Wednesday, March 7
Many times I feel completely lost and inadequate in my commmitments to film auteurism. There are many factors in this. First, I was not alive until 1982, approximately 90 years into film-making. Second, I did not grow into such commitments until I was a Senior in college (only three years ago). This means that I have the task of catching up on ca. 110 years of films. In addition, I also have the task of attempting to keep up with new films being released around the world each year. This task is multiplied by the difficulty of gaining access to new world film in Denver, CO. All of these factors mean that I watch films in almost all free time I can gather. I even watch films at work sometimes to try to make some dent in the infinite task I have taken upon myself.
In the midst of this, from time to time, I have a desire for some mindless corporate entertainment from the american movie machine. My question is whether this is a complete compromise to being committed to auteurism. On the one hand, I understand the gravity of ever supporting the american machine. If I ever pay to see some entertaining garbage, I am contributing to the seemingly omnipotent problem of decaying american cinema. Even if I don't pay by checking movies out from the library, I am still contributing to the decay of my soul as an absorber of auteurism. At the same time, the overwhelming majority of films I watch align with the commitments I have made. It is only on rare occasion that I take in pure entertainment. I see both sides of the argument. This is why I ask...
Is there room for corporate entertainment for those of us who have committed to consuming film as art?
Tuesday, March 6
Of the hundreds of awards ceremonies and festivals each year, the Oscars are by far the most ethnocentric and auteur-crushing of the lot. The very notion of having a category of "Best Foreign Film" is unspeakable. This of course gives the American audience the impression that there are only three or four films created outside the US worth watching any given year. The irony is that typically quite the opposite is true, namely that there are only about three or four films created inside the US that are worth watching. Ultimately, it seems that the Oscars are a pat-each-other-on-the-back-for-mediocrity-fest. This is why I was somewhat intrigued by a few of the nominees/winners this year.
This year, the works of three mexican directors were granted nominations (here's the kicker) outside the category of best foreign film. Perhaps the least significant of these is the nomination for best supporting actress to Penelope Cruz in Volver, an actress who has enjoyed years inside the hollywood corporate machine. Of more significance is the smattering of not only nominations but wins for del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth. Finally, there are the major categories that Inarritu's Babel was nominated for (Director, Film, Editing, Original Screenplay, plus others). Of course Babel did not win these most coveted prizes because they all had to go to Scorsese for his body of work.
Ultimately, these nominations do not seem too significant, but it leaves me thinking about the gravity of a batch of films made almost completely in other languages receiving such nominations. It must be recognized that with the exception of Almodovar, these directors have worked inside the US system, probably granting them a greater audience. I am not saying that the problem of the Oscars is solved. Instead, this could be a baby step. So here's the question. Is this a step in the right direction for the Academy Awards, or is this a unique event that will likely not repeat itself?