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.)