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Comment Archives: Stories: Spoleto 2012: Film & Literature

Re: “Charleston: a love letter left us feeling like a third wheel

They read what they want to and are exceptionally thin-skinned.

2 of 5 people like this.
Posted by mat catastrophe on May 29, 2012 at 10:47 PM

Re: “Charleston: a love letter left us feeling like a third wheel

For the record, the word arrogant is not used once in the review. Sheesh people. Can't you read?

1 of 1 people like this.
Posted by Stephanie Barna on May 29, 2012 at 9:24 PM

Re: “Charleston: a love letter left us feeling like a third wheel

"There’s an ancient law of parsimony called Occam’s Razor, and it calls for a simpler explanation rather than a complicated one."

And then you go on for seven more paragraphs?

2 of 2 people like this.
Posted by mat catastrophe on May 29, 2012 at 8:06 PM

Re: “Charleston: a love letter left us feeling like a third wheel

In the fall of 1967, the late American film critic Pauline Kael began her review of that year’s “Bonnie and Clyde” with this sentence: “How do you make a good movie in this country without being jumped on?” Ms. Kael was defending “Bonnie and Clyde” from other film critics’ detractions, in particular a condemnation that the film was needlessly violent.

When you place yourself within the line of sight of the public eye, it can feel like placing yourself within the line of fire – a prospect with its own brand of violence. When you suck in your breath and go ahead and do it anyway, you’ve joined other brave and ballsy artists who make a difference in our lives by expanding the horizons of our views of the world. I’m proud of Mr. Justin Nathanson for manning up and doing it anyway.

I’m a friend of Mr. Nathanson’s, but I’ll show my artistic impartiality by saying I agree that certain scenes could have been whittled down in time. I also agree there are scenes that were completely unnecessary in my mind’s own eye.

However, I do not agree that Mr. Nathanson was arrogant in highlighting locally grown and sustained coffee shops and restaurants. There’s an ancient law of parsimony called Occam’s Razor, and it calls for a simpler explanation rather than a complicated one. In this case, Mr. Nathanson simply filmed the places where he spends his time. The reviewer has over thought in this instance and I find her comments malicious and full of a need to control. I wonder if she feels it necessary to break into visual artists’ studios all over town and pull their paintbrushes from their easels if they choose to illustrate local establishments? This is his film of Charleston. When artists paint and writers write and filmmakers shoot, it is not their duty to think of their audience. It is their duty to think of their own wild hearts.

I also strongly disagree that the film was in any way arrogant and I very strongly object to the blatant inference that Mr. Nathanson himself is arrogant. On the contrary, I’d argue that his viewpoint was deeply personal and marked by humility. I noticed only two images in the film of his wife, Mrs. Erin Glaze Nathanson, and his camera shied away from these images or darted away from her quickly, as if anticipating his apology to the audience for including her at all. In others example of “darting,” there were several scenes in which he ran joyfully, with childlike wonder, down a pier, or through his apartment, to give the audience the gift of birds in flight, a gift I can say I accepted with gratitude.

In fact, “grateful” is another good word here. It is how I felt as an audience member, and it is how I believe Mr. Nathanson showed the truest part of himself. It is a simple fact that for the most of his life, he lived and worked both in the North and the West, and yet I felt a love of Charleston’s landscape and people in his chosen images and cinematography that those of us who are from here would be lucky to cultivate. It would make us happier people. Mr. Nathanson showed me parts of my hometown that I have never seen and will likely never see again. Most significantly, he showed me ways of seeing familiar places and people in new ways.

I also think the reviewer ignored the collaborative nature of this film in accusing Mr. Nathanson of arrogance. Never in this film’s marketing, nor in Mr. Nathanson’s interviews, did I feel that he expressed that this was solely his film. In fact, over and over again, he credited Entropy Ensemble’s Andrew Walker and the musicians performing as his teammates. This was never more clear than when he took a standing ovation with them, not apart from them. This is not arrogance, this is thankfulness.

I have dreamed, for the last three nights, of surfers and birds in flight – images directly from his film. These images have reminded me of why I live in a town that can be spoiled by a suffocating economy and small-minded people. Narrative was not needed here; these are dreamscapes – Mr. Nathanson is culling from art house films that I would suggest Ms. Pandolfi take time to view.

To reference another comment made here, I don’t agree that artists in this town are self-important and afraid of a critical review. I think they are frightened, as I am, of a review that is not well-thought out, which automatically carries its own kind of pretension. Mr. Nathanson was jumped on for making this film, but I will take my gloves off and ironically express my gratitude to Ms. Pandolfi. She may have expressed a viewpoint I believe is shortsighted, but she began a dialogue, and to me, that is the critic’s chief occupation. It is the only task of a critic where life can survive and bloom again. It is the only critic’s duty that matters.

To conclude - yes, Mr. Nathanson can face a firing squad and I believe he can take a bullet between his teeth. I, for one, was glad he handed me a love letter to read in order to remember the beauty of my town. This love letter will be a historical Charleston document that will be forever preserved by museum curators and librarians and it is a historical document that Charleston is not used to in its technological cleverness and collaborative spirit.

Thank you, Mr. Nathanson, for joining a league of fighting artists and giving us something that will last as long as human hands care for it.

And I can’t wait for Part Two.

1 of 1 people like this.
Posted by punchman on May 29, 2012 at 6:59 PM

Re: “Charleston: a love letter left us feeling like a third wheel

Hello all,

To clarify the use of the royal we: this is a stylistic choice, as you'll notice when reading other reviews in this paper. It is not intended to refer to the public at large, as that is hardly the role of any writer.

Also - I too thought the score for this film was outstanding, and played to perfection by the very talented musicians there.

Posted by Elizabeth Pandolfi on May 29, 2012 at 11:03 AM

Re: “Charleston: a love letter left us feeling like a third wheel

I absolutely loved this film experience. First of all, I feel lucky to have such technically adept, and creatively gifted artists in my new community in Charleston. Having recently relocated to Charleston from San Francisco, I was worried that I would be missing out on the art and culture scene that I had grown used to. These artists, both film maker and musicians, have me excited to discover what else Charleston has to offer. What I loved most about the film was that it did feel intimate. Nathanson was able to take us with him on a journey of those special moments around Charleston. I understood and appreciated his perspective. He gave life to the things I admire, and go out of my way to experience as well. Enjoying beautiful images of the natural world on a big screen, with hundreds of people, and outstanding live music compositions... doesn't get much better than that. How anyone could not have been moved by that experience is beyond me, and a perspective I am glad I don't share.
Congratulations to all the artists for a tremendously moving piece of ART!

1 of 1 people like this.
Posted by Jessica Diaz on May 28, 2012 at 11:53 AM

Re: “Charleston: a love letter left us feeling like a third wheel

This film was a wonderful idea and wonderfully executed. I found it poignant, beautiful, witty (which is a feat for a silent film, no?) and moving. This film was a risk for the filmmaker, and one well taken, as the end result made me appreciate this town anew. Your review does not do justice to the film or to the many Charlestonians who will see their home with fresh eyes after viewing it. As others have stated here, please do not presume to speak for the collective "we."

Posted by lollyw22 on May 28, 2012 at 11:51 AM

Re: “Charleston: a love letter left us feeling like a third wheel

The project was intended to be, as stated, A love letter to Charleston. I thought the highlights of the film were the intimate moments between the filmmaker and his city. Instead of feeling like a third wheel, I felt like I was stealing a glimpse of a city I know through another's eyes. The filmmaker didn't focus on everything that makes up "my" Charleston, and that's what I loved most about the film.

With regard to the "long and slow" scenes, I felt like they appropriately conveyed Charleston's rhythm. For all it's creativity, it's a city in the south and things move slow. Felt right to me.

3 of 3 people like this.
Posted by CaptainAhab on May 28, 2012 at 10:51 AM

Re: “Charleston: a love letter left us feeling like a third wheel

I'm not sure that I saw anything overly intimate in this "love letter", rather an unabashed affection for our time in this place. While there may be room to quibble with a sequence or two needing to be pared down, that misreads the intention of the piece which falls into the tradition of early silent films and epic films with live orchestration, ie Abel Gance's "Napoleon." It was conceived in such way that would work only with the live score. Without that element it may well have needed to be tightened up, but the live music and huge screen were part of the whole experience helped immeasurably by Nathanson's great eye and kinetic editing, to carry this viewer along, very amiably.

5 of 5 people like this.
Posted by david boatwright on May 28, 2012 at 10:41 AM

Re: “Charleston: a love letter left us feeling like a third wheel

I love how people in this town cannot, and I mean absolutely cannot, handle an actual critical review.

8 of 15 people like this.
Posted by mat catastrophe on May 28, 2012 at 8:56 AM

Re: “Charleston: a love letter left us feeling like a third wheel

If you were going into this thinking its supposed to be a documentary, then I agree it would be pretty disappointing. However, the concept for this project was very different than a traditional documentary, so I'm not sure why you're calling it such. It was a silent film made with the intention of being scored live-- it was never intended to tell a story like a documentary does. I thought of it as more of a piece of visual poetry. The musicians did an amazing job, and the film looked great. You could argue there was maybe too much of this, or not enough of that, but you have to admit that it was pretty cool over all, and if nothing else the music was badass. Altogether it was a very unique type of project, and one which was executed well.

7 of 7 people like this.
Posted by David Keller on May 27, 2012 at 11:34 PM

Re: “Charleston: a love letter left us feeling like a third wheel

I find your review to be quite presumptuous in thinking you share the same opinion as anyone else who was in the audience last night. I am willing to bet no one shares your opinion. From what it sounds like, you must not be a local or share the same appreciation for Charleston, and all it has to offer. I also don't think you understood the whole concept of having the live music there to be a part of the film. It was there to complete the experience. Did you miss that whole part? It sounds like your understanding is that it was provided to add to the film and that the film would have suffered without it since it was silent. If you were paying any attention to it you'd realize the score was written perfectly for the film. I found the timing of the sounds, the mimicry of the boats by the cello, and many other planned intros and exits in the songs to be impressive as far as timing in scenes go. I assume by your contradictory review that you don't have a clue as to what was going on. I found every bit of footage to be intriguing and made me feel proud to be a Charlestonian. Most of these shots were taken in familiar and recognizable places that I have encountered many times and have my own fond memories or experiences with. I found his personal love letter to be something that most people can strongly relate to. I would like to hear from you what exactly it was that you were not connecting with.  My only guess is you don't have an attachment to these events, places, or people. You probably don't get out that much, unless its to review a film that you obviously have personal problems with. The film was comprised of many local places and people that are important to our community, who are movers and shakers. Justin's film is one anyone can relate to, even if they are not from this city. It was poetic and spoke of the beauty we find in our everyday lives. The one thing that you did get right is that YOU are the third wheel. If you were not impressed with this film and it's musical arrangements, then you don't belong in this love affair Charlestonians have with their city.

7 of 7 people like this.
Posted by badred on May 27, 2012 at 10:24 PM

Re: “Charleston: a love letter left us feeling like a third wheel

Clearly we saw a different movie, I saw a very loving non-self-indulgent tribute to this great city of ours. I actually found your review to be all over the place with a very mixed message, did you actually see the same film I saw. This movie made me fall back in love with this city of ours. Also when reviewing please refrain from using "we" as you in no way speak for me or the other people I know who went to see this and found it to be a very moving tribute to this great city of ours. You refer to Justin's film as an exclusive, wordless exchange between Nathanson and his beloved city...well it is his "love letter" and I am so glad he allowed me the chance to journey with him as he wrote his tribute with this very remarkable film.

8 of 8 people like this.
Posted by Simon Cantlon on May 27, 2012 at 9:10 PM

Re: “Charleston: a love letter left us feeling like a third wheel

More palatable? Very strange that in your closing statement you praise
this artist for taking a leap and sharing his passion with an audience
then you want him to "tone it down" so that we, the general public can
stand it........very strange and disheartening that you would want a
creative person to change their piece to suit the public......it is a
personal love letter by the filmmaker. Also, there was narrative and
pattern and the film VERY obviously went from early morning to night.
Were you there for the whole film? Maybe you weren't one of the three
hundred people that came for the first show that I was in...because at
the end everyone gave a standing ovation and I left feeling honored to
be a part of Charleston.

11 of 11 people like this.
Posted by Artlover_2012 on May 27, 2012 at 8:29 PM
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