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11/24/2019

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Hear, hear, on both movies and music. I've tried to listen to both Grande and Del Rey without success. I find the former simply annoying -- musically, vocally, lyrically -- and the latter just tedious, given that any number of female artists have been doing what she's currently doing, but far better, since at least the early 90's. Those of us who cut our teeth on Portishead and Massive Attack can only look at Del Rey and wonder what all the fuss is about.

Miley Cyrus can actually sing quite well, and is pretty good when she sings country- and blues-inflected stuff, but unfortunately she doesn't do enough of it.

"It's ok if you scoff at my complaint as those of an old boomer who can't handle the kids these days. It doesn't actually have much to do with age. It has to do with whether Cheez-Whiz should be considered cheese or not."

Exactly. I can rattle off at least a dozen contemporary female singers or female-fronted bands that I thoroughly enjoy, so it's nothing to do with chronology.

Following the Cheez-Whiz analogy, the term that I tend to use when describing/criticizing this music is "processed." I don't mean that necessarily in an electronic or digital way, because I do enjoy a fair amount of electronic and digital music. I mean it in the sense that it gives the illusion of having feeling, soul, vibrancy, etc., but it is in fact only an illusion. All the organic aspects of those things, so to speak, have been filtered out and replaced by something manufactured. It's the aural equivalent of the rampant overuse of CGI.

I can remember when I was listening to music back in my high school and college days (late 70s/early 80s) and complaining with other muso friends about certain records being "overproduced." We had no flippin' idea.

You describe the "cheez-whiz" aspect better than I did. That's part of the explanation of the reason for it "presenting" to me not as music but as mere sound. Most of the explanation, in fact. Like you, possibly even more than you, I like electronic music, and electronic touches in music that isn't primarily electronic. I'm not sure why that's different. In part maybe because part of the point there is to play with sounds that don't exist in nature. Metal is manufactured, and doesn't really exist in nature. But you don't perceive metal as being a synthetic something in the way that you perceive plastic made to look like wood as synthetic, it's just something else entirely.

I was slightly surprised to see Lana del Rey with those other two. I had the impression that her work was more in the hipster direction than theirs (as her adopted name suggests).

It's hard to imagine that that music will be remembered as music. Maybe as an artifact of its time, something those who grew up with it will grow nostalgic about, but not for its artistic merit. Like "Sugar Sugar."

The stuff I've heard from Del Rey is just pop-electronica/trip-hop lite. Very vanilla. She has a nice voice but the material is weak.

Probably not bad but I think I can skip someone who titles an album Norman F****** Rockwell. I'm like, who cares.

Isn't that trio basically doing rap, with some extra noise thrown in?

It's rap-ish, definitely, but they're singing. Or chanting. Rap is basically speaking, though sung refrains seem to be used a lot. Not that I have a whole lot of knowledge.

This is rap. A very casual listen gave me the impression that some of the words are pretty crude.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHRnvjCkTsw

Don't know how accurate it is but I usually refer to that "sung" rap as hip hop, using the word "rap" for the spoken/chanted stuff only.

I think there is something of a demarcation between people who grew up on music prior to rap's rise to popularity in the mid 80's, and those whose musical tastes developed afterwards. For the latter rap/hip hop was simply a part of the musical landscape, and did not need any sort of adjusting to as it did for us who are slightly older. I have friends in their 40s, some of them musicians, who make no delineation between their appreciation for certain rap/hip hop artists and their liking for any other form of pop music.

In a way it's similar to those folks slightly older than me who never warmed to the whole punk/new wave thing but instead stuck with "classic rock." There are lots of them here in Pittsburgh. We often joke that musical time here stopped in 1979.

I suspect that's nationwide. It's certainly true here. There's at least one station devoted to it, and others have it in their mix.

I've never been clear as to whether there's a clear distinction between rap and hip-hop. Not that I've put a whole lot of effort into it. I've made a couple of efforts to find something in that line that I really liked, without much success. In most of what I've heard the lyrics range from uninteresting to offensive, so in a genre which puts them at the forefront that's a pretty big handicap. I do like The Roots' How I Got Over pretty well. I wrote about it here at the time.

I've heard a few rap songs that I've liked over the years, but never enough to follow up with it/them. One I remember was called "Starry Eyed Surprise," but I don't who did it and when -- probably early 2000's.

I've seen a couple of the Infinity Wars movies, but they are entirely forgettable. I don't know how people identify with these cartoon characters or their cartoon exploits.

Not very many, I imagine. In that sense, I think Scorsese has a point. Although critics find important meanings in them, you can do that with any story, because the elemental themes always recur.

Before I read this blog, the main person who recommended both music and movies to me was my older brother (he cannot do it any more for health reasons). I remember him saying, I don't know, maybe 20 years ago, before they were everywhere, that he didn't like these new 'cartoonish' movies, because he could not identify with an indestructible hero performing humanly impossible exploits.

I tend strongly to agree, but then I don't rarely like any any kind of fantasy / magic / alternative world fiction or movie, for the same reason.

My lodger and I went to see Terminator 6 last night, and it was dreadful, of course. He wanted to see it, and I had not seen a Terminator film before so I was game. The trailers were all, every single one of them, for this kind of cartoon epic.

Of course we also live in an era of excellent cartoon movies, mainly Japanese, mainly recommended by Janet.

Of course I would not say the cartoon epics and the big fantasy type movies were 'just the same thing'. But I think there's a loose family resemblance between them, and that is the reason why both have been popular at the same time (in the past two decades).

Heroic exploits in the movies of, say, 1930-1980 would be very difficult for a normal human being, but not impossible for any, Olympian athletic-typic human being.

Im not sure if, once having abandoned any pretense at natural realism its possible for them to go back. They have to make it more and more impossible.

But I just watched a movie where three women parachute out of an airplane in a hummvee, land at the bottom of a lake, entangle their pursuer, a robot sent from the future to kill them, in the parachute, swim to the surface, and then run away.

Making it more and more impossible just backfires for me. Some time ago, fifteen years at least, we got cable tv with a jillion channels, and one of them showed all the old James Bond movies. I watched a couple of the old ones, which I more or less enjoyed, and then part of one of the much newer ones (no idea of the name now), and I noticed that it was not nearly as much fun because the stunts were so far over the top, so totally unbelievable, that they just weren't engaging. I guess everybody has a different threshold of disbelief, and arguably the old ones were pretty far-fetched should be considered beyond it, but the new ones just didn't seem to have much hold on reality at all. Stuff like that last one you described.

Old man note: there is no James Bond other than Sean Connery.

I didn't see any of the Terminator movies until 20 years after the first one came out. I thought the first one was a pretty good action-thriller. I would even half-recommend it, as simple entertainment. Must have seen two more, because there were two different Terminators, one a woman, and didn't care much for them. I didn't know they were up to 6(!).

"Old man note: there is no James Bond other than Sean Connery."

So true.

AMDG

It's just sad, the way these modern people have no respect for tradition.

OK, Boomer

Damn right.

I went to see Ford v Ferrari to get Terminator out of my head. First class performances from Bale and Damon

I'm pretty sure I would enjoy that. I actually was somewhat aware of the Carroll Shelby thing when it was going on. I was in my teens and sort of interested in cars at the time.

I keep trying to remember what Aristotle said about the plots of plays or epics. Its something like 'not true but plausible'.

The Ford Ferrari movie, though largely a 'true story' as the movies understand that term, somewhat illustrates this. Almost no one could drive a car like Ken Miles / Christian Bale. But one person did!

Its not as if they get involved in a car chase and then drive the car across the top of twenty other cars.

I watched this movie because it was recommended by John Podhoretz, and I like *most* of the movies he recommends. One thing I found dispiriting about the reaction to Scorcese's remarks, was that everyone - including critics I often agree with, such as Pod - simply scoffed at Scorcese, as if he was a ghastly, elitist snob. But Pod himself says that most movies these days are being made for 12 year old boys.

I never followed racing particularly, but I can remember when the Le Man race was synonymous with some kind of racing glamour. Im not even sure if it exists any longer. I can remember when racing cars was a sort of glamorous profession, which it doesn't seem to be any longer, unless its simply passing me by.

the movie is about 25 minutes too long but really, in my op, a good film. Beautiful performance from the actress who plays Ken Miles' wife, and genuinely thrilling races. One extremely funny, ironic scene between the racer and his wife.

A year or two ago I heard the name Stirling Moss on the radio and it took a minute for me to place it. It was definitely a glamorous name 50 or so years ago. Had not heard it since then I guess. I hadn’t thought of all that since I was a teenager. But I do see a lot of news about NASCAR, enough to recognize the names of drivers. So I guess that’s replaced Grand Prix in this country at least.

Yes, I think the glamour of Le Mans comes from a time when Europe was far off and glamorous - both to Americans and to English people! Travelling to France had a certain 'Jet setter' feel to it in the period when the movie is set (1966 ish).

I guess that must be part of it. Wikipedia indicates that it's definitely still a big thing.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/24_Hours_of_Le_Mans

So it seems a bit odd that it should be so much less known. Come to think of it, I don't hear about the Indianapolis 500 like I used to. Granted, when I was in my mid-teens in the mid-sixties, I was sort of interested in cars, way more than I am now, so I can't be sure how much it was in the general news. But I definitely don't go out of my way to read about NASCAR, and it manages to get into my field of attention.

Yes I looked up Le Mans this morning and saw that some Dutch guy Ive never heard of won eight times. The only thing I lnow about Nascar is that video with the funny prayer, including thanking God for ‘my hot wife’. She appears in the video in my recollection and is a very very solid mother of five

I was going to say that it’s because the world of celebrities is now almost entirely populated by the world of entertainment but then I thought no because even I could name a few football stars

I sort of think Mario Andretti was something of a household name in his time. At any rate I was aware of him and I certainly didn't follow auto racing. But I certainly couldn't name a current non-NASCAR race driver. Drawing a blank on current NASCAR in fact at the moment, since Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Danica Patrick have retired (I think).

Football season is about the only time I ever see TV with commercials, which always reminds me how much I hate them. They fairly often feature people whom I'm obviously supposed to recognize but generally don't. Also they're of a size and demeanor that makes it pretty apparent that they're athletes. Of course that's what you would expect in commercials during football games. There's one that includes two that I do recognize, Peyton Manning (football) and Brad Paisely (country music).

"he didn't like these new 'cartoonish' movies, because he could not identify with an indestructible hero performing humanly impossible exploits."

I said the same thing when a lot of the newer action/adventure movies started to become CGI-fests. What we're getting with these is not "cinema," but big glorified cartoons.

I don't necessarily mind CGI as such. But "an indestructible hero performing humanly impossible exploits"--there's no excitement or tension if the filmmaker can just dispense with physical reality whenever it suits him.

Big glorified cartoons that dispense with reality - exactly! But why then did everyone just scoff at Martin Scorcese's comments? Maybe no one cares, because we all just watch miniseries when we want to see cinema.

I meant to say earlier that I'm skeptical of Podhoretz as a film critic, because he scoffed at Bergman. That's a big demerit in my book. I'm trying to remember what made me aware of Scorsese's column. I think it was someone else's recommendation but I can't remember now. Anyway, point is whoever that was didn't scoff.

True about miniseries. Since early on there has been this association of movies (regular 1.5-3 hours) with novels, but it never really worked. Novels are usually just too big to fit that format all that well. But with the 10 or more hours of a miniseries, you really can do justice to a novel, or create something comparable to a novel.

Do either of you (or anyone else reading this) have a Criterion Channel subscription? It has real cinema, of course, and I'm embarrassed by how little I've used it. Plenty of capital-C Cinema there, but a lot of it seems less than interesting to me.

I know that Podhoretz seldom likes high cinematic art, but he's very good on popular cinema.

I don't have internet at home so everything I watch is on DVD.

I don't have a TV, so I only endure the ad plague when listening to the radio in the car. There's a great radio station in Chicago but I can only endure it for about half an hour driving in and out of the city because of the repetitive ads.

I agree with Rob G about CGI in the sense that being able to invent the settings must influence the rest of the movie and incline it toward sheer invention.

I agree that Pod tends toward middle and lowbrow taste in cinema, but I usually accept this as a defect of the virtue of being able to write well about middle and low brow cinema. The thing about these cartoon films (which it seems we all equally dislike) is that they don't just endanger European Art cinema (they don't endanger that at all). They endanger good middle and lowbrow cinema.

I'm really irrational about TV commercials. I mean, most people dislike most of them, but dislike is way too wimpy a word for my reaction. I've always been that way. Not sure I could watch football without a mute button to squelch the audio when commercials come on.

Yeah, there's probably near-zero overlap between the Marvel audience and the Art Film audience. Just to be clear, I do find the Marvel stuff mildly enjoyable, but no more than that.

I am the overlap.

AMDG

I have watched all of the Marvel and DC films up until the last few which I don't seem interested in, so maybe I'm over it now?

However, I am much more into real cinema. I would have to say that Woody Allen is my all time favorite director and if he has ever used CGI for anything it was in a very small capacity. In Deconstructing Harry he made Robin Williams exist as an out of focus character, does that count as CGI?

Martin Scorsese is of course correct, as are all of you, these superhero movies are just cartoons with real actors/actresses. They do carry some emotional weight (as seen in Avengers Endgame) but even then you can argue forever about the how and why of what happened because as Mac (I think) pointed out, within this sort of world the rules can be changed to suit the filmmaker.

I only watch TV and DVDs. I have internet, but I do no streaming. I just returned from a week at a friend's in Wisconsin and he had streaming....I'm glad I don't have it, I would get sucked into these series and never read!

Commercials are horrific, Mac. I use the MUTE button a lot!

:-)

I saw two of them within the past few months and could not tell you anything at all about them, not even the names of most of the people.

In case it was not obvious, my response was to the comment about overlap in the Marvel and Art Film audiences...

Well, there you go, Stu. We stand together in the tiny overlap of that Venn diagram.

AMDG

My last comment was to Janet, too, though it works just as well either way. Didn’t see Stu’s for several hours.

I admit I do sometimes make a muting exception for the Geico gecko.

The Geico ads are funny

Saw JoJo Rabbit last night -- I have a couple slight qualms, but on the whole it's very good. Funny, but also quite moving in places.

Oh, and also saw the preview for the new Malick film. It looks fantastic.

I need to catch up on Malick. I think there are at least two post-Tree of Life ones that I've missed.

We are having a showing of the new Malick at our cathedral this weekend

I guess everybody is all excited about Frozen II. :-|

A Hidden Life starts here on Dec. 20. I tried to read a book of Jagerstatter's letters and was just slogging my way through. I finally decided I had to give it back to the person I borrowed it from, but I suspect the letters near the end might have been more interesting.

I agree with Grumpy that maybe the worst thing about all these cartoon-like movies is that they "endanger good middle and lowbrow cinema".

There's a movie about Franz Jagerstatter that was made for Austrian television in 1971. It's up on YouTube, and it has English subtitles: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDvW42iSeVs

They aren't cartoons with people, they are comics with people. Cartoons are things like Mickey Mouse and the Roadrunner. Comics are graphic.

AMDG

Sorta like the difference between movies and film? ;-)

I hate to say this (really, I do), but a movie about Franz Jagerstatter doesn't sound very appealing to me. It doesn't mean that I don't admire him.

Seeing the trailer might change your mind! It looks like a beautiful film.

Mac I Don’t usually like seeing movies but this is Malick!

I dont usually like Saint Movies!!! But Malick!

Though I suppose it could have the worst of all worlds and be saccharine and deadly slow at the same time. Or some kind of saccharine and unbelievable nunny set of episodes which is simultaneoysly incomprehensible as a narrative. When you think about it the Saint movie and the art hot house movie are very similar genres

Of course Janet is right that these movies are comics not cartoons

Yes, EG and Rob, I'm sure you're right--it's Malick, and so....

Is "nunny" a typo or is that what you meant? The latter, I hope--good word. "very similar genres"--I don't entirely agree but that's funny.

It's partly the "Saint movie" syndrome that makes me say the idea is not appealing. It's also partly the Nazi movie syndrome. How many times in movies and tv has that situation been used? There's a kind of exhaustion on my part, because it's always painful, and yet nothing new has been said, no new insight has emerged.

Yes, I invented the word 'nunny'. This semester I did a directed reading with seven grad students on The Concept of Woman. Its a four volume book about - the concept of woman, ending up with JP II and complementarity. Its a really good, serious scholarly work. Prudence Allen, the author, is a religious sister but she was taught by many people who were far from her own perspective and she has a fine, well disciplined academic mind. Except for when she doesn't. I invented the term 'nunny' for when she doesn't, after somewhat lamely suggesting 'maybe its feminist methodology?' Its not supposed to be a work of theology. Its supposed to be a work of history of ideas, specifically history of philosophy. But we are told the modern age begins with the apparitions at Guadalope, treated as solid science and the discovery of the shroud at Turin, also solid science. There's nothing wrong with that in theology but in history of ideas, its kind of 'nunny' to think that everyone could see the evidential basis for the apparitions at Guadalope or the Shroud of Turin. It takes a kind of pious mind (which I entirely lack).

the comment about art house movies and saint movies was intended as a joke, but it does fit perfectly the tastes of our catholic grad students!

I have to admit I like Nazi movies from The Sound of Music to Inglorious Basterds. It has to be part of the attraction for me.

The most surprising thing in what you said is that a serious academic would also have a nunny mind. Not that I think it's impossible, but it certainly seems rare. Seems like the academic process would pretty well beat that out of one.

There actually is a surprising amount of scientific evidence for the authenticity of the Shroud. It was an article in Rolling Stone back ca 1980 that made me really take notice--the conclusion was that the image was created by "a burst of radiant imagery" (if I remember correctly). The best the skeptical writer could do, in the face of the evidence, was to conjecture that Jesus was some kind of enormously powerful magician. The supposed disproof in 1988 seems to have been seriously flawed. Which of course doesn't mean one should put the Shroud forward as "settled science."

She really is a nunny scholar

I am pretty sure that isn't really any such thing as truly settled science. There are things that we have settled on as being almost surely true, but who knows? Tomorrow we could find out that water isn't just made up of hydrogen and oxygen, but has a twist of lime or something.

I say this because lately I am so annoyed by the phrase, "But it's SCIENCE!"

AMDG

Most frequently bandied by people who majored in English or art or something...don't get me started....

I like that twist of lime idea.

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