Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Whose movie is it?

Spurred by American Prospect's Tom Carson's stand against
  1. the National Film Registry's choice of Forrest Gump in its annual list of 25 "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant films," and 
  2. the Village Voice's firing of highly regarded critic J. Hoberman after 24 years...
... Tim Cavanaugh at Reason re-evaluates the auteur theory, "that durable French import which holds that the director is the author of the film."

Cavanaugh's piece is a bit of a ramble — and I look askance at his phrase "a bunch of socialist critics" — but I nod at his assertion that no one person can claim credit for creating a movie:
Writers are supposed to hate the auteur theory, but my reason for thinking it is of little value has nothing to do with any confidence in scripts. The problem is that for once the Academy has it right in giving the Best Picture Oscar to the producer. In all but a vanishingly small number of movies, the producer(s) is/are responsible for the largest share of the outcome.....
What we really need is a death-of-the-auteur theory. Making a movie is such a crap shoot, involving so many parties with conflicting motives, that we should consider it a fluke when something gets made that holds together as well as My Cousin Vinny. An actual masterpiece (whatever your choice of masterpiece may be) has to be considered a heroically improbable event, and one that depends on both the movie itself and the audience’s response to it.

As far as I can tell, movie-making, especially Hollywood style, provides enough proof of Chaos Theory, Quantum Uncertainty Principles, and Alternate History Butterfly Effects to put 89% of theoretical physicists out of work.

On a related note of high interest: the New York Times recently talked with Hoberman about The Village Voice and film culture in "Changing Science of Movie-ology."

(Via Zack Beauchamp at The Daily Beast. Image by Peter Stults.)