THE POWER OF NARRATIVE
Green Cine notes this interesting piece by Andrew Tracy in Cinema Scope about the new director’s cut DVD of James Gray’s The Yards. He’s got a great opener, a provocative discussion of what he sees as the diminished respect given classical movie narrative today that winds up as a preamble for his discussion of Gray’s ’70s-inspired gangster pic.
From the piece:
As a means of telling us about our world, classical narrative cinema—that is, American narrative cinema—has been steadily losing ground. James Agee’s faith in the scenario seems somewhat quaint in the midst of our fascination with hybridity. Documentary, whether interacting with, contravening, or simply prolonging fictional devices, has become the yardstick for measuring the fiction’s legitimacy. Social and political import now travels in the curious yet complementary company of a rejuvenated neorealism and authorial reflexivity, while the duties of “pure” narrative are increasingly relegated to telling us about itself. The formalist revolt against the Hollywood white elephants of the ‘40s and ‘50s is with us still. The notion that narrative is inherently compromised, particularly when dealing with political topics, has sunk deep into the critical psyche: the almost libelous scorn directed at such recent items as The Constant Gardener, Good Night, and Good Luck, and Syriana is too pathological to originate only in disagreement. Even when celebrated, classical narrative film can no longer simply be received, or even interpreted; it must be unveiled.