March 08, 2007

Ah, Cinema!

Last night, I stopped by my parents' house, and my dad had just turned on a movie, "High Art". I sat down to watch it with him, or at least as much as we could stand, which was about half an hour's worth.

A quick summary of the plot: There is a young woman in a New-York-like urban setting (as Dad described it, "the Lower Lower Side of New York") works for a magazine and claims to have majored in "critical theory" (which I doubt is an actual major, but serves as justification for the constant stream of pretentious artsy-fartsy piffle that comes out of her mouth). She discovers that her upstairs neighbor is a drug-using lesbian photographer who has a large circle of drug-using friends, many of whom are lesbians, none of whom are photographers. Young Woman tries to coax Lesbian Photographer to work for the magazine. Drug use, lesbianism, and depression ensue.

This movie is utterly without redeeming qualities. All of the characters are creepy and unappealing, none of the cast can act, the action is as boring as it's possible for a movie filled with drug use and lesbianism to be, and the mood is unrelentingly depressing. The film feels like a two-hour-long advertisement for suicide.

Dad summed it up aptly: "Drugs, lesbians, and photography. You'd think it would be impossible to make a bad movie featuring those three elements. But this movie shows that it is very possible indeed."

At one point, my mother walked in and sat down to watch the film. Within 30 seconds, she was shouting, "Turn it off, turn it off!" When Dad asked why, she replied, "Because it's creepy and disturbing. I want to slit my wrists just watching it. Is it set in Hell?"

The closest thing the film has to a star is Ally Sheedy, who plays Lesbian Photographer. When she first appeared on screen, Dad and I had the following exchange:

MF: I know that one!
DAD: I don't. Who is it?
MF: Ally Sheedy.
DAD: Who?
MF: Ally Sheedy.
DAD: Who the hell is Ally Seedy?
MF: Sheedy. She was a member of the Brat Pack. Remember them?
DAD: Oh. (pause) Wait a minute. That's a woman?
MF: Yes.
DAD: I was absolutely certain it was a man.

For some reason, the IMDb listing is flooded with people who loved the film and claim that it is one of the best movies of all time. I believe that these people all work for the production company.

Posted by Mediocre Fred at March 8, 2007 11:12 AM | TrackBack

Critical theory is a major in art history at UCLA. And the "crits," short for "critical legal theorist" or "critical race theorist," make up part of the faculty at most top law schools.

Posted by: PG at March 8, 2007 12:46 PM

I guess this is what happens when you're watching the Brooding Lesbian Crap Film Channel. Or Oxygen.

Posted by: PapaShaft at March 9, 2007 10:44 AM

PG: Actually, I had some inkling that there was such a discipline as critical theory, although I assume that the "crits" in law-school faculties learned something more useful than the Young Woman in the film, who sounded ridiculously overeducated to even my intellectual-snob ears.

Papa: It was in fact on the Logo Network, which turns out not to be the "Brooding Lesbian Crap Film Channel," but a reasonable approximation thereof.

Posted by: Mediocre Fred at March 9, 2007 12:20 PM

I do have to give the movie points for assisting when say, you're in your late teens/early 20s and having difficulty deciding if you are, in fact, a lesbian. Although it doesn't paint lesbianism in a very rosy light. However, in light of the fact that I was a) not involved in the photography world, and b) not a heroin addict, actual real-life lesbianism was a lot prettier.

However, I don't think I've seen the movie since it was in theaters due to its suckage.

On a side note...why is your dad watching the all-gay cable network? Is he hoping to catch a rerun of Queer as Folk that he missed? I watch LOGO pretty regularly, but can't imagine anything more painful than watching a moment of it with either of my parents.

Posted by: ensie at March 11, 2007 05:49 PM

MF, whether the "crits" actually learned/ do something more useful than the young woman in the film you describe probably will be the subject of a De Novo post soon. Basically, it's going to be about whether people who study how X operates, without taking from that a strategy of how to get Y done within that system, ought to be in professional schools that theoretically are mostly there to prepare people to get Y done, or if they should stay in liberal arts where knowledge is good for its own sake. I was having a discussion with a young conservative lawyer who thinks the crits ought to be in the sociology department instead of the law school. My own belief is that we ought to have such faculty in the professional schools because young lawyers / doctors / whatever should learn some liberal artsy thinking skills as well as just how to do certain functions. The med students in medicine and literature classes, for example, benefit greatly from looking at classic instances of the difficult patient. Also, these academics can be useful in critiquing the existing system and in getting it to change. If someone points out that a particular law or method of decision-making is biased in favor of patriarchal tradition (e.g., the former rule that in the absence of a will, a person's father rather than mother would be the default executor), then perhaps people who previously just hadn't thought about it will be moved to change -- altering the system rather than feeling compelled to work within it.

Posted by: PG at March 12, 2007 10:20 PM

ensie: I feel confident in saying that Dad had no idea whatsoever that LOGO is the all-gay cable network. My parents just got digital cable, see, and Dad apparently feels compelled to watch every single channel at least once. He tells me that he has not watched LOGO since the "High Art" fiasco.

PG: I look forward to reading your post about the usefulness of the "crits." I hope you'll come back and let us know when/if you post it.

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