December 3, 2004


I should drop it all and become a television critic. At least on this blog. I’ve had more hits for "Trading Spouses" than I’ve ever had for anything. The demonically liberal vegan women seemed to strike a chord with people. Probably because she was liberally demonic.

Which leads me to annoying moment #2, really an annoying person. My dorm-room neighbor when I was in college told me that when he got out of school he wanted to become a critic. He said this with a superior little gleam in his eye. This probably doesn’t scream out, annoying, but it’s stuck with me. He didn’t dream of creating anything, he dreamed of criticizing other people’s creations. Instead of writing short fiction or poetry for the school literary magazine, he wrote book reviews.

Everyone needs a nemesis, perhaps. The man followed me around. He lived around the block from me when I lived in downtown NYC. He always had pretty girlfriends. Seemed to aspire to be a character from a Woody Allen movie. Last time I saw him on the subway he told me with the same superior little gleam that Henry Roth’s Call It Sleep was a profound Joycean take on the Jewish experience. Something like that. I think he now writes for "The Nation." I’m green with criticism.

Been seeing a lot of movies recently, in my living room. Watched "Insomnia" last night, which I liked. I trust every word coming out of Al Pacino. It was nice to see a movie with real live human actors. Before that I saw Harry Potter: The Prisoner of Something. Only half-watched it, waiting for the next special effect. I heard this was the more adult version of Harry Potter. If that’s true then adults are in trouble. Before that saw Kill Bill 2, which I liked after the first half hour when it stopped taking itself seriously and started being completely ridiculous. Even if it seems like a movie made by a genius ten-year-old it still has a vision. I prefer someone reaching for something and not totally succeeding than a serviceable movie by a hack. Terrence Malick’s "Thin Red Line" fits into this--he was overreaching, but at least he was reaching.

While I’m at it, I don’t understand the great love for "Lord of the Rings," especially by liberal-minded people. Seems like an overgrown war movie, except instead of Nazis or Russians you have orcs and killer elephants. A lot of macho talk about bravery and courage, black and white good vs. evil, it seems fairly pro-war to me. I know I should sit back and enjoy it, and I did. It’s hard not to be entertained by gigantic killer elephants. Doesn’t mean it’s good. And it’s not like I’ve never been a D & D nerd. I know what Armor Class and Hit Points are, intimately.

I once heard an interview on NPR with Stephen Ambrose, the historian. He said that men want to go to war because it’s the only place that they can prove they have courage. He’s dead now, so I shouldn’t go overboard, but this is moronic, and dangerous.

No, I’m not a critic. I only criticize every other thing I see, which is being generous.


darling maggot said...

i enjoyed lord of the rings for its breathtaking cinematography and i think it's an immense filmic effort. its a very archetypal hero's journey and sometimes does seem simple-minded in its moral choices. i suppose it harkens to a day and age you often hear people describe as "simpler".

Natalia said...

As a Tolkien nerd who was drawn into the whole thing by the first film (and largely disappointed by the second and third), I think it's the whole mythical aspect of the stuff that reaches out to me. It taps into my inner kid. It beguiles me, really. Thought it really is kind of a moral black-hole, as the sum of its parts. Some of the individual characters are more complex than others (and this is more true of the book), but all of them together in a pile just don't work as any kind of serious commentary on the issues the work deals with.

Then again, there are some who prefer to see it from a religious point of view. And as for me, in my senior year of high school, when the first film hit and swept me away, the ring was a symbol of evil corporations.

Henry Baum said...

I have to admit I haven’t read the books. I’m sure the books are more multi-layered, they always are. People seem to think that the movies are too profound a statement, like those people who say that Harry Potter shows that our society is becoming more accepting of the occult. If that’s the case, then "Bewitched" is groundbreaking.

CGI imagery seems like all of the cleverness without the soul. Everything is a spectacle, which I find alienating, as much as it is entertaining and impressive. I think those movies were successful because the "Star Wars" movies were so disappointing. I grew up on "Star Wars." I had the Death Star, played with the action figures. Natalia, you were in high school for the first LOTR? Man, I’m old. That second new "Star Wars" movie angered the shit out of me--all special effects detail, no meaning. Not that the original "Star Wars" movies were so meaningful, but they had spirit, they didn’t seem wholly mechanical. I get a similar feeling from LOTR, though not as bad.

xo. war. said...

the movie called "walking across egypt" affected me. the first movie that made me cry, & still does. i remember that movie when i'm afraid. it's got my through the worst times.

xo. war.

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