Thursday, September 16, 2010

The Mediocrity of Movies

I used to see a lot more movies than I do these days. For a while there, I was a movie junkie. I'd go to the theatre to see anything that appealed. I used to love the temptation of the popcorn-infused air, sitting down in a cool, dark theatre and just losing myself in the movie. Granted, if I didn't like it, I wasn't exactly quiet about it afterwards but I still enjoyed the movie-going experience. Many times, I enjoyed the movie.

These days, I still love the movie-going experience. It's just that…well…the movies just don't seem to be what they used to be.

Saying that, I probably sound like one of those crotchety old ladies who sit there and say "things ain't what they used to be." Although, for the record, I never use the word "ain't." Also, while we're on the subject, I will never, ever say, "where you at?" I hear that far too much in person and on the television and, let me tell you, the secret English teacher inside me wants to grab the utterer by the ear and give it a good tweak. That is NOT proper English and no amount of repeating it will make it so.

I digress. What I'm saying about movies is, well, that…mostly these days, they seem to suck. I find that I'm rewatching old favourites because most of the newer ones I've watched just aren't…good.

I know it's not just me. My family and friends are all finding the same thing. These days, if someone asks me if a film is good or not, most of the time the highest praise I can give it is, "it didn't completely suck."

There are some exceptions. I enjoyed "Inception," this summer. It was interesting. I think I liked it even though it's the type of movie that makes you feel like you have a perpetual expression of "Huh?" on your face. My inner 'geek' enjoyed "Scott Pilgrim vs. The World." But I couldn't say it was actually good. Aside from that, well, I can say that there hasn't been a movie in a while that has captured me and made me want to rewatch it again and again. Thinking back, the last movie that completely enchanted me was "Across the Universe," which I still contest was brilliant in its creativity, casting and level of enjoyability.

Yet…I haven't seen anything remotely that entertaining in quite a while, not at the multiplex and not on DVD. Well, not new on DVD anyway.

I just don't feel like they're making good movies anymore. Most of the time what Hollywood thinks is good is not what we, the paying moviegoers, think is good. The top grossing film of the year/summer was "Toy Story 3." I have no doubt it was good. I liked the other Toy Story movies but when it came out, I didn't feel like sitting in a theatre filled with kids and I never did find a time to go. That's my fault. I know. However, not everyone likes animated movies so even if that is the best movie to come along in a while, try convincing someone who doesn't like 'cartoons' that it's worth a watch.

Yet the other top ten movies of the year include "Twilight Saga: Eclipse" which has a built in audience and given the base material, stand little chance of actually being good. It also includes "Iron Man 2" which I admit, I enjoyed but it lacked the comedy and humanity of the first movie.

For the most part, when I see a film these days I feel like there's always a 'but'. As in, "it was a good film…but…"

It may be just me but I think when Hollywood has resorted to either remaking "classics," like "The Karate Kid," or Americanizing foreign movies that really didn't need it ("Let the Right One in" and "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo") or, gasp, making movies based on board games: "Battleship," "Candy Land," and a variety of other Hasbro-themed upcomers- I don't think it is just me.

I will say, however, that of all the 'board game' movies, I wouldn't be surprised if "Battleship," at least, is decent. It's going to be directed by Peter Berg who is the creator behind the fabulous TV show, Friday Night Lights. I think that has to be one of the best shows on TV. It's one of the most poignant and realistic ones too. He manages to take a one minute scene and do more in that than most do in ten minutes.

TV, in my opinion, is the new 'Hollywood.' That's where the creative minds are, the storytelling, acting, direction and all the other nuances that go into making a TV show something to which it's worth committing. While there are duds, there are actually good shows, shows you can talk about with people the next day and spend a while discussing. I think with the economy being what it is, people are staying home to watch their large 'small' screens because they can't afford to see it on the movie screen. The smart people in Hollywood know this. They're the ones looking for the next TV phenomenon. The non-smart people in Hollywood are making movies like "Knight and Day," and "MacGruber."

I guess the point of this blog is that I feel like Hollywood has stopped seeking greatness and has embraced mediocrity. Even the Oscars this year…I thought "The Hurt Locker," was a good film but it wasn't the type of movie you want to put in your DVD collection and watch on rainy days the way you might do with "The Godfather," "American Beauty," or even "Forrest Gump." It wasn't a mediocre movie by any standards but it also wasn't Hollywood.

I'm hoping that Hollywood starts to get better. I'd love to be able to describe a movie as "awesome" again. I'd even settle for, "it was good!

Instead, we simply have, "It was ok." "It was watchable." "It didn't completely suck."

High praise indeed.

Happy Thursday!

No comments: