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[P]
The State of Hollywood

By Beorn in Op-Ed
Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 09:58:39 PM EST
Tags: Movies (all tags)
Movies

What is the best way to remove Hollywood from the surface of the earth: Slowly and painfully with poison hidden in luxury-goods, Joker-style, or just a quick and dirty nuclear bomb?


I've thought a lot about this subject. I'm also beginning to favor the idea of selling them all as slave labor to british coal mines. Whatever we use, it must be creative, so it can stand out in the history books as an evil-yet-fascinating catastrophy that is sure to inspire many great movies over the next centuries. Full, total destruction is necessary, to wipe out all traces of the disease. Rather overkill than underkill, I say! Hollywood is a cancer, everything must go.

Why the bitterness? I saw Gladiator yesterday, one of the few 2000-movies I'd marked out as worth a visit to the video store. Well, it's actually two movies for the price of one. One is an absolutely fantastic macho gladiator movie, with heads rolling, blood spurting, and unbelievably cool battle scenes. The opening scene, where the right arm of Civilization crushes swarming barbarians like annoying bugs has to be seen. (Go Rome!)

The other part, (and here comes the nuke Hollywood bit), is a dreary political character drama which literally made me scream in pain on at least four occations. Not so much because it stands out as bad, but because it confirms every prejudice I have about the state of Hollywood. There's no point describing the plot, it's a thin variant of the good-evil axis, humanitarian ideals overcomes tyranny. Let's get on with what I'm really talking about here:

Hollywood has forgotten about emotional power, and it's stuck with only a couple of basic plot structures left. With emotional power, I mean basic, often simple concepts that strikes viewers at a fundamental level. The "hero overcomes evil challenges and saves the day", and "boy and girl overcomes challenges, confusion, and lives happily ever after" are only two of these concepts. Some times it makes sense to have a plot with a different direction, for instance from good to worse to bad, (rather than good to bad to better). A movie about the late roman empire, like Gladiator, should not have a happy ending! Democracy and freedom was not reinstated, and while a historical movie shouldn't necessarily be accurate, it should be true on a larger scale.

Other times it makes sense to just explore an issue, without anyone saving the day. Some times evil isn't a concrete outside force that can be defeated, really great movies have been built entirely on exploring the relationships between a group of flawed humans, (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, for instance.) Other great movies, like a Clockwork Orange, ambigously celebrates evil, without blurring the message with irony or last-minute regrets.

Now, I'm not blaming commercialism, or Star Wars. Commercial blockbusters were made 40 years ago, and they didn't necessarily suck. Ben Hur, Lawrence of Arabia and Dr. Zhivago are three of the most commercial mega-blockbusters ever made, and they are imho among those works of humanity I would proudly show to aliens if they ever dropped by. There is a place for obscure art films, but it is not the full potential of cinema.

I blame unimaginative screenwriters and directors. I blame industry conformity, artists with an apathy towards art. These people truly don't care - mediocre is good enough. Hopefully, 50 years from now, the 90's (and 0's) will stand out either as the decades Hollywood died and others took over, or as when they hit rock bottom before a period of renewed creativity. And if this doesn't happen, if the classic 1930-1970 period is all cinema ever has to offer -- well, it's not such a big deal, really. I can watch the good movies over and over again. But it is sad to see my second favourite art form being dragged through the mud by the spoiled children and grand-children of those who created it.

- Beorn

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The State of Hollywood | 75 comments (66 topical, 9 editorial, 0 hidden)
This is why... (3.69 / 13) (#1)
by iCEBaLM on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 09:32:52 AM EST

I thought "Fight Club" was one of the most insightful movies I've seen in a long time. The documentary of a modern revolution bent on destroying civilization, not to mention how the leaders of these events initiated them. It made me think about <insert local national hero here>'s state of mind when they actually did what they did. Perhaps true change can only come from madmen because "sane" people never question the status quo enough to actually cause it.

-- iCEBaLM

Mmm Fight Club (4.00 / 4) (#3)
by retinaburn on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 09:42:52 AM EST

Found it funny that they were selling /products/ from the movie like soap, and clothing. As well as cd's, dvd's, tapes ....despite the fact the movie preaches anti-commercialism...thank you Hollywood :)


I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


[ Parent ]
The Grinch offended me worse that way (4.40 / 5) (#7)
by Karmakaze on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 09:48:46 AM EST

It made me nuts to see a story whose entire point was that commerical trappings are irrelevant to a holiday be made into the marketing blitz of the year.

For crying out loud, that's like having a t-shirt printed up reading "all cotton wearing scum must die". Gah!


--
Karmakaze
[ Parent ]
I am Jack's overwhelming agreement ;) (NT) (2.50 / 4) (#12)
by nospoon on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 10:27:12 AM EST


'Desire that is Friday'
[ Parent ]
Okay... (3.00 / 5) (#15)
by Electric Angst on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 10:57:06 AM EST

Did you realize that Fight Club was about the struggle to accept maturity within our society, not the destruction of it? That it indicted the fascisism of "Project Mayhem" as the foolishness that it was?

You missed some very big points when you watched that film, and I suggest that you go back and review it to try and catch the real point...
--
"Hell, at least [Mailbox Pipebombing suspect Lucas Helder's] argument makes sense, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of people." - trhurler
[ Parent ]
I don't agree. (3.80 / 5) (#30)
by iCEBaLM on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 01:27:40 PM EST

I love the fact that you rated my comment 1 just because you didn't agree with it, how *mature*, I guess I must *struggle* to *accept* that huh?

I, on the other hand, rated your comment 1 because you replied to mine without actually reading and/or understanding my comment. Not only did I not say what I thought the movie was about, I stated what happened in the movie and you began to argue that point, as if it were opinion.

Now I'd love to see you show some supporting evidence from the movie to further prove your opinion of it because I just don't agree with it. The film makers were obviously trashing commercialism the entire way through, showing men being turned into virtual women, denied their primal nature and re-discovering who they actually are, and when they did this they got so pissed off with the world they lived in they decided to change it. Then making a statement that radical change can only come from radical people.

Nothing in the movie about the struggle to accept maturity, or the vilification of Project Mayhem and its members. Tyler, in the end, after he shot himself, accepted and wanted what was going on to happen.

-- iCEBaLM

[ Parent ]
I disagree (4.50 / 2) (#33)
by retinaburn on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 02:03:26 PM EST

Brad Pitt played the /macho/ /primal nature/ part of Tyler Durden. As the movie progresses Ed Norton plays more and more of Tyler Durden, as he is becoming more and more like Brad Pitt. I believe however the climax where Ed Norton shoots Pitt shows Ed's unwillingness to become the /macho-primal-nature boy/. If he had accepted the Pitt character then he would not have killed himself. To further support this I found a quote from Ed Norton's Talk at Yale where he says the following:
Tyler gets him to give up on God, but ultimately he has to give up on Tyler and give up on the excesses of what Tyler is suggesting that men ought to be. And, you know, he finds himself sort of stoping short of drawing his own line, finally. He's found what his own boundaries are, he's not his old self, but he's not willing to go all the way in this new self. And at the end, you know, for me he's somewhere uncertain but new and when he says to her, 'I'm okay,' despite the hole in his face, I believe him.

You had an interesting view on the ending but I hope this helps a little.


I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


[ Parent ]
Okay... (3.33 / 3) (#34)
by Electric Angst on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 02:03:26 PM EST

You want evidence, here it is:

First off, there is the "His name is Robert Paulsen" scene. The fact that it showed the "space monkeys" mindlessly parroting their leader, not understanding that he is saying they were wrong, is an indictmeny.

Second, there is no acceptance of the result of project mayhem. It's already happening, and he couldn't stop it. So, he and Marla watch. He certainly didn't want it to happen, and is not glad that it is happening, but cannot change it at that moment.

Third, in case you think I'm pulling this out of my ass, most of this interpritation it taken from the commentary tracks of the DVD, which I watched just last night. The Author and Screenwriter consider the ending a messy one without any victory for the good guys. Ed Norton himself points out several scenes where the fascism of project mayhem is shown to be a product of ignorance, going so far as to say "This is what happens when a bunch of frat boys start reading Neitsche, shaving their heads, dressing in black, and taking themselves way too seriously."

So, I feel that I have a very strong base behind my position. Other than your subjective take on it, what supports your argument?
--
"Hell, at least [Mailbox Pipebombing suspect Lucas Helder's] argument makes sense, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of people." - trhurler
[ Parent ]
Personal Interpretation [more Fight Club spoilers] (5.00 / 2) (#55)
by Kyrrin on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 09:50:53 PM EST

Well, it depends on whether you want to go with "official" interpretations of things, or with the interpretations that you yourself come up with. iCEBaLM has some good points, and so do you, but I think that the answer lies somewhere between -- and that neither one of you really has the full answer. I don't think I have the full answer, either, but I've got some textual evidence, at least.

I haven't seen any of the DVD commentary tracks, but it strikes me that discounting an interpretation that is arrived at through logical interpretation is a form of closing off discussion -- and it also strikes me that quoting someone else's interpretation isn't precisely a form of textual proof.

Personally, I think that the scene at the end of the movie reinforced Project Mayhem (and Pitt's Tyler) and discredited it at the same time. When Norton's Tyler shoots himself to shut up the part of him that the audience knows as "Tyler", it's an act of destruction -- a conscious, deliberate act of destruction. (Attempted suicide is usually classified as destructive, wouldn't you say? ) Considering that from the middle of the movie onward, Norton's Tyler was fighting against what he felt was destruction that had gone too far, trying to stop it, this was significant as hell to me -- the moment that gun fired was the moment that Pitt's Tyler won, even though he had been banished.

The irony that I found in the ending was that in order to banish the more primal, destructive side of himself, the more 'normal' part of Tyler (Norton's Tyler -- damn, this is hard to talk about) first had to embrace that destructive side of himself. The act of shooting himself in the head to banish Pitt's Tyler is the ultimate in giving in, of directing violence inwards to keep from directing violence outward. It was something that was being set up all through the movie, from the moment that Bob was killed onward -- the dichotomy that sometimes, it's better to internalize your violent nature than to let it out and let it loose. On the surface, the movie was advocating the exact opposite -- glorifying Project Mayhem, glorifying the very concept of "Fight Club" itself. However, the device of the flashback, and the fact that the entire movie is told via Norton's point of view while he's sitting in a chair with a gun in his own mouth, sets us up to accept the opposite.

After Norton's Tyler shoots himself in the head, and Pitt's Tyler disappears, the rules change. Norton's Tyler, in that one moment, has accepted the same kind of destruction that Pitt's Tyler had been advocating the entire movie -- only turned inward, to avoid turning it outward. That, I think, is why Norton's Tyler turns to Marla and says "I'm okay". He's found a way to integrate the two halves of his personality, and he's found a way to satisfy both the destructive urge from Pitt's Tyler, and the sense of social responsibility from Norton's Tyler. And yes, if you really push it, that moment can be read as an acceptance of personal responsibility and maturity, rather than pushing one's personal problems onto society and externalizing them.

Radical change can only come from radical people, as iCEBaLM said. The movie's pretty clear on that -- and, if you take out the framing device of the building and the explosions, it's pretty clear that's textually supported. Adding in the framing device and considering the movie as a whole, with the ending, you get the additional commentary that sometimes radical change isn't possible without radical personal change as well. I think that the final, overwhelming message of Fight Club was not that violence can work and that it's time for the society we have to crumble, but that a house divided against itself cannot stand. The very fact of Tyler-prime's insanity, the fact that one character is played by two people and one of those people wants to destroy society while the other one wants to participate in it, indicates that duality like that can never be successful.

I could keep going, and add in some of the significant events of the center of the movie, but this is long and rambling enough, and I was just talking about the end. ^_^




"I'm the screen, the blinding light; I'm the screen, I work at night. I see today with a newsprint fray, my night is colored headache grey, don't wake me with so much..." -- REM
[ Parent ]
I blame the public (4.33 / 9) (#2)
by retinaburn on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 09:41:11 AM EST

I blame unimaginative screenwriters and directors. I blame industry conformity, artists with an apathy towards art. These people truly don't care - mediocre is good enough.

I disagree. I think there are still as many wonderfully imaginative writers out there, its just that their scripts are either put out as Indie type films (or an even smaller audience, put out as /friend/ films), or the scripts are simply not published.

Why are they not bought ?

Because the majority of people don't want to go out and see an intricate plot with /shades-of-grey/ characters. We see this time and time again, a movie comes out thats intellectual/emotional/thought provoking and it tanks. Leaving the production company with a loss on the books, pissed investors and a director that gets the blame. So are they going to take another chance ...probably not.

I've almost entirely stopped watching big blockbuster movies. Because I've seen them all a hundred times with different titles.

Some of my favs have been:
The Big Kahuna
Pi
The Red Violin
Shawshank Redemption
Good Will Hunting
A handful of british films whose names escape me.
RKO 281

Now I don't think any of these movies were huge hits with the public. Yet they are all very interesting movies about humans ...not heroes.


I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


[OT]: Pi's Darren Aronofsky (3.66 / 3) (#9)
by slaytanic killer on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 09:53:18 AM EST

The director of Pi, Aronofsky, is slated to direct the next Batman movie. Perhaps it will be very interesting, especially for a Hollywood movie.

[ Parent ]
Oh really. (3.00 / 1) (#20)
by regeya on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 11:55:39 AM EST

Yes, let's blame the public, since they ultimately decide what will and won't do well.

I haven't seen The Red Violin or Shawshank Redemption, but I really didn't care for the other movies you listed for one very good reason: they attempted to be quirky movies but ended up being just as predictable as an action movie. Raise your hands, people; who didn't expect the lead in Pi to do something insane like drilling a hole in his head? I've actually seen more interesting student films. I honestly have, IMHO.

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

But that is my point... (3.00 / 1) (#36)
by retinaburn on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 02:24:47 PM EST

I've actually seen more interesting student films.

This is what I said. I'm not sure if this was supposed to refute my point...but it really doesn't :)

And yes it is the publics resposibility for bad movies being made...who else ? If it was your job on the line, your house, your food, your childrens education and you had to answer to a board of shareholders would you make the intersting movie that will tank and get you fired or the blockbuster movie. If people didn't see them bad blockbusters wouldn't be made..or at least would dwindle. Production companies exist to make money not a statement. If people didn't watch a-b-c-climax movies then they wouldnt be made because they wouldn't be popular.

The truly intersting stories are quite often the ones that either don't get made or get made but very few see ...student films, indie pics, etc.

I have see some REALLY REALLY bad student movies as well as the good, jump cuts spliced together in some sort of drunken ramblings to supposedly express some cliched feeling of the day, "Child lost in park, man lost in world"....all supposedly so /artsy/ that no one understands them because they are deep.

But this:
they attempted to be quirky movies but ended up being just as predictable as an action movie. Raise your hands, people; who didn't expect the lead in Pi to do something insane like drilling a hole in his head


Surely your not saying that the only good movies are ones that totally suprise you. I surely wasn't expecting the guy to drill through his skull...some sort of climax yes but a DRILL. I didn't forsee the subtle ending of Kahuna, I didn't expect the emotional content of Good Will Hunting. When was the last time you saw a really good /Buddy/ hollywood movie where two male leads shown genuine love for each other. Yes the movie was a little simplistic but it would have to be for people to watch it.


I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


[ Parent ]
well.. (3.22 / 9) (#4)
by lucid on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 09:46:17 AM EST

i'd like to say that this wasn't a bad article to read. it wasn't.

i just don't see that much of a problem. sure, gladiator wasn't the greatest movie, but it didn't have to be. it made money, and i think that was the intended goal behind it. it also entertained me, and, i suppose, others. i understand that a lot of movies do that. they're entertainment. i honestly don't know why every movie has got to be a fscking animated mona lisa.

i found it interesting that what you liked about gladiator was the battle scenes, the 'senseless' violence. most people who are in to decrying things would have shot it down for that, presumably in favor of a more in-depth incest plot.

i think you just saw a couple bad movies. go see chicken run or something. or better yet, revel in bad movies. laugh at how bad D&D was. make fun of The Cell in the theater. you'll be a better person for it.

You have no idea what you're talking about. (3.00 / 36) (#5)
by Electric Angst on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 09:46:22 AM EST

Wow, these seem like the words of a freshman Radio-Television-Film student, without even a simple understanding of the more complex aspect of the medium.

First of all, you obviously haven't been watching very many films (with such a strong prejudice against Hollywood, that makes sense) or else you'd know that one of the greatest years of film was 1999, with such works of art as American Beauty, Fight Club, Election, Three Kings,Being John Malkovich and those are only some of the great films released by major studios.

Your prejudice is unfounded, based on what you yourself admit is a very limited experience with recent films, and wastefully negative. If you take a moment to stop your blind hatered of Hollywood, you might realize that they are responsible for some very profound art in the last few years.

Oh, and how do you kill Hollywood? Well, we're about to find out this Spring when the SAG actor's strike takes place. We'll be looking at a potentially year-long period without any work produced with any union actor. I hope you like "reality tv", you whiny little bitch.
--
"Hell, at least [Mailbox Pipebombing suspect Lucas Helder's] argument makes sense, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of people." - trhurler
Does your mother know you use those words? (3.83 / 6) (#16)
by Beorn on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 11:02:24 AM EST

First of all, you obviously haven't been watching very many films (with such a strong prejudice against Hollywood, that makes sense) or else you'd know that one of the greatest years of film was 1999, with such works of art as American Beauty, Fight Club, Election, Three Kings,Being John Malkovich and those are only some of the great films released by major studios.

Having seen all these movies (except Election), I disagree. I try to catch movies that are popular with critics or the public when they make it to TV, video or the hard-drive next door, but I only get more and more disillusioned. It's not that these movies are bad, but it bothers me that this is actually the best Hollywood can do at the moment. There's no point arguing about specific films, but I would like to point out that I am reasonably up to date.

Btw, my 1999 favourite was The 13th Warrior -- Gladiator without the drama.

I hope you like "reality tv", you whiny little bitch.

Wow. That I've never been called before. I wonder if this is a good or bad sign. (Seriously, I was ranting, not whining -- I watch too many great movies to sulk.)

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]
[ Parent ]

Not getting what you want... (2.50 / 10) (#23)
by Electric Angst on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 12:23:56 PM EST

So, basically, you're complaining because you aren't seeing what you want from Hollywood.

Boo-Hoo.

I brought up those films because the very specifically counter the arguements your brought forth in your ill-informed article.

Let me explain it to you, so that everyone can get it...

Hollywood has forgotten about emotional power, and it's stuck with only a couple of basic plot structures left.

Fight Club was certainly a unique plot structure, both from a narrative and eventful point of view. Election flew in the face of every other High School and political movie ever made, and American Beauty's suburban version of the epic journey was certainly nowhere near common. (And, of course, very emotionally powerful.)

Other times it makes sense to just explore an issue, without anyone saving the day.

Well, if you're interested in exploring issues, that look no further than Eyes Wide Shut, which gave an excellent look into sexual frustration.

I blame unimaginative screenwriters and directors. I blame industry conformity, artists with an apathy towards art. These people truly don't care - mediocre is good enough.

This is the part that angered me most. You have no idea of the kind of dedication that is put forth in Hollywood, and I have a feeling that if most of the people on this site had to do work anywhere near the emotional, physical, and mental strain (not to mention hours that would make understaffed programmers nearing deadline gawk) they would not be able to handle it. To suggest that the artists that work on film are lazy or apathetic shows not only a true ignorance of the industry, but a lack of any insight into art itself. Directors, Actors, Screenwriters, Directors of Photography, and the many other artists that work on the many films that are produced today are not only the best of their breed in a staggeringly competitive market, but must have some intense love of the artform itself to accept being put up to the brutal task of pouring themselves into a film just to watch a jackass like you tear it apart without effort by mindlessly clicking on a keyboard.

So, in short, I feel perfectly justified when I say Fuck Off.
--
"Hell, at least [Mailbox Pipebombing suspect Lucas Helder's] argument makes sense, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of people." - trhurler
[ Parent ]
Go back to /. (3.00 / 3) (#37)
by retinaburn on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 02:26:01 PM EST

Don't be so emotional, discussion is what we are here for.


I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


[ Parent ]
The problem with Hollywood (5.00 / 1) (#63)
by Beorn on Wed Jan 17, 2001 at 07:30:42 AM EST

This is the part that angered me most. You have no idea of the kind of dedication that is put forth in Hollywood, and I have a feeling that if most of the people on this site had to do work anywhere near the emotional, physical, and mental strain (not to mention hours that would make understaffed programmers nearing deadline gawk) they would not be able to handle it.

I am sure there are many dedicated and highly skilled workers in Hollywood, at least on the technical level. The problem, as I see it, is with the writers and the system that chooses them. Dedication and idealism does not ensure brilliance, and having seen what I believe is a resonable selection of modern and old movies, I believe the writing quality is much lower today. It may be good, but it's rarely inspired in the jaw-dropping sense.

The second part of the problem is that a commercial industry with a near monopoly on movies, has no incentive to correct its own degeneration. (While there is internal competition, it does not seem to make any difference.) Hollywood has always been commercial, run by greedy cynics, but now that its high period is over the flaws of the system are becoming obvious.

Something new did happen in 1999, but I don't feel it corrected the problems. Perhaps it is the start of a new trend, but so far I'm not convinced.

So, in short, I feel perfectly justified when I say Fuck Off.

Sorry darling, no flame war tonight, I'm not in the mood.

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]
[ Parent ]

Excellent points. Too bad... (3.00 / 2) (#22)
by B'Trey on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 12:06:25 PM EST

... you had to add the last sentence. I was just about to rate you as a 5. If you are 12 years old, be aware that most of us in here aren't and we don't find juvenile name calling impressive. It makes you look bad, not the person you're insulting. And if you're not 12 years old, why are you acting like it?

[ Parent ]
Well... (3.00 / 3) (#24)
by Electric Angst on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 12:28:02 PM EST

Considering that the poster descided to slander the entire film indistry, to tear at hundreds of artists and professionals, in a manner befit a child, I had an impulse to emote. I did.

If a curse word can somehow destroy a factual argument, well then I guess we're all fucked, aren't we?
--
"Hell, at least [Mailbox Pipebombing suspect Lucas Helder's] argument makes sense, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of people." - trhurler
[ Parent ]
The point. (4.00 / 2) (#26)
by Spendocrat on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 12:45:30 PM EST

The point was that you were well on your way to showing us a rational, considered critique of a post, then decided to show us that you yourself were not above a baseless and irrational cheap shot. This destroys the credibility of your argument whether you like it or not, just as making sweeping and unfair generalizations destroys the OP's argument.

[ Parent ]
Well then. (3.00 / 1) (#28)
by Spendocrat on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 12:46:33 PM EST

A <b> is obviously not a <p>. Crap.

[ Parent ]
Someone is bitter... (3.50 / 2) (#40)
by finkployd on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 03:13:00 PM EST

Oh, and how do you kill Hollywood? Well, we're about to find out this Spring when the SAG actor's strike takes place. We'll be looking at a potentially year-long period without any work produced with any union actor. I hope you like "reality tv", you whiny little bitch.

You have been called a 12 year old by many so far, so I'm not going to join the fray.

However, I will submit that even though you felt offended by such a harsh attack on Hollywood, responding in a manner MORE mature than the story submission is usually a good practice to follow.

You dirty slut :)

Finkployd
Sig: (This will get posted after your comments)
[ Parent ]
well.. (2.38 / 13) (#6)
by lucid on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 09:46:50 AM EST

i'd like to say that this wasn't a bad article to read. it wasn't.

i just don't see that much of a problem. sure, gladiator wasn't the greatest movie, but it didn't have to be. it made money, and i think that was the intended goal behind it. it also entertained me, and, i suppose, others. i understand that a lot of movies do that. they're entertainment. i honestly don't know why every movie has got to be a fscking animated mona lisa.

i found it interesting that what you liked about gladiator was the battle scenes, the 'senseless' violence. most people who are in to decrying things would have shot it down for that, presumably in favor of a more in-depth incest plot.

i think you just saw a couple bad movies. go see chicken run or something. or better yet, revel in bad movies. laugh at how bad D&D was. make fun of The Cell in the theater. you'll be a better person for it.

Have you heard about the B ship? (3.66 / 9) (#8)
by Pac on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 09:51:50 AM EST

Suddenly a major disaster is to hit the planet. The Sun will go blank next year, a comet will hit the moon and send it down to Earth, a planet eater space goat from Alpha Centaury is heading here fast. It does not really matters.

Scientists break the news, but for once they are carefull enough to give the solution along with the problem.

We will build three huge ships. The A ship will carry the scientists, the artists, the political headers, in short, the political and intellectual leaders of the planet. The C ship will carry the farmers, the industrial workers, the technicians, that is, the people who get the work done. The B ship carries everybody else: movie industry executives, hairdressers, telemarketeers etc.

Now, the real trick is that we send the B ship first, telling those people that we are doing that because they are our most important asset and so they must be saved right away. We also assure then we will be just behind them. We try very hard not to laugh.

Douglas Adams told this story in So Long and Thanks for all that Fish"


Evolution doesn't take prisoners


Awright! (1.40 / 5) (#19)
by regeya on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 11:50:35 AM EST

Simpsons fans unite!

[ yokelpunk | kuro5hin diary ]
[ Parent ]

not quite... (3.50 / 2) (#25)
by CaptainZornchugger on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 12:41:11 PM EST

He told that story originally in The Restaraunt at the end of the universe, not So long, and thanks for all the fish. It should but further noted that the planet in question was not the Earth, and in fact was in an entirely different galaxy many thousands of years ago.

The planet the B ship crash landed on, on the other hand, was the Earth, and that is how they became our ancestors.

It should also be noted that the planet from which the B ship originated was destroyed wiped clean of life shortly thereafter, by a horrible disease contracted from dirty telephones (all the telephone sanitizers were, of course, on the B ship)


Look at that chord structure. There's sadness in that chord structure.
[ Parent ]
You are right about the book, but (3.00 / 1) (#38)
by Pac on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 02:46:16 PM EST

I have last read the Hitchhicker's when it was a trilogy of four books (and not five as it is now), so I somewhat forgot in which book is what.

As for the rest of the comment, I know the original planet was not Earth, I just adapted the idea because it semmed to fit the author mood about the movie industry.

Apart from the dirty phone problems (that may be solved in the near future by nanotech), I feel it is still a good idea.

Evolution doesn't take prisoners


[ Parent ]
Hollywood produces what people want (4.33 / 18) (#10)
by spiralx on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 09:55:18 AM EST

Despite what a lot of people seem to think, Hollywood is a business, and as such its aim is to produce films that people want to watch. And unsuprisingly, it does this very well. The problem is not so much that Hollywood has let its standards slip, it's more that people don't want complicated films.

I blame industry conformity, artists with an apathy towards art. These people truly don't care - mediocre is good enough.

Nonsense. If you're looking at it from the perspective Hollywood is, then many of the films aren't mediocre at all. After all, they draw in loads of people to the cinema and generate huge profits both there, on television and on video. What could be wrong with that from a business point of view?

I think it's all a matter of perspective here. If you're looking for clever, intelligent films which explore unusual themes, then of course most of the Hollywood stuff isn't going to be for you. But if you're just looking for something to amuse you for a couple of hours then Hollywood has got a dozen films for you every month. And every so often, they even produce something you might enjoy. My favourite film, The Shawshank Redemption, was made in Hollywood and it's hardly "mediocre" in any way IMHO.

It sounds like your expectation of a good film is out of line with the majority of the film-watching population's expectations. And because Hollywood is in the business of making money, it caters to their tastes and not yours. Thankfully, there are enough films out there that you needn't worry too much about it...

And besides, it's always easier to look back and pick out the classics. I'm sure there were just as many terrible films being made then as there are now, and I'm sure that in another 30 years you'll be looking back at some of the films of today with happy nostalgia and a longing for the "good old days" of cinema :)

You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey

The good ol' days (3.42 / 7) (#11)
by Beorn on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 10:20:29 AM EST

I think it's all a matter of perspective here. If you're looking for clever, intelligent films which explore unusual themes, then of course most of the Hollywood stuff isn't going to be for you.

Well, the problem is that I really like the Hollywood that was, and Hollywood has always focused on commercial, mainstream movies. Has human nature really changed that much? Some old classics, like Casablanca, are still popular enough to be sent on prime time TV, so I do believe it is possible to make (subjectively) good and popular movies.

I'm sure there were just as many terrible films being made then as there are now, and I'm sure that in another 30 years you'll be looking back at some of the films of today with happy nostalgia and a longing for the "good old days" of cinema :)

It is true that the bad movies are forgotten, but I also think the quality has sunken. I'm not nostalgic by nature, and when I compare the number of movies I love made in 1959 to, say, 1995, there really is a difference. Granted, I tend to avoid recent movies, but I try to catch the popular and/or critically praised ones when they make it to TV.

And the same goes for actors. Some of the old stars (Katherine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor) could radiate emotions todays Oscar winners haven't even heard of. I'm pretty sure that in another 30 years I'll own plenty of things that came out in the 90's -- but not movies.

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]
[ Parent ]

Confessing your ignorance. (2.66 / 9) (#13)
by Electric Angst on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 10:50:00 AM EST

Some of the old stars (Katherine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor) could radiate emotions todays Oscar winners haven't even heard of.


Do you realize exactly how full of shit you are? Exactly how long have you studied acting? At what levels?

As a former acting student, I will give you three recent preformances that are comparable to any of the "classics".

1. Tom Hanks, Castaway. The depths of solitude and the sheer, raw, intimacy of this performance are above and beyond the call for any actor. Name any of the "classic" actors who carried this much film on their shoulders, alone, without even the benefit of dialouge, and I bet they didn't pull it off nearly as well as Hanks did.

2. Helena Bonham Carter, Fight Club. Here we have the post-modern version of the romantic female lead. Strength, agression, intimacy, vunerability, and serious concern are all notes that are hit in the symphony that Carter plays, and it goes off without a hitch. Hell, this performance, standing side-by-side with the likes of Audrey Hepburn, really exposes the lack of depth in the former.

I could go on, but these examples are just scraping the surface. If you choose to consider all current films unworthy compared to some fictional "good old days", then feel free too. Just be sure and remain ignorant about the cinema that's out there today, and don't go spouting your bullshit in public forums, lest you risk having it exposed.
--
"Hell, at least [Mailbox Pipebombing suspect Lucas Helder's] argument makes sense, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of people." - trhurler
[ Parent ]
Oops... (3.00 / 2) (#17)
by Electric Angst on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 11:15:53 AM EST

Meant for that to be "two examples"... Ah well, thus goes the editorial process of the information age...
--
"Hell, at least [Mailbox Pipebombing suspect Lucas Helder's] argument makes sense, which is more than I can say for the vast majority of people." - trhurler
[ Parent ]
Cultural changes (4.50 / 4) (#14)
by spiralx on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 10:53:23 AM EST

Well, the problem is that I really like the Hollywood that was, and Hollywood has always focused on commercial, mainstream movies. Has human nature really changed that much?

No, human nature hasn't changed that much since then, but our culture and its values have, and that's where the differences come from. There are films out there today which deal with things that could never have been shown fifty years ago.

Some old classics, like Casablanca, are still popular enough to be sent on prime time TV, so I do believe it is possible to make (subjectively) good and popular movies.

Sure, Casablanca may be a classic, but it was only one of a whole range of films released then which I doubt anyone here can remember. But as other people have said, what about films like Fight Club, Pleasentville, The Shawshank Redemption or American Beauty? Are you saying that these popular films aren't good? If not, why do you think so?

It is true that the bad movies are forgotten, but I also think the quality has sunken. I'm not nostalgic by nature, and when I compare the number of movies I love made in 1959 to, say, 1995, there really is a difference. Granted, I tend to avoid recent movies, but I try to catch the popular and/or critically praised ones when they make it to TV.

Well there you go. The thing is that of the films made in 1959 only the better ones will be showing today, so your sample is immediately biased. And you admit that you avoid current movies, leaving the selection of what you watch to a few with good writeups, most likely missing out on some extremely good films because you missed the writeup or read a bad review.

That's not a fair comparison at all.

And the same goes for actors. Some of the old stars (Katherine Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor) could radiate emotions todays Oscar winners haven't even heard of.

Oh rubbish. There are some extremely talented and versatile actors out there today who are as good as anything from the "good old days". Sure there are a lot of dross actors today, but there are just a lot of actors, so it's to be expected. You really do need to go and watch some of the better films released in the last few years to get a broader base on which to form an opinion.

You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
[ Parent ]

Recent movies (4.00 / 1) (#49)
by Beorn on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 06:03:19 PM EST

No, human nature hasn't changed that much since then, but our culture and its values have, and that's where the differences come from.

Not that much. Hollywood was always at the front of cultural change, and the classics are immortal. I truly believe that many old favourites could be rereleased today with a profit -- just like the Excorsist recently.

But as other people have said, what about films like Fight Club, Pleasentville, The Shawshank Redemption or American Beauty?

To be honest, I hated the Shawshank Redemption like I've never hated a movie before - and I was shocked to discover how popular it was. It struck me as a banal, prettified version of prison life, where the decent people are in prison, and the evil oppressors are on the outside.

Fight Club was original, but I disagreed with the bleak anti-consumerist message, (Tyler: stop whining and get online), and the multiple personality part was imho confusing and unnecessary. The intro and music was great.

American Beauty I liked, but for a character drama about the suburban middle class it didn't speak to me at all. Perhaps people really are like that, somewhere, but I don't identify with their problems. I liked that movie, but it didn't deserve an Oscar. It's not nearly on the character depth level of, say, Cat On A Hot Tin Roof.

I think part of what I am missing in movies is a sense of .. focus, the laid-back focus of a director who isn't in a hurry to get anywhere, who gives the movie time to subtly set a mood. Alien springs to mind. 2001! A big climax needs a slow, steady buildup.

most likely missing out on some extremely good films because you missed the writeup or read a bad review.

Yes, I've propably missed several good recent Hollywood movies, not to speak of foreign / independent movies. It's just too depressing to watch movie after movie and feel like I've wasted my money. The point is, even the best recent movies I've seen, rarely make me enthusiastic about cinema, they don't give me that deep sense of fulfillment, the sense that I've witnessed something grand, or that I've been revealed an incomprehensible secret, or just that I've been perfectly entertained.

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]
[ Parent ]

Well then... (3.00 / 1) (#50)
by spiralx on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 06:17:42 PM EST

I suppose I could sit here and type a long reply disagreeing with your comments about these films, but that would be pretty pointless really since I doubt it'd change your opinion on the subject :)

But instead I'll just say it appears as though your opinions don't reflect the public at large, or even the population of kuro5hin. So although for you Hollywood may not be producing material of as high a quality, I'd suggest that for the majority of people, Hollywood has at the very least kept up standards, and most likely for many improved in terms of providing entertainment that people want.

Still, this does go to show you can't please everyone all of the time...

You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
[ Parent ]

Marketing vs Reality (4.33 / 3) (#27)
by slakhead on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 12:45:46 PM EST

Hollywood doesn't give people what they want, it gives them what Hollywood thinks they want. I know that doesn't sound immediately profound but here is what I mean.

Hollywood has to base everything on numbers because it is a business. They look at trends, which movies had the biggest opennings, longest runs, etc. They also have to consider political elements before they decide to give the go ahead to a film (see Antitrust for "giving the public what it wants"). The whole process starts with someone wanting to make a film. Then they have to convince the producers that it is a good idea. Then the producers have to convince studio execs that it is a good idea and finally the studio execs have to convince themselves that it is a good idea. And all the while changes are being made to the original Good Idea in order to please the next person up the ladder. Eventually you end up with a watered down version of something powerful based on average data from movie theaters across the nation.

Basically it comes down to studios taking chances on things they can't guarentee with statistics and that is what makes for a good movie. Take Fight Club as an example. Although people either seemed to love it or hate it, one thing can't be denied and that is that it was a powerful movie with something to say. David Fincher was taken on his word that it would be different and successful and it was. Studios don't do enough of that these days.

Bottom line, people know what they want but Hollywood only has a glimpse of that reality. They need to start relying more on their instincts and take some daring chances. In this "New Economy" (or whatever you want to call it) studios should be able to afford chancing a few good films that might change the way movies are made instead of rehashing old, predictable failsafes.

[ Parent ]

Marketing v. Reality (3.00 / 1) (#48)
by bort13 on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 06:01:10 PM EST

Take Fight Club as an example. Although people either seemed to love it or hate it, one thing can't be denied and that is that it was a powerful movie with something to say. David Fincher was taken on his word that it would be different and successful and it was. Studios don't do enough of that these days.

This is a great example IMO, since the trailer for Fight Club didn't particularly distinguish it from other, more conformist Hollywood offerings. I had chalked it up as an insipid film with cookie-cutter dialog (i.e. Deep Blue Sea), but was pleasantly surprised with the dark humor and subtext. Now, of course, I should know better than to judge a movie by its trailer; but, in a trailer, you're getting the meat & potatoes of the movie, editor-wise.

[ Parent ]

I have a state for you (4.00 / 4) (#29)
by SIGFPE on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 01:12:56 PM EST

for instance from good to worse to bad
There is one nation on earth that celebrates failure in a way that no other does. That loves to make movies and TV series about the worst off of people finding themselves in worse and worse situations. That churns out endless soap operas about the depressed, the poorly paid, the unglamorous and the disenfranchised. That country is of course the UK. Check it out some time, it's just off the European continent.
SIGFPE
I largely agree but bad example (4.80 / 10) (#32)
by Anonymous 242 on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 01:53:08 PM EST

Other great movies, like a Clockwork Orange, ambigously celebrates evil, without blurring the message with irony or last-minute regrets.

This example actually serves as a counter-example of this particular point. A Clockword Orange is the history where the Americanization of a book actually destroyed the cheesy, feel-good ending. In Anthony Burgess' original novel, Alex outgrew his violent nature on his own. This ending was removed when A Clockword Orange was published in the US because the publishers thought that it would have greater appeal to the rebellious American youth without the redemptive moral ending.. While, it is possible that Stanley Kubrick did not know about the missing chapter when he made A Clockwork Orange into a movie, given that the movie was filmed in Britain, I find it more likely that he simply chose not to include it.

Burgess had this to say (quote stolen from here):

The twenty-first chapter gives the novel the quality of genuine fiction, an art founded on the principle that human beings change . . . The American or Kubrickian Orange is a fable; the British or world one is a novel . . . My book was Kennedyan and accepted the notion of moral progress. What was really wanted was a Nixonian book with no shred of optimism in it.


RE: Kubrick had the American version (4.00 / 1) (#46)
by GreenHell on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 05:00:07 PM EST

According to the intro to my copy of Clockwork Orange (which is unfortunately not with me, so this is from memory), Kubrick had the American version when he started, but was informed of the Birtish version and its extra chapter by Burgess himself well before filming was completed, he just chose not to include it. Personally, I have no idea who to believe.

Frankly, I find chapter 21 interesting, but I don't like it either

-GreenHell
This .sig was my last best hope to seem eloquent. It failed.
[ Parent ]
Kubrick vs Burgess (5.00 / 1) (#61)
by Beorn on Wed Jan 17, 2001 at 06:53:19 AM EST

This ending was removed when A Clockword Orange was published in the US because the publishers thought that it would have greater appeal to the rebellious American youth without the redemptive moral ending..

I actually prefer Kubricks version. The whole movie is a celebration of evil, and it would have had to be made very differently to have a moral ending. Of course, Kubrick at his peak would propably have succeeded in this as well.

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]
[ Parent ]

Out of curiousity... (5.00 / 1) (#75)
by goosedaemon on Thu Jan 18, 2001 at 06:56:58 PM EST

Why would someone WANT to celebrate evil? Isn't it... oh, I don't know... evil?

[ Parent ]
Good story, Bad Discussion starter. (3.60 / 5) (#35)
by CheSera on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 02:04:11 PM EST

I agree with most of your points about hollywood, and agree with your criticism of Gladiator (although it still is one of my fav movies). But unfortuantly this debate has degenerated into "X movie disproves your point!" ... and in response "No it doesn't!! You have completly mis-intepreted movie X!!". So I'm sorry, but in this case the discussion has killed this article for me. Sorry. -1. Next time folks, lets at least try to keep it civil.


============
**TATDOMAW**
============

Dead horse (2.00 / 6) (#39)
by handle on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 03:11:23 PM EST

Sorry, but I'm voting -1 because this horse is so dead that we'd be flogging a pile of bleached bones.

Hollywood has always made some bad movies (4.33 / 6) (#43)
by madams on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 04:05:47 PM EST

if the classic 1930-1970 period is all cinema ever has to offer -- well, it's not such a big deal, really. I can watch the good movies over and over again. But it is sad to see my second favourite art form being dragged through the mud by the spoiled children and grand-children of those who created it.

Hollywood made tons of bad movies between 1930 and 1970, it's just that no one remembers them. The average film today isn't any worse or better than the average film of 25 or 50 years ago. Sit back and let history take over in seperating the cinematic wheat from the chaff. Why not just let Hollywood do its thing and find movie's you enjoy. I agree that a lot of movies made today are crap, but a lot of people like watching them, so it doesn't bother me.

I blame unimaginative screenwriters and directors.

Would you call people like Lars von Trier, Sally Potter, Paul Thomas Anderson, Hal Hartley, Jim Jarmusch, Steven Soderburg, and Wes Anderson unimaginative?*

It's not like no good films are being made anymore. Have you seen Dancer in the Dark or the latest filmed version of Hamlet?

But any movie you like is a good movie. However, a good movie is different from an exceptional one, which is what I think you are after.

* - Or what about directors like Jean-Luc Godard, who is still making films; or Stanley Kubrick, who's presense is still being felt through recent movies like Eyes Wide Shut or the upcoming A.I.?

--
Mark Adams
"But pay no attention to anonymous charges, for they are a bad precedent and are not worthy of our age." - Trajan's reply to Pliny the Younger, 112 A.D.

The Kingdom (none / 0) (#59)
by Beorn on Wed Jan 17, 2001 at 06:24:01 AM EST

Why not just let Hollywood do its thing and find movie's you enjoy. I agree that a lot of movies made today are crap, but a lot of people like watching them, so it doesn't bother me.

It bothers me in the subjective "this is bad" sense, not the "won't somebody please think of the children" sense. It bothers me like the countless sequels to Dune, like the Phantom Menace, by trampling on something I love. Of course, it doesn't really cause me any pain, because there are still too many good movies I haven't seen yet to whine about the bad ones. If that was how my rant was perceived, I made a mistake.

Would you call people like Lars von Trier, Sally Potter, Paul Thomas Anderson, Hal Hartley, Jim Jarmusch, Steven Soderburg, and Wes Anderson unimaginative?

I'm a huge fan of von Triers The Kingdom movies. It has all the emotional subtlety of a nuclear bomb, tapping directly into von Triers countless phobias. His other movies are a bit bleak for my taste. I will keep and eye open for the other directors you mention.

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]
[ Parent ]

some titles (none / 0) (#73)
by madams on Wed Jan 17, 2001 at 08:49:15 PM EST

I will keep and eye open for the other directors you mention.

I'll mention some of the films they've directed, since it's likely you've heard of at least a few of them (this is by no means an exhaustive list):

  • Lars von Trier: Breaking the Waves, Zentropa, Dancer in the Dark
  • Sally Potter: Orlando, The Tango Lesson
  • Paul Thomas Anderson: Boggie Nights, Magnolia
  • Hal Hartley: Trust, Amateur, Henry Fool
  • Jim Jarmush: Dead Man, Ghost Dog
  • Steven Soderbug: The Limey, Traffic
  • Wes Anderson: Bottle Rocket, Rushmore

Enjoy!


--
Mark Adams
"But pay no attention to anonymous charges, for they are a bad precedent and are not worthy of our age." - Trajan's reply to Pliny the Younger, 112 A.D.
[ Parent ]

Wannabe elitism (4.18 / 16) (#47)
by trhurler on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 05:14:12 PM EST

This is lame. I know I'll get flamed, rated down, and so on, but this - this is lame. Here's a first person profile of the kind of person who writes stuff like this:

I like jazz and classical. Popular music sucks. I only watch PBS, because that's GOOD television. I hate Hollywood - I only watch indie films. My house is full of handcrafted items made by indigneous peoples from around the world. Everything I have is a little better than everything you have. I was a protester in the sixties. I was a cocktail partygoer in the seventies. I was a yuppie in the eighties. I was a new economy businessman in the nineties. Yes, I know, only a tiny fraction of classical music is any good, and my deification of jazz is totally unrelated to its street history - most jazz sounds nothing like my Marsalis recordings. Yes, yes, I know PBS is stultifyingly boring crap that can't survive without subsidies. And I'm aware that 99% of indie films are pretentious garbage made by idiots. My handcrafted stuff is often inferior and breaks easily, too, and it cost a fortune. But hey, in my dreams, all this crap makes me better than you commoners, buying your mass produced junk in malls and convenience stores. You are so sad, saving money on inexpensive products that last longer and work better, listening to and watching what you enjoy rather than what is Good[tm], and acting so... so normal!

Sorry, folks, but that's sad. Elitism is all well and good, but base it on something real. This is just a sad attempt to ring up a bandwagon of "yeah! This sucks!" posts followed by a mass circlejerk of snobbish wannabe elitists with a self esteem deficit.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

Worst...post....ever (4.00 / 1) (#71)
by Mantrid on Wed Jan 17, 2001 at 11:16:43 AM EST

I have to agree with you; elitst artsy-fartsy stuff annoys me to no end. Have you read any mainstream newspaper movie reviews? They're always going on and on about movies, just because they don't have some deep artistic meaning. Basically it's all just entertainment, Jazz, Rock, Movies, 'Film', etc, etc. I've noticed that I can fall into the trap myself (look at those drooling idiots watching that inane Friends show), but in the end I just have to remember not to take myself so seriously. People like what they like and in the end it doesn't really matter. 3 Strips of Paint on a giant canvas is not better than a neat poster of 3D Computer art!

[ Parent ]
Gladiator (5.00 / 7) (#52)
by Dacta on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 06:23:16 PM EST

I have no opinion on your views on hollywood movies in general. However, you are wrong about the historical accuracy of Gladiator.

While Gladiator is obviously not supposed to be a history lesson, it is pretty accurate on the larger scale - much more so that inane costume dramas like Ben Hur.

During the middle Roman empire (The movie is not set in the late empire, as you stated), there was significant tension between the Senate and the Emperor. In real life, Commodos was assasinated by a conspiricy of the senate and his mistress (they poisoned him, then sent a wrestler in to strangle him).

The movie was very accurate in the way it portrated the power that a Roman general could have. There were numerous generals who became emperor, and both the senate and the emperor were always wary of the power of the legions and their generals - especially the Danube legions, who were generally the toughest in the empire.

As for the happy ending not being accurate: most (apart from a few by the army) assinations and coups in Rome were done with good motives, and greeted with celebration by the people. In at least one case the emperor was assainated, and the army asked the senate to appoint a new emperor. (This was a fair bit later in the empire's history. The senate couldn't quite believe it, and no one really wanted to become emperor, so Rome had no Ceaser for 8 months. That is another story, though). In many cases the new emporer was a former senator.

In any case, isn't Gladiator an ideal example of the kind of plot you like (overcomes evil challenges and saves the day)?



Gladiator and Ben Hur (none / 0) (#58)
by Beorn on Wed Jan 17, 2001 at 06:00:26 AM EST

As for the happy ending not being accurate: most (apart from a few by the army) assinations and coups in Rome were done with good motives, and greeted with celebration by the people. In at least one case the emperor was assainated, and the army asked the senate to appoint a new emperor.

You obviously know more than me on this subject, and I appreciate your corrections. What bothered me about the ending of Gladiator was that it ignored the direction Rome was moving at the time. To leave out the fact that the senate was never fully reinstated, that good motives didn't prevent future civil wars and abuse of power, is a half-truth worse than a lie.

Like the original Blade Runner, the ending of Gladiator had all the signs of being written by an over-cautious marketing department, ("it may not hurt the movie to have a tragic ending, but let's not take any chances, eh?"). And while the death of the hero was sad, it was not tragic, as it was for the greater good.

Ben Hur may have been full of inaccuracies, (most of which I don't see), but it was true in the larger sense by conflicting two major threads in history (and incidentally my life), material power and spiritualism. It contrasts a major civilization at its peak with the birth of the religion that survived it. Sword and law vs faith. It reminds me of the good side of religion, which I've experienced personally, but also reinforces my rejection of it.

Of course, I don't expect anyone to share these views. Christians despise Ben Hur for commercializing Jesus, atheists object to its celebration of religion.

In any case, isn't Gladiator an ideal example of the kind of plot you like (overcomes evil challenges and saves the day)?

I listed that as a plot category Hollywood has got caught up with, one that is so dominant that it is difficult to imagine cinema and tv without it. The direction of a plot should be directly linked to the overall message, not just a convenient safe bet. Most of the movies people have listed here are unconventional and original, I agree, but I feel that there is often little thought behind the direction of the movie.

Imho, the plot should have a sense of .. inevitability. I'm not speaking of predictability, but just like you know that the hero in an action movie will be the last man standing at the end, you know that a tragedy will end with wailing and gnashing of teeth, and that a character drama will end with the exposure of secrets, and of course in some movies the ending is irrelevant. All of these are powerful story telling techniques, and should be properly investigated and used by movie makers.

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]
[ Parent ]

Really? Are you sure? (none / 0) (#64)
by spiralx on Wed Jan 17, 2001 at 08:19:15 AM EST

Imho, the plot should have a sense of .. inevitability. I'm not speaking of predictability, but just like you know that the hero in an action movie will be the last man standing at the end, you know that a tragedy will end with wailing and gnashing of teeth, and that a character drama will end with the exposure of secrets, and of course in some movies the ending is irrelevant. All of these are powerful story telling techniques, and should be properly investigated and used by movie makers.

What, formulaic endings are powerful story telling techniques? This is what you're saying here, and I think that many (but not all) of the best films I've seen have had endings that totally defied any sense of "inevitability". So if a film isn't "boy meets girl, shit happens, boy gets girl" then you don't think it's as good as one where you know exactly how the film will end, even if there are a few twists along the way.

A great example I can think of off of the top of my head for this is the movie "Seven", which ends in a totally different way than you'd expect, and it certainly didn't seen "inevitable" at any point. In my opinion, a film that smacks of inevitability is most likely to be suffering from a heavy-handed script or deux et machina interventions to steer the plot.

Personally, I like being suprised, and an ending which defies expectations lives on for far longer, and has a much greater impact, than yet another happily ever after finish so beloved of many Hollywood films...

You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
[ Parent ]

Seven (4.50 / 2) (#67)
by Beorn on Wed Jan 17, 2001 at 08:48:17 AM EST

A great example I can think of off of the top of my head for this is the movie "Seven", which ends in a totally different way than you'd expect, and it certainly didn't seen "inevitable" at any point.

I'm not talking about details, but the overall theme of the movie. Seven is a perfect example of what I am thinking of. The brutal ending of Seven was very unexpected, but the movie followed the same dark, hopeless theme from the beginning to the end. In retrospect it was inevitable, seen in light of the mortal sin pattern.

Imagine if the two cops actually turned out to be the same person, or the murderer was abducted by a flying saucer -- it would still be an unexpected ending, but it would not follow the tragic theme of the movie.

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]
[ Parent ]

You don't mean inevitability then (none / 0) (#68)
by spiralx on Wed Jan 17, 2001 at 08:59:55 AM EST

The brutal ending of Seven was very unexpected, but the movie followed the same dark, hopeless theme from the beginning to the end. In retrospect it was inevitable, seen in light of the mortal sin pattern.

You're not talking about inevitability then at all. There could have been other endings to the film that would have been in keeping with the tone of the film; there was nothing inevitable about it. What I think you're getting at is consistancy of style and themes throughout the film.

Yes, there could have been several different endings that fit the film, but (probably) none of them would have fitted as consistantly into the style of the film. If you have to say "in retrospect it was inevitable", it obviously wasn't :)

You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
[ Parent ]

Movies (4.40 / 5) (#53)
by aphrael on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 07:21:05 PM EST

OK, yeah, there was a lot of crap last year. But there *were* some gems: Traffic, for one; and Bamboozled were both excellent. And 1999 had American Beauty, an incredible movie; scan back through the 90s and you'll see equivalently good stuff in each and every year.

The problem with comparing the movies of *today* with the movies of *60 years ago* is that we forget all the crap that came out then --- for every Jurassic Park today there was a movie about radiation causing an Attack of the Killer Tomatoes in the 1950s; I see no evidence that the percentages have changed dramatically.

A minor nitpick (4.33 / 3) (#54)
by jreilly on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 08:49:09 PM EST

A movie about the late roman empire, like Gladiator, should not have a happy ending!

One of your complaints about Hollywood is the desire to tack on a happy ending to everything. The "happy" ending found in Gladiator, as i recall, is that the main character dies, and is reunited with his wife in the afterlife. While I can't think of a better way to spend eternity, this is hardly a sugar-sweet Disney ending.

However, overall, I think you are correct. Hollywood is now in the business of making money, not art.

Oooh, shiny...

A bad crop of films (5.00 / 1) (#56)
by squigly on Wed Jan 17, 2001 at 04:10:27 AM EST

The Academy of Motion Pictures said that there wasn't a lot of choice this year, especially out of the later titles that are usually entered for an Oscar. And for the last few year, the majority of films have been crowd pleasers that expect Homer Simpson to be able to grasp the most subtle of the plot elements.

But thats not a problem.

The huge number of big budget no brainer blockbusters has led to big cinemas. There's lots more space for the less mainstream films. Studios can even justify spending money on more arty movies because they know that they won't be pushed out by whatever the latest cool film is.

Pushing fringe offerings closer to the mainstream shows people that there is a choice. If you want something else, you can get it.

--
People who sig other people have nothing intelligent to say for themselves - anonimouse
artsy stuff is unpopular (none / 0) (#74)
by Delirium on Thu Jan 18, 2001 at 12:27:20 AM EST

Pushing fringe offerings closer to the mainstream shows people that there is a choice. If you want something else, you can get it.

This, IMHO, has been the case for quite a while, though in some cases I'll grant that it takes a bit of effort. Artsy films (and music) are not unpopular because the media or big business dislikes them; they are unpopular because the general public dislikes them.

Take Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, a film that's gotten lots of great reviews and which I personally enjoyed. It's not in English, which automatically pushes it towards the fringe, but it is widely available (after the January full release it was available in two different multiplexes within a 15 minute drive of my house). However, it was only playing on one screen in each multiplex, and this one theater was not even sold out on the opening weekend. Compare to Cast Away, which has similar availability but is still selling out three screens despite being pretty old by now.

Basically, we are stuck with things like Cast Away not because Hollywood is foisting them upon us, but because that is what people want. Many of us, myself included, disagree with the general public's wants, but nonetheless it is their fault, not the fault of some "evil corporation."

[ Parent ]

How stupid are you? (3.00 / 6) (#57)
by VValdo on Wed Jan 17, 2001 at 05:35:22 AM EST

I blame unimaginative screenwriters and directors. I blame industry conformity, artists with an apathy towards art. These people truly don't care - mediocre is good enough.

#1 -- People who say shit like this have never sat down to write a script. When they have, it has sucked tremendously.

#2 -- People who say shit like this wouldn't know a good film if it crawled up their ass.

#3 -- People who say shit like this have never heard of independent filmmaking, art houses, cable television (other than MTV), and/or films with subtitles. They have never seen a film without a major Hollywood star. They think the only place to see a movie is at their local megaplex.

This guy is clearly a film buff and scholar. Beorn,thanks for enlightening us with such gems as your "good to worse to bad" vs. "good to bad to better" theory of storytelling. Thanks for your informed analysis of history of filmmaking. I can tell you've really carefully examined the films of the "Golden Age" of Hollywood. All six of them. And since you've admittedly seen so many films in 2000, I especially appreciate your well-considered analysis of the zeitgeist.

Please.

W
This is my .sig. There are many like it but this one is mine.

Yeah, how stupid am I? (3.66 / 3) (#60)
by Beorn on Wed Jan 17, 2001 at 06:42:32 AM EST

Ok, I'll only write this once, and it applies to several of you.

1. I did not write this to lecture anyone. I am not educated on this subject, only a passionate fan.

2. If you think my criticism was too inflammatory, and perhaps it was, the correct response is to either ignore me, or politely point out my mistakes. Enlighten me, that's why I am here.

3. While I may or may not be an idiot, this is not an appropriate subject for a public forum, and I apologize for having accidentally decreased the S/N ratio of k5. Everyone is free to flame me in private, though. Lets settle this mano-a-mano, without dragging everyone else down in the mud.

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]
[ Parent ]

Well... then why attack? (4.20 / 5) (#62)
by VValdo on Wed Jan 17, 2001 at 07:06:33 AM EST

1. I did not write this to lecture anyone. I am not educated on this subject, only a passionate fan.

Here's the thing-- you wrote a long diatribe condemning Hollywood (nuking them blah blah) for making crappy movies without (A) having seen very many movies and (B) really having any idea about the history of movies, which have been both good and bad for the past 100 years. No one likes to wax nostolgic about the crap, but there was a LOT. And (c) without really understanding the development process that gets a movie made. It maybe be pure laziness and profit-driven some of the time, hell maybe even most of the time-- but I think most people would agree there are a lot of great things being done at an artistic, creative, emotional, inventive, and technical level as well.

Hollywood, as it always has, has to balance "art" with commercialness of their product. Movies dont get made for free, and when a movie is released as an 'art film' you're almost guaranteed no one is going to see it. Hollywood's challenge often is how to insert or hide or otherwise mask a message, raise issues, express something etc. in a narrative story that is entertaining without being preachy, heavy handed, etc.

2. If you think my criticism was too inflammatory, and perhaps it was, the correct response is to either ignore me, or politely point out my mistakes. Enlighten me, that's why I am here.

Your original post was so damn arrogant, that's why you're getting the shit flamed out of you. There are plenty of reasons to criticize the hollywood system, and plenty of ways to do it, but just calling writers, directors, etc. a bunch of lazy people who don't care is unfair. It's almost a cliche that THEY THEMSELVES want to do stuff more meaningful, but have to answer to the market.

This is going to sound like a joke, but why don't you seriously try it-- sit down and write 120 pages of something that doesn't suck. Something that will meet your own requirements of what a Hollywood movie should be. If you do it, my hats off to you. You'll be a millionaire in no time soon.

3. While I may or may not be an idiot, this is not an appropriate subject for a public forum, and I apologize for having accidentally decreased the S/N ratio of k5. Everyone is free to flame me in private, though. Lets settle this mano-a-mano, without dragging everyone else down in the mud.

Uh, dude. You posted your opinion in a public forum and invited comment. What did you expect, everyone to e-mail you personally?

W
This is my .sig. There are many like it but this one is mine.
[ Parent ]

To clarify (5.00 / 2) (#65)
by Beorn on Wed Jan 17, 2001 at 08:24:09 AM EST

Your original post was so damn arrogant, that's why you're getting the shit flamed out of you.

I take responsibility for having accidentally posted flamebait. The solution to that is less, not more flames.

Here's the thing-- you wrote a long diatribe condemning Hollywood (nuking them blah blah) for making crappy movies without (A) having seen very many movies and

I have actually seen quite many movies, spanning every decade of cinema. Perhaps I didn't make this clear enough, but I am reasonably up to date on late 90's movies, and the fact that I've seen so few new movies in 2000, is simply because I saw too many bad and mediocre movies in 1999, which was supposed to be a really great year for movies. (And the nuke threat was an obvious - but malplaced - exaggeration.)

(B) really having any idea about the history of movies, which have been both good and bad for the past 100 years. No one likes to wax nostolgic about the crap, but there was a LOT.

Absolutely. There is a reason why MST3K never ran out of good material. What I claim is not that all new movies suck, but that the best movies of the 60's are far better than the best movies of the 90's.

And (c) without really understanding the development process that gets a movie made.

I understand the dilemma of trying to be inventive in a brutal industry. But that does not mean I should accept mediocricity. In a way, this is why I suggested nuking Hollywood as a possible solution, the industry has degenerated so much that starting from scratch might be the only way out. Hollywood has no way to reform itself as long as it makes plenty of cash, and there are no serious competitors for the kind of movies Hollywood is famous for.

Movies dont get made for free, and when a movie is released as an 'art film' you're almost guaranteed no one is going to see it.

Yes, and as I said quite clearly, I am not talking about obscure art films. I don't require french surrealism to be entertained, only a straight-forward movie with good actors and dialogue. It is the quality of popular movies I am talking about, I haven't seen enough art films to make a qualified evaluation of their history.

This is going to sound like a joke, but why don't you seriously try it-- sit down and write 120 pages of something that doesn't suck.

I am not an artist. Now, the people who write some of the worst junk in Hollywood may very well be nice, hard-working artists, but it's still untalented junk. I feel entitled to say that it is -- propably in much the same way you felt entitled to call me an idiot.

Uh, dude. You posted your opinion in a public forum and invited comment. What did you expect, everyone to e-mail you personally?

Only the personal attacks.

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]
[ Parent ]

Original Gladiator (5.00 / 1) (#69)
by Beorn on Wed Jan 17, 2001 at 10:33:22 AM EST

For those who shared my disappointment with Gladiator, here's a fascinating summary of the first version of the script, (full script available here). I'm stunned. Now that is a great movie, with none of the annoying flaws of the later version.

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]

Fascinating is not strong enough. (none / 0) (#72)
by static on Wed Jan 17, 2001 at 05:45:28 PM EST

Like you, I can see elements in the older draft that, had they survived, would have made the final film much stronger. However, I can also see improvements made between the older draft and the final screening, most notably the death of the General's wife and family. Contrariwise, I would have preferred the better build-up and plot development leading to the General being kicked out by Commodus.

Wade.

[ Parent ]

The State of Hollywood | 75 comments (66 topical, 9 editorial, 0 hidden)
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