Nostalgia ahead of its time


We were warned of MTV‑style editing, but this seems less a threat now than an empty promise.  
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Reported on 25th of March, 2015

What’s so fascinating about this supposed age of distraction is that films have actually gotten slower. They haven’t really, given the existence of How Green Was My Valley or Barry Lyndon or anything by Mr. Charlie Chaplin (deal with it, or I’ll sentence you to seeing his films again. I thought so). But modern films certainly haven’t gotten fast. You know, like Buster Keaton. We were warned of MTV-style editing and how it would rot brains accustomed to, I don’t know, Love Boat-style editing. But with the exception of Mr. Michael Bay, whose films are somehow machine-gun dull, this warning seems less a threat now than an empty promise.

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There is, as I have opined on my occasions, a tendency now towards stretching it out, especially in the art house type cinema. This long content puts me in mind of MST3K. Mentions of this and a time when MTV showed videos, I’m obviously dating myself. Then again mentions of Foxcatcher or Selma or Inherent Vice are themselves a product of this era. In the necessary delusion that someone would read this ten years from now, I’m pre-dating myself.

Technology. It's like when they made it more complex, it somehow became less simple.

Rifftrax (also pre-dating) has still got it, and certainly remains the only way to see some movies. But you miss the gestures you get from MST3K. I’m referring now to the famed reaching one’s arms into the air, hands held above the head, miming the pulling apart of dough. “Stretch it out”, you say to the actors. This is what producers they do on live TV when they have another minute before commercials, and what directors today do to get critical handjobs. Sorry, let’s say critical handjob or critical fingerbang. No need to be offensive.

Yep, this was postponed for the days it took to insert me into a MST3K gif. If they insert themselves into film, and I insert myself here, I am film. Think about it.

Yep, this was postponed for the days it took to insert myself into, and then make, an MST3K gif. If they insert themselves into film, and I insert myself here, I am become film. It’s about time.

Now I see everything, and that includes White God which had the promise of doggies running around. I wanted to relegate this detestable what gets caught in the sewage filters before the runoff of a film to an side note within an article so as not to pay too much mind. It’s spurious revenge, as I will no doubt refer to it again. On one hand, I want to show how concision works to someone who will neither read this or understand it if he did, and on the other, my rage compels me to rant. Let’s compromise at two paragraphs, or possibly five if I use the paragraph form correctly.

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White God – certainly the worst film of the year and it’s March – is the trifecta: incompetent, nasty and overpraised. It is at best two minutes of sucky material, consisting of a half-beat setup based entirely around a shot that ‘could totally make a good poster’. It is the kind of film that make you want to give up on cinema forever for fear of having to endure the experience again (there were several hours where I really felt this way. Then I popped in Ronin and made it all better. If by ‘pop in’ you mean mean, press HDMI 3, wait for the goddamn NMT hard drive to spin up, select the ‘Videos’ folder, not find the file, select ‘menu up’ and ‘menu down’ to refresh the HD, and finally select ‘Ronin’. Technology. It’s like when they made it more complex, it somehow became less simple).

And that does not count as a paragraph about White God, a film which I will not allow to have a third paragraph, and certainly not a fourth. Look at the size of that parenthetical! That’s what she said, and by she, I mean Pauline Kael. That paragraph was at least half diatribe about technology, and against myself for getting rid of, and now having to buy back, my massive DVD, CD and vinyl collection. If I could blame Kornél Mundruczó-úr for this I would. Three days ago at 17:04, it actually was his fault. Everything was.

Nor does this make it four paragraphs! This is an explanation of the reference to 17:04! Anyway, if you in any way like animals, or have a moral conscious, or even suspect that you might, do not see this film. You will walk out, as I did, wanting to kick the filmmaker and the entire Cannes jury, in the shins. You’ll go to jail, and they’ll go home, feeling all edgy.

The film fails (ethically now, its failings as a film are its lazy characterization, its starting at the end and then going ‘three weeks earlier’, its lack of any but one beat combined with the don’t-bring-an-illuminated-watch-you’ll-feel-every-second running time, and being (shutter) an allegory. Sorry, that’s double-shudder, an allegory about modern Europe. Yow. On the plus side, I now know that word, like the phrase ‘explores the themes of’ is simply a synonym for filmmakers who don’t know what they have to say) because it is the story of a dog’s revenge.

It brings dogs down to our level. Dogs are better than people, as any but one idiot knows, because they have the bottomless capacity for forgiveness (see better than people, same sentence). If anything, this film failed its purpose. Though I confess a desire to seek revenge immediately afterwards (see ‘shins’ and ’17:04′ above), I thought better of it because doggies wouldn’t like it. I can’t say I’m going to live the life of a dog, but I’m going to stick to my middle ground: calling humans out. Why you, sir, are no better than…a human. Seriously, when did calling someone a beast become an insult? I mean who came up with that idiotic…oh yeah.

The Take: White God

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Profits!
Realizing now that this is punishment for how fantastic It Follows was.
$4.00
Total Profits
$1.00
Losses!
In an planned exercise of rage, I destroyed my notes. I mean, my dog ate my homework.
-$48.00
Total Losses
-$48.00

-$47.00

In the age when video game directors fancy themselves film directors, and when film directors themselves artists, artists fancy themselves important, and important artists worry about getting found out as a fraud, I think we could all shoot a bit higher, fellers and ladies. You know, given doggies. Instead, we are forced to watch the unjustifiable ninety second spot available only in a place where you’ve paid to see something else. The only reason for this, given the resentment it creates for the product in question, is to indulge the commercial directors fantasy of how amazing that reflection off the glass in the third story window was. Didn’t catch it. Let’s see it again!

I’ve talked about this before as well, but the commercials are different this time. And because I am moving, I’m getting a bit pre-nostalgic. I’ll miss VW telling me how they support independent cinema by making my experience in the theater 60 seconds more unpleasant.

France is not so hot in this department, generally only about 12 minutes of ads and trailers. These are almost exclusively in French, so I wind up not bringing the headphones since I hope to learn French. The Rennes Gaumont has the now charming, soon to be irritating, thereafter to be charming in retrospect, practice of showing the trailers again, in shortened form, within their own commercial for the theater. This is completed with an announcer telling us about each movie. So I put my headphones on in case I accidentally learn French.

But as I exit this angry island, I leave you with these agonizing 90 seconds. Some executive thought wise to place it on YouTube, unable to even imagine that Matthew Adan would opine ‘THIS ADVERT IS REALLY ANNOINGLY LONG AND BORING AND I JUST WISH IT WOULD DIE!’ Mr. Odine, you didn’t have to pay to see it.

You didn’t watch it, and you shouldn’t, but take my word that it’s an especially nasty one, now de rigueur before all Cineworld joints. The slow motion reactions shots of people watching films, besides making you feel self-conscious, is about as pleasurable as watching botched plastic surgery. Godammit, now I’m getting nostalgic for the surgery channel. But it’s off the air too. They could bring it back. But they’d need to shoot it in slow motion.

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