16 September 2016

The Author Rants and Raves on the Current State of Cinema

I’ve only myself to blame. I just wasted 2 hours and 45 minutes watching a movie that I’d skipped when it was in theaters because I was sure I wouldn’t like it. A couple of people encouraged me to rent the DVD and I’ll never listen to their opinions on films again.

The movie was Interstellar. It was not horrible or even bad but watching it was not a fulfilling experience. It was directed by Christopher Nolan who does high end schlock replete with dazzling special effects. He made a mess out of a film called Inception by littering it with unnecessary action sequences. Nolan and films like Inception and Interstellar are worshipped by males in the 15-24 year old demographic. Their idea of “deep” films, with so much “meaning.” Pleeeeze.

When I was a teenager we had 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). Can you imagine what a hash Nolan would have made out of that? There would have been intergalactic monkeys fighting the astronauts. Thankfully 2001 was made well before Nolan’s time. It was directed by a true master, Stanley Kubrick. Interstellar throws a basketful of pseudo scientific mumbo jumbo at you and tells you in no uncertain terms what’s what. 2001 had the courage to ask the audience questions. It was an intellectual masterpiece because it provided so much for audiences to contemplate and discuss. They wouldn’t make it today.

Here’s a central difference between 2001 and films like Interstellar: “it’s the only chance we’ve got” claims one character. The other easy, “but it’s impossible,” and the first asserts, “it may be impossible but its necessary." Lo and behold the crazy idea works! It happens several times in Interstellar. Don’t trust a movie in which an unconventional idea is all that will save the day and the daring protagonist pulls off the miracle. It’s gotten very old. But hey, the kids love it!

Interstellar also imagines an Earth that is on its last legs. Astronauts are sent into the further reaches of space to find a new planet that we can all move to. (Real setae prices in space must be out of this world.) Will they find a suitable home? Or just a fixer upper?

What is with all these apocalyptic scenarios in films these days? The Earth is forever about to be overrun by alien marauders or zombies or super powered apes or is reeling from nuclear annihilation or an uncontrollable virus. (Idea to pitch: aliens bring virus to earth that makes apes super powerful and turns most people into zombies.) The obsession with cataclysms is bizarre and says something rather chilling about the way people are viewing the world these days (actually, given the possibility of a Trump presidency they may not be far wrong). Or maybe the end times just lends itself to the type of seismic special effects extravaganzas that so many movie goers seen to love.

You’d think there’d be enough stories to mine from life as it is and has been with regular old human beings dealing with a crisis or stress or emotions or life’s ups and downs. Yeah I know, where are the explosions and tidal waves and last second heroics in that? Last second heroics are a staple of films these days. Hurry! Hurry! The clock is ticking you’ve only got a few seconds! Will they make it? Of course they do with but one second to spare!(While our hero makes it, a supporting character may not.)

Of course Hollywood is also bombarding audiences with every imaginable super hero and combinations of super heroes and all in sequel after sequel after sequel with occasional prequels and spin offs and remakes and adaptations of TV shows. Has there been a hit TV show that hasn’t been made into a movie? Star Trek was, Starsky and Hutch, Beverly Hillbillies, Lost in Space, Get Smart, Miami Vice and on and on and on. I can’t wait to see a cinematic version of The Price is Right or The Jack Benny Program or the Evening News with Huntley and Brinkley.

There are a few noble thespians who take acting seriously enough to avoid the superhero genre (hats off to Leonardo DiCaprio, Joaquin Phoenix,  Sean Penn and a whole host of European actors).  On the flip side you have Robert Downey Jr. who is the world’s highest paid prostitute. He is currently working on his 12th high budget mindless action movie. It’s a particular shame because he is — or was — a terrific actor. As it is the whore has ripped into independent films which is definitely a case of punching down and also sniping at the very place some of our best films are made, some of our most original and where many directors and actors get their start. But he’s right that “sometimes they suck” which is different from the kind of film he makes which always suck.

Okay so I’ve gone off another tangent. I wont apologize for it and if this post finds its way to some fanboys I’ll be called every name in the book. That’s the level of intellect we’re dealing with.

Movies, can live with em, can’t live without em. Am I right, people?

1 comment:

sirish aditya said...

I love this blog.

*Sorry for proving your anti-intellectualism right with that comment but boy do I love most of what you say.*