Thursday, June 15, 2006

A SAD COMMENTARY ON OUR DEGENERATING CULTURE (WITH PICTURES AND SOUND!)


Please don't misunderstand me...

1) I recognize the brilliance and lasting influence of certain films in the oeuvres of great directors like Jean-Luc Godard, F.W. Murnau, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Wong Kar-wai, Ingmar Bergman, Federico Fellini, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Akira Kurosawa, Sergio Leone, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, Luis Bunuel, Alexander Dovzhenko, Roberto Rossellini, Fritz Lang, Sergei Eisenstein, Bernardo Bertolucci and Werner Herzog, among many others.

2) I understand the auteur theory as a principle and see how it works to shed light on the films of some great Hollywood masters like Howard Hawks, John Ford, Billy Wilder, William Wyler, Alfred Hitchcock, Andre De Toth, Don Siegel among many others, while also accepting the fundamental truth of movies as a collaborative art form.

3) I appreciate film criticism as an art unto itself, to be cultivated and practiced in response to works of art, commerce, and those that are both, and I place high value on the writing of its most renowned practitioners, including Pauline Kael, Andrew Sarris, J. Hoberman and Manny Farber, among many others.

4) I think a great work of cinematic art, and sometimes even movies that fall far short of that high-water mark, can speak to the soul as well as to the mind and the heart.

5) And I think in genre filmmaking-- westerns (like Andre De Toth's Day of the Outlaw), film noir (like Jacques Tourneur's Out of the Past), horror films (like Dario Argento's Suspiria) and comedies (like Bertrand Blier's Buffet Froid)-- we can find some of the greatest movies, not only in American cinema but in world cinema as well.


The assertions seen above are not the basis of some belated and unnecessary mission statement for this blog, nor will they be used as the foundation for making me sound smarter than I am or for any ridiculous rogue theorizing on my part that would shame the memory of the work of the great artists whose names I have invoked.

No, actually, it’s all just some proactive reassurance from me to you designed to calm your understandable desire to perhaps flee this blog forever, never, ever to return, when I reveal that I’m really looking forward to seeing this— yes, I’ll say it— this film:



God help me, but September 22 just can’t get here fast enough.

12 comments:

blaaagh said...

All right, I'll fess up: I'm with you. I can't wait! I hope it lives up to the first one, a movie I had no intention of seeing, and ended up laughing so hard at that I rented it again with another skeptical friend, and we both laughed so hard we almost shook down the house. So, yes, I will watch the new one!

Sal said...

Oh man... Dennis, if you were a chick I'd hump ya big time. The trailer alone had me laughing so hard I had to manually clamp off my urethra so I wouldn't ruin my comfortable office chair. I gotta find me a mate who understands this tiny fetish of love for all things Johhny knoxville anf Jackass.

Sal said...

I wish to add a post comment. The statement that I "wished yuo were a chick" was hypothetical, as I do have a love for all things female as it relates to the neanderthal attraction of the male sex dreive.

Just wanted to make that clear.

Dennis is cool and everything but chicks rock. There, is that macho enough?

Michael said...

Great post, Dennis. The first one was riotously funny; I suspect the second one will be as well.

Of the first one, Ebert said that, in all honesty, he had to admit that he laughed all the way throug.

Michael said...

(Apparently, I didn't type the whole through. I meant "through" not "throug".)

Sharon said...

Dare a mere chick chime in? I don't get it. Really, I don't. While I admit that some of the clips in the trailer made me crack a bit of a smile, what I saw was more than enough for me. I can't imagine sitting through 90+ mintutes of this. But that's likely because of the lack of testosterone coursing through my bloodstream.

So, gentlemen, enjoy. I suspect that for those of you who go to the theater to see this, it will be a fairy estrogen-free zone. Just remember: don't try any of this at home!

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Blaaagh: I never said welcome back! So here goes: WELCOME BACK! And thanks for backing my account of how insanely funny that first movie was!

Michael: I forgot about Ebert's reaction. That's what I like about him-- even if he knows he's not supposed to like something, and even if he doesn't, he's usually pretty honest if his repsonse seems to validate the opposing side of his argument. I've seen the movie countless times and I laugh like, well, a braying jackass every time!

Sharon: To paraphrase Sal (and this is the ONLY part of Sal's comment I'll paraphrase, for the rest makes me blush), chicks do indeed rock, so consider yourself and your coments about Number Two welcome.

I've shown jackass: the movie to a lot of people, and almost every time I have, regardless of gender, I've felt like either the friendship, my reputation, or both, was on the line. My sister-in-law, God bless her, made it about a third of the way through and speaks to this day about the experience as if it were a trial by fire that she gladly admits not being properly asbestos-wrapped for. I just showed it to my wife this past month, but there wasn't much tension there because we'd seen the show together many times, and although she was grossed out and shook her head enough to dislodge a filling or two, she couldn't deny that she was laughing uproariously.

But I was most nervous about showing it to Blaaagh, my best friend... a man. We settled in, started the DVD, and I steeled myself for the inevitable verbal abuse and hard questions about my morality, sanity and deteriorating tastes. Strangely enough, however, he screamed with laughter from the beginning, and by the time the first bit (Rental Car Destruction Derby) was over, I knew we were gonna have a very good time watching this one.

I don't know if it's exclusively an estrogen-vs.-testosterone phenomenon here. But I do know that the antics in the movie accurately portray a kind of good-natured, borderline mean-spirited sense of mindless can-you-top-this-ism that occurs when boys/men get together in groups and aren't beholden to too many of society's rules of decorum. Of course, jackass takes this sensibility to extremes that are way beyond anything I, or Blaaagh, or a lot of men I know, ever experienced in their friendships with other "dudes." But there's a reckless and recognizable anarchy here that the show, and the movie, taps and makes blisteringly, and bruisingly, and rib-crackingly funny. I used to think that there must be something going on under the surface here-- a strain of anal/fecal/phallic/pain-obsessed performance art, maybe-- that made it so watchable. But now I think that's probably just an instinct to rationalize the fact that I find this vile, disgusting behavior (which is, for all its mean-spiritedness, more self-directed than it is designed to victimize anyone on camera) flat-out hilarious. It's funny, and it's perversely fascinating.

By the way, Sharon, I remember there being quite a few (young) women in the audience whern I saw jackass: the movie, so I suspect it might well be the same situation for Number Two. But I wonder-- and you know that I've never made a typo ever-- what exactly is "a fairy estrogen-free zone"? Wanna go to the movies with me in September?!

That Little Round-Headed Boy said...

Dennis, there are motherf****** snakes on the motherf****** plane! Good one.

Wagstaff said...

That's weird. My wife loves Jackass more than I do, and I think it's pretty funny. The other day we were watching some contestants suffer through THE FEAR FACTOR, and I thought, why don't they just let the Jackass guys play? They would clean up, no problem.

blaaagh said...

Well, I can't explain it, and I'm often the guy who says "what's wrong with you guys??", but this movie (the first one) was just so extemely in touch with what we guys (for some reason) find funny that I couldn't help but enjoy it, even as I cried out, "what idiots!" and "what is wrong with these guys?" Oh well...bring on the next one. I'm just glad I have more sense than to actually try this stuff (ditto for my "little friends"). I don't even know what to say about the old-age makeup they used in the film, except it's incredibly bad, and incredibly funny.

Steve said...

Go on and add me to the rolls of film buffs who dig jackass: the movie. I laughed so hard at a part in the first film ("Tropical Pole Vaulting") that I gave myself a headache. I suppose I could rationalize this by claiming it's merely a new-millennium extension of the slapstick ethos. Or I could just admit that I kinda enjoy watching guys do stupid stuff.

Anonymous said...

Count me in!

The most beautiful thing is that I had no idea this one was coming: first Clerks II took me by surprise; and now Jackass...

It's a shame that we should even be tempted to offer caveats & explanations & such: Yes, I would also love to see the new Hanneke, & the new film from the Dardennes--but I'm REALLY looking forward to Knoxville's update of the old cinematic madcap!