Wednesday, June 19, 2013


Introducing the "About THAS" page, which now lives as a new tab in the blog header!

It partakes in first a bit of lengthy misdirection, sorry.

But the About section soon arrives in earnest, which you can read here:

A blog dedicated to the uncovering of the works and career of Tobe Hooper, whose breakthrough feature is famously the 1974 horror film The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but whose most famous film is only a first quarter entry in a career - before and after the notorious slasher - spent entering his earnest contributions to the existent repository of cinematic exploration: going from documentary and avant-garde work, before his break into Hollywood, to the ostensibly "Hollywood" product, in which he managed to combine the possibility of richness in mainstream narrative filmmaking with the radical disciplining impulses of staid and serious-minded beautiful formalism, and the radical view of a film as not just entertainment but as critical edification, cinematography not as a way for emotional or stylistic appeals but of a means of manifesting idea, meaning, and wisdom through the allegorizing and sublime capacity of the camera and film language.

Hooper, it seems clear to me, serves as one of the very great filmmakers, withholding of the classical ambitions, the thorough visions, and the self-curatorial refinement of the storied makers of "great works."  I aim to place him alongside the great populist, formalist filmmakers, from Ozu, to Hitchcock, to Renoir, Ray, Ophüls, and Welles, in the refinement of their products, the scope of their achievement, the poetry of their intents, and the spirit of their commitment to an art.

Hooper distinguishes himself even at that, in that his popular product is never so prosaically that.  Ozu embodied folk graces, Hitchcock had the symbolist angst, Renoir the humanist magnitude, but they all provided mainstream product that still prioritized a level of plot and popular accessibility.  Hooper's niche work in genre allowed him to play in genre realms of abstraction and metaphor that made the prioritization of pure aesthetics and a constantly allegorical cinema wholly available to him, an inclination that he notably manages to keep up throughout his span of work, so continuously of a humane and fabulist bent.

His form of through-composed camera musicality often seems most comparable to the similarly strident and symphonic camera of Fassbinder.  But even he distinguishes himself from Fassbinder, whose camera often betrays the ostentation of a "style" (and a "self-style," at that, though not to diminish the worth of self-involved, self-divesting filmmaking, or the strong personality art-maker).  Hooper is the one of the few filmmakers I'd be hard pressed to call a "stylist," as every flourish is borne first from idea and the most delicate and grace-minded cerebration.  Hooper may in fact be the fabulous bridge between mainstream entertainment filmmaking and the profound scholarly cinema of Jean-Marie Straub/Danièle Huillet, or Bresson.  In fact, Hooper's completely non-self-involved, universally concerned, unflappably kind approach to a "high art" exploratory filmmaking (and also his wholly egalitarian attitude and working methodology on set) reminds me much of Agnès Varda.

Plus two most staggering moments in his films get featured.

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