William Brown

The fact that so many of the films so far featured in the Beyond the Canon survey are really quite canonical seems to beg the question: what definition of beyond the canon emerges here? Or rather, how little does one want to step outside of one's own comfort zone?

Including a Howard Hawks film as being 'beyond the canon'? One might choose a 'minor' Hawks, or a 'minor' John Huston film, but this hardly constitutes anything other than a re-affirmation of Hawks and Huston as precisely canonical directors. Not only that, but it is perhaps the least imaginative effort at expanding the canon conceivable.

"Let's open it up so that rather than watching the same films the whole time, we identify the diversity of films out there." And to do this we (often, it seems) choose more bog standard films that weren't in the Top 50, but which are in plenty of lists all over the place...

No one can be blamed for liking the films they like and for wanting other people to see those films so that we can talk about them together.

But if (consciously or otherwise) all that emerges is a list of pretty similar films made often in the same mould with some notable, and obvious, exceptions, then this would suggest that we live in a boring world that tolerates a LITTLE bit of difference, but could not dream of actually seeing anything truly different. Something that they might not actually like, since apparently pleasure is the sole aim of watching cinema, pleasure - as if it were not through pain that many of our most valuable lessons are learned in life.

I am probably incapable of 'thinking outside of the canon', a fact that makes me sad indeed. I feel like saying Fuck Citizen Kane and Fuck Stanley Kubrick; they never said anything meaningful to me (although to do so would be to tell a lie). Where is Two Girls, One Cup? Hidden, buried films? Find your own canon. Watch everything; develop your own taste. There is no beyond the canon, since the moment you rate something, since the moment you see something, it's already got a toe in the canon.

Lists? Who needs vertical lists when we have a whole world out there that we can discover if only we do that apparently most counterintuitive of things: shift off our arses, try things we've never heard of, try things we don't like - but at least we tried (and some of our favourite tastes are in fact acquired ones), walk across the horizontal face of this beautiful planet of ours, get
out there and look around, stay on the ground...?

1 comment:

Ted Michael Morgan said...

I agree with Ian's response to this excellent comment. Thank you.