catapult magazine

catapult magazine




Apr 19 2002
05:12 am

I’ll start this baby.

What was everyone’s initial reaction to this film?

As I may have already mentioned, it was one of my favorite films of last year. I remember that upon leaving the theatre after seeing it for the first time, simple actions like throwing away my Coke cup and unlocking my car door took on a sort of new significance and freshness. I was totally captivated for the whole film and very affected by it.

I do wonder, why the incredibly strong style? It’s about an inch from being a parody of film noir, it seems. I realize that it wouldn’t be the same movie if presented any other way, but could they have told the story in a different style? Why was it important and what’s the relationship between style and the story (form and content?)?


May 16 2002
10:15 am

Those things are there, fine, but you’re choosing to see it that way. That doesn’t mean that every movie is solely a response to another movie or the nature of film/filmmaking. You’re just sitting in another interpretive camp like any other literary theorist.
The point of my comment and the fear I was expressing was that perhaps the Coens simply recycle film. There’s a difference between making movies about movies and making movies about the nature of movies, like you’re talking about. In a sense, yes, all films comment on their own nature, but do the Coens simply try to be Capra or Chandler? Are all their films simply love letters to their predessors? No, I don’t think so.
To use another example, when Taxi Driver was released, it was deeply steeped in cinema history, and in fact has become a part of that history as it gets older. That doesn’t mean Taxi Driver is a movie solely about film noir and The Searchers. Scorcese is always making films questioning our ability to identify with rotten movie characters or the impact of film violence on the culture, but that doesn’t mean that’s all those movies are.
When you ask “What else is there for movie makers to make movies about?”, I’m sorry, but I have to say, plenty.

As you know, self-reference still irritates me. Whether it has a point or not.


May 17 2002
04:14 am

What do you find irritating about self reference?


May 18 2002
04:51 am

I think the general point I’m trying to make is not that films don’t communicate about many things, but that its form and content belong together. Being irritated with self-referential films would have to be an irritation with film itself, I think. I simply don’t believe a film can cease to be self-referential. This would be a ceasing to be film itself.

But I agree that calling Coen’s movies mere reproductions of older films is a pointless critical stance that reduces the richness of these movies to merely technical aspects.