RARA-AVIS: re: various film posts and the Ice Harvest

From: Carrie Pruett ( pruettc@hotmail.com)
Date: 13 Nov 2001

>From: DJ-Anonyme@webtv.net (Mark Sullivan)
[production codes helped art.
Frankly, I don't buy it as a
>global statement. Sure, some artists came up with more artful ways of
>saying things, but others were hindered in presenting their material.
>Just think of all of the false, tacked on "crime doesn't pay" or happy
>endings <snip>were in the '40s and '50s as artists were forced to be
> >positive by Joe Breen and company.

Yeah, I totally agree. I mean, look at the "Big Sleep"; quite apart from various issues with the ending (to avoid spoilers), making Vivian a widow rather than the wife of the missing man completely changes our view of her character (dunno if this was a production code issue or just a corrolary to the stepped-up Vivian/Marlowe romance, but in either case an obvious nod to
"morality"). And as common as Tennessee Williams adaptations were in the 50s, most of them are barely comprehensible because of the expurgation of
"sensitive" material. This is stuff that played on Broadway for years but was apparently too shocking to be captured in celluloid. The few isolated moments of forced creativity hardly atone for the neutering of so much powerful material.
>The whole idea is based on nostalgia and a feeling that the best art is
>subtle, makes the audience work for it. I recently heard the exact same
>argument about rap music, again -- there's no art to it because the
>rapper just flat out says it, it's too explicit, no subtlety. What

I agree this is a silly blanket statement but I do think subtlety is a bit of a lost art, particularly in American films. So I can understand what these nostalgists are yearning for, but of course sometimes art needs to be blunt or loud or explicit. And most of those "tacked-on" endings were anything-but-subtle.

Craig wrote re best films:
>I'd have to agree with this list, though I'd add _Memento_ and,
> >possibly,_The Deep End_, both very list-applicable.

Was the Deep End based on a crime novel? Wasn't it something French? Anybody read it and have any insights in the changes that were made? I dug Memento but TDE didn't do a lot for me. It was quite a lovely film and well acted but I found the story rather nonsensical and thought it ran out of steam well before the end (as we've been discussing that some books want to be shorter than the editors make them, I thought maybe this feature wanted to be a short; there wasn't enough to sustain a film IMO).

And I'm sorry, I can't remember who recommended it, but I thought "The Heist" was terrible. Loved "Glengarry" and liked "House of Games," but I think Mamet needs to get some new schtick or hang it up. My brother and I were joking about marketing David Mamet Mad Libs with blanks for:
[Expletive][ethnic slur][fairy tale character][expletive][random cameo][plot twist][ethnic slur][director's current spouse]. Yeah, this film should have played like Westlake but it just played like Bad Mamet.

NSmith wrote:
>then, thanks to The Ice Harvest and The 25th Hour, finally we're getting
>those short and powerful works that feel complete without all the extra

I agree in general on the length thing; I commented earlier on the refreshing brevity of the early Healy/Cuddy books (haven't seen the later ones so I don't know if they've gotten longer as the industry trend changed, or if this is a good thing, but my point is he tells a very good, very complete story in relatively few pages). But I couldn't get through 20 pages of the Ice Harvest, much less the whole thing. Would finishing it have been worth my time?
Mark wrote:
>Are books really like candy bars in that the company makes them
>slightly bigger before raising the price? Just because books cost more,
>does that mean there have to be more pages so readers feel they are
>getting value for their dollars? Do readers really judge books by how
>much they weigh? I far prefer tight books, some short, some long.
Absolutely! I sometimes wonder if editors are afraid to do their jobs (pay attention to what's in a book rather than how long it is), and I've noticed this as much if not more in "literary" fiction. On the other hand, J.K. Rowling can write a 700+ page children's book where nothing is extraneous and everything works perfectly [and sell a hundred gajillion copies]. I'm a little more sympathetic to "too long" complaints in films because you can pick a book up and put it down whenever is convenient, but in a movie your a** is in that seat for however many hours, and when 2 1/2 hours starts creeping up, much less 3, the audience had better really want to be there. Some films can certainly sustain this length, but when the average mindless blockbuster is pushing 150 minutes (as was the trend a few years ago, I haven't been to enough films lately to know if it continues), something is amiss. Maybe it's a strategy to starve people and sell more popcorn?


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