The "Defending the Indefensible" film series starts tonight at the Toronto Underground Cinema. It is a great idea for a schlock fest: a title of questionable value is introduced by one who can eloquently convey why it is a hunk of junk. A defender of that title then takes the stage to explain why everyone is wrong and the work is, in fact, good. The stated format of the defense "must be grounded in some sort of close viewing of the film or in some sort of film theory." After the movie has been screened, the film's defender returns to the stage to say a few more words and take questions from the audience. As the programmers state, "For one of the first times ever in a public forum, a film writer will have to defend an unpopular viewpoint to the very public they have been writing for in the first place."
These have the potential to be great events. I do, however, wonder why the programmers have adopted the posture that disliking a film can be visceral while any defence of a movie has to be rooted in film theory, as though that is the only legitimate appreciation of film. I call bullshit on that. No one is ever called to explain that they don't like Shopgirl because the syntagmatic and paradigmatic axis aren't in sync. A viewer can simply say, "It's shit," which it is. So why does my enjoyment of Equilibrium have to be backed up by case studies and text books?
Regardless, I am sure the debates will be high spirited and a lot of fun. I just find their packaging of the debates make them sound stiffer than need be.
Tonight's selections are Alien: Resurrection, defended by Norman Wilner and hosted by John Semley, followed by Freddy Got Fingered. No word on the presenters for Freddy. Both are thoroughly awful movies, as far as I'm concerned, so I am curious to hear how anyone can back them up. At least Resurrection is pretty and the Underground's 35mm presentation should look great.
The ambitious series will run once a month through October and include such titles as MacGruber, The Butterfly Effect, Speed Racer, and Equilibrium (which is seriously a personal favourite of mine). All films which are destined to be classics, surely.
Admission is $10 per screening with a portion of the proceeds going to charities chosen by the the evening’s presenters. For schedule and more information check out Toronto Underground Cinema.