Thursday, July 07, 2016

Art Is Subjective (No Duh)

Everyone has a favorite movie. Okay. Maybe that's a bit hyperbolic. Everyone who has ever seen more than one movie probably has a favorite movie. If you happen to be someone who has seen more than one movie, then your job can become a little more difficult. Over the course of my life, there have been a number of films that have occupied that top spot. There was a great deal of sentiment that went along with the artistic integrity of the original King Kong, and that was my go-to for a very long time. When I went to college and studied film, I sat in front of screens upon which there were dozens of what I was led to understand were the best of the best. These were exemplary pieces of cinema that were worthy of my attention and eventual worship. Many of them were in black and white. Some of them were silent. Most of them were at least as old as Kong, or older. Some of them were in foreign languages. While this barrage of culture continued, I kept going to see movies outside of class. I saw your major studio releases in the 1980's. I also worked in a video store. I re-watched a whole bunch of movies so that I could decide if any one of them had the stuff to take on Kong.
Some of them did. I added to the list. From the past I brought Bride of Frankenstein. From the future, I brought Brazil. And I watched Hitchcock and Fellini and Murnau and Bunuel. I learned an awful lot about the art of film and the people who made them. I watched a lot of other people's favorite films. I learned to appreciate how that could be. I fell in and out of love with movies of all size, shape and stripe. I kept Kong on a shelf, in the back of my mind, with the idea that I might someday return.
And I remembered when I loved The Deer Hunter.It was a masterpiece. It came from the same director as Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, a movie my older brother introduced me to, and I was pleased and happy when it kept that ball rolling. I lined up to see Heaven's Gate, because I believed that good things would keep coming from this Michael Cimino fellow. Well, that's where the love affair ended, and when my roommate and video store colleague convinced me to go see Cimino's return from movie jail, Year of the Dragon, I wanted it to be something more. It worked for my friend. It became a favorite of his.
I went back to Skull Island. I left Michael Cimino to his own devices, not knowing that his career was just about done. And now it is for sure. Mister Cimino went to that big screening room in the sky. For a few minutes there, I was back in high school and I was in love with Robert DeNiro and Meryl Streep and Russian Roulette all over again. The big ape can wait. Aloha, Michael Cimino. You may not have stomped on the Terra, but you made it look like others did. Nice job.

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