In this week's Docutopia column at the SundanceNow website, I ask, "In Depicting Trauma, Does Narrative Cinema Fall Short"?
Here is an excerpt:
When tragedies of this magnitude take place, is a sterile “art project”—as Salon.com critic Charles Taylor derisively called the film—the most effective way to represent them?
Taylor also suggested in his review that Van Sant “substitutes aesthetics for exploration,” which I think goes too far. The problem isn’t that Van Sant replaces aesthetics for deeper exploration; it’s that the film foregrounds its cinematic technique to explore these horrors in a highly dispassionate way. So when it comes to massive catastrophe and heartbreak—i.e. an event involving the slaughter of innocent children—can narrative illusionism really capture or retell those events with the same sense of responsibility—or force—as a more sober documentary? Yet perhaps the problem with Elephant hinges less on its status as fiction than on the kind of fiction it is: one that removes itself from the horror via a kind of stylized splendor. Recall similar critiques leveled at Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List many years ago: Should a movie about the Holocaust look so beautiful?
Hmmm, yes. But my "read it here first" referred to the declaration that 20 FEET would win. You predicted ACT OF KILLING will. @adambenzinePosted 11 hours ago
"You read it here first," claims @antkaufman, "it's @TheActofKilling vs @20ftFromStardom for #Oscar." Hmmmm: http://t.co/eLKS2a6op1Posted 11 hours ago
RT @thompowers: Who's in @STFdocs #MonMemo this week? @adambenzine @peterknegt @Indiewire @antkaufman @lilyrothman http://t.co/CxXA8hGkKE (…Posted 12 hours ago
@antkaufman Hi Anthony, just made a music video exploring bath salts. I'd love to hear your thoughts: http://t.co/6eH0vDhsnoPosted 1 day ago