Wednesday, October 14, 2009

OK so

As much as I want to be as open as I can about art, I don't like art that is only about the art world. I have a great aversion toward insularity of any kind, be it in people, in religion, and yes, in art that is made for other artists to applaud at its own cleverness.

(I don't like films that are about film, for that matter. Festival In Cannes, a film starring Greta Scacchi, is an example of this. By contrast, a director like Tarantino references other people's films as well as his own but his body of work rises above simple fanboy discourse and, to me at least, his films offer interesting points of discussion about feminism. [Had to edit this part because I just remembered how the debate went exactly:] And to digress even more: I was listening to a friendly debate among friends recently about this. Somebody was pooh-poohing the idea that Tarantino is more of a feminist than Sofia Coppola has ever been (which is my take on the subject). Not that Coppola has ever claimed to champion feminism, but as only the third female director to be nominated for an Oscar, she unfortunately carries that torch. My friend said that Tarantino's pro-feminism is incidental in the way that Coppola is 'incidentally' misogynistic and the reality is that Tarantino merely displays a fetish, if you like, for strong women - the same way R Crumb has a fetish for big women. The use of the word 'incidental' was interesting.)

Sigh. It's very difficult to talk about art in this way. I feel as though I've painted myself into a corner. I guess the lesson is that one can't really talk about art, only around it. For instance, I don't know what the function of art is, I only know what I don't want it to do.

To change the subject

I like books immensely. Books present a welcome distraction when I'm trying to write art proposals. You can tell it hasn't been a productive last few days for me, hehe. Having just put down a CK Stead novel, Talking About O'Dwyer (not one of his best but engaging enough and generous toward its characters), and Yasmina Reza's novellas (brilliant, stylish, some might say too stylish but young people like myself don't mind that eh!), my next plan is to attack this pile of books awaiting my attention:

Tash Aw's Map Of The Invisible World
Nicolas Bourriaud's Postproduction - it looked interesting in the library & tiny enough for me to handle. Let's hope the translation is better than what I remember of his earlier book, Relational Aesthetics
Frank Sargeson's bio by Michael King
Janet Frame's autobiography - am looking forward to this one. CK Stead wrote an illuminating article about Frame here.
David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas - a few eminent writers have praised this but I don't know if I will in fact give it a try... It's been sitting on my shelf for months now
Lloyd Jones' Here At The End Of The World We Learn To Dance - another one I'm looking forward to
Mark Haddon's A Spot Of Bother

...Oh dear. These will take me into the new year, I'm sure.

OK back to work now.


YU said...

Interesting take on Sofia Coppola. I agree that in some way Tarantino is more overtly feminist in that he portrays a very strong female character (I refer to Kill Bill) however what I love about Sofia Coppola's characters are they epitomise a much more quiet yet strong character. I would describe Tarantino's films and characters chosen as really brash - would it really matter if the Uma Thurman was a woman or a man?

Comparatively the surface of Coppola's films scratch at a very dainty, pink, colourful female. This is how I imagine a lot of people to read her film - fair enough. Scratch beneath the surface of Coppola's films, however, and I think that her young women are not only beautiful but possess great intelligence (Celia in Virgin Suicides or Charlotte in Lost in Translation). I'm thinking of the type of young woman you might see quiet standing awkwardly in the corner at a party but who could be equally as strong (mentally) as a woman in Tarantino. They're not stereotypically or purposely protofeminist female characters but a character written for film by a female writer depicting how some young women really think.

gnute said...


Wrt Tarantino, I actually do think Uma's character has a uniquely female story, especially since she acts out of motherly instinct. There's a line she says to Bill after she tells him all, "Can you understand that?" - could he, as a man, understand her motivations for giving her unborn child a clean slate, that is. Tarantino even ends with "The lioness is reunited with her cub".

I don't agree with the maturity you accord Coppola's characters - perhaps it is simply a difference in the age of Coppola's and Tarantino's characters? He portrays older, full characters. Whereas Coppola's girls are younger, inchoate and tentative. Tarantino's women don't rely on men, Coppola's girls still do. [I'm not saying we women don't need men, btw!]

I don't deny that her girls are intelligent - Charlotte, for eg, was a Philosophy major. They have lots of smarts. They just lack depth to me. Tarantino's ladies get the business of life done, while Coppola's girls mope around limpidly.