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More Maria Full of Grace-bashing

Serpico offers a stronger version of the problems I picked up on in Maria Full of Grace:

“I could have told you Maria Full of Grace was a piece of shit, and I haven’t even seen the film. Crass attempts by Hollywood to exploit economic-social situations that they know little to nothing about in order to further their careers and line their pockets strikes me as pretty disgusting. Interesting anecdote: my friend saw the director and the star of the film at a concert soon after the film’s release, and they were all over each other. Another example of the uneven power relations that govern the transnational exchange of money, bodies, culture and semen.”

10 Responses to “More Maria Full of Grace-bashing”

  1. Anonymous
    October 15th, 2004 | 3:40 pm

    strong statements indeed! i’m not sure we should be so quick to judge a personal relationship in such theoretical terms. who knows, maybe the actress is having the time of her life? maybe she hit on him? whose to say who holds the power between these two individuals? to generalize and jump to conclusions like that seems incredibly pretentious and condescending. i think serpico needs to lighten up a little bit.

  2. cynthia rockwell
    October 15th, 2004 | 4:00 pm

    hey, serpico is my friend! and while the words are harsh, i excerpted them so i feel the need to defend him–i tend to agree with him–even if she’s having the time of her life, that doesn’t change the power relations…a slave could hit on her master but that doesn’t mean she’s not a slave. even if the slave has him wrapped around her finger. this is of course all in the land of the theoretical framework, which often has little to do with practical reality, but i see no problems with making a theoretical argument that includes a personal relationship as evidence. anyway, that’s what we film studies grads do.

  3. Anonymous
    October 15th, 2004 | 6:11 pm

    sorry to criticize your friend. but i don’t agree with him. i don’t think Maria Full of Grace is “a piece of shit” by any standard. he seems to be fishing for a fight by making such a harsh statement in the first place. i’ve heard many interviews with the director of MFOG and it seems to me that he made the movie from a very genuine place. he researched his topic well and chose to work in Spanish. despite a few implausible shifts in plot, i think he wrote and directed a compelling story with a lot of heart and integrity.

    also, i don’t think you can compare a relationship between an actor and a director to that of a slave and a master. it just doesn’t correlate. why is this actress powerless and penniless? who are we to decide that she is without agency in her relationship? why do we insist on labeling her as a victim? i’m not so sure she would choose to see herself that way.

    also, i respect the director’s choice to work with the actors in their native language–not his. i think he gave up quite a bit of power by doing so, and didn’t kowtow to American audiences by making another Frida, Men with Guns, or Evita.

    with that being said, i understand that theory is an integral part of graduate programs in film. i know all about graduate school in film. believe me, i know all about it. but when theory is used as a form of one-upsmanship or used to sling shit at someone’s life’s work i prefer to label it pretension.

  4. cynthia rockwell
    October 15th, 2004 | 7:10 pm

    this has nothing to do with actor/actress, but with america/third world country. this is entirely a sociopolitical argument he’s making, and i agree with him. of COURSE it falls apart when you make it so personal, but his point is all theory, not personal. the director and the actress are being used as metaphors for their countries and the associated power relations. that’s where the master/slave metaphor comes from, and i stand by it completely. the point he’s making, and it is a point i agree with, is why not let them tell their own story? who is he to go into their country and take their story? just because he was gracious enough to let them speak their own language proves nothing. this is the politics of representation we’re talking about. the film is as american as any other, the only difference being that they’re speaking spanish. i felt it from the start, that it was a very cliched americanized plot.

  5. Anonymous
    October 15th, 2004 | 8:06 pm

    As you said, the master/slave analogy falls apart completely when we make it personal, which your friend has by attacking both Joshua Marston and Catalina Moreno. So enough said.

    And nobody said the film wasn’t American. It was written and directed by an American. Of course it’s American. If you think it’s cliched, so be it. But I think you’re being really hard on both Marston and Moreno.

    But your tone suggest you have a notion that Marston stole this story from an entire culture or country. And I have to take issue with that. Marston wrote the screenplay for chrissakes. So, technically speaking, I believe that makes it his story.

    If we were to follow your argument to its logical outcome it would appear that you are suggesting that artists should only create stories about their own race and country. That they should remain essentially incurious. That everything outside the bounds of personal and national experience is off limits. Is that what you are suggesting?

    Nobody can deny there are forces in place that make it difficult (if not close to impossible) for directors who are not white, male, and above all American to produce and distribute a film. But this is not Marston’s fault. He is not personally preventing Colombian’s from making films. If anything, he helped to shed some light on a very serious issue. And I don’t think we should expect him to become an activist and start a crusade for Columbian filmmakers. He is a storyteller. And he told his story. Whether you like the story or not is another question altogether.

  6. cynthia rockwell
    October 15th, 2004 | 8:34 pm

    he did not tell his story. he was never a colombian mule. and my friend did not attack them, he used them as a metaphor for a political argument. this is the nature of criticism, it’s not all about being nice to every artist just because he made something.

  7. Anonymous
    October 16th, 2004 | 1:58 am

    criticism is also not about constructing inane and outdated binaries and over-essentializing individual identities. this sort of argumentation was ditched in the late eighties. i suggest you update your reading list.

  8. cynthia rockwell
    October 16th, 2004 | 9:07 am

    since you made this personal, you’re the one who needs to update your reading list. phd programs today are almost entirely made of up this stuff–academic film criticism today is nearly entirely the sociology and politics of film, like it or not. serpico is in one of these programs and is living evidence of it.
    i’d appreciate if you’d stop commenting on my blog.

  9. cynthia rockwell
    October 20th, 2004 | 11:52 pm

    to the guy whose comments i just deleted: as you see above, the only person who has commented is someone who disagrees with and insults me, and i didn’t delete any of her comments. so you can shove your complaint. the above exchange has, however, soured me on this entire topic and i want nothing more to do with it.
    further, i will delete as i please on MY blog. anything else posted on this board will be deleted. this discussion is closed. some people have blogs with no comments at all. some people have no blogs at all and clutter up the comment boxes of others. this is my space and i will do with it what i please. i have no obligation to engage with you about anything i post here. get your own blog and start your own discussion. i don’t care enough about this film or this argument to get dragged into a pissing match.

  10. cynthia rockwell
    October 22nd, 2004 | 1:33 am

    goodbye, asshole! troll elsewhere!