jueves, 8 de septiembre de 2011

El autor

I agree that in academic film studies, the director has been more consistently challenged as a suspect figure – but even among very thorough and intelligent film critics, conversation about a film will frequently yield the question “Oh, who is it by?” Maybe it’s just shorthand, but it seems to me to be rather widely accepted that the director is the authorial figure of a film, and I think 9 times out of 10 that’s just not true.
The best example of what I’m talking about may be Quentin Tarantino: from Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction through Kill Bill to Inglourious Basterds and the atrocious Death Proof, I think you can see him changing from someone with ideas and a particular aesthetic into someone who makes ‘Quentin Tarantino’ films: heavy in arbitrary dialogue, pop reference-filled and self-aware talkies with confused timelines and sudden bursts of outrageous violence. And his self-awareness along the way makes his whole project such a confusing mess: is he parodying himself consciously, or for the cash, or has he really convinced himself that this style is a vision, or what?
Abandoning everything that’s come from auteur theory altogether is an impossible overreaction, but when it comes to critiquing Hollywood cinema, the director should have no privileged place in the discussion. I actually think that the star of the film has a much larger effect on the meaning and experience of a Hollywood film than the director. But of course, that’s really a decision made by the producers…
Again, film production has organized around the concept of the auteur, and as such, especially with smaller budget cinema, the director does partially produce the artistic content. The bigger the budget, the more he just resembles a manager, saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to the decisions of various underling artists, whose artistic expression he exploits and styles with his particular brand.
Auteurs still exist, but we treat them as much more common then they are. I’m interested in seeing new directions in popular film criticism, and, as such, would love to see reviews where the director is not even named, the direction not discussed. Because ‘directing’ frequently becomes a nebulous catch all for critics to describe mise-en-scene, cinematography, set design, art design etc etc. On a Hollywood film, there are entire departments of people, dozens of people, behind each of these decisions. The director just calls action. And sometimes not even that; on most major production you have second and even third teams shooting simultaneously in different locations. So I would like to see the director largely removed from the discussion of Hollywood cinema.
In terms of applying criteria of evaluation, in my piece I basically drew a line between Hollywood and non-Hollywood. It’s obviously not that simple, and the piece originally had about 500 more words on dividing art from entertainment, but I cut it for the sake of length and movement of the piece. The important question is: what are the film’s goals? Does it answer questions or ask them? 
I’m not really that interested in dividing and categorizing things into ‘art’ and ‘not art’. I think that the definition of art (as with the definition of most things) is both fluid and changable, and I think the important point is to locate it in such a way that it has use-value, either as a heuristic or a launching point for bigger ideas. I think theory is too bogged down in questions of definition and accuracy, and I think people who write it should be taking many more risks. Other than that, I share The Supreme Court’s rather laissez faire definition, that it used, of course, for obscenity. “I know it when I see it.”

En esta entrevista, Willie Osterweil profundiza en el problema de seguir anclados en un concepto, el de autoría, que en determinados contextos sólo funciona a efectos de comercialización (imagen de marca). Es interesante leer entre líneas cómo la entronización del autor relega a la invisibilidad gran parte del trabajo (artístico o no) que hace posible una película.

Su reflexión, por cierto, se podría extrapolar a la arquitectura con cierta facilidad (y a una parte importante del arte contemporáneo, dicho sea de paso).

[Vía @pjorge]

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