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August 1994


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"Edward R. O'Neill" <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 29 Aug 1994 01:16:00 PDT
text/plain (33 lines)
While it is not  difficult to admire the bravura technical panache of
NBK, I have to say that I didn't find it very interesting.  Nothing
about the film appealed to me, least  of all the story or characters
(if that isn't too simple-mindedly old-fashioned).  There is *barely*
a story there, and the director's lack of interest is clear from the
way the couple's romantic difficulties appear and disappear without
any resolution (about halfway through the film).  The only character
I found interesting was the Native American, although this character
also smacks of Stone's half-baked mysticism.   Further, the mish-
mash of film stocks was so non-stop that  I quickly started screening
it  all out.  As an occasional device, I think it's effective, but
it  was so over-the-top that it stopped having any significance.
  This may seem like an absurd criticism, since Stone is so incoherent
that "significance" is not  what he's aiming for.  IMPORTANCE, yes.
The  key line in the film for me is towards the end when the hero and
heroine explain to the tv journalist  that they're making a statement,
but they don't know what it is.  Ditto Stone.  He's certainly self-
aware enough to know this is the case, too.
  NBK is not a critique of violence and the media--it's a valentine.
Stone gets so high on what he's supposedly satirizing that the satire
or commentary disappears.  Which raises an interesting critical issue:
namely, reflexivity does not always produce critique or critical
distance.  Rather, the distance between what's being sent-up and the
send-up diminishes to the point where the difference is negligible.
NBK is such a tired re-tread of so many cliches, from Gun Crazy to
Badlands to Bonnie and Clyde, that it's difficult to watch as a movie.
  I felt like the director who supposedly saw The Third Man and sent
Carol Reed a level--so he would stop with all the canted angles.
  As for Oscars, I think the film is probably too far out to get much
recognition from the Academy, which prefers a more tame form of
Edward R. O'Neill