Monday, August 22, 2005

Searching for Greatness in One-Eyed Jesus

Ran into the guy who originally turned me onto the One-Eyed Jesus.

He saw it the first showing of the first day and when asked, had this to say:

"Classic. Absoulutely classic greatness. The best movie ever made."

Now, just as an aside, this guy is an engineer working out of Sandia Labs, who, in his free time, purchases some kind of historical glassware off Ebay and lives alone. Still.

I was left pondering what left him so satisfied and the 3Ms so ... hungry for the full story.

What got me most about the movie was the unabashed claims by the filmmakers that this was a movie about "The South" -- not "A Version of the South" or "Our experience of the South" or "the White South."

It was a good movie. There were some amazing windows into worlds, and the cinematography was well worth the viewing.

Best picture ever made? Hardly. It could have been better if the filmmakers understood the limitations of what they were making and the divides they couldn't even see, or at least, never let us see.

I would have found the picture much more interesting had it taken on the topic of when and what things get segregated and when there is far more interaction between white and black than anywhere else in the country.


Anonymous Jessie said...

I'm finding that folks who rave about it aren't from the South (or at least, not from THAT part of the South). Those of us who are were disappointed. My friends & I had a very interesting discussion about the film on the way home after seeing this--I'd love to talk more with you gals (tonight, perhaps?) about it. My main problems were that it's more an art piece than anything else, and as such it really only scratches the surface of its subject matter. Jim did acknowledge from the get-go that he wasn't really a part of the culture he was trying to capture, but still... (yes, the ellipsis is a bad way to bail out of that thought, but I'm posting on the fly here)

The whole film, while entertaining (especially the music... David Eugene Edwards, will you marry me?), reminded me of an experience I had shortly after moving to NM. I went to see Ralph Stanley at the Lensic (ack), and, during one of his between-songs stories, a woman behind me (dressed to the nines, including a flippin' FUR COAT) commented to her companion, "Oh isn't that quaint--he's talking about chickens scratching!" I guess the point being that she and Jim White both tried to put the poor, queer, backwoods South under the cultural-appreciation lens, which is fine, but then they both seemed to think that doing so gave them the whole picture. Appreciative, yet simultaneously reductive.

Am I even making sense here? More later.

12:22 PM  
Blogger Maggie said...

Great analysis, Jessie. Not sure about tonight: County Commission meeting both Marjorie and I should be at. But we will try our best! Hopefully we can swing by after.

12:44 PM  
Anonymous Jessie said...

Ah, so many responsibilities; so little time. If not after, some other time.

3:33 PM  
Blogger marjorie said...

I agree with you Mikaela--all to often people make claims for representing a geographic region when in reality they are only capturing a slice of it. It's natural I think for people to think of themselves as the center of the universe--but part of growing up is realizing that we aren't. When those of us who are in the dominant culture continually verbalize and act out this perspective it reinforces the cultural hegemony of our group over others.

Having said that, I enjoy thinking and talking about the white south. Afterall, that is where I'm from--sort of. It became obvious very early in this movie that there weren't going to be black folks, that it was about white culture. So, for me the bigger problem was with the relationship between the filmmakers, the artists and the people they were making a movie about. This is where you hit it, Jessie. But in addition to the appreciation, I also sensed quite a bit of condescension, especially in the bar scene--as we discussed the last night. I felt the bias of the filmmakers was on full display. In fact the film wasn't consistent in the tone--it veered between appreciation and condescension--very similar to the anecdote you give about the lady in the fur coat. I think this attitude is a classic dynamic played out between economic classes.

All this aside, I thought the cinematography was outstanding.

7:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Do you know what the track was they were playing off the jukebox in the scene ie. where the girls were dancing ?

7:51 AM  

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