October 31, 2010

Will We Ever Have 'Kind Hearts' Again?

The most significant mark of a good film, in my opinion, is its capacity to show the watcher something new on every viewing.

Robert Hamer's savory classic Kind Hearts and Coronets fits that bill. I must've seen this movie about 50 times, and yet every time I review it, I notice elements I didn't see before.

On my most recent screening, however, I didn't observe anything new. I just enjoyed it. I think I'm at that stage where the film has become so satisfying for me that it's like a plate of cassoulet: very familiar, yet always tasty...despite the lack of novelty associated with it.

There's no doubt in my mind that this is a great film--the ultimate black comedy, in which the viewer is forced to side with a surprisingly scrupulous fellow who, nevertheless, decides that the best and quickest way to earn his rightful inheritance is to terminate all other potential heirs of the dukedom to which he aspires. The doubt in my mind stems from whether we'll see such a great film again.

Of this type.

I'm not a big fan of the negative comedies of today. They often seem forced and extremely poorly written, such as Gus Van Sant's lamentable "satire" To Die For, which was as dull as a potato sandwich. It's a hard genre to fit into, and even more difficult to be successful at. Which is why it's so amazing to me that KHAC ever got produced.

So will we see another one like it again? My feeling is that it's like asking if we'll get another Mozart. The product of a special time and social context cannot be replicated, though we may see further tries. The wit of KHAC, like the delicacy of Mozart, is inimitable, a historic anomaly.

I'm disappointed by this idea, but I think I should embrace it. It makes the art unique, unquenchable.

Maybe I should just be content with its greatness rather than its duplication.

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