commas and cinema

A couple of quick links to the New York Times.

1) They have posted two interesting articles on the comma, with one more to come. These are very useful, since I always have the vague idea that I'm not using commas correctly. So far, it seems I'm doing okay, though the "Identification Crisis" part clarified some things for me. Also, I really like to read about the New Yorker house style. 🙂

  1. Fanfare for the Comma Man
  2. The Most Comma Mistakes
  3. Added later: Some Comma Questions

 
2) Kristan Hoffman wrote a post called "Writerly Wednesday" (which you should read), and she linked to a post on the New York Times website called "Like the Video? I Wrote the Book." I'm posting this here because I reacted to a completely different part of the post than she did.

The publishing world is currently in a state of cluelessness and desperation roughly analogous to Hollywood circa 1970, when the counterculture was ascendant, musicals and epics were tanking at the box office, and the studio’s reasoning was, Let’s give some hippies a camera and a million bucks and see if they can make something The Kids’ll want to see, an experiment that gave us Gas-s-s-s ... or It Became Necessary to Destroy the World in Order To Save It!

The cluelessness and desperation is, as he says, only roughly analogous, since the issue back then was that the culture was changing, and the issue now is that the technology is changing. But the analogy is there and has some validity. I remember those days, and it went far beyond Hollywood. The same thing had happened in music a few years earlier, and on television and in comic books at roughly the same time as in the movies.

But his conclusion is pretty much the opposite of what actually happened. The desperation to bring in new blood led to some clunkers, yes, but it also led to what Roger Ebert has correctly characterized as "the golden age of the Hollywood art film," featuring the early works of Coppola, Spielberg, Altman, Lucas, and many others. Robert Altman, for one example, was making more than a movie a year in the early 1970s, and all of them were interesting, most were very good, and at least two were masterpieces (McCabe & Mrs. Miller and Nashville).

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2 Responses to commas and cinema

  1. Kristan says:

    Love your insight into the *actual* result of that time of experimentation in film. Like I said in my post, I didn’t care for the first half of that piece, perhaps because I sensed something amiss within it, which you have just validated. 🙂

  2. There are younger directors today who would say the same thing (Quentin Tarantino and Paul Anderson come immediately to mind). They would probably cite different directors than I did, but that just proves what an exciting time it was.

    Anderson has talked many times about how that was the one period in recent Hollywood history when there wasn’t studio pressure to always have a happy ending. He’s said that the only way he gets away with the “down” endings on the Resident Evil films is that they’re based on a successful video game series.

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