[Marxism] Neo-neo-realism

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Mar 22 08:18:55 MDT 2009

NY Times Sunday Magazine, March 22, 2009
Neo-Neo Realism

IT IS NOW ALMOST A YEAR SINCE “Wendy and Lucy” played in Cannes — not a 
watershed moment in the history of cinema, perhaps, but a quiet 
harbinger. Kelly Reichardt’s third feature, about the struggles of a 
young woman and her dog stranded in an Oregon town en route to Alaska, 
was certainly among the more admired films in a strong festival, where 
it showed out of competition. But by the time it opened in New York last 
December, the movie, a modest, quiet, 80-minute study in loneliness and 
desperation, seemed like something more — not so much a premonition of 
hard times ahead as a confirmation that they had arrived.

“Wendy and Lucy,” with Michelle Williams in one title role (the other 
belonged to Reichardt’s dog), had a successful art-house run and found 
its way onto many critics’ year-end best-of lists (including mine). 
There was some talk of an Oscar nomination for Williams, who was so 
believably ordinary in her look and so rigorously un-actressy in her 
manner that you could easily forget her celebrity. But “Wendy and Lucy,” 
released by Oscilloscope Laboratories, a small and ambitious new 
distributor started by Adam Yauch, a member of the Beastie Boys, would 
have looked a little awkward alongside the other Academy Award nominees. 
It’s true that the big winner, “Slumdog Millionaire,” concerns itself 
with poverty and disenfranchisement, but it also celebrates, both in its 
story and in its exuberant, sentimental spirit, the magical power of 
popular culture to conquer misery, to make dreams come true. And the 
major function of Oscar night is to affirm that gauzy, enchanting notion.

The world of “Wendy and Lucy” offers little in the way of enchantment 
but rather a different, more austere kind of beauty. And while Wendy, at 
the end of the film, is poignantly, even devastatingly alone, the film 
itself now seems to be in good company. This spring, as the blockbuster 
machinery shifts gears from “Watchmen” to “Wolverine,” a handful of 
small movies from relatively young directors are setting out to expand, 
modestly but with notable seriousness, the scope of American filmmaking.

full: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/22/magazine/22neorealism-t.html

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