Sunday, September 30, 2012

Ray Carney, the Pragmatic Aesthetic

I read a text book on film studies long ago. It explained one theoretical approach to judging film. But then it went on to explain that, under this theory, McQ with John Wayne was the ideal film. It exemplified each of the criteria it used to judge movies.

McQ was John Wayne's answer to Dirty Harry.

I don't remember the theory but it still might have been good. I saw a truly awful Soviet experimental film one time, and if there isn't a really terrible Italian Neo-Realist film somewhere, it's because they didn't make enough of them. I've seen personal films that were the work of genuine auteurs which still stunk.

I mention this because I read an article by Ray Carney explaining the "Pragmatic Aesthetic" he advocates.

It made sense to me, although I can't say I've liked most of the movies I've seen that exemplify the pragmatic aesthetic. Hated a lot of them, really liked others.

Of course, the people who made these movies did so without benefit of Carney's theorizing. He pointed to the films of John Cassavetes and to Vittorio De Sica's The Bicycle Thief. Practice comes before theory---at least before Carney's theory. Cassavetes and De Sica had no problem explaining what they did and why.

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