Sunday, June 20, 2010

Confuse me

Thanks to the evil geniuses at TCM, I was introduced to an amazing little film this weekend:

I won't even go into it. Words are horribly inadequate.

Of course, that didn't deter me from doing a little online research, which led to an interesting write-up over at Cinema du Merde, which in turn had the collateral benefit of reminding me of why I pursue weird cinema (or, for that matter, weird music) in the first place. This reminder was, in fact, highlighted as a "manifesto":

It's less about whether the movie is good, and more about whether it's enjoyable to watch.

We will never let a movie's cheesiness interfere with our engagement with its ideas.

Both of which seem noble aspirations to me. I'm particularly interested in the distinction between the "good" and the "enjoyable"; the former presumably refers to received notions of artistic value (i.e., what I'm supposed to think is "good"), while the latter suggests something more personal (i.e., art I actually enjoy, regardless of social sanctions for or against).

And yet it's more than that, too. In a world that reveres artistic mastery and critical omniscience, it can sometimes be refreshing and pleasurable to be drawn into something for no good, rational, compelling reason you can discern. Which is kind of where the reviewer at CdM takes his writeup on Darktown Strutters:

There is only one word that can describe this film: INEXPLICABLE. This is just one of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen, making me wonder who made it—and WHY—and who they thought they were making it for. This is a film that will make you say wtf? And then WTF?? And then W??? T??? F???

In this day and age, when most of us are a little careless with our "WTF?"s, it's nice to come across something that genuinely inspires that acronym. Because sometimes, being in a position where all you can do is genuinely wonder "what the fuck?" can be a healthy experience.

Why? Well, you'll never catch me promoting ignorance as a aesthetic framework, but by the same token, sometimes I think our mania for analyzing and understanding art can actually inhibit our experience of it. As Josh Sinton recently said of his Steve Lacy tribute band, Ideal Bread:

I’m playing these songs because I don’t understand the songs.

Honestly, who among us truly understands anything about the art we love?

Beginner's mind, baby.


Chimp said...

I find utility to be the most, er, useful criteria for judging films in recent years. It encompasses all the categories applied to one's personal relationship to the film (entertaining, educational, moving, provocative, etc.)and allows for a film to be valuable without necessarily having to be "good", or even liked.

Jill-o said...

Dang-- this movie isn't available via Netflix. Argh! I'd love to see it.

And I also want to make hats like theirs.