Enough said? He’s rehearsed the reasons so many times that he shouldn’t have to repeat it again and again.
I’ve already mentioned this but I’ll mention it again: the reason he doesn’t think much of Hitchcock is because he’s read the supposed ‘great insight’ into Hitchcock and not found the great insight that was talked about. How you lot can not understand that by now staggers me.
What you consider a deep insight into Hitchcock is not what he considers a deep insight, so we’re not going to get anywhere talking about this.
“Reality, realism: impossible words to define in cinema, but a trap that never ceases to lure filmmakers and cinephiles. The problem comes from rigidly associating everything that is conventional and generic in film with unreality and fakeness — and then, conversely, valuing everything that deviates from these norms as the eruption of an impression or trace of reality.”
Ray Carney likes Capra, Wilder, Sturges, Chaplin and Keaton: filmmakers whose style may be considered to be ‘conventional’ and ‘generic’ by some. This quote does not describe Carney and it shows how little you know about him that you’d provide such a quote to sum up your thoughts on the man.
Is anyone on the site capable of providing a detailed, thoughtful and logical criticism? I know there are members here intelligent enough, but they’re certainly not posting in this thread right now.
Welshy, you’ll attract more bees with honey than vinegar. ;)
Re: Requests for a Carney-esque critique.
Anything I write will be more of an Orr-esque critique than anything else. If you’re looking for lengthy Carney-esque critiques, well…there’s one avenue you could definitely take that would give you all the Carney you could handle…lots of words on pages bound together…know what I’m sayin’?
But I will in the very near future hopefully post a video essay on my troubles with Kubrick in particular, along with scenes from his films to display what I’m talking about.
I think the reason Carney finds lengthy critics of Hitchcock “boring” is that it’s time that could be spent talking about filmmakers he actually likes. Once you read a lengthy explanation of Cassavetes’ style, Hitchcock and Kubrick naturally pale in comparison.
Anyway, I’ll make a lengthy more in-depth response in the near future.
“Once you read a lengthy explanation of Cassavetes’ style, Hitchcock and Kubrick naturally pale in comparison.”
Do you really mean to suggest, as stated, that the films of Hitchcock and Kubric “pale” after reading a “lengthy explanation” of Cassavetes? If this is your argument, you are way too enthralled by the power of the written word to capture the majestic enigmas of cinema.
I have no problem with someone feeling that directors like Hitchcock has received far too much attention compared to some other directors, and in that regard I salute Carney and those here who endeavor to broaden people’s horizons, I just don’t find it useful to denigrate one artist at the expense of another when there are worthwhile aspects to the formers work. As I alluded to earlier, I suspect that Carney is being purposefully obtuse and glib when talking about some of the more celebrated films out there, or I hope he is rather than being completely genuine in his takes on those films, in an effort to sort of turn the tables on the establishment. Nonetheless, I personally find his style or manner of address deeply troublesome when it comes to some more established films since it does come across as overly reductive and often just plain wrong if one would take him at his word. Perhaps it would be worthwhile making a thread about a film everyone has seen like Kane and going through it in more detail to address some of the concerns Carney, and others raise about it to see if there can be some mutual understanding in our differing points of view, even if on a personal level some of us may not “like” the film.
my troubles with Kubrick ….Once you read a lengthy explanation of Cassavetes’ style, Hitchcock and Kubrick naturally pale in comparison.
You like this style vs that style – one is more “real” will be what you say.
You will use a Carney template to back up what you say.
Will you refer to the 5 loses?
I write will be more of an Orr-esque critique
Of course and the way to do that is link to a Carney quote and draw conclusions.
This can be better in many ways than reading a book.
The loss of sensory and bodily reality
The loss of time
The loss of uniqueness
The loss of otherness
Being replaces doing
Will you say that there is a loss of one of the above when it is irrelevant to what the film is saying?
And then say: "but you are not creating “good” brain cells"
Thus making the imaginary fear real by way of uncertainty?
@Z. Bart the power of the written word to capture the majestic enigmas of cinema.
I wasn’t going to go there, partly b/c somewhere Carney will deny it,
but his ethos is to be non-visual.
For people claiming that Carney refuses to give reasons for why he doesn’t care about Hitch and others, have you not read his article on the pragmatic aesthetic that was posted in this thread earlier? I’m still making my way through it now, but I’m pretty sure it addresses Carney’s issues with such films in depth.
“Nonetheless, I personally find his style or manner of address deeply troublesome when it comes to some more established films since it does come across as overly reductive and often just plain wrong if one would take him at his word.”
Can you please explain where Carney has gone wrong? What specific issues you have with his objections? Perhaps you could shine some light on the insight that dwells in a Hitchcock film that Carney fails to see.
@ Welshy read the supposed ‘great insight’ into Hitchcock and not found the great insight that was talked about
On needs to be careful with Carney speak.
He is saying the way in which we come about the insight is bad i.e. visually:
The process of converting sight into insight is enacted over and over again by characters in visionary works.
Carney is going against thousands of years of biology and he knows it; hence, the reverences: life, love, and God.
Adam, I was referring directly to Kane in the wrong part, in particular in the way he refers to “symbols” and their importance, or silliness in Kane. I’m intending to make a thread about that where I will go into it since it will be more involved than something I would toss off on here as I would want to explore the work in detail.
However, with Hitchcock, just for one quick example of something that may not be “wrong” per se, but is an interpretation that doesn’t hold up to close scrutiny as an absolute is where Carney refers to the Psychiatrist at the end of Psycho defining Bates and his problems. A great many critics don’t take this as being anything like a definitive pronouncement by the film or Hitch as to who Norman Bates is or what has happened, and Carney surely knows that if he read much of anything at all on the film, so I suspect he is purposefully playing naive to score some undeserved points. Even beyond that, if one examined the film in the method Carney seems to prefer regarding characters, one would have to see that this single character is stating a view held merely by him, and one that doesn’t necessarily hold for anything more than that. Carney stresses complexity of character and situation in films he likes but neglects to do that in those he doesn’t. That he lists The Best years of Our Lives as an example of shallow filmmaking is particularly galling to me since it easily holds up to complex analysis of character, situation and more.
I’m just finishing work now so I can’t go into it any farther at this moment, but I hope everyone will do some thinking on Kane and also It’s a Wonderful Life which I wish to contrast with Kane since that is a film Carney has written favorably about. (I like both films a lot so I’m not looking to bash Carney on this exactly just point out some inconsistencies, or what I take to be such.
Greg X, you’re preparing a Kane contra Carney thread? Wow, you are a stand-up guy.
Yes that would be excellent it will let the acolytes apply their knowledge.
a learning triangulation
If only we could get away from Wells/Hitchcock. Carney’s arguments are too familiar at this point. Too easy to pick apart with Carney-thought and too easy to defend via a great number of strategies. Why I suggested “Barry Lyndon”. No appeal to dreams or usage of expressionism/surrealism, which are way easy targets. It’s “real-world” historical milieu and classical mise-en-scene, might present more of a challenge for Team Carney. Whatever. This will be a classic in Mubiland. You the man, Greg.
Actors are cattle in this expressive universe. You wheel them in, position them, light them in certain ways, photograph them from several different angles, lay in some music on the soundtrack, and the job is done: generic mental states replace unique personal expressions.
Hitchcock cast Grant and Stewart over and over again precisely because they arrived on set with unique personal expressions fully developed and intact. That Carney would not get this and use Hitch’s famous joke quote at face value is highly amusing.
Carney has a very narrow view of what cinema should be, which is fine when he sticks to that cinema, but he should leave his narrow mindedness at Cassavetes’ door.
-the reason he doesn’t think much of Hitchcock is because he’s read the supposed ‘great insight’ into Hitchcock and not found the great insight that was talked about.-
OK. Convince me that this is more than just a personal preference for a certain type of art on Carney’s part.
-Ray Carney likes Capra, Wilder, Sturges, Chaplin and Keaton: filmmakers whose style may be considered to be ‘conventional’ and ‘generic’ by some. This quote does not describe Carney-
As I said earlier, this is all in reference to the specific Carney piece we’re talking about (
if you’d like to introduce some of the specific comments Carney has made about the works of the other filmmakers you’ve mention, great, we can swerve off in that direction once we exhaust this.).
Carney : "Pragmatic knowledge is . . . the final waking up from the dream of such forms. Pragmatic films critique all conceptual stances, all fixed understandings, all efforts to possess experience abstractly.
forms, stances, understandings = conventions
Carney: “pragmatic film jettisons point-of-view photography and the subjectivity editing convention to employ photographic techniques that resemble documentary filmmaking.”
convention = conventional
So, yes, in this particular essay, he’s opposing pragmatics to conventional, and using Hitchcock as his primary example of conventional.
-Is anyone on the site capable of providing a detailed, thoughtful and logical criticism?-
How about making an attempt at proving the positive (which, by the way, Fraser has already made an admirable effort toward) rather than insisting that someone else prove the negative?
-For people claiming that Carney refuses to give reasons for why he doesn’t care about Hitch and others, have you not read his article on the pragmatic aesthetic that was posted in this thread earlier?-
Did anyone actually say that he doesn’t give reasons? I think it’s 1. he’s reading of Hitchcock’s films and 2. the quality of his argument regarding “visionary” filmmaking that people are taking issue with. If you feel his position is being misrepresented, I hope you’ll jump into the discussion once you had a chance to process that particular piece.
-If only we could get away from Wells/Hitchcock.-
Again, this was all in reference to a specific piece of Carney’s writing. He chose to take on Hitchcock’s films, so . . .
-but his ethos is to be non-visual.-
Yes, I not sure if I said this here or in another of the Carney discussions, but Carney’s educational background is literature and . . . it shows.
Jerry – Your point about Htich’s use of actors is spot on. If he felt that they were mere cattle, why did he feel so betrayed when Bergman ran off with Rosselini? Some of his interview comments on the subject at the time are very bitter. He wasn’t exactly pleased about Grace Kelly’s early retirement either. He had wanted her to play Kim Novak’s part in Vertigo, so much so that to my knowledge he treated Novak very poorly during the shooting. And his casting of male leads from Grant to Clift to Stewart to Fonda to Cotten is just about spot on every single time. It’s clear that Hitchcock did not think of his actors as arbitrary models.
But of course, actors are just cattle, pieces of meat to put in front of the camera.
Carney doesn’t have to like Hitchcock. Anyone who has seen Under Capricorn knows that the master of suspense was fully capable of making an awful film. But Carney’s reasons are simply not good enough to sway my opinion of him. His reading of Hitchcock (and of Ford, though he’s talked about Ford far less) comes off as trite and trivial to me. He’s applied his pragmatic formula to Hitchcock’s films and determined that they the candy that is rotting the teeth of our undergraduate film studies. Good for him.
I hesitated as to whether to even bring this up, but since we still seem to be folding the pragmatic thing back into itself, I suppose I will.
Carney attitude regarding class:
“Pragmatic films, almost without exception, are stories of ordinary wives and husbands and children living in middle-class homes in suburban neighborhoods”
Bourgeois reality is the ultimate reality? Not sure that’s true . . . especially if you’re not bourgeoise.
Nay, I do not oscillate in Carney’s rainbow, but prefer rather to hang myself in mine own halter than swing in any other man’s swing. Yet I think Carney is more than a brilliant fellow. Be his stuff begged, borrowed, or stolen, or of his own domestic manufacture he is an uncommon man. Swear he is a humbug — then is he no common humbug.
The truth is that we are all sons, grandsons, or nephews or great-nephews of those who go before us. No one is his own sire. I had heard of him as full of transcendentalisms, myths & oracular gibberish. Now, there is a something about every man elevated above mediocrity, which is, for the most part, instinctuly perceptible. This I see in Mr Carney. And, frankly, for the sake of the argument, let us call him a fool; — then had I rather be a fool than a wise man. — I love all men who dive. Any fish can swim near the surface, but it takes a great whale to go down stairs five miles or more; & if he don’t attain the bottom, why, all the lead in Galena can’t fashion the plumet that will. I’m not talking of Mr Carney now — but of the whole corps of thought-divers, that have been diving & coming up again with bloodshot eyes since the world began.
I could readily see in Carney, notwithstanding his merit, a gaping flaw. It was, the insinuation, that had he lived in those days when the world was made, he might have offered some valuable suggestions. In short, God help the man who tries to live by teaches.
^ Good stuff, Chris. I hope everyone gets the reference.
Thanks. Clue to source? – check out my face. I have touched on Carney before in David Ball entry and maybe other posts I have made.
Carney is an extraordinary teacher and scholar. It’s not his fault the game changed
with hysterical speed and the digital revolution tunneled down into unexpected planes where the 70s/80s/90s author-director has next to no place.
See Jost’s posts in Wordpress about the aimlessness about adding to the universal stock of images. The business has won and the ecstatic-youth-artist better learn to like his day job. There is nothing to do outside the system when there is nothing but system.
Outside of Cassavetes – who lived in another world and was a “star” most of his career – look at the practical life of Rappaport, Kramer, Nilsson, Jost, Noonan, etc. – how do they eat? How do they go to the dentist? Look into Jon Josts life, the ultimate independent…is it worth it? I would love to write a biography on Jost to convey how much civilization has changed recently. His life would serve as an extraordinary thread through this whole thing.
Read Rick Schmidt’s intro to his Filmmaking at Used Car Prices – how he lived can no longer be done.
As they say now, Its a game-changer. So, what Melville said about Emerson is the same – try living Transcendentalism in the post-Civil War industrial and gilded age – even better try living it in the information age. Go ask McCandless how it works out.
Anyway you get it and hopefully get why Carney’s list of filmmakers is getting old. He’s right about something thats gone – he offers keys to doors that no longer exist.
Aha. Nostalgia for a world that never existed, yet truth lies in the desire to return to it. A problematic cultural and emotional phenomenon. The 50s for the conservatives, the 60s for the liberals, the 70s for filmmakers, the 20s for novelists, and so on.
As always bro, you got it.
…yet truth lies in the desire to return to it…..damn I am chewing on that for awhile. For you I will return with a screenplay review tonight. Business can wait.
Naughton, sweet post.
Jost is returning to the states in the spring. He’s going to spend some time in NYC. He’s contemplating a film, perhaps the last one, since making films for a non-existent audience isn’t something he wished to do any longer. Rappaport has taken himself out of the game, for much the same reasons. Nilsson soldiers on. Noonan manages due to acting gigs, but hasn’t directed a film in over a decade. Kramer is dead.
he offers keys to doors that no longer exist.
Well, the advent of digital was supposed to create another pathway. And it has…But, advanced capitalism, which has been hobbled (not enough to satisfy me), is still dominant. There are pockets where termite-like activity thrives, but as you say the system is all. How does one resist, much less fight something which permeates every facet of our consciousness?
“It would be too boring for me to rehearse the reasons I have given for these judgments”
That sounds too much like “Your conversation has grown tiresome”
Thought that Jost was working with digital now. http://www.jon-jost.com/
“…advanced capitalism, which has been hobbled…” It has? Seems to be getting stronger everyday. Today taxpayers give money to Banks instead of Banks paying taxes! The Thatcher Reagan legacy.
Appreciate the feedback Caoimhin. I missed Jost at a college I grew up by in a mid-atlantic state a couple of years ago. Kicked myself for that. Anyway, thank you. I will post when I can and when I have something semi-worthwhile to add.
How does one resist? How to fight the zeitgeist? I have been swinging at that problem for over a solid decade now. Art helps. As long as one does not pursue it as a lottery ticket. But, seriously what does one do when there is nothing to do but buy stuff, use it, and go try to make money in order to buy more? Not a new
insight but true all the same and I live it out. Find a comfortable spot and dig in to what you like. It’s the Gen X answer and its all I got for now…and don’t add to the evil, that’s my other insight. I make a point to never snap, bark, bicker, never mock, etc. Personal code is the main way to FTZ.
“His reading of Hitchcock (and of Ford, though he’s talked about Ford far less) comes off as trite and trivial to me. He’s applied his pragmatic formula to Hitchcock’s films and determined that they the candy that is rotting the teeth of our undergraduate film studies.”
Please expand on the triteness and triviality of his readings of Hitchcock and others. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not overly familiar with the works of Hitchcock, Welles, and Ford, though I have watched some of their films. Personally, I tend to see the same things Carney does in the films that adhere to the “visionary” style of film making that he describes. This was the case even before I came across his writings. A few years ago, when I was a freshman in college, I saw the works of Hitchcock/Welles as being heavily symbolic. The only difference was that I hadn’t been exposed to any criticism that put this in a negative light. The criticisms that Carney levees against these films seem somewhat self-evident. So unless you can provide some evidence that Carney’s readings of these films are unfairly dismissive, I can’t really see a problem with what he’s done.
Furthermore, you showcase your ignorance of Carney’s writings when you say, "He’s applied his pragmatic formula…” To misunderstand his writings in this way is to completely miss the point. There is no pragmatic formula. The pragmatic aesthetic is the result of an unfettering of the formulaic aspects of what Carney calls “visionary” films. Pragmatic films cannot be singled out by looking for x, y, and z within them. They are celebrated for their uniqueness and their refusal to minimize and run away from the complexities of life.
“Even beyond that, if one examined the film in the method Carney seems to prefer regarding characters, one would have to see that this single character is stating a view held merely by him, and one that doesn’t necessarily hold for anything more than that. Carney stresses complexity of character and situation in films he likes but neglects to do that in those he doesn’t.”
The problem with this is that there isn’t a method in which Carney examines a film. He watches the films and notices that the ways in which they operate are completely different. One being visionary, the other being pragmatic. You can’t analyze Psycho the same way you would A Woman Under the Influence because the ways in which they search for meaning and truth are polar opposites. The reason he can’t see what the psychiatrist is saying as just the opinion of one man is because the film presents it in a way that makes his words the answer to a question the film has been begging all along. He isn’t neglecting to notice the complexity of characters and situations in the films of Hitchcock as much as he is unable to find it within them.
“The loss of sensory and bodily reality
The loss of time
The loss of uniqueness
The loss of otherness
Being replaces doing
Will you say that there is a loss of one of the above when it is irrelevant to what the film is saying?"
Since Hitchcock et al are making abstract statements, they lose the factors above in order to make their points. For them, it’s no loss and in fact may be necessary for the statement to be made.
For Cassavetes et al, the abstract statement is not the important part. In fact, as Welshy’s quote of Tarkovsky says, the abstract statement may not even exist.
The important part in Cassavetes’ movies is the experience of watching the film itself. The audience isn’t given abstract ideas about truth, but an experience of truth.
From this, you can see that it’s not a case of Carney thinking Cassavetes has better ideas than Hitchcock. Cassavetes isn’t too worried with ideas at all. Hitchcock has something deep to tell us, which he’ll do through the medium of cinema, sacrificing what’s mentioned above to do so. For Cassavetes, truth is inextricably tied up with practical reality. Truth is practical reality. Abstractions are ideas about reality.
pragmatic aesthetic is the result of an unfettering of the formulaic aspects
First we need to understand the above as it relates to the visionary ideal essential symbolic
Then we need to understand this:My final point is that the pragmatic way of knowing is not one more system of knowledge, but in fact a rejection of all systems. The heart of the pragmatic understanding is that lived experience overflows all forms of understanding—including the forms these works themselves offer. The pragmatic artist accepts the fact that experience leaks out of all intellectual and stylistic containers. That is why it would completely misunderstand my argument to interpret it as implying that filmmakers can simply shift from “idealist” forms of expression to “pragmatic” ones—as if there were such a thing as a “pragmatic form” that filmmakers could merely pour their stories into. The pragmatic stance does not provide a recipe to cook up art to order (say, one in which “rough,” “partial,” “personal,” or “physical” forms of expression are substituted for “smooth,” “totalized,” “absolute,” or “spiritual” forms of expression). The pragmatic stance is the rejection of all recipes and received forms. It is less a formulated style than evidence of a stylistic breakdown. Pragmatic style is what is left by the failure of style to suffice. The pragmatic style is what happens when the artist is sensitive enough to see that his own formulas will not quite formulate—when he accepts stylistic failure and allows himself to fail over and over again. Pragmatic knowledge is less an alternative to visionary/ideal/essential forms of knowledge, than it is the final waking up from the dream of such forms. Pragmatic films critique all conceptual stances, all fixed understandings, all efforts to possess experience abstractly. They indicate the insufficiency of all attempts to control and contain experience—even their own. That is why, in the most profound sense, they ultimately bring us back to life.