A sometimes half-arsed record of the process of writing in its' variegated many forms.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Chayefsky, the mad genius

Paddy Chayefsky, the mad genius of the early days of television, who so wonderfully embodies the values of the Hollywood Renaissance, I just felt I had to say how inspired and inspiring the film Network is; how intense and burrowingly perceptive the whole thing is. I was concerned early on about the portrayal of women, but this transcends gender as does business. It masculinizes everyone involved or scoffs them off to lick their wounds unobtrusively and out of the way. The performances all around are well renowned, but the smaller role of William Holden's wife played by Beatrice Straight is the moment of punctured life in the continued saga of histrionics. It's an important and well-placed moment that gives the film a roundness that I respect greatly. He nails it down with every word, and the actors give breath to those words with astounding dignity. It's just a really good movie, and one that has given me just a moment of inspiration and feeling when I thought films had lost that ability forever. A mild exaggeration, but then I'm prone for such things.
It occurred to me as I was watching the Ecumenical Liberation Army's squabble over distribution costs and anciliary rights or somesuch that there is a powerful tradition of great truth telling in the arts, and one that must be continued and fought for and sought out and delineated. It also occurred to me how much creative will must go into the creation of something like that. I'm struggling to get at my meaning here because as usual I refuse to speak directly. Let me try again. I think that there is so much that is creative and powerful and unique in our artistic history that it's a crying shame that the kinds of remakes we get are things like old sitcoms or cheap cash ins on a once popular or possibly solid artistic product (i.e. Sabrina). It occurs to me that there's this huge wealth of wonderful material that should be drawn from and used as an inspiration point, not just gimickified for a quick dollar bill. Some questions arise: is it art or business that controls the artistic markets, and is there an art to business that isn't a con, especially when it comes down to art? It really feels hollow and plastic when the business end of things gets through with our cultural representations, and it just occurred to me that this is not healthy, is entirely counterproductive, and quite possibly heavily financially restrictive. It's just that artists tend never to take financial considerations into play, and so the business end of things always feels they must find an exploitable element and try to play that up. It's slickness personified: an idea made manifest in our collective consciousness and then realized in individuals who find there ways into positions of control and influence. Perhaps I'm talking beyond my scope and not making much sense, but it just feels like a cheap con sometimes. I just think we can do better.

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