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Where's Frank Capra when we need him?

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#1 Guest_fuzzywuzzy6_*


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Posted 25 December 2008 - 08:51 PM

:thumbsup: I am currently watching Meet John Doe by Frank Capra, starring Barbara Stanwyck and Gary Cooper, on WGN of Chicago (how appropriate!) There's pervasive joblessness, wide financial difficulties, a newspaper downsizing, corrupt politicians, hoboes and baseball. Ms. Stanwyck, a cynical reporter, creates a fictitious John Doe because she is desperate to hold onto her job, which supports her mother and two younger sisters. As she tries to compose a political speech for Cooper to deliver on the local radio station, her mother says, "People are tired of all that doom and gloom. They want something that's simple and real and full of hope." (This is an approximate quotation.)

Capra was humane, decent, intensely democratic, patriotic, and full of a cockeyed optimism. No one has come close to this mixture for many, many years. The remakes of his films have been mediocre and hardly optimistic or funny. I would guess the closest directors nowadays would be from Scotland or England.

Who would you suggest as his possible successor(s) and why?

Hope you folks with time off are enjoying it!

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#2 DnDer


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Posted 26 December 2008 - 12:08 PM

We've strayed too far. Contemporary filmmaking is about taking a bleak look at ourselves under a glaring white light, and then see ourselves in the deeper shadows cast by said light. We're too bitter, cynical and maybe even prone to realism (not the same as realistic) to have a genuine successor to the unashamed morality plays that Capra gave us.

And if anyone has inherited his touch, that director is merely a ghost of what Capra once was. A pale imitation of the iconic director who has left a fairly legendary legacy of film.

My tuppence. Take it for what it's worth.

#3 Guest_fuzzywuzzy6_*


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Posted 26 December 2008 - 02:28 PM

Rollo May writes of the difference between true innocence and false innocence. People who have false innocence are those who see the unpleasant in life and choose to ignore it; those who are truly innocent can accept the negatives in life and still embrace life. (I am speaking of adults here like the Dalai Lama.)

There is a place for hard-hitting documentaries and gritty dramas. But there is also a need for movies that try to give us a hope in the future. The two are not necessarily exclusive.

One of the markers for depression is the belief that one has no efficacy; one cannot influence the events around oneself. I think some of the social and art critics have promoted the belief that art and literature have no meaning; that spills over into life. It is a more elaborate form of nihilism. Meanwhile an incredible amount of American comedy is crude and very, very dumb. Some crude movies are rather clever, and there is a time and place for dumb movies, but why swamp us with them? A lot of the filmmakers assume we are just too stupid to appreciate a good movie. Some of the most intelligent comic movies made in the U.S. are children's animated films meant to appeal to adults as well as to children. The most optimistic movies for adults (that are not on women's cable, and those are often quite sappy or underwritten) all seem to be directed at audiences outside the U.S.

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