Friday, February 13, 2009

Network: Kevin Respectfully Agrees! Whuh?

So it looks like "I Respectfully Disagree" isn't going to be a weekly feature. Schoolwork is draining. Writing time is sparse. Sort of. It's more a lack of motivation. In this case, I had watched "Network", and Kevin had once tried to watch "Network", but the audio wasn't synched. He tried again, and succeeded. Score! And we both loved it. Here is our joint, agreeful take on "Network".

KEVIN: Before we get too deep into this, i should start by saying we should be careful not to let our praise for this film run wild, because Armond White says that as film students we foolishly yearn for those damn cynical films of the seventies, with their liberal agendas.

ERIC: Not that "Network" is cynical. It's the polar opposite of cynical. A nationwide television network keeping a mentally unstable man on the air to get higher ratings, exploiting a terrorist group's wacky felonies to make a hit prime time drama, and programming executive so cut-throat she takes out a hit on a newscaster... as far from cynical as you can get.

KEVIN: And how about that programming executive? Faye Dunaway. Roar.

ERIC: There's something about a Faye Dunaway in a pant-suit that just shouts "authority". And it's quite appealing. I had no idea she was such a striking young vixen back in the day.

KEVIN: We can't get swept up in this Faye Dunaway business. There's so much to talk about. i don't even know where to start.

ERIC: How about the monologues? The thousands of monologues.

KEVIN: Delicious. Favorite monologue in the film?

ERIC: That's tough, because there's a monologue every five minutes.... I think William Holden's monologue near the very end of the film is my favorite. He dismisses Dunaway's character as shallow, needy, disgusting... it's one of the most powerful, yet simple, monologues in the film. A close second is Peter Finch's first monologue with the snazzed up set behind him.

KEVIN: "You're beginning to think that the tube is reality, and that your own lives are unreal." That bit?

ERIC: That very bit.

KEVIN: Ok, well I pick that William Holden one, too.

ERIC: Copycat.


ERIC: And?

KEVIN: Ned Beatty's.

ERIC: That's a close third for me.

KEVIN: And...Beatrice Straight's. I just love all her talk about a "winter passion."

ERIC: That is one of the most depressing scenes in the film, I believe.

KEVIN: Agreed.

ERIC: You realize that no film this day in age could pull off what "Network" did stylistically, and verbally, do you not? What do I mean by verbally? You know, the content. What they're saying. What am I looking for?

KEVIN: I'm not sure I follow. You mean it's too wordy for today's standards?

ERIC: Yes.... But also what the words say. The content of the massive amounts of words, and the fact that they are indeed massive. Neither would fly in today's society. I think the closest comparison to something contemporary would be Magnolia, but that's a huge stretch.

KEVIN: It's a huge stretch. Why don't you think those things would fly?

ERIC: Right. Short Cuts to Magnolia makes sense. This doesn't. Because we're so jaded. They don't carry any weight. And people like it that way. They'd stifle it.

KEVIN: And people weren't just as jaded in the seventies?

ERIC: They wanted to get jaded. Being jaded meant something to them.

KEVIN: Well, since neither of us lived through the seventies, I think we'll just have to lay this argument to rest.

ERIC: Agreed. I win.

KEVIN: But in a world like this, does anybody win? Kidding, but if you can write me an entire monologue to back that up it might carry some weight.

ERIC: In a world like Network? Yes. Holden wins. Holden wins all. And I would, but it would only pale in comparison to every singe monologue in Network. Glowing, but true.

KEVIN: Maybe too true.... Do you think Paddy Chayefsky was on something? Something that rendered his monologues super-powered?

ERIC: We just read an example of his character descriptions. Faye Dunaway was given 'the best ass in programming', right?

It's the balls to say something like that in a screenplay that did it. Maybe his balls were on something.

KEVIN: Speaking of balls, Marline Warfield had them in this movie.

ERIC: The "badass commie nigger"?

KEVIN: I had to imdb this little gem (a laureen hobbes quote), but I remember how much I loved this line in the film: "You can blow the seminal prisoner class infrastructure out your ass. I'm not knockin' down my goddamn distribution charges." That's just damn fine writing.

ERIC: Chayefsky is a miracle worker. It's like he set a bunch of dictionaries down, took a chainsaw to them, and then cobbled them together with magic. As much as that analogy doesn't make sense, it speaks worlds about the script.

KEVIN: It looks like we've got nothing but praise for this film. Is there anything you didn't like about it?

ERIC: Yeah. How much little there was to not praise. I enjoy ripping into a film, and this gives me no rancid meat. It's a delicious, savory tenderloin.

KEVIN: So, we're finished? Do you feel at all obligated to tie that oft-quoted line into our discussion?

ERIC: Dude, fuck that. Everyone says that. I'm mad as hell about it. I'm not going to take people quoting it anymore, you hear me?

KEVIN: Yeah! I'm as tired as hell, and I'm not going to talk about this film anymore. Tonight, at least.

ERIC: All right, all right. Enough with the cute stuff.

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