Saturday, January 29, 2005

Being There

As part of a general frustration with the hagiography that takes place when it comes to film criticism, it seemed necessary to apply the defibrillator to countless critics' chests in an effort to revive what has sadly become a simple adjunct to so much promotional material. The purpose of Being There is to bring attention to artists and their oevre to the extent that it is possible to illumine vast bodies of work cogently while describing the creative personality behind the films or characters presented.

In upcoming volumes one can expect substantive discussion of Hal Ashby and his 1970's films (ending with the namesake of this column), as well as insights into The Life & Death of Peter Sellers, the man himself, and his filmic contortions throughout his career. The effort to elucidate the best elements of repertory cinema is a daunting one, and something better done in concert with others, and as the developing links will demonstrate, there are a number of amateur critics far more capable of the task than those regularly published in print media who are unfettered from commercial ends, the same commercial ends that have brought the notion of an enduring American cinema to a near standstill.

So it is the auteur spirit that imbues the enveloping dark of the matinée with the aim of revitalizing discourse about film history by invoking the initial ambitions of the best filmmakers in their prime, particularly those who were themselves amateur students of film, before such a thing as film school existed, before one could be trained to understand what was and wasn't permitted, prior to the induction of hobbling conventions, and the major studio insistence that it simply couldn't be done. It is hoped that this space will be a proving ground and a notebook for developing ideas that will regularly appear over at The Projector, and that the inputs at-large will shape them and the column as it becomes a regular feature there.


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