Sunday, June 13, 2004

The Eggers filmmaker(s).

I knew throwing that Dale Peck excerpt would elicit a response from Josh. (As usual, it's smart and funny and thorough.) And for the record, I'd like to say that (like Josh) I agree with much of Peck's diagnosis of the lit boys, but certainly not his take on the past century of lit. (Rest easy, PL, I don't despise DeLillo.)

That said, the one thing I wanted to challenge in Josh's response is this notion:
"[A]ltough isn't Tarantino really the cinematic equivalent of Dave Eggers, throwing together a pastiche of other styles without finding his own voice?"
I suppose you could make the case that QT pulled an Eggers with Kill Bill Vol. 1. I don't think so as I still think QT's heartbeat/fingerprint is under there somewhere.
I would argue that the Coens have turned into Eggers. The Coens have always been interested in breaking down specific cinematic conventions/genres and reworking it into something new and different and original. Whether it's the film-noir-turned-film-blanc Fargo or the gritty-turned-giddy Chandler adaptation that is Lebowski, they take their cinephillia and put it to use.
That is they used to.
I haven't seen The Ladykillers so I can't comment on that one, but The Man Who Wasn't There and Intolerable Cruelty were bloodless, vapid theses on (respectively) noir and screwball comedies that had zero spark, crackle or Coen-style ingenuity. Instead they seemed like a whole lot of wink, wink, nudge, nudge, we're doing Double Indemnity! We're Preston Sturges! Isn't it fun? If we could add funny footnotes and fonts to our film we would! Since we can't, why don't we add UFOs! That would be so ironic and fun. blah blah blah.
I think the test goes like this: I know that with Mulholland Dr., Lynch is bowing down to the altar of Sunset Blvd., Chandler, and the whole mythology of Los Angeles. But the film is still totally its own entity. Ditto Pulp Fiction. Or The Royal Tenenbaums.
I look at Intolerable Cruelty and think: good Christ in heaven why am I not watching The Lady Eve?

So that's my take. I'm counting down the seconds until I get hate mail from PL telling me how awesome the recent Coens' crap is and how awful QT is. In 5, 4, 3, 2....


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