Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Pauline Kael Has Risen From the Grave

I was wondering if the migraine I had the other night, one of the worst I had in years, is because I overhead some young film fans say that The Bicycle Thief sucked. Oh, and also Battleship Potemkin and The 400 Blows. The Bicycle Thief, which has one of the greatest acted scenes in films, I think, when the man giddily eats at the restaurant they know they cannot afford. Or Potemkin’s classic “Odessa Steps” sequence, mimicked and ripped off and paid homage to a million times over—these people INVENTED EDITING. Just like when people watch Citizen Kane and wonder what all the fuss was about; only that Orson Welles was inventing cinema language, mainly because NOBODY TOLD HIM HE COULDN’T DO IT. In some ways, I think, that was the first faint volley of what would one day become the grassroots DV world. One person said that she ‘couldn’t connect’ with Potemkin, and another that seeing The Untouchables ruined Potemkin for him. Eisenstein trumped by Kevin Costner. My temples throb anew. When I was a young film student twenty years ago there were people who preferred Top Gun or whatever but there was always somebody around willing to debate French New Wave and Italian Neo-realism. Are the young cinephiles of today really content to let Tarantino and Kevin Smith filter film history for them, with a 70s backbeat? I wonder.

Of course, I ran into this same problem last summer at Microcinema Fest in South Dakota, where filmmakers whose work I respected waxed philosophic about how great The Abyss, the freakin’ ABYSS, was. But then again I’m the guy who loves movies like Potemkin but writes Bigfoot and piranha and Frankenstein stuff. I wonder if anyone will care that I named characters in my World War II supernatural drama Hellshock for the Polonia Brothers after characters in some of my favorite war novels, including Catch-22, Johnny Got His Gun, From Here to Eternity, and The Big Red One.

Speaking of pop culture, John Layman, a talented comic book writer with a crazy blog, has entered me in an American-Idol style blog competition running at his site. He had this to say about my blog:

John Oak Dalton emailed me out of he blue yesterday, demanding to be a part of this blog, and assuring me he could put all you pansy-ass bitches to shame. His creatively titled blog, John Oak Dalton has its own admittedly poorly drawn comic (which seems pretty cool) and the guy likes B-movies. He also has a pretty cool name, so let's set his odds at:Odds: 7-1

So if you want to vote for me, pro or con, just zip over to here.

Give me a shout at

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