Saturday, March 14, 2009

shouting from the back row

the film critic for the new yorker, david denby, writes in the latest issue about a micro-movement in contemporary independent cinema called mumblecore. i'm not familiar with this strain of filmmaking but according to denby these films are about youthful diffidence shot mostly on digital cameras on a next-to-nothing budget and using non-professional actors. but what interests me is denby's conclusion about the health of mumblecore given that most of these films were made in a time of prosperity. denby writes:

It remains to be seen, in fact, whether mumblecore’s ethos can survive in a period of violent economic downturn. Those penny-budget movies were made in a time of prosperity. Now that the parental check or the roommate’s job may be drying up, the movies could dry up, too, or turn from dithering to rage.

which makes me think of creative expressions in all manner of forms and media in this time of vast fear and uncertainty. i'm not a prognosticator of any sort nor am i an economist but it does seem that what is happening is a large fundamental shift in how we buy, sell, save and our relationships to work. and that what we are experiencing is not a recession but a depression, and it appears to be getting worse. i wonder not necessarily about the health of art for art survives in every era but art's makers. what might come of this and how will poetry confront our fears and hopes and rage and despair.


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