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March 1999, Week 4


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Ed Owens <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 22 Mar 1999 09:23:32 -0500
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[log in to unmask] wrote:

> . . . cognoscenti can enjoy the kind of self-irony
> that pervades the film's well marked awareness of how trivial the
> plot itself is, while others can simply enjoy the ride provided
> by the writing on the back of a tired but eternal plot . . .

...and that is precisely the reason why so many feel SiL is overrated.
The whole notion of "cognoscenti" patting themselves on the back at just
how witty the writing is.  But that doesn't cover the film's other
problems, most notably a horrible transition problem between the film's
dominant tones--a problem which, I might add, LiB also suffers from.

> . . .
> whereas in SIL the pieces fit splendidly . . .

I have cut a great deal to get here, but most of it was in relation to

My argument is precisely the opposite.  My perception was--and is--that
SiL was--and is--marvelously written, but that it loses something in the
translation.  I'm not saying it's a bad film--in fact, I quite enjoyed it
myself.  But I don't think it's **the** film that many are making it out
to be.

> to put it another way, LIB thinks it's saying something new--but
> it's not . . . SIL knows that it's not saying anything new, winks at
> us about the impossibility of saying anything both new and true,
> and goes on to tell its old story with sublime panache and wit

But is self-awareness--the action of "winking" at its audience--isn't
really that fresh of late.  This is, after all, the Scream generation,
where self-awareness in cinema is rapidly becoming the only cinema.  Add
to this the fact that this is not exactly new for Stoppard (the much
better, IMO, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead), and you're fresh
approach is no longer that fresh.

My take is somewhat different.  LiB tells its old story with a refreshing
dose of feeling and passion, while SiL recycles its intellectually "fresh"
approach at the expense of emotion or feeling.


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