5.04.2006

Why Lulu's Decided to See United 93...

Lulu decided early this week to see United 93.
(Hasn't done it yet, but remains resolved.)

Not because of a particular desire to see it. Not because of a sense of duty (professional, personal or political) to see it. Not even because Lulu struggled with whether it was "too soon" to see it. Rather, it's mostly because -- echoing the words of ohmytrill in the comments on ModFab's eloquent review -- there's been something "wrong" about the whole hooha surrounding this film & it's got Lulu's spideysense all a'tingle. (Or, put another way, it gives Lulu the creeps.) And Lulu just needs to see the f'n movie because the rhetoric around it is starting to freak Lulu out...

Basically, the buzz Lulu's hearing in praise of the film addresses the film either (or both) as:
  • a well-crafted (re)telling of a watershed, defining experience of communal identity. This mostly trickles down from director Paul Greengrass' own voice & his analysis of the passengers of Flight 93 as the first people to inhabit a "Post 9/11" world; or
  • an expert deployment of the apparatus of cinema to re/create the experience of -- & thereby rescue from the the haze of abstracted memory -- this narrative of now mythic proportions. This Lulu's absorbing from the consistent inflections of awe in reviews offered by folks Lulu admires and respects.
So, why? Why do these articulate explanations of the movie's power and appeal freak Lulu out? Well, that's almost hard to say...

Simply put:
Because it's all following the same pattern of buzz that surrounded a particularly polarizing movie from a couple years ago: The Passion of the Christ. (And Lulu saw the first screening of that film on opening day, so Lu should at least get over to this one soon.)

In parallel, the unrelenting emotional intensity of these films -- both of which can only escalate toward a gruesome culmination of redemptive sacrifice -- seem to have created movie-going experiences that "trump" critique, that operate outside the circuit of critical awareness. And few things freak out Lulu more than to hear folks of any ideological stripe use the experience of cinema as emotional "proof" for their beliefs about history. (Compare the voices of "Brian M" & "Peter J" & "MovieFreak" and "T Gisler" & "Robert T" & "United 93 circumspect" & "Phil A" to get a hint of what Lulu's trying to say.) Further, Lulu's not convinced that it's an issue of "emotional cowardice" to articulate resistance to a film for any reason (even lame critiques like "just making money off of it" or "too soon/too much" -- another curious point of coincidence between these 2 post-millenial passion cineplays.)

And, truly, the actual reason Lulu must see this movie is all Star Jones' fault. See, amidst the controversy surrounding The Passion of the Christ, Star Jones went off on The View about how "real" the movie was & how it put the viewer right there with Jesus & how it clarified her commitment to her own faith. Somehow the CGI demons in the forest got brought up -- you remember, lovely reader, the part where Mel Gibson had floaty gender-ambiguous ghosts terrorize Judas into his fateful betrayal, the part where the demonic apex was Satan as a she-male? Well, Star Jones got all giddy with scaredy-movie fear over tranny satan & said something like: "See, it's a great movie too. Mel Gibson's da man. Praise Jesus." (Lulu's paraphrasing, lovely reader, please forgive.) It freaked out Lulu then, just as it freaks Lulu now. See, in the phenomena of Passion, the movie magic of the queer Satan got swept under the fervent rug of faithful testimony. And, for Lulu, that film inadvertently became a cautionary tale about the curious power at play when one's loving a movie.

For Lulu, loving movies means maintaining a profound awareness of how they can -- & when you're lucky, do -- play your heart & mind & spirit like a flute. Yes. Movies really, truthfully, necessarily rile the emotions & the imagination. But. They offer little in the way of reality or truth or necessity. And it just scares Lulu when people start getting all passionately fuzzy on that point.

Because United 93 (like The Passion of the Christ) is just a movie.
No more "real" & no more "true" & no more "necessary" than, say Thank You For Smoking or An American Haunting -- no matter how profound one's reaction may be. Some movies seem to cause folks to forget this; and, it's just such movies that get put in service of ideology in ways that lapse evangelical. And while it's merely a personal idiosyncracy that this particular brand of hooha totally freaks out StinkLulu, it's become time for Lulu to see the dang movie already. Before the righteous moralism surrounding it crushes Lulu's movie-loving spirit anymore than it already has...

1 comment:

ModFab said...

Fair enough...and I see your point, my friend. I just think a movie should be seen before it is judged. And since you've decided to take the plunge, I have no beef with your opinions. :-)