Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Thrillin' Dylan... it's terrifying!

If you want bullshit -- and go on, you do, you do -- where better to look for it than the film world?

Check this out. It's a feast of bullshit. Enjoy Todd Haynes:

"Cate was scared; she told me many times that this was a very scary challenge for her. It took her a long time to commit to it ..."

That's preposterous. She was scared? What of? Public ridicule? Bad reviews? Fucking up? What?

Blanchett is one of our more precious acting talents. In interview after interview she explains how pretending to be other people and being paid a shitload of money for it "terrifies" her. Yes, dear, it would scare the shit out of me too. Imagine! I get to ponce around for weeks on end and someone gives me a million bucks for it. I get lavished with attention, fawned over and adored by millions. Sounds positively terrifying!

Critics in Venice have been astonished by Blanchett's performance.

Film critics are idiots though. They are "astonished" by the lint in their own navels, so you'd expect a woman pretending to be a man to enrapture them.

Blanchett is a decent actor, but way overrated by the critics. Take Notes on a scandal for an example. She was pretty good for the first hour, but went way off it in the last act. Playing a middle-class, selfish woman, no problem -- a bit like me playing a *mumbles* suburban man, I suppose -- but playing someone genuinely affected by a life crisis, struggling with high emotion, oh dear.

Yesterday Haynes said "Jude", the representation of Dylan in the mid-60s when he was becoming an international star and shocked folk followers by going electric, was always meant to be played by a woman. "I felt it was the only way to resurrect the true strangeness of Dylan's physical being in 1966, which I felt had lost its historical shock value over the years," he told reporters.

What teh fuck? And you expect us to watch your film?

How wrong can you be? Dylan was, and is, utterly ordinary physically. I don't think anyone has ever commented on it in that way before. Haynes has completely invented the idea. He shocked folk followers not because he's an elf, but because he went electric and upset the purists. The discussion was purely about the music. Which it has been just about always about Dylan.

Gere described the script as "bizarre" but said he jumped at the chance to be involved. "I think Dylan is probably the only artist in our time who will still be considered 200 or 300 years from now. It's not Picasso, it's Bob Dylan," he said. "No one has had more effect on the world of art."

You are shitting me.

Just so we're clear, that's Pablo Picasso, who revolutionised the world of art, yes? Picasso, who invented whole new ways of looking at the world and the things in it?

And Bob Dylan, responsible for Lloyd Cole?

He didn't invent protest singing. It was already an established genre. He didn't revolutionise singer/songwriting, and narrative lyrics had been around for thousands of years before him. He had some influence, true, but the only artist who will be remembered in 200 years?

Dude, he's a footnote today! Just about no one who is anyone in music notes him as an influence. He has some devoted fans, but man, so does Enya.

Haynes said of its unusual structure: "The way we look back on our own lives is in fragments. Music is a way that we do time travel, that unlocks moments in our past. The best and most enjoyable way to watch the film is to let it wash over you like a dream."

Wrong, trivially true, and wrong again.

We look back on our own lives as though they were coherent narratives, not as collections of fragments. We take a linear view, that one thing led to another, and we generally find artforms satisfying that are also linear. Because we're wired that way. Dude, you made this film in the way you did because you weren't capable of creating a convincing biopic. How many art films are like that? Complicated for the sake of it, incoherent, boring. The other day I watched Brick, which was touted as the best thing since Donnie Darko. But Donnie Darko had a linear structure and was brilliant because it put a twist on that structure. Brick was just incomprehensible. It probably would have helped if I was less stoned when I watched it than the makers were when they made it, but even so, it was poor stuff. I know this film will be too. The only thing Haynes has right is that music can unlock moments in our past -- but I don't think that it "unlocks" protests or the Vietnam war; rather, it brings back to us moments of our own, much more personal and intimate than he suggests. And I am thinking that the most enjoyable way to watch the film is going to be to get someone else to do it.


At 2:45 pm, Blogger said...

i'm always astonished by intelligent people who don't fully appreciate the utter genius of Dylan.

i can't argue it here, it's way too complex for this kind of comment thinger -- well no, but, i won't discuss it here because there's just way to much to say on the subject.

you know where.

anyway, i forgot about that movie, so thanks for reminding me to go see it.

i hope it doesn't suck as much as you claim it does, but i wouldn't be surprised if it did.

At 2:50 pm, Blogger said...

Zen: And I am thinking that the most enjoyable way to watch the film is going to be to get someone else to do it.

i volunteer for you, k?

At 2:59 pm, Blogger Dr Zen said...

Much obliged.

Feel free to supply me with a lengthy critique, which I will then get someone else to read for me.

At 3:25 pm, Blogger said...

that works out perfectly.

At 4:11 pm, Anonymous theminotaur said...

The particulars of Cate Blanchett's talent aside, I'm sure you realize that acting isn't all about being spritzed by Evian and getting paid millions for it. It is work, and it is excruciatingly hard. An actor can be terrified by a role, because it reveals something very personal. You once spoke of a shell that you hide into. An actor has to break this shell for 8, 10, 12 hours a day. Sure, some of them get heftily compensated for their efforts, but there are those who get paid 50 bucks for a month of work, but they still do it. Theoretically, the higher-paid ones should be better, but that usually works out about the same way it works out in every other profession.

As far as Gere's take on Picasso vs. Dylan, he's entitled to his opinion. Some people find Mozart tedious, but that hardly changes anything. True, he shouldn't speak of it in such swooping and all-knowing manner, but we all like to do that sometimes, don't we?

At 4:19 pm, Blogger Dr Zen said...

I don't agree with your characterisation of acting, and the notion that actors break into a shell is pure horseshit, traded by actors who don't like people to think that they have it easy. I like Larry Olivier's dismissal of Hoffman. Hoffman is whining about how he can't get into the torture scene. How can I really feel the pain? Hoffman asked. To which Olivier said "My dear boy! Why not just pretend?" Nailed it!

I don't agree either that Gere is "entitled to his opinion". His opinion is fucking rubbish, and what's worse, he's only expressing it because he's worked on this film. If the film were about Picasso... The idea that every fucktard and his dog is "entitled" to an opinion is one we could do without. Much better to say you're entitled to talk when you have something to say, and otherwise should shut the fuck up.

I don't though have a problem with all-knowingness, so long as you do actually know it all.

At 4:49 pm, Blogger said...

I don't though have a problem with all-knowingness, so long as you do actually know it all.

"And when finally
the bottom fell out
I became withdrawn,
The only thing
I knew how to do
Was to keep on keepin' on
like a bird that flew,
Tangled up in blue."

excellent album.

it even has its linear moments for someone like you.

At 5:01 pm, Blogger Father Luke said...

He has some devoted fans, but man, so does Enya.

Nailed it.

- -
Father Luke

At 11:52 pm, Anonymous theminotaur said...

Well, of course, actors have it easy. They're just pretending. And painters are just splashing some colors onto canvas. And writers are just typing some words on a page. It's all so goddamned easy when someone else does it.

That whole story about Olivier and Hoffman, BTW, has many variations, but is based not on a dismissal, but a good-natured comment.

At 5:28 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Acting is not easy. and to do it even to Soap opera level is incredibly difficult, to think otherwise is incredibly ignorant, you obviously haven't done any acting. you probably brick it if you have to give a presentation in front of two people.

Dylan is a whinny CUNT, he's up there with that one trick C&W singer Elvis Presley.

At 8:31 am, Blogger Dr Zen said...

theminotaur is defending a castle. He has a lot invested in this particular myth. Best leave him to it.

anonymous, you might call standing on a street corner yelling at passers-by a "presentation", but I don't.

At 9:55 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

with your state of mind at the moment you haven't the confidence to actually stand still any where in public unless its at the check put at your local offy.

At 12:20 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

RE: Olivier & Hoffman

Way to blindly repeat what's become urban legend, Zenners. From,

"He has always said that the most famous story concerning his collaboration with Olivier on Marathon Man has been taken out of context. It was reported that, to prepare himself for a scene in which his character was supposed to have been kept awake for days on end, Hoffman himself refused to go to sleep all night. "Have you ever tried acting, dear boy?" his Lordship was alleged to have said. Hoffman now says that he was, in fact, out partying at Studio 54 the night before and that Olivier's comment was a mild rebuke for his debauchery."

But who the fuck really cares which version is true. There are a number of cogent things to be said about acting, it's relative difficulty, and exactly to what degree Hollywood takes itself too seriously. None of which I ever expect to come from you. Take your own advice to heart for god's sake:

"I don't though have a problem with all-knowingness, so long as you do actually know it all."

You are being ridiculous. You received a mild rebuke for your posturing. You deserved far worse.

At 12:26 pm, Blogger Dr Zen said...

Quelle surprise! Hoffman, a notoriously vain man, has a version that makes him look better.

Acting's difficulty relative to what? Coal-mining? Yeah, it's tough. It's amazing that those guys survive a busy day of being made up so they can stand on a mark and look anguished.

Hollywood only takes itself too seriously because pricks like you line up to smother its butt in big juicy lickings, bro.

At 12:40 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are either entirely dense or entirely dishonest. I expect a bit of both.

I speak about the question of the "relative difficulty of acting" and I must being stating that it *is* difficult, not that the answer would have any variety of qualifiers including: none, little, or hardly. Man, get a fucking clue.

You do this all the time: it's all over this thread. I would bother pointing where, but I know that you're not likely to listen.

At 12:50 pm, Anonymous theminotaur said...

"Hollywood only takes itself too seriously because pricks like you line up to smother its butt in big juicy lickings, bro."

That might mean more if it didn't come from somebody who loved "Gattaca", "AI", and fucking James Bond flicks.

And the coal-miner comparison might mean more if it didn't come from someone who wants to make a living playing goddamn poker.

At 12:58 pm, Blogger Dr Zen said...

A more careful reader would have noted that I didn't say anything about your view on acting's relative difficulty, but merely gave my own.

theminotaur, I don't claim to be particularly knowledgeable about films. I like what I like and, unlike you, I do not feel I have to be so pofaced about it that I can't enjoy a mindless action flick now and then or a bit of sf hokum.

And I have never claimed playing poker was hard work, so your overexcited coda was misplaced. I don't deride actors for not working hard but for claiming that something that is not hard work needs a veritable Stakhanov to cope with it.

At 1:15 pm, Anonymous theminotaur said...

Whatever, dude. You gushed on for paragraphs about the questions posed, and the likeable characters, and relatable situations. But now that you've talked yourself into a corner with a banner: "Hollywood is bullshit", all of a sudden it's a "mindless action flick". Why don't you just say it like it is: I hate these people because they are rich and famous, and I will never be; but I find solace in judging people and professions I don't have the slightest idea about, because they are there to be judged.

At 1:21 pm, Blogger Dr Zen said...

I think I wrote one paragraph, dude, which was slightly complimentary. And even the lowest art can pose questions, if you're given to thinking. I understand that you prefer the likes of Haynes to tell you what you should think, but that's not me.

At 1:55 pm, Anonymous theminotaur said...

"I understand that you prefer the likes of Haynes to tell you what you should think, but that's not me."

How the fuck do you understand that? When did I ever even agree with Haynes? All I said that actors do work, and they work hard, and lo and behold, I'm defending a castle; and because I disagree with your ass, I like having others tell me what to think. And just FYI, although you claim that you like people disagreeing with you, you are always a complete asshole to anyone who does. You immediately get personal, you bring up points that have nothing to do with the discussion, and the thing that amazes me the most, is that you'll contradict yourself time and again just to get the last word, and then blame everyone else for not being a good reader. I guess since you can't even talk to women in bars, this is how you prove to everyone that you're the man. Like I said, what the fuck ever.

At 2:05 pm, Blogger Dr Zen said...

Boo hoo. Mommy. Nasty man nasty to me.

It's okay. I'll leave you with the last word. I don't have the time for more and I fear we'll have you in tears if we keep it up.

At 4:23 pm, Anonymous theminotaur said...

what you mean to say is that you've just been.

At 4:26 pm, Blogger Dr Zen said...

theminotaur didn't know me in my misc.writing days. I never cry. Even when girls like you pull my hair.

At 2:29 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this is more what theMinotaur had in mind (and I think, Mino, that you've got it right).

From Wikipedia:

Pathological narcissism occurs in a spectrum of severity [6]. In its more extreme forms, it is narcissistic personality disorder. NPD is considered to result from a person’s belief that he or she is flawed in a way that makes the person fundamentally unacceptable to others [7]. This belief is held below the person’s conscious awareness; such a person would typically deny thinking such a thing if questioned. In order to protect themselves against the intolerably painful rejection and isolation they imagine would follow if others recognized their supposedly defective nature, such people make strong attempts to control others’ view of them and behavior towards them.

Psychologists commonly believe that pathological narcissism results from an impairment in the quality of the person’s relationship with their primary caregivers, usually their parents, in that the parents were unable to form a healthy, empathic attachment to them. This results in the child conceiving of themselves as unimportant and unconnected to others. The child typically comes to believe that he or she has some defect of personality which makes them unvalued and unwanted [6].

To the extent that people are pathologically narcissistic, they can be controlling, blaming, self-absorbed, intolerant of others’ views, unaware of others’ needs and of the effects of their behavior on others, and insistent that others see them as they wish to be seen [4]. They may also demand certain behavior from their children because they see the children as extensions of themselves, and need the children to represent them in the world in ways that meet the parents’ emotional needs [8]. (For example, a narcissistic father who was a lawyer demanded that his son, who had always been treated as the “favorite” in the family, enter the legal profession as well. When the son chose another career, the father rejected and disparaged him.)

These traits will lead overly narcissistic parents to be very intrusive in some ways, and entirely neglectful in others. The children are punished if they do not respond adequately to the parents’ needs. This punishment may take a variety of forms, including physical abuse, angry outbursts, blame, attempts to instill guilt, emotional withdrawal, and criticism. Whatever form it takes, the purpose of the punishment is to enforce compliance with the parents’ narcissistic needs[8].

People who are overly narcissistic commonly feel rejected, humiliated and threatened when criticised. To protect themselves from these dangers, they often react with disdain, rage, and/or defiance to any slight, real or imagined [9]. To avoid such situations, some narcissistic people withdraw socially and may feign modesty or humility.

There is a broad spectrum of pathologically narcissistic personalities, styles, and reactions -- from the very mild, reactive and transient, to the severe and inflexible narcissistic personality disorder.

Though individuals with NPD are often ambitious and capable, the inability to tolerate setbacks, disagreements or criticism, along with lack of empathy, make it difficult for such individuals to work cooperatively with others or to maintain long-term professional achievements [10]. With narcissistic personality disorder, the person's perceived fantastic grandiosity, often coupled with a hypomanic mood, is typically not commensurate with his or her real accomplishments.

The exploitativeness, sense of entitlement, lack of empathy, disregard for others, and constant need for attention inherent in NPD, adversely affects interpersonal relationships. Individuals with NPD frequently select as mates, and engender in their children, "co-narcissism," which is a term coined to refer to a co-dependent personality style similar to co-alcoholism and co-dependency [8]. Co-narcissists organize themselves around the needs of others. They feel responsible for others, accept blame readily, are eager to please, defer to others’ opinions, and fear being considered selfish if they act assertively.

If you value your life at all, I hope you'll see to get these outbursts (whatever their origin) under control. Whatever you claim, they don't "free" you. And now that I'm fairly certain that I'm talking to a clinical case (this is less of a jab than it looks, but how else do I say it?), I think I'm done here.

At 9:01 am, Blogger Dr Zen said...

Dude, there's a disorder for all of us. You can have one too.


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