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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]>
Tue, 30 Aug 1994 01:23:00 PDT
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Just to clarify my recent post on NBK.  Jeff B. took me to task a bit
for underestimating Stone's attention to detail and control.  I don't
undervalue these at  all.  Stone clearly created a vibrant visual
surface.  What I said was that the director didn't interest himself too
much in the narrative, which is sloppy at best and hackneyed at worst.
Perhaps these critical terms are too blunt.  When a director strives to
exceed a more normative Hollywood style, narrative structure is bound
to change, too.  Even at the level of pure style, though, I don't find
what Stone's doing in this film too original or too interesting.  It's
more (dare I say it) a pastiche (including effects borrowed from
Zentropa), as is the case at the level of plot, too.
  I do credit Stone with doing something out of the ordinary, I merely
question to what end.  Particularly important to me is the supposed
critique of the media and violence, which, as I said last time, is not
so much a critique as a valentine.  Stone gets high on what he's
supposedly looking down on.  Perhaps this is what makes him interesting:
he can't  manage pat moral attitudes, because he's so conflicted and
his conflicts are so out there on the surface.
   Charley Murphy's post brings up some interesting questions:  if
MTV bears some relation to experimental film, what is to be made of the
differences, such as the commercial end of MTV, which, even as we speak,
is test marketing an MTV home shopping channel?
   Combining recent posts about NBK and a thread about product placement:
apparently Coke was only told that  their commercial would appear
within the context of a mythical superbowl broadcast.  It seems they
did not bother to read the script and were, of course, livid with the
results.  Seeing a nearly full-length Coke ad on the movie screen was
probably for me the most interesting and enjoyable moment in the film,
since Stone seemed to be pushing the limits of the cinema-tv question--
how are they to differentiate themselves?--as well as giving Coke a
big slap in t he face.
  Isn't  it significant that so many films which appear in the movie
theaters now are derived from old TV shows, as if Hollywood's long-
standing attempt to distance itself from TV were somehow reversing
--Edward R. O'Neill