Thursday, March 12, 2009

Fellini meets Apocalypse Now, meets X-men

God Bless Patton Oswalt.
David Hayter, Roger Ebert, I especially like Margaret Pomeranz (an Australian TV reviewer who hadn't read the book"

The problem is our lack of reference and our dulling numbness to anything but intense stimulus. This movie will do better outside the US. Surprise, we are idiots and arrogant snobs, mixed like a stripe soft serve cone.

I think this movie has taught me why Sci-Fi deserves to live in mediocrity.

TV shows like Battlestar Gallactica and movies like Watchmen are made because someone who cares and is a fan has gained a little power, when they fail, that voice is extinguished and replaced by another idiot Hollywood douche. I can find fault with this film in comparison with the masterpiece the book is, but not in comparison with other films.

Then again, I'm not obsessed or bothered by minor moments of blue nudity or soundtrack choices, two things that went beyond me, but are mentioned in almost every negative review.

In its imperfection it is Fellini meets Apocalypse Now, meets X-men. An entirely new movie, like we have never seen and I can't wait to view the director's cut.

We will never see Hollywood even try this again because its not mainstream enough for popcorn movie fans and "Arthouse Film" lovers are too snobby to watch a "supehero movie."

It is a hybrid and an original vision, no matter how much it owes to the book, it is flawed but brilliant and all the people who vehemently hate it will forget their arrogance as it follows "Blade Runner" and other "under appreciated in their own time" milestones into historical beloved status.

Those who call it "pseudo intellectual" are snobs in decline.

Those who tell you it's a comic and should not be made into a film, forget that it is indeed still a comic, and that 90% of all film, from the beginning of time is inspired from literature.

Those who take their children and then get angry that its an R rated movie, well...grow's an R rated movie.

So I'm walking out after Watchmen. I peer out into the world seeing little connection to my peers. Like Silvia Plath during the Rosenberg trials, I have no idea who to relate to and where I'll find my bearings. A world so obviously lost to its own context. If I were to design a context to all the views and voices that have lashed out with arrogance and populism, it would be like this:

We live in a cultural mix of sophisticated infancy. On one hand, those striving to be considered as well thought and tasteful vacillate between two poles.

The scornful erudites; those who truly get the profundity of culture, art, science, craft and all refined achievements while often missing many of the shifting paradigms that break from their precious cannon of formerly rebellious and now commonly held conventions. Paradigms that often re-ignite the very lust to create that birthed the things they find precious in life.

The hollow but sly trend watchers, who possess uncanny but limited vision into the heart of practical one-upsmanship. Not spectacularly concerned or able to cope with profound and deeply unmanageable "big picture" bits of philosophical, theological or sociological systems, these bureaucratic chameleons study the guise and traits of the positions they find most fulfilling or personally aspiring and make their nest there, happy and content in the bitter, but structurally protective institutions of "after the risk" and "before the fall."

Neither are prepared or inspired to take chances. They have not witnessed the burden of those who do, but they have great appreciation for the calamity, the spectacle and the risk it will incur their nests and utopias.

On the other hand, somewhere off in a more definable realm, people want shit to do. They want to throw off their jobs and responsibilities, relax with a fucking beer, talk some shit with friends, fuck their chick or dude and make the time between 9 and 5 go as far away as it possibly can.

They don't connect with big brained bullshit, they don't question shit that makes them upset or gives them a fucking panic attack.

They don't aspire to luxury in the form of the profundity of the collective accomplishments of humanity.

They share the perspective of the social construct.

They know only short escapes.

They are bored with all but the most intoxicating thrills and numbing agents.

They are for the most part, unaware or excited by the heights of their visual sophistication and numb to modern communication methods that would keep their forefathers in their closets, bible in hand, wishing away hellspawn.

None of them, the snob, the hack nor the laymen appreciate the goods that have been put in front of them.

Many have written essays on why they won't be watching Watchmen. Alan Moore, the book's author complains that in hindsight Watchmen, meant to be a watershed book to birth a new force in groundbreaking comics, became instead intellectual license to gratuitously realize higher levels of violence and sexual content.

Moore is right, instead of inspiring us to break convention the film's impact is reflected through pompous bloggers, film critics and others who hug convention and use critique to soapbox their self oreinted "look at me" anger. For the most part the "Watchmen reaction" in its explosive nature and volume, is proof of it's impact.

I'm a bit sick with the loss of true film critique. The snobs deem it unworthy by genre, the simple ones think it's boring because it doesn't cater to their need for fast paced thrills, the fans deem it not the book... as if it could be.

The people who seem the most clear are the folks who never read the book, who, when they love it, recognize it as something entirely new to film.

Their honesty holds the keys to the kingdom.


Tubby said...

Hey man,
I hear what you are saying about the different camps of folks seeing movies these days. It's either intense devotion to the art or a crude desire for sensory stimulation. It's too bad so many reviewers seem to fall into the latter camp. It's also too bad the fanboys were disappointed with the movie. It's like you said, though -- how could any movie possibly have lived up to all fanboys' expectations? Here's a random example: I read the book "Bringing down the House" (about the MIT card counters) and loved it. Recently, I grudgingly rented the movie, because, well, it's Kevin Spacey, come on - you can't go wrong with him right? I thought it was bad. Formulaic, cheesy, and only mildly saved by the acting of the main character and a slight twist at the end. But all my friends loved it (of course they hadn't read the book). Not knowing the source material lowers your expectations for what you are about to see -- and the more explosions, conflict, violence, intrigue, etc, the more likely you are to enjoy it. I won't deny that this probably accounts for much of why I loved Watchmen (being a neophyte to the material). As far as to those "carrying the keys to the kingdom", I'm hopeful I fall into that category of folks. I wasn't really sure why I loved the movie, but I did. Unlike film buffs, I don't watch movies "looking for things" like cool sound, effects, editing, cinematography. I just watch the movie. But yeah, Watchmen was good. So to hell with those posers or fanboys who say otherwise!

Stuff Daddy said...

Thanks Tub. I hear you. When I saw "The Silence of The Lambs" I went in without motive or context of the books. Hell, I didn't even know what the film was going to be about. I came out transformed. I read the book. I scared myself shitless.

So maybe the rule of thumb is, "Love the Movie? Read the Book!"

But it doesn't mean that I would trade the great fresh experience of coming to a book clean too. That is just as profound.

We just don't allow ourselves to adapt anymore. If I want to watch a 1970's German Art film, and I do occasionally, then I have to slow down my internal viewer to take the pacing, the thoughtfulness, the symbolism. You can't watch it side by side with "The Transporter!"

But Today's blogging audience seems to think that they don't walk into the theater with baggage. They do!

The asshole who voice's Mr. Moviephone was on CNN and he panned Watchmen saying "I go to the movies to enjoy myself, not be depressed!"

Others talk of "Blue Penis!" "Blue Penis!" Like its invading their house!

They felt the music choices were awkward, they felt it was boring, because characters were talking pompously. Reading these reviews, I kept thinking, there are whole schools of film, these people would hate simply because they don't cater to them.

I thought that there were big mistakes. The killing of the child murderer is far better in the book. Sometimes, over the top violence is not as engaging as the implied kind. But so much is there and so much will be in the uber version.

The truth is, I didn't expect to like it as much as I did.

Folks like you make me feel better about the long term effect of this film.

Lupin Yonsei said...

Well said, StuffyD!

I think part of the problem lies in the fact that comics are a commercial artform - that's why we had the race to lowest common denominator so soon after Moore and Gibbons completed Watchmen.

It's also why intelligent criticism of both comics and film is hard to come by.

You've provided some with this post, and for that I thank you.

Stuff Daddy said...


Well, in the US that is certainly true. In Japan Manga is read by everyone and Europe has more respect.

We still see it all as children's games and then people are morally offended that it's a hard R.

I think 85% of the main criticisms are not applicable outside of the US.

When I was growing up, we had a small boat in Upstate NY. My parents would invite friends up for the day.

Often we would see Canadian sailboats pass by. Often the sailors would be nude. That was how French Canadians liked to sail.

My parent's guests would reach for cameras and binoculars and make a big deal, which would embarrass my parents who could care less.

It was a lack of sophistication. Not the snobby fashionable sort, but the adult, grownup world kind.

That's what's happening here. Some folks are complaining about nothing, but their own hangups.

That is why so many great things aren't supported in their own time. People can't get past themselves.