and sometimes poetry

The Eagle (2011) | Review by Mark Leidner

The Eagle has all the appeal of swishing back the warm sperm from a used condom found on a playground. The feeling I have right now reminds me of being an undergrad and going to the poetry readings I was mandated to by the creative writing class I was taking to get an easy A, and then becoming radioactive at what I heard there. So much that I pointed myself in the general direction of poetry, and detonated my life. Poetry is a sacred trust with the power to change nations, alter sea levels, raise the dead, unify the lonely, etc;  at the very least it reveals the seething majesty of the universe to those whose minds and eyes the cruel machinations of culture have stabbed out. Poetry can never save the writer; but it can save the reader; as Whitman saved me; and to see the responsibility of that power abused and squeezed into the sequined bullhorn of the bourgeoisie, or erudition-sparklers, ought to shake to the core the conscience of anyone with a shred of honor. Poetry doesn’t belong to anyone, least of all the privileged; but that is who has it and that is who misuses it to freestyle steam-shine their lifestyle curtains.  That being said, The Eagle is so bad, it makes me want to abandon all this rage, this judgment, this passion for poetry altogether and start all over in the same vein with movies. It makes me want to raise an army, storm the gates of Hollywood… not to demand better stories… but to wrest the cameras and booms and grips and scripts away from our lazy, lying, parasitic ruling class and make better movies myself… for the people.

To treasure art which pushes the limits of its materials to the brink of imaginative catastrophe—in order to exfoliate the shadows those holy materials bear—before bringing it back to the simple kernel of communication for which the form was born. A painting into which hours of physical and psychic labor have been poured by the painter; and then to think of movies as moving paintings, that could do the same thing faster and farther without having to hold still; that could enrich exponentially by virtue of their exponentially varied materials? Where do you stand on this important issue, Kevin MacDonald (director)? Duncan Kenworthy (producer)? Jeremy Brock (screenwriter)? If we have a gladiator fighting a slave in an arena, do we need Donald Sutherland repeatedly telling us, too, that a gladiator is fighting a slave in an arena? If we have painfully long scene in which nothing is said that has not already been said… after painfully long scene in which nothing happens that has not already been telegraphed… do we really need another painfully long scene in which nothing is said that has not already been said…  followed by another painfully long scene in which nothing happens that has not already been telegraphed? What is a camera for? You don’t know. You don’t know what light is for. You don’t know what sound is. You don’t know what life is.

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