Hollywood Holiday Hell

"I could eat a can of Kodak and puke better movies."
   -  Kim Novak, THE MIRROR CRACK'D

"Now spit."
    - Chief Dan George, THE OUTLAW JOSEY WALES

It's been an awful year at the movies, and I guess we have ourselves
to blame.  We've been buying the tickets to this crap and, as the
holidays approach, and as Oscar looms larger, the deficit that we've
been suffering under has become all too apparent.  I know that
*I've* felt starved, jumping at anything that feels right and often
suffering a sort of blindness as a result.  Sure, THE AMERICAN
PRESIDENT is romantic, but are we so starved for sweetness that
we'll overlook a plot with two intelligent adults sleeping together
after, what, three dates?  And all in the context of a family-values
debate?!  GOLDENEYE recasts James Bond as an action hero, and a
mediocre one at that.  Haven't we had our fill of explosions after
stunningly empty CASINO is the best example of just what constitutes
"fine filmmaking" these days.  You can love the raw kineticism of
Scorsese's style, but do you *really* feel anything for De Niro,
Stone, or Pesci?  The joke, of course, is that given what we've had
the misfortune to watch this year, CASINO seems pretty darn good.

What will we do in a couple of months, when the nominations are due?
Have we seen five Best Picture candidates yet?  Sure, APOLLO 13 is a
shoo-in.  Who can compete with Ron Howard's safe, smothering story
of astronauts and apple pie?  But does solid filmmaking
automatically equal a Best Picture nom?  Then I guess you'd better
be ready to nominate BRIDGES OF MADISON COUNTY.  Or BABE.  Or THE
USUAL SUSPECTS.  (Personally, I'd put my vote in for SEVEN, one of
the year's most consistent, coherent feature films.)

Hollywood may be making money hand-over-fist these days, but are
they making any *good* movies?  My "A" list, the movies that *I*
consider best, is depressingly short.  The "B" and "C"  movies are
there, in droves, and each with their own prominent problems.  Who
really wants to re-watch CLOCKERS, KIDS, or, say, UNSTRUNG HEROES?
As cultural literacy rates continue to drop, and as the overseas
markets continue to beckon, what can we expect for the rest of this
century?  More marketing-driven sequels?  More NC-17 sex films?
More Sylvester Stallone?

Let's face it folks:  the world of 1996 is a different animal, and
"the movies" are no longer a sacred, special place.  "Videos" have
conditioned more than one generation of uncivilized moviegoers.
People talk to each other, or to the screen, paying no more mind
than if they were in their own living room.  (Hint:  I'm the guy
asking you to please stop talking or leave the theater.)
Television, though still a wasteland, is producing *some* quality
shows.  Need a laugh?  Try "The Simpsons," easily one of the most
well-written shows on T.V. and one that has *stayed* well-written
for seven consecutive seasons.  (What would we have to pay Joe
Eszterhas to get that kind of quality?)  Bill Gates, the CD-ROM, and
the Internet are conspiring to bring the rest of the vidiots, the
ones who never played Nintendo-- or, in my case, Atari-- in their
youth, into the 21st Century.  If STRANGE DAYS are coming, then
where does that leave the motion-picture industry?

The mass media relies on, and profits from, the well-known fact that
human beings are sheep.  We graze where the others graze, and no one
is ever the wiser.  Who is willing to stand-up, like that famous Far
Side cartoon, and shout "we don't have to be sheep?"  And would
anybody listen?  For those of us raised on movies; for those of us
who can make a meal out of popcorn, who can cry at any old love
story, and who consider a projection problem an unpardonable sin,
there may be no substitute for the real thing.  A television, or a
computer monitor, is just too small; a home audio system is just too
quiet.  We may not miss the ill-mannered patrons, but we would miss
the rest of it.  There is *no* experience like going to the movies,
and for that reason, and that reason only, Hollywood will continue
to make money, making whatever it wants to.  As long we're buying,
they're in business.  If I'm first in line, then they're first for
the weekend.

I guess I'll see you at the movies..

Copyright 1995 by Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

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Copyright 2001 by Michael J. Legeros -Movie Hell™ is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros