Saturday, March 6, 2010

IFC Still Dropping the Ball... and it's a bowling ball filled with cement that they're dropping squarely into my lap

So they've been showing Platoon. That's a flat out Hollywood blockbuster right there. They showed it three times today, and also showed Crash (the Hollywood blockbuster one, not the Cronenberg one, though they certainly manage to trot that one out a few times a month as well), The Station Agent (a fairly run-of-the-mill Miramax-style Indie) Last Days (I guess we're still calling Gus van Sandt “indie”) and Eaten Alive (a straight-up slasher, exploitation, B-movie).

That last one is indicative of a point I have made previously about this channel, namely that “indie” is now seen as an attitude of the viewership more than a description of the programming. It's indie and cool and hip to ironically watch bad horror movies, blacksploitation, Russ Meyer and all other manner of B-movie schlock, so IFC programs it. It's a lifestyle network now, not an art appreciation network. I guess that was too much to ask even though AMC, TCM, and even Sundance seem to do it reasonably well. My guess would be that IFC is the most lucrative of the four and I suppose business is business, its just that such a modus operandi kind of stands in direct opposition to the advertised spirit of the thing.

In another context I would write about the value of canon; of the necessity of showing the best of the best instead making sure demographics are represented. For the present, I am taking as read that the schedule of IFC does not represent the best of cinema any more than it represents independent cinema. My focus here is on the necessity of a venue for “alternative” cinema. I take IFC to task because they fly that banner. They make a big show of being the home for the indie and for the alternative, but they manage to program seemingly nothing but established former low-budget directors, fairly well known foreign films (today they showed Maria Full of Grace), B-movies that are to be consumed ironically and utterly mainstream films like Platoon.

IFC used to show movies I never heard of mixed with classics from the American indie tradition and from the art house tradition. If they had the same philosophy these days that they had when I first began watching the channel in 1997, we would not be looking at Cabin Fever, Boondock Saints, Kill Bill Vols. 1 and 2, The Notorious Bettie Page, Go and Hard Candy, all of which are on deck for the coming week. Instead we might get to see Funny Ha Ha, Hannah Takes the Stairs, Sink or Swim, A Woman Under the Influence, Milestones, The Scenic Route and Portrait of Jason. I guess I'm asking too much.

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