Emilie's Reviews > Complicated Women: Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood

Complicated Women by Mick LaSalle
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Mar 12, 2011

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bookshelves: 2011, nonfiction
Read from March 12 to April 26, 2011


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03/12/2011 page 65
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message 1: by Jesse (new)

Jesse I'm a bit dubious about Mick LaSalle (the local critic here in SF), but this sounds likes a fail-proof subject!

Emilie i wasn't familiar with him before, but i can imagine some of why you are a bit dubious. it's a fascinating subject, but his style and tone are very frustrating. he speaks of historical, cinematic, cultural and biographical facts that i want to share because i find them so interesting, and then i wonder if i can trust that it's true, because he doesn't seem aware of the difference between his own opinion or interpretation and a fact or expressed opinion of others.
i don't like the aggressive way he pushes his own preferences either. he should've written a bio of norma shearer, because he can't stop himself comparing every actress to her to always attempting to prove that she is more worthy of our adoration.

still, i guess it is fail-proof enough that i am liking it a lot!

message 3: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Norma Shearer makes no impression on me.

message 4: by Jesse (new)

Jesse Oh, that sounds annoying (the constant Shearer comparisons, that is). As for Shearer herself, I've been trying to withhold judgment until I see some of her Pre-Code work. Because her post-Code work so far has ranged from dull (The Women) to excruciating (Idiot's Delight). I agree with Sarah--when she became a "respectable actress" she became nondescript.

message 5: by Sarah (last edited Mar 16, 2011 10:07AM) (new)

Sarah I've got nothing against respectable actresses. If her appeal relied on shock value, I question whether she had much real charisma to begin with! Clara Bow, for instance, liked to be shocking but she had a presence, regardless. There was something very intimate and vulnerable about her. Mary Pickford, likewise, had presence on screen. (She actually lost some of it when she tried to be sexy).

I don't know how I feel about morality codes. Certainly, they're subjective and influenced by societal prejudices. And, they seem to inspire rebellion, more than anything else. But, I understand the intention behind them.

Personally, I think you lose some artistic merit when people just go in for sensationalism: boobs for the sake of boobs. And, it desensitizes people.. But, I don't know what sort of environment is most conducive to pure expression. Maybe there's no such thing. Everything is a reaction to something...

I've read that people are their most creative when given parameters. Our brains like parameters because they invite us to create clever solutions. That could very well be the instinct behind our desire to push boundaries.

I haven't the slightest idea what art would look like without these boundaries...

message 6: by Sketchbook (last edited Mar 16, 2011 10:28AM) (new)

Sketchbook Without her dim MGM exec husby Norma wouldn't have a career. She was (also) oogly.

message 7: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Sketchbook wrote: "She was (also) oogly."

*giggles* I was trying not to say that...

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