Saturday, February 16, 2013

Hallmark Hall of Fame

What's the difference between high brow and low brow cinema? And where does the middle brow come in? Doesn't the middle brow deserve more respect?

I don't know how many of these things I've actually seen, but there was the Hallmark Hall of Fame, expensive-looking, tasteful made-for-TV movies.

In the New York Times, critic Caryn James wrote about one of them: "Nothing seems real in What the Deaf Man Heard. Instead, its soothing, storybook quality has Hallmark written all over it."

That's pretty much the impression I have of this Hallmark stuff. I don't know if the impression's accurate or not. If anyone disagrees I don't know if I could argue the point. I haven't watched any in years, but I've listened to them while they were on TV in the next room. I'd sit there working at the computer, listening to the actors speak in phony Southern accents. And I kept thinking that, if you could master that, copy the form, you could get away with any content you wanted.

Which I think is what happened with the movie Hound Dog with Dakota Fanning. It was a controversial coming-of-age movie about a twelve-year-old girl who lives a rather grim life in the South and has an exaggerated admiration for Elvis Presley. The poor girl is raped by a guy who says he'll give her Elvis tickets.

It's hard for me to judge since I actually watched Hound Dog and for the most part only listened to the Hallmark Hall of Fame movies, but I thought Hound Dog had the same feel to it as the Hallmark movies.

Master the form--the look and feel of a Hallmark Hall of Fame drama--and you can do anything you want as far as the content goes. Movies about abortion providers, medical marijuana, maybe a sympathetic portrayal of drug dealers.

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