8 Thoughts on “But is it art?

  1. I love Joe Queenan. He is so uncompromising he is the curmudgeon’s curmudgeon. I will greedily read anything of his. I recommend any and all of his collections of criticism. What rag does he write for now? Funny. Effortlessly brilliant. Even when he maybe spears one of your own sacred cows, you laugh. But even as you laugh, he makes you want to truly believe that out there somewhere are standards worth taking seriously and that he maybe has familiarity with some of them. Great, great, great.

    Incidently, Rochelle Owens’ (http://www.doollee.com/PlaywrightsO/OwensRochelle.htm/OwensRochelle.htm) play Futz won three Obie Awards in 1968. Apparently whatever it had on stage couldn’t be translated to film. Script by Joseph Stephano (Psycho), by the way.

  2. I think it is an interesting definition. It basically says that screenplays and studios that can’t attract A-list talent are given a free pass on the sucky movie front. This strikes me as a a free pass for the second tier studio that can neither attract nor compel the type of talent his definition requires. They can make great films, but are forgiven the awful ones. Joe takes a swipe at Life Is Beautiful, but I seem to remember it reviewing well and (unless I am mistaken) winning a best-actor Oscar, or some Oscar anyway. I never saw it, but I’m pretty sure it reviewed well elsewhere.

  3. Sweeney Todd.

  4. Here’s my radical psychoanalytic take on it. Every movie is at some level, as you survey its assorted elements, a “bad” movie, because the people that made it, fragile humans that they are, are as insane as the rest of us. A movie we assess as “good” is one that has been polished and filtered and finessed and compressed and pruned enough, like the so-called Self any one of us may try to present to the world, that it passes a basic resemblance test. It has been made to resemble some notion of “good” we by agreement cling to, something that looks like what we want to see when we look in the mirror. It sounds as if Heaven’s Gate was such a monumentally huge assemblage of insanity that there was no way to whittle it into even a flimsy resemblance to some normal notion of “good” or even “okay but not great.”

    At first I was going to say that there are two kinds of bad films: those made by people who should know better and those made by those who truly don’t know (even if they think they do). But I wasn’t happy with that because those who should know better are not occasionally exempt from the basic nutty truths of the human condition.

  5. marc is smart

  6. I thought Life is Beautiful was silly, awful stuff. No one should have been surprised at Begnini’s Oscar shenanigans.

    Queenan’s guidelines lead me to think, like Turff suggests and Marc further refines, that a really bad movie must have some of the mythic folly of Fitzcarraldo, the character, not the film itself. What seems like a sane idea to the creators is easily witnessed as Dionysian madness by the rest of the world.

    Hey, maybe this would be a good time to bring our movie back to the front page.

  7. Ever see “Burden of Dreams”? Or “Hearts of Darkness?”

  8. I wish there were more Werner Herzog’s out there making…statements. I say let us renew our George picture (couldn’t resist using an old school mogul term) in the spirit of Herzog/Coppola-Kurtz.

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