Archives for August 16, 2006
Around and about the internets (a list prone to updates throughout the day):
– Peter Suderman scratches his head at some critics’ favorable comparison of World Trade Center to United 93:
[Slate Senior Editor Bryan] Curtis sums up his feelings about WTC by saying that, in comparison to United 93, Stone’s movie is simply more “bearable,” and that’s why he could recommend WTC but not United 93.
This strikes me as exactly wrong. That Stone’s movie is bearable is what is most problematic and most disturbing about it. The day that his movie depicts was unbearable, terrible, gut-wrenching–it’s a day that should never be made “bearable” by the tidy formulas of Hollywood. Greengrass’ movie, indeed, was unbearable, a horror to watch. I’m glad I saw it, but I never want to watch it again. But it was the dread that Greengrass conjured, the impossible, sickening futility of 9/11 that made the movie so effective, so powerful, and so utterly right. Stone’s movie, in its lame adherence to convention, trivializes a day that was not and never will be even remotely conventional. There are many words one might use to describe 9/11 or representations of it, but bearable should never be among them.
I periodically re-memorize “Leda and the Swan”, “The More Loving One,” and Sir Thomas Wyatt’s “They Flee from Me…”, because, in my old age, the words do flee from me. Blake’s “The Chimney Sweeper” I like to recite, especially the first stanza. (“My mother died when I was very young/and my father sold me while yet my tongue” is a great rhyme.) My primary regret is that I was not an English boy born in 1906, forced to memorize reams and reams of poetry while declining Latin verbs. If there is a semi-sadistic teacher with one last Mr. Chips-y semester in him/her, I can pay.
I had a somewhat sadistic fifth-grade public school teacher, actually, who made us memorize everything from “The Walrus and the Carpenter” to the Declaration of Independence to “The Highwayman.” He made a little money on the side by selling popsicles after school, but only to the kids who had earned the right to buy one by successfully reciting that day’s passage from memory–weird guy, great experience. A few decades later, I’m still memorizing poetry, and I’ll memorize a good poem for nothing. (My all-time favorite hockey quote was uttered by the late great Red Wing Sid Abel, who once said “We play hockey for money, but we’ll play the Toronto Maple Leafs for nothing.”)
– Girish started it:
There are movies we encounter at certain points in our appreciation for the medium that become, almost by accident, little breakthroughs in our viewing life. They may not be great masterpieces–though they well might–but the important thing is that we have the fortune of meeting up with them at just the right juncture in our development. I think of them as “signpost films”: they take a territory that was previously foggy or unmapped to us and they suddenly make us see and learn something revelatory about this art-form that we love. These encounters make us exclaim, “So, that’s what this movie’s doing!” And it’s a lesson we take with us, carry over and apply, to hundreds of other films we will see in the future.
And now they’re talking about signpost movies at 2 Blowhards too, and other sites as yet undiscovered by me, I’m sure. This question will bear some thought before I can officially submit my own, but a couple of titles spring to mind right away: Jacques Rivette’s C