Friday, July 09, 2010

Revamping Criticism

American literature is screwed up because out criticism is screwed up. Today's critics are unable to distinguish good art from bad art. They mistake artiness for art-- the Nicole Krauss story "The Young Painters" in the New Yorker an example of this. The best art should have a foundation in life: roots in the fundamentals of human experience. You know-- out-of-fashion motifs like truth, honor, heroism, friendship, love, loyalty, conflict, and beauty.

In the 1961 film "El Cid," which I saw on a movie screen in New York City yesterday, a champion knight throws a gauntlet loudly onto a castle floor. In the same way, I here throw down a gauntlet and claim that "El Cid," as a movie, as film, as art, is better than all but a handful of motion pictures ever made.

An absurdity? An impossible case to make?

Over the course of the summer, along with other posts, I'll make that case. In the process I hope to awaken intelligent people to new ways of viewing art and questioning it, and so enable them to better create it.

(Chapters in this process will include "Movie-as-Movie"; "The Supporting Cast"; "Visual and Aural Splendor"; "The Joust"; and "The Prophetic Plot." I've reopened comments to all to allow challenges to my ideas.)

6 comments:

Harland said...

It's not even better than a handful of other Anthony Mann films.

King said...

Really? Which ones? Is this the critical consensus? Can you try thinking for yourself?
I like Mann's westerns a great deal-- "The Far Country" is my favorite-- but they were mere practice for "El Cid."

Harland said...

OF COURSE it's the critical consensus. HOW ON EARTH could I presume to venture forth naked with a judgment of my own?

King said...

Back it up then, dude.
To date I've seen very little from you that wasn't the critical consensus.

Harland said...

Gosh, King. I don't know if I agree. If you look back at my comments, I'm hardly party line. I don't think I agree with you, but -- and maybe this goes to the heart of my disagreement with you -- I don't think that makes me a "pod person."

Naked Spur. I think it's sublime, really. I like The Far Country too, a lot. The Stewart westerns are kind of the quintessential post-war Stewart.

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