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Jason Michelitch On Adam Casey's Critique Of My Watchmen Piece
posted March 13, 2009
RE: Adam Casey's critique of your critique
Adam Casey's critique of your critique set off a nerve for me, probably because I too went to film school and had to endure his philosophy of "a movie as a movie" from all corners. It is a way of viewing films that is to me, with small exceptions, reductive, self-perpetuating, and ultimately defeating of cinema as a form for storytelling**. Having to sit through endless film history classes where the ultimate lesson was not "what did this filmmaker do to convey a thought or a theme?" but rather, "how can this film be read to be secretly about the medium of film?" drove me batshit. Why should we care about a medium that can only be bothered to talk about itself?
It might be worth pointing out that just because the inane machinations of Hollywood casting and the ever more outwardly intricate but inwardly hollow special effects impress themselves upon our consciousness doesn't meant that the artists in charge of making the films shouldn't be attempting to rise above such distractions. Celebrity gossip is an unfortunate byproduct and SFX technology is a neutral tool -- neither is (or ought to be, anyway) the raison d'etre for cinema as an art. Sure, many people go to see a movie *because* it's a movie. Just as many go to see a movie because it has Jessica Simpson in cutoff jeans. I know elitism is a dirty word these days, but surely we're going to expect critics such as Tom to have standards and tastes beyond just asking himself "would most people sit slack-jawed in a soda pop coma and let this noisy light show wash over them without complaining?"
** and, yes, I understand that not all films tell a story, but we're not talking about Brakhage or Frampton, we're talking about a film based on a book, with a screenwriter and scenes and dialogue. Storytelling ought to be the primary goal in that scenario, I would think.