(This is the first post I've entirely tucked below the fold. I feel . . . dirty?)
The Machinist (2004):
Batman Begins (2005):
Just so I have this straight: a method actor exploded at a director of photography for twice interrupting his sight line while fiddling with the lights after the director had yelled "SETTLE!" and "ACTION!" and this is newsworthy? No.
But since I discussed method acting with my class yesterday I thought I might point out that he almost remains in character throughout the tongue-lashing. (His anglicized Welsh accent briefly appears.) The class angle, for those interested, comes from my "situating the rhetorical performance in its historical context" exercise. To understand the significance of a thing, you have to understand the culture it comes from. I leave the larger question of why I teach popular culture to my undergraduate mentor, Pat McGee, from whom I learned by example:
James Cameron's Titanic may be called by some a work of genius and by others an assemblage of cheap thrills and romance, but in either case it is a pure product of mass culture—in fact, it is what I would call, with some degree of irony, the masterpiece of mass culture. Several reviewers have commented that, despite the visual power of the movie, the dialogue is often trite and cliché-ridden; and one could add to these criticisms the obvious fact that the plot consists of two central components that are cinematic clichés: the disaster formula (of which the sinking of the Titanic is the classic example, for the great ship has sunk on movie and television screens over and over again throughout this century) and the romance between rich girl and poor boy. In this age of gender studies and queer theory, there are no surprises in this movie, no challenges to the dominance of heterosexuality; and any gestures toward feminism are of the safe variety that have become commonplace in popular movies, including several of Cameron's earlier action dramas . . . Titanic is not strictly Cameron's masterpiece, in the auteurist sense, because its power derives from mass culture and from a history of images that can be discovered only in retrospect . . . The first image in Titanic may lead the spectator to expect a nostalgia film, which, as Fredric Jameson suggests, transforms the past into a commodity that becomes a simulacrum of historical understanding in a present that has lost the sense of history per se (Jameson, Postmodernism 1-51). I refer to the shots of the R.M.S. Titanic pulling away from the wharf while the passengers wave as the initial credits appear on the screen. These images are captured on slow-speed film and convey the hazy quality of old photographs to create the image of the "dream ship" that the central female character, Rose Dewitt Bukater (Kate Winslet), refers to later in the movie. This nostalgic image corresponds to what I will call, improvising on Benjamin, the historical image, i.e., an image of the pastness of the past that enters the present as a reification of time, something we can consume without disrupting the present, without disturbing our historical understanding, so to speak.