Monday, April 06, 2009

Tastes Great, Less Filler

Let me shatter a stereotype that people have of me right off the bat: I don't hate movies. I love them, in fact. In a general sense, I mean. I love the idea that you can be transported into another realm. I love the process of making a movie, in theory. A crapload of people, from the writer who first conceives of the idea to the kid who sells you the ticket, have something to do with the entire process, and every movie is a huge endeavor.

When I was a really young kid, my brother and my friends used to make movies in the yard with our family's super-8 camera. I was the star (at my mother's insistence. Apparently, they didn't buy that camera to film the neighborhood kids.) and my brother was the director, editor, writer, and special effects wizard (which entailed him scribbling on the film with a magic marker to simulate laser blasts.) Years later, some of those same friends made Dursin the Firetsrater, a feature-length movie, shot on video, that captivated members of our friendship circle with its complete ridiculousness.

These experiences drew me to film school, which taught me a lot of things that had very little to do with the physical construction of movies, and a lot to do with people be uncreative morons sometimes. The whole experience culminated in my internship as a reader at Sony, where I learned to pass on basically every script that came across the desk unless I thought it could be profitable. Consequently, out of hundreds of scripts I read, I recommended one. I then got grilled as to why I thought it was any good, when the reality was I didn't, I just thought it would make money. meanwhile, I passed on Three to Tango, which eventually got made by Columbia and starred Matthew Perry, Neve Campbell and Dylan McDermott, and according to iMDB, made $10 million, after a budget of $20 million. So, while my judgment may have been right, someone liked that turd.

The reason for the history lesson is that I loved movies as a child, and pretty much still do. Or at least, I would if someone made one correctly. There's the proverbial rub. Look at it this way, there are hundreds of movies made every year. Even accounting for different tastes, there's no way that they are all good. I think that's the problem; too many movies. It's become a job to everyone, from the writer to the ticket-taker. Nobody cares anymore. they just make that, collect the paycheck and move on to the next one. And if you, as an actor or writer or director, feel some sort of artistic pull and decide that it isn't for you, then they tell you to "bugger off" and they make it with someone else, artistry be damned. there's too much money on the line to worry about things like that.

As I've said many times before, I was blown away by The Dark Knight. The story may have been flimsy at times, but it was a beautifully-made film. Before that, I can't remember being blown away recently. Maybe Jurassic Park, or the opening battle scene in Saving Private Ryan. But those were a long time ago. Out of hundreds of movies every year, some of them must be good, right?

Good, sure. But very rare are the ones that blow people away (figuratively, that is). Most of them just blow. One of the problems is that there are so many movies, but a only a few people who really know how to make them right, and only so much time to make them. Think about it like this; the reason offense is way up in baseball isn't because hitters are so much better or the balls are lighter. it's because there are 30 major league teams, each with 12 pitchers. There's no way that there are 360 great pitchers in this country. Maybe 36, at the most. At the same time, there's no way that there's enough people working on these movies (from the writer to the ticket kid) that know what they're doing and can put together a well-made movie.

My recommendation? Fewer movies, and Hollywood takes the time to make them right. In the end, the gross would probably be the same, because they would be better, and we'd have fewer turds like "Three to Tango" poisoning our brains.

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