“…. To call Detroit a shooting set in waiting is disrespectful to the people who still live and struggle here, but its physical aspects are authentically cinematic (emphasis added) even absent the current crews, semis and generators. Ms. Hardwicke seemed to be walking through a television show as much as making one.”
Carr, David. “Broken Men, Broken Place: ‘Low Winter Sun’ Gives Detroit a Leading Role.” The New York Times 2 Aug. 2013. Web. 4 Aug. 2013.
Just jotting a few thoughts on contemporary meanings of the cinematic gleaned here. Most of this piece consists of Carr regularly repeating how “cinematic” Detroit is, so what does it mean for a space to be cinematic? The piece doesn’t give much more definition aside from describing the ruins of the city, which implies to me that the space materializes some form of conflict, thus providing the engine for the narrative and stylistic systems that generate the cinematic form. But then again, what does it mean that Carr keeps invoking the “cinematic” image when he’s talking about a television show? Of course, this “cinematic” refrain, the ties to British television, and the references to The Wire among other shows and networks all point to the hallmarks of contemporary quality TV.
So lastly, what relationship does this all have to the current condition of the “cinematic,” which is now so regularly heralded as being in ruins itself? It seems too glib to say something about how “this golden age of television has supplanted the place of the cinema,” no matter how many outlets persist in making such statements. I’m surprised at how few–if any–of these stories look back over the ups and downs of the industry in the history of cinema. Just look at the last “downturn” of the late sixties that led to the renaissance of the seventies. And consider how that historical moment also so poignantly parallels the contemporaneous downturn of New York City, followed by what we know of it today. There’s no predicting exactly what the fortunes of Detroit or cinema will be in the future. Hopefully they’ll be faring better than they are, but the stories that languish in the romance of their ruin seem short-sighted at best and suggestive of Schadenfreude at worst. See the Antenna roundtable on the “implosion” of the blockbuster for more.