Monday, March 8, 2010

Oscars bore; movies suck

I found myself getting impatient watching the Oscars like I do when I’m obligated to attend some party with too many people I don’t like.

The guests bore me. I can’t stand the conversation. I wish I could duck out and watch a hockey game in a divey bar that’s untainted by all the stifling pretension.

And this is a party I should enjoy. These are the core people in an industry that thrills us all. And we have much in common. Like me, most of them want to help earthquake victims, support President Obama and are unruffled that so many gays are eager to engage the pitfalls of holy matrimony.

I think the problem may be that no industry builds up then dashes all my hopes the way the movie industry so consistently does.

I don’t expect much from politicians. The automotive industry with its clinging commitment to 19th century internal combustion technologies seems almost quaint in its stumbles. And, yes, the banking industry steals from us all, but they’ve yet to start shooting customers in their robberies and I’m grateful for that subtle distinction.

But going to the movies is still very special to me. I love the escape and get excited when a buzz builds that some movie is going to provide an emotional jolt that’ll stir my soul.

And, inevitably, more and more I’m let down.

The 2007 best picture winner “No Country for Old Men” should have been called “No Ending for Confusing Movie.” Loved Heath Ledger in the “The Dark Knight,” but the action scenes -- about three quarters of the lengthy flick -- were a chaotic mess.

Your highly acclaimed Erin Brockovichs, your Benjamin Buttons and Harry Potters have all left me cold.

Symptomatic of the problems is “Avatar.” I like James Cameron, loved “Alien” and “Titanic.” But no one’s said, “Man, you have to rush out and see ‘Avatar.’ It’s the greatest movie of all-time.”

Well, it’s the greatest earning movie of all time, a number that’s been inflated by 3-D premium pricing, but no one’s said it’s the greatest movie of all time.

And these are the serious films by serious artists.

I’m surprised the sheer volume dreary crap Hollywood releases each week isn’t enough to slow the earth’s daily rotation to 32 hours (and that still wouldn’t be enough hours in the day to get me to see “Avatar”).

This isn’t counting anything from the Axis of Apatow/Aniston or others who earn millions making the kinds of movies they probably used to denounce back when they had youthful credibility.

So I get angry sitting there watching Ben Stiller yucking it up, Quentin Tarantino preening and Keanu Reeves applauding Sandra Bullock like she’s just announced a cure for something itchy.

It all has me so desperate I’m thinking of drastic measures. Yes, it may be time to ditch the family contraceptives.

The very best movies I’ve seen in the past 10 years are either cartoon or computer animated.

I wholeheartedly recommend “Up,” and “The Princess and the Frog” -- two best picture nominees from last night. I’ve seen “The Incredibles,” “Ratatouille,” “Finding Nemo,” “Toy Story” and “The Lion King” dozens of times and never tire of the viewing.

And I’d put “The Princess Bride,” and “Ella Enchanted” with the beguiling Anne Hathaway in that category.

I’m at my most content sitting with one of my darling daughters in my lap while watching a great children’s movie (and I’m not talking about hyper-obnoxious nonsense like “Shrek”).

And here’s a tip: it helps to be hungover. It’s like taking a nap with your eyes open.

Once the little one gets too big for that kind of cuddling, we’ll need a fresh kid or else I’ll look creepy going to see kiddie movies solo.

For the record, some of the top-of-my-head my favorite movies from the past 15 years or so are “The Big Lebowsky,” “American Gangster,” “Hot Fuzz,” “The Shawshank Redemption,” “Big Fish,” “Gran Torino,” “Sideways,” and “Up in the Air.”

Why more of our movies do not rise to those august artistic levels is just laziness. I know they can do better.

I hope you’ll join me in demanding more quality from the men and women who produce our movies.

And I’ll thank you in advance for not demanding the same of the people who write the blogs you read.


lexcade said...

i think you're right about a lot of this, chris. the movie biz has gotten lazy. too many remakes/reboots/refranchising, too many sequels (really, ANOTHER pirates of the Caribbean? really?), too few fresh ideas. and the fresh ones tend to be so rushed that it's just sad.

one of the best movies i've seen in a while is 'the imaginarium of dr. parnassus.' because that took TIME and serious talent to make. the story was enthralling, the cinematography was beautiful, the acting was wonderful, and it was quite imaginative.

'crazy heart' was great, too. long live THE DUDE!

Chris Rodell said...

I'll have to put Dr. Parnassus on the list. Your homage to The Dude is a clear indicator of impeccable taste.

Good points on the lazy redundancy, too! Thanks for reading, my friend!


Anonymous said...

I agree. Most of the movies made now are lousy. Sandra Bullock's movies are fluffy, silly crap.

I loved "Up" also. It was the best movie I've seen in a long time. "Precious" was very sad and depressing, but had good acting in it.

Chris Rodell said...

Thanks, Anony. Yes, it's incredible how many bad movies are out there and out they keep replenishing themselves week in and week out.

Glad you liked "Up," too. That's a gem.