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Showing posts with label story is dead. Show all posts
Showing posts with label story is dead. Show all posts

Thursday, July 07, 2011

When One Inspired Moment Catches Your Attention

Sometimes you watch a movie and wonder: how did this come to be and why? Watching *Burlesque,* I had that feeling. The best parts of it are like a sumptuous extended music video and a fashion show mashed together, though with some spotty lip-synching. That appeals on a certain level, but the rest just kills any graces it's earned. The story's a pitiful excuse for stringing together a lot of high production-value numbers and lovely costuming, the first protagonist "revelation" being particularly ridiculous: we can only suspend disbelief so much.

Pittance pittance, number number, eyerolls all around, and then * BANG *, one jaw-dropping moment that opened my eyes: this magnificent pearl outfit, so incredible that all I could do was gasp and lust.


The numbers got better from that moment. More inspired, more glam, more coquette; more amazing costumes, better choreography, better staging, more to act.
How can an artistic endeavor be so uneven? A lot of thought and care clearly went into the production, the talent, but almost none went into the foundation: the story. *Burlesque* could have been Fosse level had there been more to it, anything. As is, I can only believe the movie exists in service of these splendid splendid outfits.

And for that glimmer of inspiration, I say thank you to the wonderful Costume Designer and Department. For giving me something to take away from this viewing experience. I fully wish these pieces could have appeared in a more complete movie where they could garner a more lasting appreciation. Regardless, this pearl costume remains so beautiful it took me beyond body and style: all I wanted was to wear it. To be in it. I would bet many a woman felt the same. And that is magic. Artistic magic.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The Death of Story: Part 2

It shouldn't be any surprise that Story is dead. We live in a time of soundbites, not communication. Of informing, not sharing. People only care about page rank, not whether their content warrants it. Unbalanced paltry fragment-writers consider themselves Journalists. Or Writers. It's as clear as day that Story is dead.

Contrary to what the internet may present, Writing is not just an effusion of thoughts without any sense of structure or cohesion or completeness. Writing and Story have a theme that is supported by all its component parts: character or fact and events.


Imagine a 5-minute scene of a family merely filling a dishwasher and talking about just that and only that: filling a dishwasher. Now know that this scene actually appears in a movie. A drama. An "indie" drama. What story does this scene tell you? What overall story do you imagine it's in the aid of telling?

Picture a slow-motion hot dog bikini fight. In a film about robots or Mars or baseball. What story do you imagine that's meant to tell?


The story I get from both of these is that the filmmaker/writer lacks self-editing. A) Your life is not a film. B) Your boyhood or adult fantasies are tangential filler.

Monday, April 04, 2011

In the Era of Snooki, Perhaps I Expect Too Much

The Death of Story

Everything you know and love, going the way of the dodo . . .

In the era of Snooki, perhaps I expect too much. Nothing against Snooki. I wish anyone who happens to find success continued success--as long as it's not to the detriment of others. The insidiousness of celebutants might be debatable, but I find it hard to begrudge anyone's *moment* in the spotlight. Not even the Olive Garden brand of performers out there: Enticing packaging, Insipid product. (Yes, Olive Garden is the epitome of big scale American commercial mediocrity. I said it.)

Where substance is lacking, I quickly stop paying attention. So, yes, let them all have their day in the sun. They are just a symptom, not the problem.

My lament is not about Snooki nor the current breed of pantless figurehead songstresses who are selling nothing substantive, just their legs. No, my lament is that . . . Art is dead. Entertainment, on its death bed. Writing, moribund. And I find it all to be terribly depressing. The way a Vaudevillian in the 1920s and 30s must have found watching everything he/she knows and loves die a slow death.

Vaudeville theater, c. 1900

I've pondered it and I reject the idea that I expect too much. I expect exactly what any consumer or artist should: quality and richness.





"A depressed guy smoking a cigarette is not a film." –Family Guy
90 minutes cobbled around 1 stellar scene is also not a film

My friend Steven Boone has had a beef with film editing of the past decade: e.g. start a film in the midst of an event and then progress with standard storytelling AFTER that scene (prime example: *The Dark Knight* or the currently airing *Kennedys* miniseries which follows this schema to near incoherence). He describes modern cinema as feats of engineering, spectacles of technology. My beef is MUCH more basic than that though on the same continuum. My beef is with the loss of writing. The muddling of storytelling.