Saturday, January 2, 2010

Dear IFC, Please stop now.

I suppose it has been long enough since the last time I complained about IFC. For some reason, those letters stand for Independent Film Channel. Anyway, I was digging through my notebooks and found some scratchings about watching Beyond the Valley of the Dolls on IFC, and I felt compelled by the hand of the lord to share those thoughts. Let me say that I enjoy breasts from the seventies as much as any heterosexual man should, maybe more, but I musty insist that there are places to see them other than what is ostensibly a venue for low budget American art cinema. The fact is that if it were at all true to its name, IFC would show movies by Cassavetes, Robert Kramer, Su Friedrich, Jay Rosenblatt, Stan Brakhage, Caveh Zahedi, Mark Rappaport, Shirley Clarke, Andrew Bujalski, the Duplass Brothers, Joe Swanberg, etc. But you can't find any of these directors there. Instead, IFC provides The Land of the Spiders, a B-movie about tarantulas taking over a town in Texas that stars William Shatner, and the Roger Ebert penned, Russ Meyer directed Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Has the word “independent” undergone such a transformation in our culture that it is now synonymous with “ironic”? Because we know that these are not Indy movies, don't we? Is it not that IFC bow sells Indy attitude more than Indy product, and part of that attitude is the ability to enjoy exploitation movies and B-movie hokum from an ironic distance?

I have an idea for IFC: why not make a fucking documentary about Russ Meyer? It is an interesting enough story. He's somewhere between the Robert Crumb and Ed Wood intellectually. He was a real “independent” filmmaker before the term was a buzzword. The documentary would be more interesting than his crappy movies precisely because it would explore the tension between his do-it-yourself ethic and his terrible ideas. Maybe through documentary we could discover the true meaning of Christmas – namely that making a film independent of the studio does not mean that you are making unique or spiritually “independent” art. After all, IFC loves an excuse to jam sex into a documentary under the guise of intellectual investigation. If you missed their review or would-be “study” of sex in cinema, do yourself a favor and continue to miss it, unless you happen to have a hole that can only be filled by pseudo-intellectual clap-trap.

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