no better, no worse, no change, no pain

they want a happy ending

In Film on December 30, 2009 at 3:33 pm

Charles Waterstreet has weighed into the debate on the state of Australian filmmaking, sparked by Louis Nowra’s essay in The Monthly. He echoes my sentiments in his closing paragraphs, about the struggle between art and commerce:

Nowra is partly right, commercially, but let’s leave it to Hollywood to make rubbish like Zombieland and other so-called entertainment and gorge on money while we write, act and tell our stories that enrich our inner and outer lives, enlighten others and engage in a dialogue with the world.

A life is not measured by the finances one accrues. The spirit of a country is not reflected in the box office but is shown from a magic box. A single creative success is worth 99 commercial failures in this lucky country.

He cites Disgrace, the screen adaption of the Booker Prize-winning novel by J.M. Coetzee, as a puzzling case in point. The film was a critical success overseas, yet the local box office figures were less than impressive, and the film did not get a look-in at the IF or AFI awards. Waterstreet notes, “what is unforgivable about the lack of recognition for Disgrace is that it didn’t even rate a mention in Louis Nowra’s mammoth critical essay”. Indeed. A glaring omission on Nowra’s part. But somehow I imagine Nowra would dump Disgrace in his “bleak” basket. It’s those real life issues, you see.

The comments below Waterstreet’s article, however, made me feel distinctly out-of-touch. Apparently the paying public want “uplifting” entertainment, and any film “served up as worthy art” will be regarded with suspicion, the domain of “aristocrats” with “berets, baguettes and BAs”.

Let’s let Bill 258 from Blackburn take us out…

Who wants to pay $20 to see petrol-sniffing aboriginals with no future on a Saturday night for entertainment. Australian films generally are bleak, boring and oh so worthy. It is no wonder normal Australian’s avoid these films like the plague.

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