24 January 2012

Brief Thoughts on Oscar Nomination Day

"The only writing that was any good was what you made up, what you imagined. That made everything come true." - Ernest Hemingway.

We like to trivialize art to make it manageable. Our minds have trouble with absorbing it all, to process and then to articulate? Beyond us.

But we are of nature that wants meaning and understanding and explanations. So we distill the life out of art and give it little statuettes and have ceremonies to honor. The best.

Yes, the best. Not the winner, but the one the award goes to. Clips, highlights, moments. A little pill. The Xanax. "What is that awful dress she's wearing?" Hey, let's repartee.

Silly of us.

Luminous. With commercials.

When serving yourself becomes self serving.

Best performance by an actress in a supporting role. This was the very best one. This person deserves an award. ("But what is that awful dress she is wearing?")

Oscar nominations were announced this morning. With baited breath the press waited. Announced. The news was spread. Some gasped. Some nodded. Some pondered. Many analyzed. Let the arguments begin. May they continue until THE NIGHT of the ceremony.

 -- (Ceremony) --

"In Hollywood Oscar is king." -David Letterman, tongue in cheek.

The impulse is, I suppose pure. We want to recognize that we love movies. Love them. They are more than a diversion. They are a pure form on art that helps us celebrate and contextualize the mystery of life. Movies can divert, yes. They can also focus us on what is real. REAL. This is worth celebrating. I'm not sure we've figured out quite how.

Oh and Melancholia didn't earn one of the ten (10) nominations for best picture. Oh screw it....

And another thing...

"Men of Paterno's era kept a lot bottled inside, too, often to their detriment. This was a real world, not the smarmy, sepia-toned world proffered by maudlin nostalgia-peddlers like Tom Brokaw." - Tim Keown.

The recently late Joe Paterno was a straight shooter. No nonsense guy. Of another generation. Men were men and then they died. Wouldn't know irony if it slapped 'em in the face. There is a strain of simple thinking there that harkens to another time. The Republicans are trying to bottle and serve it to the American people. Indeed there are many who drink of it in large gulps. America good/taxes bad/bootstrap pulling/screw immigrants/Gay is sin. Turning back the clock to a time that never existed....

I saw F.W Murnau's The Last Laugh (1924) FOR THE FIRST TIME last Saturday. (How do some of us miss films like this for so long?) Starred Emil Jannings, later a character in Inglourious Basterds (2009). It's a brilliant film but dig this: almost 90 years ago, in Germany, the director had to tack on a happy ending. Murnau had the power and the sense to at least tell the audience that this last bit wasn't his idea. Who knew interference with a director's vision's had such deep roots? Probably a lot of you. Not me.

And the award for best film made in Germany 88 years ago with a false ending goes to....

Speaking of Jannings, also watched him in Josef Von Sternberg's last silent, The Last Command (1928). It was one of von Sternberg's final films before teaming with Marlene Dietrich, perhaps the greatest actress/director collaboration of all time. Along with other of his silents, The Last Command has had a recent DVD release (packaged together, no less). If you've not seen it, do yourself a favor and put Last Command (along with Underworld (1927) and The Docks of New York (1928)) high atop your Netflix queue. While benefiting from strong performances, these are real auteur works. Von Sternberg was a master at lighting, framing shots and using physical objects to set the mood of scenes. He almost suffered from his Dietrich obsession in later films, and never did anything of note after her.


Lynne Coll said...

Thanks for the suggestions. I've seen Underworld already but added other other three films to my Netflix queue.

film said...

I hope that Viola Davis wins the Oscars- I know I am digressing but I would be so happy if she wins.