Monday, March 24, 2008

On hold

Trevor has been sick for the last several days, as he mentioned in the previous post, and was hospitalized today. The doctors are still examining him, but one told us that Trevor was probably so sick because he was so dehydrated. So it looks like he'll be okay, but he wanted me (his wife, Ashley) to let you know that he won't be posting anything new for a while.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

In Preparation For Conference, Perfect Form and Content.

I've been more ill for the past 9 days than I can remember being, and sitting here now is even difficult, but I did want to repost something I posted in my first post that was shortly after last conference. It was something I sent in an email to a friend who once commented that General Conference is a perfect meld of form and content (which always followed by excluding the beginning, closing, and voice-over sections).

"Elder Wirthlin's talk made your statement more true than it had been before. On three levels that piece of video was the perfect marriage of form and content: first was that a preacher was preaching and we were receiving, but as he struggled, 2. Elder Nelson stood behind him they became a visual expression more moving than the words: a father and son, the spirit and the priesthood, God and Man. Together, but standing alone. As Elder Wirthlin spoke of Love, Elder Nelson and their relationship embodied it. That made me reconsider your statement. And third, We saw how Elder Wirthlin still struggled even with the help of his friend and he wanted to finish for us. His self-sacrifice was his topic. Form and content. "

I include this here not to praise myself (though I'm sure it seems that way), but to encourage us to think about Conference as a media experience whose form ought to be examined and interrogated before it is praised. I hope well do that as this upcoming might have some alterations formally (as well as patriarchally)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

"Third Cinema"

I wanted to include a link to Strictly Film School, a wonderful cinephilia site, where a review of an anthology of writings on Third World cinema is. We've discussed it here and I think it worth the time of Mormon cinephiles.

The link is Here.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Liken the Scriptures/Psychology in Film

One phrase that every seminary student knows is that we, as readers, should 'liken the scriptures,' but what is discussed less frequently, and we might be the lesser for it, is what the scriptures do specifically in terms of form (as well as content) that make them especially conducive to our ability to 'liken' them to our lives. It is this likening ability that is at the heart of my contention against 'entertainment' in film and other media. When we take a passive position in viewing or 'reading' films, we are no longer able to make the applications to our own perspectives and/or behaviors and no positive change can be brought forth. I seek here to present the contention that one major reason that the scriptures are more conducive to being 'likened' than many "Hollywood" films is in the use of 'psychology' in both.

I would first like to define what I mean by 'likening,' as well as emphasize its importance in a Latter-day Saint experience. In order for something to be likened, there, of necessity, needs to exist at least two separate realities: the reality presented in the media and the reality of the viewer or reader. There is a battle for dominance between the reality of the text and the reality of the audience. In commercial or 'escapist' films, the viewer is asked to forgo their reality and submit wholly to the reality of the text. The phrase most often associated with this action is "the willful suspension of disbelief." When we are asked to read the scriptures, yet simultaneously to liken them to ourselves, we are reminded to hold fast to our own reality and to assert the importance of our own reality at all times (i.e. when we read Nephi's lament in 2 Ne 4, we our encouraged to think of the ways that we might lament over our own sins rather than passing judgment on him or wondering what his specific sins might be). If we are to benefit from our reading in a pragmatic as well as an eternal way, we must engage with the text's reality in terms of our own, constantly asking 'what am I to learn from this?' or 'how am I to change?'.

Next I must define what I mean by the term 'psychology.' Ordet is one of the least 'psychological' films by my definition, though Dreyer often asserted that his main goal was to show the character's psychology in opposition to events or plot points. By 'psychology' I do not mean a film which is concerned with human nature, as I indeed feel that this very often is what makes film great and is in many ways what the scriptures themselves are concerned with. Rather, I do mean a specific character's mental cause and effect. An example of this is the "psychological thriller." This genre is usually concerned with the mental workings of some social deviant, usually a killer of some kind. The goal of the film is to 'keep you on the edge of your seat' while you are left guessing what drove the killer or who the killer was. I, for one (by way of disclosure), often find myself bored by such films and this inevitably affects my perspective on the genre as well as its role in our relationship with the divine.

To illustrate my contentions concerning this act of likening as it pertains to psychology in film, I will look at three specific films. Two—Michel Haneke's Caché, and Coppola's The Godfather—are more widely seen though often-considered artistic triumphs, while the third —Kiarostami's Five, which I have discussed elsewhere on this blog— is admittedly more obscure and less accessible (though I highly recommend the Kimstim release). I will discuss these films in terms of social structure, reality, and our relationship with the divine, respectively.

There are many things that have been said of Caché and much more that could be said here, but I will limit my comments to the film as it applies to psychology. Haneke has described his filmmaking as 'anti-psychological.' Looking at this film in the terms I've set forth above might explain why. The end of the film does not reveal who the social deviant is, and therefore, also their motives are left unknown. The film's goal, I would argue, is not to discuss the menace. Its goal is not even to discuss (if that word connotes a conclusion) anything. Its goal is instead to meditate on the class and social causes of that menace. The film plays within the rules of the 'thriller' genre in its tension-building and constant threat of danger, but from the film's climax we are slowly eased away from that genre to be more fully aware of the structures surrounding the incident. Likewise, it could be argued that the film does not even present a message as much as it requires the audience to fill in the missing pieces and actively make their own decisions concerning this menace.

The item I most wish to discuss in terms of this film is the binary between social concern and narcissism. This film may have left us the portrait of a killer or the portrait of a delinquent, yet we're left with the image of inequality and of class antagonism. I ask what we would be left with if this were a simple portrait of a deviant? We might have been scared a little bit, and maybe even had some realization similar to "Aha! So that's why he's doing this — envy!" or "his mother didn't love him" or "he's really schizophrenic!" But what do these realizations give us? I might add that in most cases, this style of filmmaking, if we follow the identification patterns the film requests of us (having willfully given up our reality and traded it for that of the film's), we will indeed not only see the psychology of the character in question but we will be unable to see the structures outside of the character. If this becomes our practice, viewing films that simply become deeper and deeper studies of psychological motives, then we will, in fact, delve deeper and deeper into ourselves and accomplish nothing more than navel gazing. Thus, on the one hand, we can choose narcissism and a psychological cause and effect (like the razzle-dazzle of Memento) or a thriller concerned with seeing society and becoming socially conscious like Caché.

The next film I will discuss, The Godfather, has its place here because it signaled a shift toward and a return to pictorialism and poetry in storytelling in my view of American film history. The film, which I consider masterful and simply enjoyable to watch, is however the antithesis of subverting its reality in praise of the reality of the spectator. The film's poetry and painterly sense asserts the supremacy of its own reality rather than championing the reality of the spectator.

The reason I choose this film, of all films, is specifically for its pictorialism. In a symposium on Poetry in Film, Maya Deren and Arthur Miller had a conversation about Shakespeare that has always stuck in my mind. Deren described poetry as being vertical while plot was horizontal, meaning that in a 2-dimentional frame, poetry is concerned with reflection and stasis while plot is concerned with forward movement and reaching a goal. Both then agreed that Shakespeare was the ultimate fusion of both vertical and horizontal movement. While his plots were thorough and engaging, very often he slowed the plot's forward movement and sometimes halted it altogether for the sake of poetry. The plot serves the poetry and the poetry serves the plot. I am most interested in the 'slowing of the plot' so that the plot is in service of poetry.

This slowing occurs in The Godfather, as it does in most if not all of Coppola's work. He is one of the most poetic of American filmmakers. Yet I'm troubled because I ask to what end is that plot slowed and that poetry used. Coppola's use of color and composition especially seem like they are included to reaffirm the reality of the narrative he's telling. The characters he has created and the story he is telling seem, at every turn, to be more important than the reality of the spectator. This makes it very difficult to liken the movie to myself. While Shakespeare's poetry is filled with maxims concerning the meaning of love or the nature of man, life, or friendship, Coppola's filmmaking is concerned with his reality above universality and above the spectator's reality. This is one reason that Shakespeare is so quotable and so quoted. He, like the scriptures, is concerned with the meaning at the core of his stories rather that the specifics of his characters.

Lastly, I would like to discuss Kiarostami's Five (a film that is almost wholly vertical in its movement), and how it pertains to our relationship with the divine. The film, which is five takes observing five interactions in nature, has contemplation as its goal. Kiatrostami has stated that he watches the film, and made the film, to discover the mysteries of nature. Such a film seems at the apex of 'likening.' The scriptures, whose medium is words, can state truths that exist through the eyes of prophets. This film allows us to see truths as they have been made manifest by God, and it is up to us to apply the lessons we learn from nature to our own lives. In this way, we experience a more direct line to God rather than a direct line to a fictional character and his fictional psychology. Here, we learn the lessons we are ready to learn, but the teacher is God and not a thriller screen writer. The poetry opens us up to become more sensitive, and hopefully, more repentant and sincere.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

A Mormon Aesthetic

On Mormon Renaissance, the latest post by Liz Busby discusses a Mormon aesthetic in terms of Heidegger. Here, like many others have, she points out that several ideas of what we might call "Mormon," aesthetically or thematically, could more truly be called generally "Christian." This reminded me of other thoughts I've had about who we are aesthetically and thematically.

We are Christian (which I will define as any religion whose members specifically try to become like Christ, as I feel this idea is at the heart of the New Testament), and to deny that would be to deny the very core of our religion. However we are not only Christian. There are several systems that work together to define and challenge who we are (again, aesthetically and thematically). The first and most central system is our Christianity, which I will call our "New Testament aesthetics." Secondly, we are also pre-Christian Jewish, and this system I will call "Old Testament aesthetics." Thirdly, we are defined by what I will call "Latter-day Saint aesthetics."

The Book of Mormon, in my view, doesn't factor in to our sense of "Latter-day Saint aesthetics" because it is a supplement to our understanding of both the Old Testament and the New Testament. We understand the Law of Moses and all of the aesthetic implications of that law (sacrifice, obedience, creation, prophecy, covenants, etc) in terms of the Book of Mormon. Likewise, we understand Christ's life and all of his teachings in the flesh as well as the commandment to preach the gospel in terms of the doctrines contained in the Book of Mormon. The same can be said of the books of Moses and Abraham, not to mention that these systems obviously affect our view and relationship with the other.

However the question is: What defines a Latter-day Saint system? Many themes could be taken from teachings and commandments given only in this, the last dispensation (specifics from the Word of Wisdom, doctrines about marriage, the act of sustaining, pornography, man's potential, our view of eternity, preexistence, etc). However, two things stick out in particular as uniquely Latter-day Saint, things that question the possibility of a unified Mormon aesthetic. The first was brought to my attention by a former neighbor of ours named Rex Cooper. While he was at the University of Chicago many years ago, he wrote an anthropological study about Latter-day Saints that portrayed them practicing a "covenant theology." Since my discussions with Rex, I've come to believe that no other culture or religion holds this perception of man's relationship to God. It is both individual and eternally binding. The next item is central to, and an extension of, the first. Both the beginning story of our religion and the ending chapter of the Book of Mormon focus on this individual relationship with God. Joseph Smith's first prayer teaches us that revelation comes to anyone, if they are willing to receive it, and that that revelation comes directly from God. This is a very powerful idea and one that sets us apart from any other organization that I know. Every one of its members is invited to test and try out the truthfulness both of its system and its teachings.

In this way, our church could be viewed as the anti-establishment establishment. Accordingly, the notion of a unified Latter-day Saint aesthetic would be contrary to the very core of what that "Latter-day Saint aesthetic" is.

The church must, of necessity, create art by committee or art by counsel, as is discussed on the current post on A Motley Vision. But its members must treat art and aesthetics the same way we treat prayer and revelation — in a very individual and sacred way. Though it may sound paradoxical, I believe that this is the only way that we can come to truly be "of one heart and one mind."

Monday, March 3, 2008

Films as Hymns/A Cinema Hymnal

For all the whining I do about Mack Wilberg and his role in the Choir (for those of you who have as of yet not been so privileged as to hear my rants, I feel that Craig Jessop is the greatest aesthetic shift in the history of the Church and that Mack Wilberg is the worst—we're always most critical of the present), I must say that he has allowed us to revisit the Hymns in a new way. I hope to do that with this entry, though I'm hopeful our outcomes may be more beneficial here.

The Purpose of Hymns
For those of us familiar with the Church handbook or anyone who's stopped to notice the order of things in our meetings, it is obvious that hymns most often come before the ordinance. The reasons for this, thank goodness, are not specified, but I will list a few observations and a little guesswork to clarify my perspective.

The hymn, is one of the most curious of all Christian phenomena. I will admit my ignorance as to the history of hymns and the singing of them, but as far as I can tell, it is a practice that most non-Catholic, Christian congregations entertain. Hymns are not simply choral music. Most religions make use of music as a part of their religious practices. Partly to praise, partly to reify, partly to teach. As with all music, there is always an emotional element (even if it is anti-emotional) in religiously-based choral music. But much choral music is simply sung to the congregation, while hymns are sung by the congregation. In an ideal meeting, there would be no listeners, and only singers; no audience, only performers. Yet 'performers' is the wrong word describing a hymn-singing congregation. We do not 'perform' for anyone, unless we consider God our audience, or ourselves a simultaneous audience.

It could be argued that the heart of every hymn is the text sung, but this text is unique to any other in our or any church. Any preaching is, like choral music, delivered to the congregation. But in singing, all parties are unified. In many instances, even the conductor becomes all but obsolete. The only real distinction comes through which line of music we choose to follow. Our role, then, as members of the congregation is to recite the text in unison with our neighbor, but varying, if we are able, from the melody— choosing, instead, to harmonize. This choice requires us to listen, both to the music, and to ourselves, and to the text we are singing. So in order to be singers, we must also train to be listeners.

This text, then, becomes a unique unifying experience, while the music itself and the singing of it becomes an opportunity for variation and diversity to coexist, amplify and compliment the other expressions. Truly, the singing of hymns is a glorious ritual.

Yet its purpose, in official church meetings at least, is not self-sufficient. The hymn (which does not include 'musical numbers') is sung to prepare us, its singers, and us, its listeners, for the ordinance: be it the opening prayer (where we all are praying, but only one is speaking), the sacrament (again, a prayer), or the closing prayer. In other words, either direct communion with God, or a ritual where his power is manifest. The only exceptions are rest hymns, of which could be argued that they further prepare for further direction from the closing speaker. Thus, I argue that the use of hymns is primarily two fold: its effect is both unifying (while allowing for as well as calling for complexity and harmonization within bounds), and preparatory for a greater act, often a covenant.

The Similarities to Cinema
Film, like music, is one of the few mediums which can experienced with other people. Reading is incapable of unifying groups, as it is a wholly individual activity. Likewise, viewing of the plastic arts is one wholly separate from time and does not require the attendance or attention of a group for its duration — an aspect so key to the unifying nature of both music and film.

But aside from their duration, group nature and other obvious similarities, hymns, and I would like to suggest film, require the participation of everyone involved.

The participation of those viewing the film (a pre-composed hymn waiting to be sung) obviously cannot be as verbal or as set as with hymns, but nonetheless participatory. One version of how is listed in a link at the side of this site entitled "Abbas Kiarostami—An Unfinished Cinema." I know I write often about Kiarostami, but few other filmmakers have affected me as deeply or changed my world view more. However, his essay linked on Gary Tooze's DVD Beaver is only one way to create this kind of film. Another take on the same subject might well focus on the act of "listening" to the 'recitation' of our neighbor and carefully comparing it to see how well we are harmonizing with our own 'recitation.'

Mostly I am advocating a more engaged viewing than we might currently practice. I fear that we let the movies we watch do things for us that we should be doing for ourselves. This week, I realized that thought I consider myself quite proficient in the Polish language, I have still come across a particular word some four of five times this week, asking the person each time to repeat the work and describe its meaning for me, only to find later that each time it is the same word. Yet today, I found myself ashamed that I cannot for the life of me remember more of the word or its meaning than that it starts with a 'z.' Yet had I done the work myself and looked it up the first time, I most likely would have been proficient in using it by now. I do believe that most of the responsibility of what I'm talking about her lies with us the viewers. I believe that we need to be more engaged, more responsible.

Most importantly I hope to propose that our 'ordinance' should be after the film, and not in it. This could be something very literal, such as kneeling after we've left a film (preferably once we're at home or someplace private), but I mostly have our work in mind. I mostly mean changing those ghastly diapers, going home teaching or finding our own widows, children, or ill to visit. A viewing model that encourages to action certainly seems more in tune with gospel teachings to me.

A Cinema Hymnal
Perhaps I am taking this too far but the prospect intrigues me too much to leave it with out mention here. In order to have a cinema hymnal (a collection, a canon of sorts that we are all tuned to), we must first have a hymnal cinema. Our films must require the singing of the congregation and it must lead to the ordinance. We must remember that ordinances are always participatory and require action. It is true that the true priesthood is required, but for the purposes of this analogy, I think it best to leave that point.

One option coincides, as I mentioned above, with Kiarostami's 'unfinished cinema.' The clearest example of this to my mind is his 2003 film Five created in commemoration of the anniversary of Ozu's birth. As he discusses in his 'making of' feature (arguably the superior film, and I have listed it on my personal list of favorite movies under my personal profile at the bottom of the page) the five takes are each a chance for the viewer to discover the mysteries of nature. None of them are traditional narratives that focus around a moral lesson, instead they simply observe a process which exists in nature. The insight and lessons learned from such an experience invariably come dependent on the person viewing them. (The clearest example of this I can think of, though not the most profound, is the hymn "Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief." No matter how beloved or oft-sung it is, it will hold a different meaning for someone who is endowed, than for someone who is not).

Though this idea of an "unfinished cinema" seems to be at the core of what would make film ultimately more participatory and preparatory, both, Kiarostami's filmmaking is but one way. I think of Peter Greenaway or Peter Brook (as a theatre director more than as a film director) both as examples of artisans who create in such a way as to open up their scripts in ways so as to allow them to require participation as well as preparation. Also, this "opening-up" allows for the harmonization of those viewing, and in that way, also allows for a unique form of complex unification.

In closing, I believe that our perception of film as a kind of hymn could greater enhance both our viewing and making of films. It will teach us great skills about 'listening' to our neighbors, and about harmonizing with them. Likewise, I believe it will give us more tools with which to judge and evaluate cinema. We do not criticize a hymn for its harmonic simplicity or its repetition or cliche. We rejoice in the ritual and familiarity of it. We focus on our horizontal relationships with the others singing with us, and find new pleasure simply in the recitation. It is these ideas I hope we can further expound upon.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

On Scorsese

We just finished watching Gangs of New York. I don't get it. I just don't understand it. I've been confused/bored by his movies on and off for quite some time, but everyone assures me of his
genius. I don't see it.

My "shepherd" at the University here is writing her thesis on Scorsese and De Palma, and I've tried to understand what or why any academic would do that. Unfortunately the only thing I can get from her is that "He's just simply super." I can't tell if this is because she couldn't possibly fathom why I don't fall for his movies and she doesn't know where to begin or if she doesn't have anything concrete. The only concrete thing I've ever really heard is about his view of masculinity or about his bold shots (I almost wrote "visual style," but I don't believe that I've noticed a coherent visual style through his career). But I have issue to take with both these points and will come to them later.

An incomplete viewing
Because my main contact with Polish academia (which seems healthier than Polish filmmaking, but not as thriving as their middle to high-brow criticism) seems to favor Scorsese's brand of Americana, I've tried to revisit it as I've had the capability. So I tried Cape Fear again (my first time was as a teenager watching TBS or TNT). I was sincerely impressed. I finally felt that, though a remake, this film's message was clear and worth while. A world where civility came in direct conflict with brutality and in the end civility is left impotent, and the intrigue comes to see how civility can 'hold its own' once it realizes that the only real rules in this world are those of brutality. Fascinating. I dare say that the film was most aided by the taming and domesticating influence of the Amblin-style decor and clarity of storytelling. I will also dare say that I think Mr. Spielberg is a more talented producer than director (but as my brother once said when I told him I didn't often care for Spielberg's movies: "I don't think he likes yours either"). Needless to say, Cape Fear, though often referred to as a 'minor work,' is currently one of the higher points of the Scorsese oeuvre in my mind.

Later, Ashley and I decided to see The Aviator after a review I finally caught up with piqued my interest. I was shocked to see how something that seemed so very far from a 'personal film' could be so delicately and precisely handled. I loved it. This film is one of the very few exceptions to my whole hearted agreement with Peter Greenaway when he said that he would trade all of Scorsese's films for any one of Bill Viola's. I have had the privilege of seeing 4 of Bill Viola's works, but that's still a very small portion. Yet I have to agree that I leave each work stronger and more sensitive than when I entered it. PLEASE. LET'S REMEMBER WE'RE TALKING ABOUT LIFE HERE, NOT MOVIES. I don't care about movies, I care about life and our responsibilities here. Are these movies helping us in those responsibilities, or are they hurting us? I feel the need to ask myself and us. If we have an approach, a philosophy to life, are we disciples of Scorsese or of Bill Viola? (Ideally we dismiss such petty questions and say "disciples of Christ," but I wonder which side of this over-simplified question might aide us more on that path).

Yet I remind you that I did enjoy The Aviator, as I enjoyed The Last Temptation (one of the few devout efforts to praise Christ in American cinema).

The trendist
So I thought that I may have misjudged Mr. Scorsese's later work and we watched Gangs of New York tonight. The opening operatic bloodbath stunned me. When did this "American genius" turn hipster? Was the shift from the Howard Shore score to the mock-heavy metal music needed? What about the rapid-fire extreme close-ups? Since when does this American icon need to take notes from MTV and hip, hollywood-favorite post-Fincherites? Am I the only one who feels slightly deflowered by Bono-style vibrato in an ultra-pop medium?

One of the most infuriating instances of the somewhat anxious use of action close-ups was a brawl between Leonardo DiCaprio and one of "the butcher's" (Day-Lewis) Irish henchmen. The screen is divided in two by a hanging pig corpse. DiCaprio and Day-Lewis (who constitute the film's true rivalry), on one side and the Irish second-tier character on the other. Though the shot initially was a bit awkward due to its asymmetrical nature, there came a release with a slight camera movement as DiCaprio's character moves away from Day-Lewis and behind the pig carcass to attack the Irishman. The interplay between the three characters and the floating flesh creates a visual complexity that I found delightfully illustrated the narrative complexities. On top of that, the slight camera movements should have been enough to pacify even the most passive of viewing palates. But the film bumps in with a close-up of every ensuing punch, which both lessens the beauty of the mise-en-scene and the thoughtful composition (rendering it almost unrecognizable) but also the narrative and character complexity of that composition.

And I look back on the film and wonder. What do we gain from this immigrant story? A new perspective on race relations? A new appreciation for American cultural complexity (or rather a reminder that everything will be appropriated and turned into a more digestible form of TV, anyway)? A new perspective on revenge, generational tensions, or violence? I can't answer yes to one of these. I will say that I will remember a few bravado shots, Daniel Day-Lewis's better-than-ever performance, a curious prayer sequence, and a peculiar yet disturbing use of triangulation in the end. Perhaps it is a kind of reverse deus-ex-machina when the two gangs stand off only to both be destroyed by the government soldiers. But I'm also left drained from dealing with the tiresome melodrama about immigrants, masculinity, brutal religion, and misogyny.

I wonder, does any one of the filmmakers look back on that film and say,"Boy, I sure am glad we put that female nudity in there. That sure made the movie. It would have been a disaster with out all those breasts." Are there viewers that say those things? Do people really believe that there are no moral implications of doing these things? I'm not even talking about the LDS notion that modesty in dress is of God. I'm talking about men manipulating women and praising those actions in a very public way. To do it in Who's That Knocking at My Door? seems to make sense (yet still highly questionable and pornographic, I'd say), but the point is about misogyny and brutishness preventing any kind of connection with the divine. But to do it now, at this point, in this way, seems like whore-mongering as filmmaking.

But perhaps most of all I am disturbed by those bravado shots. One sequence shows immigrants getting off a boat, being forced to sign up for the army, get clothed and ask about getting fed while getting on the next boat to go fight in the Civil War. Quite an impressive sequence, even if a bit showy and heavy for my tastes (a chorus from an Irish song describing exactly what's going on in the shot makes sure you can't miss it). But I am left with the question: when do we use these bold shots? When there's no other way to tell the story? When it makes the story more interesting? All the time? To emphasize emotion? To reinforce the narrative? Or to question the narrative? To problematize and expound upon the characters, the narrative? Though some may seem more reasonable than others, I am not satisfied with any of them. I find myself remembering that 'story' is very rarely the reason I watch or enjoy a movie.

I am disturbed by Scorsese's films because I always feel that there was something he was saying that I never got. Every personal film seems to be about the same things as the last, but I don't ever seem to catch up to it. This bravado and vibrato lets me know that he's being artistic and high-minded, but I never get the point, whereas the Dardennes Brothers seem to be so intensely concerned with everything EXCEPT being artsy that when the profundity comes, I'm overwhelmed. I'm changed because I never expected it, because they never expected it. I hope to choose subtlety.

Criticize the work but praise the cinephile
But I need to make the distinction between Martin Scorsese the filmmaker and Martin Scorsese the historian. I deeply respect the historian and preservationist, and he has definitely been a major influence to me in my over-blown aspirations. How much he has done. He's saved more than one Polish film, several silents, and some sources would say hundreds in total. What more could we ask of a man. I must also say that I am extremely impressed with how articulate he is about his work. Perhaps I should just keep to reading what he has to say about himself and his work.