Carney-vàle!

Discuss films and filmmakers of the 20th century (and even a little of the 19th century). Threads may contain spoilers.
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Perkins Cobb
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Re: Carney-vàle!

#151 Post by Perkins Cobb » Fri Nov 14, 2014 1:35 pm

AtlantaFella wrote:Warning for anyone trying to obtain books directly from Carney's website: I ordered a copy of Cassavetes on Cassavetes and eventually had to dispute my PayPal order since it was never fulfilled nor acknowledged. Still want to read the book though so guess I'll seek out a used copy.
Huh. It's like the guy's a thief or something!

Film is Life
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Re: Carney-vàle!

#152 Post by Film is Life » Wed Feb 24, 2016 10:13 pm

Ray Carney wrote:While there are only five or ten generic Hollywood movies, there is no one kind of independent film. They come in as many flavors, sizes, and shapes as there are artists. That's why it is easier to say what independent films are not than what they are. I can tell you some things they aren't: They aren't about fancy camerawork and razzle-dazzle visuals. They leave that to TV commercials. They aren't about pretty photography and gorgeous shots. They leave that to the manufacturers of calendars and postcards. They aren't necessarily about telling a suspenseful, gripping story. They leave that to writers of murder mysteries. You don't read Shakespeare for the story. You don't go to Chekhov to find out how it ends.
Ray Carney wrote: If you are a famous, established actor–if you are Jack Nicholson, Tom Hanks, Tom Cruise, Robert DeNiro, or Meryl Streep–volunteer to work for free in some real indie's no-budget production. Why be a whore all of your life? Do you really believe that The Godfather, Apocalypse Now, Terms of Endearment, Apollo 13, Saving Pvt. Ryan, and Cape Fear are the greatest expressions of which the human spirit is capable? Nicholson in particular hasn't taken a risk with a really daring project since he appeared in Five Easy Pieces thirty years ago. (And that wasn't that daring then anyway, since he couldn't get anything bigger at that point in his career.) It was his last decent performance. Jack, do yourself a favor. Act in one honest, experimental, artistic, non-entertainment movie before you die. What are you afraid of? Accept a script by a no-name director. Take some chances with projects that take some chances. Ones that might be just dreadful, but could be great.
Apparently, he's never seen Antonioni The Passenger nor does he have conception of the Elizabethan audience who enjoyed Shakespeare for all the reasons he criticized traditional Hollywood filmmaking.

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MichaelB
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Re: Carney-vàle!

#153 Post by MichaelB » Thu Feb 25, 2016 6:53 am

But he's not wrong about Nicholson and De Niro being distinctly unadventurous in recent decades, even if we dispute when their period of unadventurousness started (for me, it was the early 1980s for Nicholson and the early 1990s for De Niro).

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Gregory
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Re: Carney-vàle!

#154 Post by Gregory » Fri Jun 03, 2016 4:33 pm

I was looking up reviews of Phillip Lopate's anthology American Movie Critics and noticed that Carney has resurfaced on Amazon with a bunch of reviews in the past six months.
I have Lopate's book and so far have found it to be pretty impressive and diverse in its scope and methodology, explained in the intro, and I don't understand what Carney was trying to say here. He tries to use Lopate's age against him, suggesting that he's probably old enough to cling to a notion of a "Golden Age" of film criticism, even though Lopate and Carney are roughly the same age!
His other tack (avoiding critiquing this volume directly) is that Library of America used to be good before they totally sold out and stuff—"Commercialism corrupts even the noblest projects." Never mind that LOC isn't a traditional commercial publisher; they're a nonprofit entity that doesn't break even on sales alone and instead stay afloat through outside funding streams. Anyway, enough out of me. Here's the review of the Lopate followed by another in which he tilts at the most predictable old culture wars stuff about scholars daring to look at social themes in film criticism, "affirmative action," etc.

American Movie Critics, ed. Phillip Lopate
"Commercialism corrupts even the noblest projects"
The Library of America has maintained the most consistently high standards in American literary publishing for more than 30 years. But not with this and many of its recently published companion volumes on film. (And I might as well add to the list of commercial compromises the LOA is guilty of the recent additional to their website titled "The Moviegoer"--bad reviews of even worse movies--as yet another illustration of the LIbrary of America's attempt to pander to the American Philistine's movie craziness and attempt to make a buck from it.) This book is more testimony to the shallowness of classic film criticism than a bible to read, consult, love, live with, and learn from. (But to be fair: even at that, this writing is still much better than contemporary, jagon-clad "film theory.") And a testimony to the age of the compilers, I suspect, who apparently miss the bad old days of so-called "literary" journalistic reviewing. Like most Golden Ages, strictly a myth. It wasn't Golden then and it isn't even Tin now. The Library of America seems to have suspended their standards in the past five or ten years, as far as I can tell, after Geoffrey O'Brien picked up the editing reins, particularly when it comes to writing on Hollywood. It's not hard to guess why. Everyone loves the movies. Books about movies are a cash-cow. Film criticism sells. Not as well as DVDs of junky Hollywood movies, but better than John Ashbery for sure. So much for maintaining literary and critical standards. Good to line the bottom of the bird-cage with after a quick skim. About as deep as the newspaper entertainment pages.


Critical Vision in Film Theory, ed. Timothy Corrigan et al.
"a tradition--art--in danger of being lost"
A guide to what's wrong not only with film studies, but with much of the study of the other arts and humanities in the contemporary American university, including the one in which I teach. Sensory experiences are turned into ideas, themes, and theories. Personal expression is turned into cultural manifestation. The unsystematic, idiosyncratic excitements and insights of art are turned into generalizations about race, class, gender, ideology, and culture. Art becomes "representation"--in both senses of the word. The mystery, the thrill of encountering unclassifiable, idiosyncratic genius is schematized, systematized, psychoanalyzed, and sociologized. Greatness is blithely, blandly undone by twentieth-century mediocrity. Works that were meant as replies to fashion are reduced to intellectual fashion statements. Expression is academicized. Welcome to the typical film studies program in the typical American university. Thrilling, unsettling experiences are transformed into predictable, prefabricated, received ideas. It's the students, of course, who are the real losers. They are being cheated, being denied the joys, the discoveries, the mysteries of art by professors who only discover in works of art the political and ideological sermons they themselves have already hidden under the stones they lift. Art becomes a form of affirmative action (or is criticized for not being affirmative action). The students, poor trusting believing innocent souls, are being told that art is about power, culture, psychology, gender, "otherness," and a hundred other affirmative action, social justice projects, when art actually begins where these categories and these externalized understandings of experience prove insufficient. (Life is not about power, equality or, yuk, "representation." At least none of the most important aspects of it are. Only politicians, protesters, and professors are out-of-it enough to believe something like that. It is about imagination and emotion, about awareness and sensitivity, about looking and seeing what is really there, what is left, when the ever-so-fashionable cliches have been swept away, and we are able to think for a change with our own brains and feel with our own feelings, not intellectually mass-produced ones.) But to say any of that in a classroom at my own university would be to be put on the short list for dismissal or an administrative reprimand for "insensitivity." In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to be raked over the coals for saying as much as I have said here if it gets back to anyone there. Such is the power of group-thinking and political-correctness, and such is the intolerance of anyone who dares to think for himself. A sad story. A very sad situation for students. They are being defrauded and denied their birthright. To know what art can be.

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