Monday, August 13, 2018

New news of Harvey Weinstein III

Four of the better-conceived words
presented by American cinema in 2016,
it seems to me, are those of screen-
writer/director Kenneth Lonergan for
Lee Chandler, to speak to his nephew
to explain why he cannot serve as his
guardian, as his late brother's will
had arranged:  I can't beat it. Last
evening, I happened to catch up with
this presentation, though not without
enduring the criticism of the clerk
at the store which sold the dvd. As
everyone knows, the actor who speaks
for Lee Chandler is Casey Affleck.

This is not irony, but it is desolat-
ing coincidence, for this highly cred-
itable work of art to be abandoned in
irrecompensible outrage with its maker,
a burden which seemingly can't be beat.
But it is irony, and not coincidental
at all, for the work as a whole, and
the performance at its core to portray
the burden of mistake as of such objec-
tionable finality. All I knew, as I
consciously violated the Harvey Wein-
stein rule against perpetuating a live-
lihood for a specific category of per-
son, was that I do not believe works 
of art which decry inflicting the of-
fense must be expunged for that suc-
cess. I think of Huckleberry Finn.

Further, I would assume, there must 
certainly be many film enthusiasts 
and Red Sox fans who have noted a 
eloquently adroit overlay of Loner-
gan’s movie on a moment from the 
Academy of Motion Picture Arts and 
Sciences’ “Best Motion Picture” of 
the previous year, Spotlight. In the 
opening scene of that movie of gal-
vanizing moral outrage, a world-weary 
desk sergeant in a police precinct and 
a compromised assistant district attor-
ney exchange greetings as the latter 
arrives to pluck a predatory priest 
from his own protective custody. Those 
actors, respectively, Joe Stapleton and 
Brian Chamberlain, portray the Fire Mar-
shall and an investigating police detec-
tive in an interview exonerating Casey 
Affleck’s negligent father in Lonergan's 
film. Two moments, of highly distinguish-
able character dynamics in the determina-
tion of guilt - showing how mercurial the 
accusatory element is, how elusive the
reconciling faculty is - refute anything 
one can say against trusting either film. 
A gentleman doesn't dine in restaurants.

I return, however, to the speech in
question, between Uncle and Nephew,
I can't beat it. As cruel as it is,
I haven't any doubt that it has con-
ceptually permeated almost anyone's
mind at some time or another, but to
see and to hear the price of believ-
ing it, as Lonergan's movie allows
one to do, upholds it as that ultim-
ate "no go" zone of human life, in
which we would like to place assault,
itself. To paraphrase the actor Sean
Penn, in remarks years later on Ter-
rence Malick's The Thin Red Line, 
'I haven't met anyone in this world
who isn't desperate.' If a place
of art is to nail true things, I'll
be commending Manchester By the Sea
to anyone who asks.

Jean-Honoré Fragonard
Two Groups of Caryatids
  after Carracci
  San Michele in Bosco
Norton Simon Museum

Edward Hopper
New York Movie
Museum of Modern Art

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