Monday, July 02, 2007

Goings on at Jamespeak & Nosedive Central

There are some neat goings-on with myself and with Nosedive Central, but for the time being, I have to be hush-hush on them. I know, I know, I'm being insufferably coy. Please forgive me. Have patience, my young Padawaans.

For the next few weeks on Jamespeak, I'll be periodically posting essays on some of my favorite horror films. These may be of no interest to the theatre-folk out there, but then again, maybe they will be.

As I think I've mentioned on this site before, I've always been impressed with artworks that combine high art with popular entertainment: works that can be enjoyed on an intellectual level as well as on base ones. William Shakespeare and to a degree the Greek tragedians Aeschylus and Sophocles were very much providers of populist entertainment in their times. They aren't now, or at least rarely are now, but were when they were writing.

(I'd assert that Sarah Kane's work demonstrates this, although the discussion and analysis of her work in the theatre realms seems to either avoid or understate the purely visceral and graphic nature of her plays.)

Although I don't think this ability or intention is completely lost in theatre nowadays, I get the impression that there's a disparity between populist entertainment and intellectual art and that chasm is getting slowly and steadily wider. I very much could be wrong, but that is the impression I'm getting.

(In other words, for example political theatre often - not always, but often - wears its intentions on its sleeve and is therefore less interested in engaging its audience so much as lecturing at it.)

So, my hope with these ensuing essays will be to provide an explanation as to not only why these films tickle my proverbial fancy and succeed on delivering scares, but also why I consider them to be, without any sense of irony, art (or Art).

The horror film, when done correctly (which, let's face it, isn't too often), is a prime example of a genre and medium where lowbrow and highbrow can meet. As John Carpenter mentioned in his interview in the Onion AV Club: "Because [B-movies are] supposed to be about horror and blood and all that horrible stuff, it's easier to sneak in little subversive messages."

Of course, I don't want to get too ostentatious about what ultimately boils down to a bunch of monster movies.

Most of the films I'll be writing about will not be big surprises or particularly "oddball" choices. I have some oddball tastes and appreciate movies that are unapologetically trash, but I have a suspicion that I won't be spending a great deal of time on them.

Then again, who knows? Maybe I'll pop in Russ Meyer's Mudhoney again and find that I have 1,500-3,000 words to expound on it.

The first one should show up on this site as soon as my typing fingers can dance. Stay tuned.

Ruining his already nonexistent reputation,

James "Middlebrow Dolt" Comtois

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