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Re: [terrencemalick] OT: A.I.

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  • Jos Linn
    Dear Friends, Guess what? I went to the movies again last night. The object of my $5 was the largely-anticipated newest Speilberg product A.I. And I must
    Message 1 of 11 , Jul 2, 2001
      Dear Friends,

      Guess what? I went to the movies again last night. The object of my
      $5 was the largely-anticipated newest Speilberg product "A.I." And I must
      say, I liked this a lot. It is not Speilberg's best, nor is it the best
      movie I have ever seen (not by any stretch) but I am finding that I cannot
      shake the after-effects from it.

      So, let me first get the logistics out of the way. The visuals, as
      ususal, are excellent and the story is pretty engaging, although I need to
      go back and read Pinnochio again to see all the parallels. Haley Joel
      Osment is very good--he's the real deal in this one. I could watch it and
      not think "hey, that's the kid from 'The Sixth Sense'." He IS David and
      does a great job with it. It's a shame he has to grow up. Jude Law is also
      good but he is not in it as much as I thought he would be. But he IS each
      scene he is in. But I think my favorite character is Teddy the SuperToy
      Bear, David's own Jiminy Cricket. His voice is the coolest and his calm
      delivery of lines in harrowing situations is great. The voice of reason
      speaking through the chaos.

      More importantly, however, is what this movie did for me or maybe to
      me. When I was watching this, I couldn't help but think of Christine and
      her wonderful explanation of why "Babe" means so much to her. As usual,
      Spielberg really pours on the emotion and tugs on your heart strings
      throughout the movie and I must admit that by the end, I had tears welling
      in my eyes. But as I left the theater, I found myself wondering why it
      affected me so much. It was nothing I haven't seen before. I could go
      through the psychoanalysis of dealing with the fear of abandonment and
      parental relationship issues but that doesn't cover it all. It's more basic
      than that. Looking back on the journey this boy undertakes simply to feel
      the love back he so effortlessly gives away. To feel that "something"
      inside that will validate him... show him that he is "real." That he is
      worth something. And I began to think, isn't that what motivates me (and
      maybe us all)? That search for something beyond myself that tells me that I
      am OK and that I am loved more than I know or understand. I don't know.
      The more questions I ask, the more I have. I guess what I am learning from
      it is that I can watch TTRL or the Matrix and American Beauty until I am
      blue in the face and analyze them until I have exhausted every single
      spiritual, psychological, and philosophical interpretation I possibly can,
      but "thinking about it" won't give me that feeling I had at the end of
      "A.I.". That feeling came from me opening up my heart just a crack and
      letting some of that "something" seep out. I know we don't have a lot of
      Spielberg fans on this list, and I certainly can find flaws in many of his
      films (as with any other filmmaker), but I am thankful that he made this one
      simply for the experience it gave me. For it gave me, if only for a brief
      moment, the feeling that the "David" in me is still there somewhere and the
      love I search for in life is not resting in some other person or lofty
      spiritual concept but is buried somewhere deep inside the recesses of my own
      heart. Thank you, Mr. Spielberg, and all the other filmmakers out there who
      do the same, for reminding me it was there.

      And thank you Christine for having the courage to share your inmost thoughts
      and feelings about "Babe" because had you not done that, I certainly would
      not have had the courage to share this.

      Take care my friends and see this movie. I would have paid full price for
      this and been satisfied but you all know now that this was a personal
      experience for me so I may be a bit biased.


      Take care,
      Jos


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    • Christina Lui
      Hi everyone, First of all, I watched A.I. on opening night pretty much unspoiled. And it was a better moviegoing experience for it. If you plan to see this
      Message 2 of 11 , Jul 2, 2001
        Hi everyone,

        First of all, I watched A.I. on opening night pretty much unspoiled. And
        it was a better moviegoing experience for it. If you plan to see this
        film, I suggest you delete this post now.

        B
        A
        A

        R
        A
        M

        E
        W
        E

        On Mon, 2 Jul 2001, Jos Linn wrote:

        > Spielberg really pours on the emotion and tugs on your heart strings
        > throughout the movie and I must admit that by the end, I had tears welling
        > in my eyes. But as I left the theater, I found myself wondering why it
        > affected me so much. It was nothing I haven't seen before. I could go
        > through the psychoanalysis of dealing with the fear of abandonment and
        > parental relationship issues but that doesn't cover it all. It's more basic
        > than that. Looking back on the journey this boy undertakes simply to feel
        > the love back he so effortlessly gives away. To feel that "something"
        > inside that will validate him... show him that he is "real." That he is
        > worth something. And I began to think, isn't that what motivates me (and
        > maybe us all)? That search for something beyond myself that tells me that I
        > am OK and that I am loved more than I know or understand. I don't know.

        Jos, you really hit the nail on the head. For a film about artificial
        intelligence set in the future, A.I. is about maybe the most common and
        basic desire of all, our desire to be loved.

        Like you, I had tears in my eyes. At the end of the film, people were
        jumping up and muttering about how much they didn't like it. But I sat
        through the end of the credits like always. And I couldn't speak.

        > The more questions I ask, the more I have. I guess what I am learning from
        > it is that I can watch TTRL or the Matrix and American Beauty until I am
        > blue in the face and analyze them until I have exhausted every single
        > spiritual, psychological, and philosophical interpretation I possibly can,
        > but "thinking about it" won't give me that feeling I had at the end of
        > "A.I.". That feeling came from me opening up my heart just a crack and
        > letting some of that "something" seep out.

        That's exactly how I felt! This film evoked something deep inside me in a
        way that only few films have done. And the names of those films both begin
        with Babe. It's because the Babe films and A.I. evoke childhood for me,
        and all its disappointments and hopes and desires and ultimately my desire
        to find a place for myself and to find love.

        I know we don't have a lot of
        > Spielberg fans on this list, and I certainly can find flaws in many of his
        > films (as with any other filmmaker), but I am thankful that he made this one
        > simply for the experience it gave me. For it gave me, if only for a brief
        > moment, the feeling that the "David" in me is still there somewhere and the
        > love I search for in life is not resting in some other person or lofty
        > spiritual concept but is buried somewhere deep inside the recesses of my own
        > heart. Thank you, Mr. Spielberg, and all the other filmmakers out there who
        > do the same, for reminding me it was there.

        Since I saw A.I. I've wrestled with the question of artistry and emotions.
        A.I. deeply affected me, pitching me into a state of melancholy all
        weekend. The film critic in me wanted David's quest to end on a darker
        note because I feel it's more truthful. But the human part of me
        desperately needed the ending.

        I seem to have divided art from kitsch, truth from love. Since watching
        A.I. I've wondered, what makes art? Truth? But not love? Can something
        that deals with a common and early, early emotion like the desire to be
        loved not be art? What do you think, Jos?

        Babe also deals with a young pig's desire to be loved (and spared becoming
        Christmas dinner) but I've always thought of its artistry in theoretical
        terms, in its richness to sustain a multiplicity of readings from Plato to
        Nietzsche to Levinas and beyond. So I don't the core of Babe's artistry
        rests on the desire for love as A.I.'s might.

        > And thank you Christine for having the courage to share your inmost thoughts
        > and feelings about "Babe" because had you not done that, I certainly would
        > not have had the courage to share this.

        Thank you for your sentiments. You definitely showed a lot of courage
        speaking from your heart about A.I. and I'm glad that you got something
        out of my earlier post that helped you feel you could share this with us.

        Haley Joel Osment, brilliant. Jude Law, love god: oh yeah, baby! Teddy:
        better be in A.I. 2: The Return of the Teddy! or else!
      • Jos Linn
        THIS E-MAIL HAS BIG TIME A.I. SPOILERS SO DELETE IF YOU HAVEN T SEEN IT!!!! Christine wrote: It s because the Babe films and A.I. evoke childhood for me, ...
        Message 3 of 11 , Jul 2, 2001
          THIS E-MAIL HAS BIG TIME "A.I." SPOILERS SO DELETE IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN
          IT!!!!

          Christine wrote:
          It's because the Babe films and A.I. evoke childhood for me,
          >and all its disappointments and hopes and desires and ultimately my desire
          >to find a place for myself and to find love.

          Exactly! "To find a place for myself" is perfectly stated, Christine.
          Feeling lost in an unknowable place and so wanting to feel that peace and
          belonging that we know deep down is there but is often difficult to feel.

          >Since I saw A.I. I've wrestled with the question of artistry and emotions.
          >A.I. deeply affected me, pitching me into a state of melancholy all
          >weekend.

          That's how I felt too but it was more than melancholy. It was like an inner
          happiness that David finally got watch he searched 2000 years for but a
          sadness that it wasn't me instead of him. (Pssst... Jos. That's
          melancholy)

          The film critic in me wanted David's quest to end on a darker
          >note because I feel it's more truthful. But the human part of me
          >desperately needed the ending.

          I agree with you. In the scene where Teddy pulls out the locks of hair,
          people were laughing at the hokiness of it and I admit my intellectual self
          was a bit annoyed but inside my heart was cheering "YES!" I initially
          thought that had the movie ended with him sitting in the helicopter waiting
          for the Blue Fairy to answer him, that would have been really cool. But
          once I saw the actual ending, I would not have wanted it any other way. I
          would not have been moved so deeply had he not had the day with his mom.
          >
          >I seem to have divided art from kitsch, truth from love. Since watching
          >A.I. I've wondered, what makes art? Truth? But not love? Can something that
          >deals with a common and early, early emotion like the desire to be loved
          >not be art? What do you think, Jos?

          I think love and the desire to be loved are the motivations for everything.
          Of course, you need an expanded definition of "love" (not just romantic or
          familial love) into which I would include acceptance, understanding,
          freedom, grace, Truth, safety, etc. I just think all of these are different
          definitions of the same thing that we call "love." And I think that "love"
          is the motivation behind expression--in art, in work, in life. It flows
          outward and sometimes we act on it and other times we don't. I try not to
          look at the end result to find the answer but instead the Source behind it
          all. I think when we start saying that this was motivated by truth and it
          is art but this was motivated by love and so it's not (and I have done it
          too), we are simply trying to create new ideas out of the same stuff. We
          can mask it under whatever name we can call it but underneath, I still think
          it's all love. Isn't that what we learned about the structure of the
          Universe from "Contact"? ;-) We see many horrible things in the world and
          they can be reflected in art but do we create that art because we revel in
          destruction or do we do it because we want it to be exposed so that change
          can come about. Change for something better. A "better" that has more
          love, IMO. I don't know. This is an excellent question, Chirstine, and I
          don't have the answer. I think the only time anything (like art) can be
          "devoid of love" is if we believe it. It doesn't mean that it's true but we
          can sure believe it's true and then act on it (look at what Leonard's BELIEF
          that Teddy was untrustworthy turned into in "Memento"). I do "believe" that
          love is underneath it all but believing and experiencing it are two
          different things. I forget most of the time and it takes movies like "A.I."
          to remind me.

          >Teddy:
          >better be in A.I. 2: The Return of the Teddy! or else!

          Absolutely. His simple calm statement while being held from 50 feet up "But
          David, I'll break" was perfect. No fear, no desperation. Simple
          acceptance.

          Question for you, Christine, and maybe this is obvious and I missed the boat
          BUT... do you think that David did actually become a real boy? I ask
          because at the end he had tears (I didn't know if he could produce tears)
          and he went to sleep. I just assumed that his mother just accepted the fact
          that she loved him regardless of who he was and so I dropped it after that.
          But now, I am wondering that if in addition to that, he did become a boy. I
          dunno. What do you think?

          As always, my friend, you have provided a wonderful perspective. And I am
          glad that you had a similar experience seeing this movie as I did. I could
          not think of better company in which to share it.

          Thanks, Christine. You're the best.

          Jos
          >

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        • Angela Havel
          I ve wondered, what makes art? Truth? But not ... Now that Jos has added his comment, I ll add mine. I think great art must come from some kind of deep well of
          Message 4 of 11 , Jul 2, 2001
            I've wondered, what makes art? Truth? But not
            > love? Can something
            > that deals with a common and early, early emotion
            > like the desire to be
            > loved not be art? What do you think, Jos?

            Now that Jos has added his comment, I'll add mine. I
            think great art must come from some kind of deep well
            of love--for humanity, for animals, for nature, and
            all that nature contains. Artists are able to tap into
            that well, despite huge odds against them--the stress
            of everyday life, self-doubt, societal pressures to do
            something "normal". Artists have to be risk takers,
            but more than that, they have to feel compelled to
            create, otherwise there's just too much detritus that
            gets in the way of a piece of work getting finished
            (which of course may or may not be deemed art). Most
            of us don't have that true compulsion to create art,
            which is why we admire art/artists. (Most people end
            up creating babies instead--another kind of art, I
            suppose!)

            When I think of great art, I think of Baroque
            architecture, Bach organ music, Proust's writing--that
            rarified level of genius. Spielberg's movies never
            come to mind, that's for sure (except maybe
            Schindler's List). I don't think a genius level in art
            exists as much anymore (Malick excepted!).

            Our whole point of reference in the world of art has
            changed. It used to be art was just paintings and
            sculpture and architecture. Then photography came in.
            Then film. Films can be pieces of art, but there's a
            whole different context to viewing a film as opposed
            to looking at a painting or experiencing a structure.
            I guess sometimes I privilege the past and tend to
            give more artistic weight to a painting by, say,
            Raphael or Leonardo da Vinci than a film by Kurosawa
            or Bergman.

            Can subject matter dealing with the desire to be loved
            be called "art"? That's more tricky. I'd say sometimes
            it is and sometimes it isn't. Having just mentioned
            some pieces of high art, this will seem incongruent,
            but I think her song "Sara" by Stevie Nicks (from the
            1979 "Tusk" album) is a piece of art, and it contains
            a line that directly addresses the human need for
            love: "Drowning, in the sea of love, where everyone
            would love to drown." I remember when I first heard
            that line--I *felt* it, if that makes sense. I
            classify anything that makes me feel deeply as art. Of
            course, not everyone is going to feel deeply about the
            same things--hence the debates about what is art and
            what isn't.

            I tend not to like Spielberg because he manipulates
            us, but then there's great art that is manipulative
            and it doesn't annoy me (for example, the painting
            "The Scream" by Munch asks us to react with the same
            horrific angst the subject in the painting appears to
            be feeling, which I do whenever I see that picture). I
            don't feel manipulated, probably because there's
            nothing "precious" about that picture, whereas
            Spielberg treads a lot on "precious" ground--you know,
            like he's reveling in his ability to put "aw shucks"
            moments on screen--E.T. comes to mind (I had no
            feeling for that film!).

            Maybe it's my post-modern, jaded view of life; I tend
            to think most modern directors, and especially
            Spielberg, are motivated to create primarily for their
            own ego gratification (i.e., they're junkies for
            attention, as most famous people in the entertainment
            business seem to be...Malick is obviously a big
            exception here!). Spielberg started out pure (Duel,
            Sugarland Express) but somewhere along the way I think
            he got a little too full of himself. For instance, I
            was put off by the major advance notices about A.I.
            (what was it--something like three months before A.I.
            was released, they start the ad campaign? That's
            pretentious in my book, like we're all Spielberg's
            subjects and just waiting with bated breath for his
            next film).

            But then if I was given a camera and told to make a
            film that expresses my own deep feelings about life
            and love, I wouldn't quite know where to start (except
            I know it would contain a lot of shots of nature), so
            I have to hand it to people who actually get out there
            and create a film.
            >
            I guess I should mention I haven't seen A.I. and
            probably won't until it comes on cable (big surprise,
            huh?). Just curious, did Spielberg have anything to do
            with the creation of the story?

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          • Christina Lui
            ... Jos is right! B E A T I F U L S T R A N G E is the new tasty treat from Digweed that I m listening to right now. ... And that desire to find a place for
            Message 5 of 11 , Jul 2, 2001
              On Mon, 2 Jul 2001, Jos Linn wrote:

              > THIS E-MAIL HAS BIG TIME "A.I." SPOILERS SO DELETE IF YOU HAVEN'T SEEN
              > IT!!!!

              Jos is right!

              B
              E
              A
              T
              I
              F
              U
              L

              S
              T
              R
              A
              N
              G
              E

              is the new tasty treat from Digweed that I'm listening to right now.

              > Exactly! "To find a place for myself" is perfectly stated, Christine.
              > Feeling lost in an unknowable place and so wanting to feel that peace and
              > belonging that we know deep down is there but is often difficult to feel.

              And that desire to find a place for yourself chronicled in A.I. is such
              an early and formative desire. Even when you're a child, or more
              accurately, especially then, you can feel unhomed at home by sibling
              rivalry, by the feeling that mum always loved your brother/sister/father
              best, or by physical or emotional abuse. Finding a home goes on all your
              life and what impresses me about A.I. is that it taps into the starting
              point of that quest.

              Isn't it funny that a film about a robot says so much about human
              emotions?

              I did feel that the ethical issues raised in A.I. about robots are very
              similar to those about animals, thus linking A.I. and Babe in my mind. Do
              animals really love us or do they just seem like they are? What do we do
              if they threaten our family members? Is it okay to to cut them up for
              medical research/human organs that we can grow in them because we're
              humans and they're animals?

              > That's how I felt too but it was more than melancholy. It was like an inner
              > happiness that David finally got watch he searched 2000 years for but a
              > sadness that it wasn't me instead of him. (Pssst... Jos. That's
              > melancholy)

              Yes, mum said she always loved him. But what happened after that? Did he
              die? Live? Shut down?

              > I agree with you. In the scene where Teddy pulls out the locks of hair,
              > people were laughing at the hokiness of it and I admit my intellectual self
              > was a bit annoyed but inside my heart was cheering "YES!" I initially
              > thought that had the movie ended with him sitting in the helicopter waiting
              > for the Blue Fairy to answer him, that would have been really cool. But
              > once I saw the actual ending, I would not have wanted it any other way. I
              > would not have been moved so deeply had he not had the day with his mom.

              The film critic in me wanted the film to end on that dark and truthful
              note, with David waiting an eternity at the bottom of the sea. But if it
              had, I would have been devastated. I'm talking Last of the Curlews
              devastated.

              We
              > can mask it under whatever name we can call it but underneath, I still think
              > it's all love. Isn't that what we learned about the structure of the
              > Universe from "Contact"? ;-) We see many horrible things in the world and
              > they can be reflected in art but do we create that art because we revel in
              > destruction or do we do it because we want it to be exposed so that change
              > can come about. Change for something better. A "better" that has more
              > love, IMO. I don't know. This is an excellent question, Chirstine, and I
              > don't have the answer.

              I think you can deal with love and the desire to be loved in both a
              kitschy way and an artistic way. The question is in what way A.I. deals
              with love.

              After watching A.I. I went home and hugged my talking Babe doll. You're
              not surprised I have one, are you? Babe said, "Mum, I love you." I
              flinched.

              I still want Teddy for Christmas. Screw Christmas, I want Teddy now!

              > Question for you, Christine, and maybe this is obvious and I missed the boat
              > BUT... do you think that David did actually become a real boy? I ask
              > because at the end he had tears (I didn't know if he could produce tears)
              > and he went to sleep. I just assumed that his mother just accepted the fact
              > that she loved him regardless of who he was and so I dropped it after that.
              > But now, I am wondering that if in addition to that, he did become a boy. I
              > dunno. What do you think?

              It's not obvious at all. David is real because he is loved and love makes
              him real. Love forms us. Biologically, psychoanalytically, mentally. And
              David is real in that he has transcended what his creators meant him to
              be. I don't think David's become a flesh and bone boy, I doubt the
              aliens/mechas had that ability. (BTW, did you think those were aliens or
              highly evolved mechas?)

              Your question about whether David's a real boy provokes me to rethink of
              what really is in the context of A.I. And rethinking the shape of reality
              has always been what you've worked on, Jos. So what do you think?

              > As always, my friend, you have provided a wonderful perspective. And I am
              > glad that you had a similar experience seeing this movie as I did. I could
              > not think of better company in which to share it.

              Thanks for speaking up. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who had the
              same experience at A.I.
            • Christina Lui
              On Mon, 2 Jul 2001, Angela Havel wrote: I don t think a genius level in art ... I m lucky to live in a town which has the longest-running film festival in the
              Message 6 of 11 , Jul 2, 2001
                On Mon, 2 Jul 2001, Angela Havel wrote:

                I don't think a genius level in art
                > exists as much anymore (Malick excepted!).

                I'm lucky to live in a town which has the longest-running film festival in
                the US, an awesome video store that stocks everything from Robert Aldrich
                to D.W. Griffith to F.W. Murnau to William Wyler, three rep moviehouses
                and several more places that show alternative films. There is SO MUCH
                great stuff going on!

                A lot of brilliant films are being made outside the U.S. like in
                Australia, Japan and Iran. Or they're financed independently. When I
                watch films like Sunset Boulevard and The Big Sleep and My Darling
                Clementine and Stagecoach and Grapes of Wrath that were made during the
                golden age of Hollywood, I just want to cry. We're definitely
                living in the crap age of Hollywood. Good films like A.I. and Traffic are
                coming out of the studio system but they're rare in comparison.

                > but I think her song "Sara" by Stevie Nicks (from the
                > 1979 "Tusk" album) is a piece of art, and it contains
                > a line that directly addresses the human need for
                > love: "Drowning, in the sea of love, where everyone
                > would love to drown." I remember when I first heard
                > that line--I *felt* it, if that makes sense. I
                > classify anything that makes me feel deeply as art.

                That's the question for me. If a film, say My Darling Clementine or TTRL
                or Babe, makes me think theoretically, then it's an artistic achievement.
                But if it makes me feel, how do I know whether it's art or kitsch? If I
                can't think through it, is it art? Now I've never seen Bambi because I
                might never recover, but I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that it's
                kitsch, not art. But it would definitely move me and make me cry and
                be devastated for days. Weeks. All my life. But I don't think just because
                it makes me feel, that it's art.

                > I guess I should mention I haven't seen A.I. and
                > probably won't until it comes on cable (big surprise,
                > huh?).

                That'll be a while. Do you live very far away from any cinemas?

                Just curious, did Spielberg have anything to do
                > with the creation of the story?

                He wrote the screenplay.
              • Angela Havel
                ... A lot of brilliant films are being made outside the ... Yes, I agree...I had a part about the stuff besides Hollywood crap in my post but I took it out
                Message 7 of 11 , Jul 2, 2001
                  --- Christina Lui <toates@...> wrote:
                  > On Mon, 2 Jul 2001, Angela Havel wrote:
                  >
                  > I don't think a genius level in art
                  > > exists as much anymore (Malick excepted!).
                  >
                  > I'm lucky to live in a town which has the
                  > longest-running film festival in
                  > the US, an awesome video store that stocks
                  > everything from Robert Aldrich
                  > to D.W. Griffith to F.W. Murnau to William Wyler,
                  > three rep moviehouses
                  > and several more places that show alternative films.
                  > There is SO MUCH
                  > great stuff going on!

                  A lot of brilliant films are being made outside the
                  > U.S. like in
                  > Australia, Japan and Iran. Or they're financed
                  > independently. When I
                  > watch films like Sunset Boulevard and The Big Sleep
                  > and My Darling
                  > Clementine and Stagecoach and Grapes of Wrath that
                  > were made during the
                  > golden age of Hollywood, I just want to cry. We're
                  > definitely
                  > living in the crap age of Hollywood. Good films like
                  > A.I. and Traffic are
                  > coming out of the studio system but they're rare in
                  > comparison.


                  Yes, I agree...I had a part about the stuff besides
                  Hollywood crap in my post but I took it out (didn't
                  want to get too wordy--ha ha!). I know there's so many
                  great alternative films and films from other countries
                  that I've never seen...I've lost touch with the art
                  world, I suppose, living out here in the Great Plains
                  (and it IS pretty plain). But even so, when I go to
                  films these days--and I usually go just to ones that
                  I've heard good things about--very often I'm
                  disappointed. They're just not as great as I hoped
                  they'd be. I guess that's what I meant by not seeing a
                  high level of genius as much in the last, say, 25
                  years or so. I think someone else out there has to
                  understand what I'm saying...yes?

                  > >
                  > > but I think her song "Sara" by Stevie Nicks (from
                  > the
                  > > 1979 "Tusk" album) is a piece of art, and it
                  > contains
                  > > a line that directly addresses the human need for
                  > > love: "Drowning, in the sea of love, where
                  > everyone
                  > > would love to drown." I remember when I first
                  > heard
                  > > that line--I *felt* it, if that makes sense. I
                  > > classify anything that makes me feel deeply as
                  > art.
                  >
                  > That's the question for me. If a film, say My
                  > Darling Clementine or TTRL
                  > or Babe, makes me think theoretically, then it's an
                  > artistic achievement.
                  > But if it makes me feel, how do I know whether it's
                  > art or kitsch? If I
                  > can't think through it, is it art? Now I've never
                  > seen Bambi because I
                  > might never recover, but I'm gonna go out on a limb
                  > and say that it's
                  > kitsch, not art.

                  Not to sound like a big Disney fan, because I'm not,
                  but I remember *Bambi* as having a beautiful,
                  painterly look to it, especially the forest scenes. I
                  remember as a kid thinking it looked like a painting
                  instead of a "cartoon". So maybe in that aspect we
                  could say it achieves a certain high level of art in
                  film animation, which is something, after all. I know
                  what you're getting at about the work as a whole,
                  though...a bit too precious to be art. *Fantasia* is
                  often on film historians list as a work of art in
                  film, though, and it's from Disney....

                  But it would definitely move me and
                  > make me cry and
                  > be devastated for days. Weeks. All my life. But I
                  > don't think just because
                  > it makes me feel, that it's art.

                  Well, yeah, let me rephrase my sentiment above...I
                  classify work that has a certain level of
                  intelligence, integrity, depth AND makes me feel as
                  art. I mean, if I'm in a down mood sometimes I cry at
                  the sentiments expressed in TV commercials or
                  movies-of-the-week, or even B-grade films, but I don't
                  consider them art! I like to think I can sniff out
                  what has some thought behind it, though. Stevie Nicks
                  may be a controversial example, because a lot of
                  people think her work is sophomoric fluff, but I think
                  she has something to say about life and love from a
                  woman's perspective, and often achieves a high level
                  of artistry. Although she certainly isn't striving for
                  theoretical tenets in her lyrics, the best of them do
                  have a poetic, metaphysical quality. Her latest album
                  is really good, too. (Rochelle, where are you to add
                  your two cents? Rochelle is a Stevie fan
                  extraordinaire!)

                  The example of rock music kind of goes along with my
                  idea in my previous post about how art has changed
                  over the centuries--it used to be great paintings,
                  sculpture, and architecture was the only art, and now
                  we talk about the "art" of Snoop Doggy Dog or Eminem,
                  for God's sake. (The worst is when someone like Sean
                  Puffy Combs or Madonna call themselves artists--and
                  I've heard both do so)...yeah, they have a few okay
                  songs, and Madonna at least knows how to hang in there
                  in the music business, but I don't put her in the same
                  category with, say, Joni Mitchell or Marianne
                  Faithful, or even Kate Bush or Tori Amos. So that's
                  another question: where do we draw the line in the
                  modern world of what is art and what isn't?
                  >
                  > > I guess I should mention I haven't seen A.I. and
                  > > probably won't until it comes on cable (big
                  > surprise,
                  > > huh?).
                  >
                  > That'll be a while. Do you live very far away from
                  > any cinemas?

                  Oh, it's playing around here...I'm just too cheap to
                  pay for a ticket (plus I didn't really want to add to
                  Steven Speilberg's coffers). It's not important to me
                  to see new films as they come out, I guess. Call me a
                  not-very-dedicated film buff!
                  >
                  > >
                  > Community email addresses:
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                • Jos Linn
                  ONCE AGAIN, A.I. SPOILERS ARE CONTAINED WITHIN: ... I think that was the point. In fact, now that I think about it, that may be the point of every movie.
                  Message 8 of 11 , Jul 3, 2001
                    ONCE AGAIN, "A.I." SPOILERS ARE CONTAINED WITHIN:

                    Christine said:
                    >Isn't it funny that a film about a robot says so much about human
                    >emotions?

                    I think that was the point. In fact, now that I think about it, that may be
                    the point of every movie. To find some connection between what is presented
                    on the screen to what is going on with us. The mirror of ourselves.

                    >I did feel that the ethical issues raised in A.I. about robots are very
                    >similar to those about animals, thus linking A.I. and Babe in my mind. Do
                    >animals really love us or do they just seem like they are? What do we do
                    >if they threaten our family members? Is it okay to to cut them up for
                    >medical research/human organs that we can grow in them because we're
                    >humans and they're animals?

                    Not in my book. Of course, animals and humans get killed and die all the
                    time and I cannot say in every instance one is better than the other. But I
                    do believe that it IS wrong to kill ANYTHING acting from the belief that
                    humans (or anything for that matter) are better or more worthy of living
                    than something else. Just because we can think the way we do does not give
                    us favor with God. It's all equal, IMO. We are part of the same nature and
                    life they are and us believing we are separate and apart from it does not
                    make it so. I thought while watching A.I. that it was pretty arrogant of
                    the humans in the film to think that these apparently sentient beings could
                    be used and destroyed as humans see fit. What makes organic more worthy
                    than mechanical if they can think and feel the same way? This opens up a
                    lifetime of discussion.

                    >I think you can deal with love and the desire to be loved in both a
                    >kitschy way and an artistic way. The question is in what way A.I. deals
                    >with love.

                    Good question. One thing I think it says is that love does not lie
                    exclusively in the human domain (and yes, I do think animals "love"--just
                    ask my mom's dog--he loves everyone he meets). Yes, humans gave David the
                    capacity for love but once activated, he exressed as only he saw fit. Going
                    beyond what his creators made, as you said, Christine. It was his love.
                    Programmed, yes, but aren't we programmed as well? By our experiences, our
                    parents, our pasts?

                    David is real because he is loved and love makes
                    >him real. Love forms us. Biologically, psychoanalytically, mentally. And
                    >David is real in that he has transcended what his creators meant him to
                    >be.

                    I think you're right, Christine. I think that is the basic question of the
                    movie. What makes us real? Blood, flesh, bone? Or the capacity to love
                    and give to others? If it's the latter, I think David is more "real" than
                    many people I know.

                    (BTW, did you think those were aliens or
                    >highly evolved mechas?)

                    I got the impression that they were highly evolved mechas. And again, their
                    only concern was for David's happiness. Then I could say that they "loved"
                    him which, IMO, would make them as real as anything we experience. It is
                    only human egocentrism that would say we are the only ones who can have
                    these experiences, IMO. How do we know? Question, was the narrator and the
                    alien/mecha that talked to David Ben Kingsley's voice? I could tell that
                    Dr. Know was Robin Williams and the Blue Fairy was Meryl Streep but I wasn't
                    sure about him (I didn't check the credits).
                    >
                    >Your question about whether David's a real boy provokes me to rethink of
                    >what really is in the context of A.I. And rethinking the shape of reality
                    >has always been what you've worked on, Jos. So what do you think?

                    Why, thank you, Christine. Today the shape of reality is... a rhombus.
                    It's hard to say all that is in the context of this movie. The one thing
                    consistent with the critics of "A.I." is that each one I have read or heard
                    has said that it will cause many questions to be asked long after leaving
                    the theater. I don't want to delve too deeply into the intellectual side of
                    this movie because I will start to take away the "experience" of it from
                    myself. With that said, however, I think the crux of the movie is basically
                    about reality itself. What is it? Who makes/made it? Is it something that
                    is created for us or is it defined within ourselves? I don't know. Both
                    probably. And I think that was David's journey? Did his mother not loving
                    him (I think she always did) make him less of a "person", less real? Is who
                    we are defined by how others react to us or is it defined by what we give to
                    others or is it something else entirely?
                    But what I took away from the movie is that when it is all said and done and
                    all the questions have been asked and answered, the only thing left is love.
                    In fact, it makes all the other stuff seem unimportant. Interesting, yes,
                    but not important. The only important thing, in fact, the only thing, is
                    love. And reconecting with that, with our birthright, is what life is all
                    about. Part of me doesn't want to believe that becasue it seems to simple
                    but I cannot come up with anything else (and although the concept is simple,
                    it seems like the hardest thing in the world to do). What wonderful
                    questions and thoughts this movie has produced, and in just 2 days. I need
                    to see it again. And when I do, I know my answers to these questions today
                    will be different tomorrow.

                    Thank you for your questions, Christine. Keep 'em coming. And if you find
                    a Famke Jannsen toy (life size, please) that says "I love you, Jos" when you
                    squeeze it, pick me up one. ;-)

                    Jos




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                  • Christina Lui
                    On Mon, 2 Jul 2001, Angela Havel wrote: I know there s so many ... That depends on what kinds of films get distributed in your area. It sounds like indie
                    Message 9 of 11 , Jul 3, 2001
                      On Mon, 2 Jul 2001, Angela Havel wrote:

                      I know there's so many
                      > great alternative films and films from other countries
                      > that I've never seen...I've lost touch with the art
                      > world, I suppose, living out here in the Great Plains
                      > (and it IS pretty plain). But even so, when I go to
                      > films these days--and I usually go just to ones that
                      > I've heard good things about--very often I'm
                      > disappointed. They're just not as great as I hoped
                      > they'd be. I guess that's what I meant by not seeing a
                      > high level of genius as much in the last, say, 25
                      > years or so.

                      That depends on what kinds of films get distributed in your area. It
                      sounds like indie American and foreign films don't get played near you,
                      and that's where greatness in film is these days. So I'm guessing that you
                      see Hollywood films. Correct? Good films are coming out of Hollywood but
                      fewer and less bright than in the past.

                      For example, I was impressed by the consistency in which Joel Schumacher's
                      recent Tigerland repudiates the glorification of war and near-inevitable
                      glamorization of the hero in a war film. This is done through the
                      distancing use of self-conscious irony. But then I saw My Darling
                      Clementine by John Ford, whom we lovingly refer to as God in my house.
                      Ford uses ironic self-referentiality to distance the viewer from being
                      seduced into Ford's simultaneous mythologization of Wyatt Earp. And
                      Clementine predates Tigerland by over 50 years! I still think Tigerland's
                      a very good film but it's not as radical as I first thought.

                      I'm still wrestling over whether A.I. is art or kitsch. What I came away
                      with, after watching A.I., is a feeling. Like Jos felt. A.I. evoked
                      feelings deep inside, feelings about the desire to be loved and my
                      childhood and my desire to find a place for myself. And you can't think
                      through those feelings. You can think about why you're feeling those
                      things after watching a film. You can think about early childhood
                      experiences like psychologists and sociologists and psychoanalysts do. But
                      you can't think through the feeling and change it through thinking.

                      So if a film takes you to that place, evokes those emotions that can't be
                      thought through, feelings about how you need to be loved, about things you
                      don't talk about in garden party conversations, is that art? By the way
                      Jos, I never told you how much courage I know it took you to talk about
                      these things here that are not part of everyday conversation and I admire
                      you for your bravery.
                    • Christina Lui
                      ... P A U L O A K E N F O L D is my new god. ... That makes A.I. consistent with Spielberg s other films that deal with American history. Spielberg s
                      Message 10 of 11 , Jul 3, 2001
                        On Tue, 3 Jul 2001, Jos Linn wrote:

                        > ONCE AGAIN, "A.I." SPOILERS ARE CONTAINED WITHIN:

                        P
                        A
                        U
                        L

                        O
                        A
                        K
                        E
                        N
                        F
                        O
                        L
                        D

                        is my new god.

                        > Not in my book. Of course, animals and humans get killed and die all the
                        > time and I cannot say in every instance one is better than the other. But I
                        > do believe that it IS wrong to kill ANYTHING acting from the belief that
                        > humans (or anything for that matter) are better or more worthy of living
                        > than something else. Just because we can think the way we do does not give
                        > us favor with God. It's all equal, IMO. We are part of the same nature and
                        > life they are and us believing we are separate and apart from it does not
                        > make it so. I thought while watching A.I. that it was pretty arrogant of
                        > the humans in the film to think that these apparently sentient beings could
                        > be used and destroyed as humans see fit. What makes organic more worthy
                        > than mechanical if they can think and feel the same way? This opens up a
                        > lifetime of discussion.

                        That makes A.I. consistent with Spielberg's other films that deal with
                        American history. Spielberg's previously dealt with the arbitrary lines
                        that divide human from non-human. Most sensible people would agree that
                        you can't declare people with a different religion (Schindler's List) or
                        race (Amistad) non-human. But what if they're not flesh and bone people at
                        all? By arguing that robots deserve ethical treatment, Spielberg's
                        extending the line of anti-essentialist thinking we've seen in his earlier
                        films.

                        > >I think you can deal with love and the desire to be loved in both a
                        > >kitschy way and an artistic way. The question is in what way A.I. deals
                        > >with love.
                        >
                        > Good question. One thing I think it says is that love does not lie
                        > exclusively in the human domain (and yes, I do think animals "love"--just
                        > ask my mom's dog--he loves everyone he meets). Yes, humans gave David the
                        > capacity for love but once activated, he exressed as only he saw fit. Going
                        > beyond what his creators made, as you said, Christine.

                        But does David's transcendence of his original limitations make A.I. art
                        or kitsch? Even Bambi transcends himself--he grows up. You can have
                        transcendence in kitsch.

                        I like films that make me think. It's not surprising that that's one of my
                        criteria for artistic achievement, along with creativity and truthfulness.
                        But since A.I. evokes feelings that can't be thought through, how can I
                        think about its artistry? See why I'm stuck? Maybe it's me.

                        > I think you're right, Christine. I think that is the basic question of the
                        > movie. What makes us real? Blood, flesh, bone? Or the capacity to love
                        > and give to others? If it's the latter, I think David is more "real" than
                        > many people I know.

                        IMO, Spielberg is saying reality and ethics can't be based on biological
                        essence like ethnicity or skin colour. Or flesh and bone.

                        > I got the impression that they were highly evolved mechas. And again, their
                        > only concern was for David's happiness.

                        That and their great interest in humans made me think they were mechas.
                        But they did look like elongated version of the aliens in CE3K. And their
                        transport looked like a Borg cube from Star Trek.

                        Question, was the narrator and the
                        > alien/mecha that talked to David Ben Kingsley's voice? I could tell that
                        > Dr. Know was Robin Williams and the Blue Fairy was Meryl Streep but I wasn't
                        > sure about him (I didn't check the credits).

                        Ben Kingsley was listed as a voice actor. Since the narrator was an
                        English dude, Kingsley must have been him.

                        > Why, thank you, Christine. Today the shape of reality is... a rhombus.

                        You're so Swift!

                        Like Gulliver, David's travels take him to four different realities.
                        That's one of the things I liked about A.I. Like Eureka, I wasn't sure
                        where it was going.

                        > But what I took away from the movie is that when it is all said and done and
                        > all the questions have been asked and answered, the only thing left is love.

                        Yes.

                        And Teddy!

                        > Thank you for your questions, Christine. Keep 'em coming. And if you find
                        > a Famke Jannsen toy (life size, please) that says "I love you, Jos" when you
                        > squeeze it, pick me up one. ;-)

                        Noooo! Famke's mine! All mine!
                      • Angela Havel
                        ... Actually, I was referring to some independent films I ve seen in the last five years or so that didn t resonate as much as I thought they would. I don t
                        Message 11 of 11 , Jul 3, 2001
                          --- Christina Lui <toates@...> wrote:
                          > On Mon, 2 Jul 2001, Angela Havel wrote:
                          >
                          > I know there's so many
                          > > great alternative films and films from other
                          > countries
                          > > that I've never seen...I've lost touch with the
                          > art
                          > > world, I suppose, living out here in the Great
                          > Plains
                          > > (and it IS pretty plain). But even so, when I go
                          > to
                          > > films these days--and I usually go just to ones
                          > that
                          > > I've heard good things about--very often I'm
                          > > disappointed. They're just not as great as I hoped
                          > > they'd be. I guess that's what I meant by not
                          > seeing a
                          > > high level of genius as much in the last, say, 25
                          > > years or so.
                          >
                          > That depends on what kinds of films get distributed
                          > in your area. It
                          > sounds like indie American and foreign films don't
                          > get played near you,
                          > and that's where greatness in film is these days. So
                          > I'm guessing that you
                          > see Hollywood films. Correct?

                          Actually, I was referring to some independent films
                          I've seen in the last five years or so that didn't
                          resonate as much as I thought they would. I don't even
                          mess much with Hollywood films...TTRL is the last
                          "big" film I rented (but I really don't consider it a
                          "Hollywood" film...that would be kind of sacreligious
                          to Malick, don't you think?). Some recent examples of
                          indies I've seen and wasn't overwhelmed by: *Crumb*
                          (although I thought it was very interesting--and yes I
                          know it wasn't a drama, but more a documentary),
                          *Welcome to the Dollhouse* (although I really liked
                          it!), *The Virgin Suicides* (it lacked some vital
                          dimension for me, I wanted to see more deeply into
                          those girl's psyches....). Maybe I'm just too hard to
                          please...and I know I sound overly devoted to Malick,
                          but I swear his films are the only ones I can think of
                          that I truly feel satisfied by every time I watch
                          them. As I've said before, I can't wait for the day
                          when any film can be downloaded on demand; I'll be
                          having a field day, catching up on indies I've heard
                          about but never saw (and searching for that one that
                          lives up Malick's level!). I just don't have the
                          budget right now to even pay to rent indies. I do see
                          quite a few of them on cable, but only so many of them
                          get shown on cable, of course.

                          > So if a film takes you to that place, evokes those
                          > emotions that can't be
                          > thought through, feelings about how you need to be
                          > loved, about things you
                          > don't talk about in garden party conversations, is
                          > that art?

                          Maybe one could invent a category of art called
                          "sympathetic art" or something like that? In other
                          words, some films have a genius for touching you (and
                          we could say that there is some art involved in that,
                          given a definition of art as the deliberate and
                          selective arranging of elements to produce a response
                          in the viewer). The "sympathetic" type art may not
                          necessarily have those onion-like metaphysical layers
                          that makes a Malick film resonate with genius for me,
                          but isn't there room for lots of categories of art?

                          Isn't there also a word "sympatico" that means a
                          connection in regards to feeling? I couldn't find this
                          word in my dictionary, maybe it's Latin? I guess
                          that's the word I'd use rather than "sympathetic",
                          because it sounds more, uh, artistic....


                          Actually, my dictionary defines art as "the
                          arrangement of sounds, colors, forms, movements, or
                          other element in a manner that affects the sense of
                          beauty." But I kind of balk at that definition because
                          there's lots of work out there I'd call art that isn't
                          conventionally beautiful. Some of David Lynch's
                          plastic art (rotten meat and insect collages!) isn't
                          beautiful (has anyone seen the documentary "Pretty as
                          a Picture" about Lynch?) but I'd still call it art.
                          Likewise a lot of his (and lots of other
                          directors)film images aren't beautiful but I'd call
                          them art.

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