangerous territory to blog about: if the system that pays for your films finds out that you have artistic aspirations, that’s not necessarily a good thing.

My ideas aren’t that radical. I love seeing things that are different and often find things that are more different than I would ever make something. I still like straight narrative storytelling, but I can go with Lost Highway or a strange French film like Innocence.

My main complaint about the state of film is that cinematic language is so unimportant to audiences and critics and filmmakers that they are mostly cinematically illiterate. As I’ve said in my manifesto, most films today speak at the literary equivalent of See Jack Run. Sure, the subject matter may be adult, but the language it is told in is virtually always more primitive than it was in the fifties or sixties. And this is not an old art form we are talking about. The cinematic language of television should not be what we expect in a film.

You see, it’s not that radical, except that these days, anything different is a cause for concern. And really, for me, why risk it? Not that many people read this stuff that I write. It would be shame if I was somehow hurting my career with my rants on the internet.  So, there is a little bit of self-censorship on this blog.  I love talking about film art, much more than about the business, and I’ll keep posting thoughts, but I’m not going to go crazy here.  Really, blogging is a hobby as much as anything else.  To update that old Godard adage: the best film criticism is to make films, not blog about them.

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