Monday, September 3, 2012

Why make a movie, anyway?

The critic Armond White----his thing is to suggest better movies as an alternative to the one he's reviewing. When reviewing Blade Runner, he suggested you see Metropolis instead. His reviews are always interesting. He's refreshingly moralistic at times. It's often surprising the movies he likes and dislikes which makes a lot of people think he's just trying to be "contrarian", but I've found myself in the same position, liking movies other people hated and hating movies other people loved.

For example, I couldn't stand Crash, the Oscar-winning movie about racism. Every character expresses depth of emotion by shouting and using the same obscenities over and over and over. Do police really shout "PUT THE FUCKING GUN DOWN! GET OUT OF THE FUCKING CAR! PUT YOUR FUCKING HANDS UP!"?

The movie shows "both sides". We see that police can be racist, but then the movie shows its one sympathetic character, a cop, kill an unarmed man plant a gun on him. He had picked up a hitchhiker then asked him to get out of his car: "GET OUT OF MY FUCKING CAR!"

The movie teaches us tolerance because the ones who look like criminals are all nice guys and the ones who look like nice guys are all criminals. Or maybe it teaches intolerance because we're still going to think people who look like criminals are criminals, and now we'll think people who look respectable are criminals, too.

I can't understand how anyone could sit through that garbage. The rubes actually took it seriously.

And I'll mention Stuart Klawans, the critic for The Nation magazine, who compared the movie Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story with Malcolm X. He liked Dragon better because it was pro-miscegenation, and he had a point there. He also seemed to like Woody Allen's horrible movie Shadows & Fog. At least, he pointed out the underlying theme which most critics either missed or ignored. The movie was about a Jews in Central Europe in the 1930s being stalking by a killer. They organize to stop it but the efforts are futile. But Klawans is regarded as an intellectual, not an eccentric like White is. Racism could be a factor there. I've seen openly racist attacks on White from the idiot fanboys outraged that he criticized their favorite superhero movie.

But, so, anyway, I don't know whether he says it explicitly, but Armond White seems to suggest that a movie shouldn't be made if there's already a movie which does a better job covering the same territory.

There was another website which argued that you should only make a movie that you have some intense drive to make. They accused filmmakers of just making movies for the sake of making movies.

And then there was an interview with George Kuchar in which he called for people to make personal movies---being personal would give them a basis in reality that other movies wouldn't necessarily have.

I'm not sure I agree with any of these views. I liked the movie Bloody Mama even though Bonnie and Clyde was already out there. Even if there's a better movie that covers the same material, the other movie has something to contribute. Look at the movie Jezebel made to cash in on Gone With the Wind's popularity. I always thought Bunuel's Viridiana an awful lot like his earlier movie, Nazarin.

I don't know if you can tell which movies the filmmakers were driven to make to which ones they made just to make them, and I don't know if the ones they're driven to make are any better. And making only personal films puts a real limit on what you're doing unless you've lived an extremely interesting life (as Kuchar seemed to have done.)

Bad movies spur more creativity than good movies. If you see a bad movie, you see things you can do better. It may be why Battlestar Gallactica failed while the various Star Trek spin-offs succeeded.One was a direct rip-off of Star Wars, the other cashed in on the general interest Star Wars generated, taking the elements of the old series and improving on the technical aspects.

Maybe it's why the new Hawaii Five-O is such a bad show. The old show was too good. They should have brought back Barnaby Jones and improved on it.

If another network wanted to do its own version of Breaking Bad, they should look at old episodes of Lucas Tanner or The White Shadow or maybe Room 222 for inspiration. If they wanted to do their own version of The Sopranos, they should make a mafia-oriented version of Eight is Enough. 

Okay, I wrote this thing early this morning. I think I hit post without even reading it over. I read it again now. And...I don't know. I'm kind of embarrassed. I'll leave it up, though. I don't care.

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