Thursday, November 11, 2010

Have we seen it all?

On a little departure, but still within the film business, I'd like to bring in a debate that my friends and I have quite often.

Why are movies now so bad -- or are they? 

First, this analogy, I saw an ad in today's LA Times for the new Audi. What does a car have to do with movies? Well, look at the car. Yes, it's a pretty car, and the reviews remark on it's "fresh design". But is it really fresh.

To be honest, it looks a lot like every other car today. 

Can't they come up with a really new radical design? Or have they just run out of ideas for anything new. Have they seen every possible design for a new car. Is there nothing left? 

And you know where this is going.

Movies, TV, music. Have we reached the point where there's nothing new left? Being of the aging baby boomer species we often agree that simply, we have seen every kind of plot, every twist and every idea ever used in a movie or TV show. I started attending movies at the age of 8, which means I have had exposure over 56 years of watching stories unfold on every type of screen.

But ironically, I hear this from younger people, especially those under 30, like the kids who attended the Ghostkeeper screening. In a dialog after the screening they  mostlyt agreed that the product coming out now was simply not very good.  And that's one of the reasons they came to see Ghostkeeper, and all the other obscure movies.

For the record, Ghostkeeper is not a great movie, there are major flaws in it, but the ambience of the movie and the feeling is what really worked.

But have we run out of ideas?

Look at the spat of movies this year, remakes, sequels and overdone romantic comedies.

There is the argument that today's young writers who grew up in  the mean streets of suburban shopping malls and vacations to Hawaii have no stories to tell. One of the stories they seem to favor is this; 

Young man returns to his home town to find old girlfriend and a distant father ends up with his dog dying. 

That is a movie. I saw it. Now consider this one: 

Young man returns to home to come to terms with sick dad and has to deal with the wealthy life he left behind. And sleeps with his brother's girlfriend. 

Both ideas sound the same. Except for one thing. The first movie came and went, the second went on to become a classic movie.

It was called 5 Easy Pieces and starred Jack Nicholson. I don't remember the name of the actor in the first one.

So what's different? It's the same question as where are the great actors of today. Most of the leading men in their 30's are just not very interesting now, compared with the past. One feminist referred to the Leos and Brads and Eds were nothing more than "little lesbians". Oddly enough women actors are much more evident, better and have more presence than the young male actors who are more eye candy than having presence.

I'd take Cate Blanchett over Ed Norton anyday.

Another element is that the writers before me and up to my generation came from hard times, wars and a generational change that still influences the world today. You get a lot of stories if you've been in war, Rod Serling was in war and most of his stories dealt with the oddities he saw.

Is it far to compare timeframes when debating this; maybe, maybe not. There are exceptions; movies that are unique, or movies that simply take your breath away. Avatar was a spectacular movie but the screenplay was pure 1970's. And movies like Winter Bone are simple yet moving.

And not all movies from the 1940's to 1970's were good, there were a lot of good ones, but also a lot more bad ones. It's just that the good ones now are average and the bad ones really bad.

What do you think?

(Mon: The Singularity)

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