Tuesday, September 4, 2007

"Chill" by Anthony Lane

The article I chose from a January 2006 edition of The New Yorker pretty much bashed the movies released in 2005. “Chill,” written by Anthony Lane, used illustrative word choice and a slightly sarcastic voice to describe what he thinks is wrong with the movie-making industry today. His points were very interesting and, while I have definitely spent a lot of time discussing the string of bad movies recently, the different things he brought up never occurred to me. Lane says that there are two main things wrong with movies today, 1) there is no original material just remakes, sequels, or portrayals of already popular books and stories, and 2) movies go to extremes of action-packedness or meaning, and, consequently, the art of subtlety is lost.
In terms of tone, Lane has been a fan of American movies in the past but is disappointed in the more recent movie releases. He obviously considers himself a film connoisseur and has different sources to explore the root of the problem. I was impressed when he mentioned that he had taken the ideas of film students and their instructors into consideration when he formed his opinion of the short-comings of the film industry. Also, I was glad that he didn’t over-analyze the movies he used as examples because that was something he had accused film makers of doing. His approach to the subject was good, he came across informed and with thought-out opinions that he was passionate about even though they contradicted his previous opinion.
His enthusiasm for the subject comes out not only in his impressive choice of words but also in the slightly sarcastic voice he used to emphasize his point. Lane’s writing was light and humorous, punctuated by interesting anecdotes from various movies to further illustrate his outlook. Lane contradicts himself by claiming to favor American movies as a whole but writes with a pessimistic point of view concerning future US-made films. I think that while the sense of despair Lane used was certainly relevant in reference to the “bad” movies he describes in 2005, he should have switched to a more optimistic approach at the end of his article talking about future movies to support his opinion of America as a “formidable movie-making machine.”
Lane’s diction in the article was very impressive. He used topic-fitting meaningful words to explain his stance and, to be kind of cliché, painted vivid word pictures with his vocabulary. One of my favorite lines, “producers, in their lavish innocence, seem to believe that cool, like Christmas leftovers, can be reheated ad infinitum,” is a great example of both Lane’s ability to emphasize his point with appropriate words and create illustrative metaphors to further explain his views.
I don’t think the structure of this article did the points justice. While Lane’s sentences were well constructed, he jumped around between a couple of different points and examples in each of his paragraphs. Also, Lane didn’t really have a great flow to his article. He started out discussing the weakness of 2005 movies, gave some examples from movies, talked about film schools and their serious focus, incorporated some more movie examples, and then wrapped it up with some great foreign movies and a sense of despair for future American films. I think the article would have been more clear had he more obviously stated his points and wrote in a more systematic manner. While his ideas were well thought out, his writing was all over the place.


Anonymous said...

I can totally agree with what you said about him being all over the place (even though sometimes I have the EXACT same problem!). But I don't know if I really would call his word choice impressive or fitting. When I read the article online, it almost seemed like he was trying to dress up the issue with unnecessary words. Perhaps it us just my style, but I think he could've done without some of the extravagant words.

But when you pointed out that where he was coming from and the way his opinions were formed, that really brought another side of light to the article.

Matt said...

Good job analyzing and getting into the article. I like how you praised him on some points, and then criticized him on some. Good insight.

Poon said...

There really haven't been many extraordinary movies lately. The only genre of movies I typically enjoy are comedies, because they're getting more and more raunchy and real. For example, "SuperBad."
Sure, that movie was extremely offensive and open. But it was original comedy that no one had truly explored yet. I can respect those comedy troupes at least for their originality.

Wendy Sumner-Winter said...

Good job Lauren. I liked your use of examples directly from the text. All you need is MORE. :)

Wendy Sumner-Winter said...

. . . also, I'd like to hear a bit of your ideas on the subject. Are movies lame now? Could it be because movie-goers are lame? Thoughts?

SamFlan said...

Good analytical thinking. I find this subject very interesting, and I like the way that you found examples of his literary tools. What I liked most was the way that you cross-examined Lane himself and found the point-of-view from which he was writing. Good insight.