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March 1994


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Sterling <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Thu, 3 Mar 1994 17:12:00 EST
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To my disappointment, it seems like this Reservoir Dogs thing has sort
of peetered out and so here I will try to revive a discussion before
I finally leave for Spring Break.
   Mary Kolff (sorry if misspelled) differentiated straightforward, dir
ect, unflinching type of violence/cruelty in Reservoir Dogs from the
either tongue-in-cheek, cartoony violence (a la Jackie Chan perhaps) or
sweeping male melodrama (a la John Woo) of the "typical" Hong Kong ac-
tion film.
    I think this is true.  Okay, what about the violence of many a Scor
cese film?  I really hate/was disappointed in Good Fellas in which a
psychopathic (Joe Pesci? esp) violence and the sort of "mundanity"
of violence/crime lifestyle is addressed.  I was perhaps equally dis-
turbed with Raging Bull (but feel less negatively perhaps) in which
a socially-approved and non-socially-approved violence is addressed.
But in such a context, I especially find the critically-hated King of
Comedy to be interesting in which a sort of desperation and violence is
still present but for some reason it's perhaps amusing or touching or
funny?  Is such humor based on the proportion of the violence to the
goals strived for (ends justify the means?).
   So much for Scorsese.  What about Reservoir Dogs?  It's one of the
few film that stick in mind which deals directly with frighteningly ir
ational violence but I was still engaged (unlike Raging Bull or Good
Fellas).  Hmm.  I don't really know what to think.
   Now why is the Jackie Chan violence considered more cartoony?  Clear-
ly it is often more staged (with 1-on-1 showdowns) but what about his
less overtly comedic work like Supercop (Police Story and sequels)?
Now I don't really feel like offering answers to these questions but
here's a bunch more questions I'm wondering about:
what about noir and John Woo with the individual/buddies against a mult
itude and whatever.  By the way is it in the Miami Vice vein?
What about the violence in Unforgiven or even Boyz in the Hood?  When
I went to see Unforgiven, people were actually cheering at the end when
Eastwood is shooting everyone (except the writer) in the saloon.  I've
heard the same for Boyz when Doughboy shoots the guy in the Bulls hat.
     What about the violence in Man Bites Dog where a documentary crew
follows around filming a serial killer?  How do we react to such vio-
lence but juxtaposed with irony?
    What about the "violence" in Chantal Ackerman's Jean Deilmann which
I suppose is pretty obscure but I recently saw in class.
   Lastly I guess we could compare with "standard" Hollywood violence of
say Aliens or Die Hard.  The final question is probably whether or not
any such violence has an effect on people and if so what?  --What with
all this talk about banning violence on TV,etc.  --Sterling Chen