Out of the Furnace
"Out of the Furnace," about two suffering brothers (Christian Bale and Casey Affleck) in Pennsylvania steel country. hits some of the same notes as "The…
Help me out here. There's something I've been spending a couple of months trying to get my head around. Why does BP enjoy such a peculiar immunity after having apparently been culpable in the Gulf oil spill? What is the nature of its invisible protective shield?
All I know is what you know. Like most other ordinary citizens, I try to keep up the best that I can with the news. I am not, as they say, walking in the corridors of power.
But you know, the more I read, the more I imagine those corridors smelling like those disinfectant cakes you see at the bottoms of urinals.
Can a film be great without question? Is it demented to find fault with "Inception?" Or "Citizen Kane?" Not at all. Scolds have emerged in recent days to smack at those critics who disapproved of "Inception," but as a fervent admirer of the film I can understand why others might not agree. In fact, the reasons cited by David Edelstein in his much-attacked negative review seem reasonable. I don't agree with him, but that's another matter.
I've been trying to think of one film that everyone reading this entry might agree is unquestionably great. You might think I'd name "Citizen Kane" or "The Rules of the Game," the two films that in recent decades have consistently been at the top of Sight & Sound magazines' poll of the world's directors and cineastes. But no. I've taught both shot-by-shot and had many students who confessed they didn't feel the greatness. There are people Bergman doesn't reach. And Ozu. I've never met anyone who doesn't like Hitchcock, but I promise you I will in the comments under this entry. Many Hitchcock fans don't admire "Vertigo," which I think is his best film.
Much modern architecture has grown tiresome to me. It does not gladden the heart. It doesn't seem to spring from humans. It seems drawn from mathematical axioms rather than those learned for centuries from the earth, the organic origins of building materials, the reach of hands and arms, and that which is pleasing to the eye. It is not harmonious. It holds the same note indefinitely.
It was not always so. My first girlfriend when I moved to Chicago was Tal Gilat, an architect from Israel. She was an admirer of Mies. Together we explored his campus of the Illinois Institute of Technology. She showed me his four adjacent apartment buildings on Lake Shore Drive and said they looked as new today as when they were built. It is now 40 years later, and they still look that new.
If they had their choice, 63.1% of people would value "a great video game" over Huckleberry Finn. That's the result of a completely unscientific survey I conducted in two places: Twitter, and my recent blog about video games.
The choice approached the abstract, because I didn't specify they had to play the game or read the novel. Like all web-based surveys, this one is a 100% accurate representation of whoever chose to vote, for whatever reason, whoever they were. In theory, no one could vote twice.
I was a fool for mentioning video games in the first place. I would never express an opinion on a movie I hadn't seen. Yet I declared as an axiom that video games can never be Art. I still believe this, but I should never have said so. Some opinions are best kept to yourself.
At this moment, 4,547 comments have rained down upon me for that blog entry. I'm informed by Wayne Hepner, who turned them into a text file: "It's more than Anna Karenina, David Copperfield and The Brothers Karamazov." I would rather have reread all three than vet that thread. Still, they were a good set of comments for the most part. Perhaps 300 supported my position. The rest were united in opposition.