Friday, April 29, 2016

American Spirit?

The St. Louis Art Museum, which once hosted one of the most vital film programs in the area but has long given up any serious interest in cinema, has announced its summer film series. The theme is "The American Spirit" and the selections are best, banal: "Top Gun", "Rocky", "E.T." and "Forrest Gump". America: we're militaristic, slightly racist, infantile/paranoid and a little bit slow... 

This was originally posted on the Facebook page of a local organization, where it raised complaints from other members (well, at least one member) that it was  - wait for it - "inappropriate",  I stand by my criticism that an institution  that once hosted events like a complete Keaton retrospective (at a time when some of his films could only be found in prints had to be shipped in from France and Eastern Europe) , a sold-out "China Film Week"  or a comprehensive study of Hollywood genres timed to coincide with the Bicentennial , had fallen into what I call the Blockbusterization of film history ,  Perhaps I should update that phrase to the Redboxing/Netflixing  of Film History, but the point remains the same. Lots of institutions make poor choices when it comes to film presentations ("Hey, we'll show "Kung Fu Panda 3" on a big inflatable screen and bring in a lot of food trucks!") but given the stature of the Art Museum and its history, isn't it reasonable to expect more?

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