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November 1997, Week 3


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"Gareth B." <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Mon, 17 Nov 1997 11:13:03 -0700
text/plain (47 lines)
> As for people wanting to see their own cinema, last week I asked my
> Portuguese students to characterise Portuguese cinema for an English
> student doing a semester with us.  Their response: boring, slow,
> pretentious, too little attention to technical matters (eg, poor sound).
> That is, not like their perception of mainstream American films.  When
> you're used to one type of film (simplifying), even seeing your own issues,
> in your own language, with locales in your own country are not necessarily
> enough by any means.
Do you mean that we should celebrate Portuguese movies BECAUSE they are
boring, slow, pretentious, and technically cruddy? Should we celebrate
them IN SPITE OF these flaws?  Should Portuguese movies be held to
different standards because they are Portuguese? Should an audience
member say "Well, this is boring and the craftsmanship stinks, but hey,
it's the best Portugal can do, so I ought to like it"?
Why shouldn't Portuguese films be held to a standard of technical
excellence? If a painter from Portugal exhibits a painting, and it's
boring and the colors are badly mixed, are we to celebrate it because it
happens to be Portuguese?  American movies have set the standards for
technical excellence.  You don't have to have digital sfx, but properly
exposed celluloid isn't too much to ask.  You don't have to have the
London Philharmonic playing your score, but decent location sound or
competent looping, sound design and Foley isn't excessive. Or expensive.
And what on earth does being boring, pretentious, and technically inept
have to do with the choice of locale?? PARIS, TEXAS is an American
movie, but the filmmaker happened to be East German. THE YAKUZA is a
Japanese movie, but the filmmaker happened to be American. KING OF
HEARTS was a joint English, French, and German movie. Is it French? Or
English? It takes place in France. My point: locale has nothing to do
with whether or not a movie is boring, pretentious, or has bad
Ahh, but the issues in Portoguese movies are PORTUGUESE! Should that
excuse badly made work?
When my children were 5 and 6, I put their art on the refrigerator. Of
course, that was for sentimental reasons, not because I thought they
should really have been in the Guggenheim.
Paul E. Clinco
Online resources for film/TV studies may be found at ScreenSite