movies, kulchur

I realized recently that I don’t care about movies (cinema, film, whatever) any more. In college, it was really a passion of mine. There was so much novelty to be had there: 1970s German movies, as well as Godard, convinced me that there were things to be done in film that were interesting and different than the aesthetically oriented movies I had gotten into in high school.

And I still think there are interesting things in movies. I saw a bunch of Hong Song-Soo a few years ago, and I still like Hong Song-Soo. There’s something fresh there. I really thought there was something to Godard’s Notre Musique, I like the Abbas Kiarostami I’ve seen, and maybe a few other things have grabbed me– Bujalski’s Mutual Appreciation was pretty great. But by and large, American movies are kind of dead, European filmmakers are doing the same thing they’ve been doing for the past 30 or 40 years (making _important_ movies), and everything else kind of runs together.

I could spin this into an argument about globalization, about the way that movies have become samey over the past few decades, and I do think there’s something to that. No one is experimenting with film in a way that is pushing beyond the canons of taste established by European movies several decades previously; Bela Tarr makes slow, precious movies in much the same way that a certain style of European film has been doing for decades, to pick only one easy target. (And popular movies are even worse.)

But more than this, I think it’s personal. I’m bored with a lot of the culture I come into contact with now. I’m more inclined to be frank that I’m ill-equipped to really appreciate certain kinds of culture in any meaningful way, such as classical, sonata-form works, where my lack of musical training means that the harmonic and melodic variation is somewhat lost on me. Some of this is being focused in on my work, in a way that makes me feel kind of at sea in other times and places. (Reading Stendhal, I just have no idea what’s going on, what the political and religious context is, etc.) But I think it’s more that I’m pleased by things much more than I am surprised or stimulated. Stendhal anticipates… oh, Fontane or Tolstoy in certain ways. Though I really have liked Stendhal, it’s hard to get excited about it in a way I did when younger. Filling gaps in one’s cultural education is significantly less exciting than discovering new territories or even continents, while my lack of knowledge about things related to my work seems significantly more important to rectify.


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