Thursday, November 01, 2007

Believe It - Or Not

Leonard Jacobs writes a post on the tolerance thresholds for the bungee cords of disbelief:

If we don't believe Cyrano or any man could have had a nose that size, Rostand's climax is risible, too. If we argue with regard to Long Day's Journey that all of those conversations, all of those confessions, all of those concerns, all of those discoveries, all of those speculations and emotional disfigurements, all of those cataclysms and superlative arias could not possibly have occurred within the space of a single day, O'Neill's best play (some say) is fruitless to fathom.

And this is the challenge critics face: What is the tripwire for dramatic plausibility? I'd argue that Adam may have one tripwire and I another -- vive le difference, as they say. To demean A Bronx Tale because it may indulge in literary or dramatic liberties with a set of known facts for for the purposes of storytelling, however, has to be viewed as a little bit hypocritical; O'Neill did rather the same thing.

Vive le difference is right!

Indeed, I am grateful for this observation of Leonard's because it helps explain to me his very positive review of Theresa Rebek's Mauritius. (Much as Leonard wrote his post to explain a disagreement in a review of one of his colleagues.) Unfortunately, when I saw the production of the play here in Boston my suspension of disbelief only hung on by a thread after the first scene or two, and then it snapped soon after. However, for others the suspension obviously held steady enough for them to enjoy the play and many of the themes and elements Mr. Jacobs points to in his review. For me, untethered from plausability, all of those themes seemed like, well... just that, themes - abstract concepts disconnected from each other, the world outside the theater and my life up to this point.

One of my favorite Movie Answer Man columns on Roger Ebert's Site was the following exchange about the Michael Bay Movie Transformers:

Question from Reader: A unique thing happened while I was watching "Transformers." I was not drawn out of the reality of the scenes by the digital effects. Certainly there were digital effects present, but Michael Bay handled them with a different mindset than most contemporary action directors. My biggest issue with computerized F/X is that it breaks the magic of movies by isolating the action from the drama. By staying close on his digital subjects, slowing down and limiting their movements, and maintaining human perspective within the shots, he was able to produce some amazing effects. Vincent Santino, Burbank, Calif.

Roger Ebert. I confess that when a Chevy Camaro turned
into a towering robot, I was drawn out of the reality.

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