Saturday, September 18, 2010

James Toback on Spiritual Integrity

I recently re-watched parts of the documentary The Outsider, about the filmmaker James Toback. I find his movies to be hit or miss--or more precisely hit and miss in the same movie. The scene in Fingers between Harvey Keitel and Lenny Montana is a brilliant example of when he hits.

At one point in the documentary, Toback discusses the importance of defending oneself in relation to a scene from Bugsy (which he wrote) where the protagonist confronts someone who has stolen from him. Toback remarks:

"I think it's cowardly and weak and very bad for the soul to allow oneself to be violated. Directors who allow themselves to be bullied into doing what they know is dishonest and untrue cinematically--that is directly connected to in one's personal life allowing oneself to be violated...It ceases to be a practical consideration. It is one of personal honor, and that may be an outmoded concept. I think there are scores that must be settled, and I think people who make excuses for their own allowance of being violated do tremendous damage to their own spiritual integrity. They cannot in honesty feel good about themselves knowing that they allowed some vile scumbag to harm them or harm someone they cared about."

I think there's a lot of truth there.

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