Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Here's looking at you kid....

People keep asking me "What's your favourite film?'. And I'm at a loss. So many films...so many great films...how do you decide? But I think I've narrowed it down... looking at all the films I own, I would have to say it was a tough decision between 'Casablanca' and 'Goodfellas'. But I think I would have to give it to 'Casablanca'. It's near flawless. The more times I've seen that film, the more times I'm convinced that there is absolutely nothing about that film that does not work.

Some may say that 'Casablanca' got lucky. I suppose luck was on its side when they chose to release it only three weeks after Eisenhower marched into Africa. But looking back, it was an accomplishment in the true sense of the word. Although 'Casablanca' is most remembered for its romantic idealism, the story did not have a happy ending. 'Havana' tried to recapture 'Casablanca''s romantic idealism and all star cast and the result was a complete failure...because there was more to 'Casablanca' than mere romance. There was mystery, political propaganda, heroism, romance...all mixed into one. The characters are the most well loved characters of our time, but in truth, there was nothing lovable about the characters themselves. They were hypocrits, cynics, liars, underground leaders, and thieves. But somehow the movie let them rise above all that and redeemed them of their various character flaws. The end...I think almost all would agree that it is one of the best movie endings. The movie would not have had the same resonance if Bogey had left with Ilsa. That little selfless act at the end managed to turn Rick into a hero, while throughout the film, he was just a drunken hypocrite, who had given up on life and ran a bar.

But the fact is, if  'Casablanca' had been made today, it would never have been popular. We've all seen too much and know too much. Our cynicism would never let us appreciate a movie of such simple values. But it's nice to believe that life was once a lot less complicated and simpler, irrespective of whether that might be true or not. I could go on and on...but I'm too sleepy. I'll say one thing though...those dialogues that make it the most quoted film (I think besides 'Pulp Fiction') ...to think that it was all an improvised script. Now you tell me, could anyone pull a stunt like that and get away with it today? I quite seriously doubt it.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Postmodernism. Is it dead?

The thing about postmodernism is that there is no one-way to define it. That is apparently the most postmodern thing about it. Where do critics fit into this postmodern picture? After I go watch a film I like to read reviews, and although it interests me to see what people have to say about it I don't think it defines my own opinion of it but that's only because I probably have the same knowledge as them and can put that same knowledge into a different perspective.... but what about people without that knowledge? Must they depend on a singular person's perspective? Critics are forever trying to pass off their own opinions on things as the "right" one. Is there a right opinion? If there is, then clearly postmodernism is dead. Postmodernism only came into being because of the knowledge of the fact that there was far too much knowledge in the world to narrow information down but here are people who are making a whole career out of narrowing it down for us.

It can't be helped.... if enough information leads you to one direction then, unless you have access to all the other information, you tend to follow in on that one. Isn’t that a deconstruction of postmodernism? All art, all film... is in theory post modernistic and yet we have art awards and film awards. Does an Oscar winning film automatically mean a film's good? There has never been a theory or set of rules that defines what makes a good film, good and good art, good. It’s all personal. You take from films and art what you will. Titanic sailed through all the Oscars that year...and one year later those same critics that applauded it, suddenly decided it was no more than a soppy, romantic film. Postmodernism was still standing to an extent...but what is its place in the 21st century? I can't help but think we're slowly progressing into a post-post modernistic age, where all the distinctions we took away are being brought back into force. We’re redrawing all the lines we once rubbed out. How do I define a film in documentary, narrative or experimental? Are there no other genres? Do all the films I ever made not even count? If film and art is postmodern, is its interpretation becoming post-post modern? Will the two coexist? If not which one will survive?