Saturday, September 1, 2012

Tony Scott, 1944 - 2012

The reason this post is late is because I was a Scott detractor. I was on the verge of going through his body of work when he suddenly died. A minority of friends and critics I admire have long been champions of his, but I had yet to be 'sold' on his work.

Immediately following his death I watched (for the first time) Deja Vu and Unstoppable and I've acquired copies of Man on Fire and Domino. The man was a genius, a true visionary of the screen and I regret that I have nothing to say other than I will continue my delayed plan of working my way through his films.

I would like to offer a few words on my previous dislike of his work. Top Gun, Crimson Tide, and True Romance (last seen a decade ago in high school) struck my teenage sensibilities as bad, director-for-hire work, which at the time was a capitol offense. His late style that he developed from Enemy of the State onward washed over me as part of the noise of contemporary American action cinema that I lazily considered hack work, both for its inability to do what other directors did (I was not thinking in terms of intention) and was too similar at a sideways glance to Michael Bay and company. 

How wrong I was. Scott is a rare master of consciousness and perception, of space and time, comparable at times to Evgeni Bauer ( Deja Vu and After Death would make a killer double-feature).

Scott's politics are still stupid to me: the black and white patriotism, the masculinization of public spaces, etc. But this isn't reason to disregard his stylistic vision. After all, I love Griffith, does that mean I agree with his horseshit? I was guilty of failing to make this distinction, and I get the feeling its a large part of the conversation on Scott.

Two great pieces emerged from his death that have shaped my new found appreciation for Scott, who now holds considerable shelf space in my collection:  Vishnevetsky's piece for The Notebook and this video essay posted on Film Studies for Free.

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