Okay, the title is facetious. I have bitched and moaned about the state of movie-going before, but I've basically concentrated on how sick I am of the cell phones and chatters, etc., and I'll spare you that now. But while Erica Orloff and I were trading comments on my last blog (about THE DARK KNIGHT), I came to a realization.
Maybe I'm just not that interested in movies these days.
But that's not entirely true. I'm a DVD hound, and this summer, after finishing my work for the day, I've been on a movie binge. I've seen some that I've greatly enjoyed, too: recent ones such as THE DEPARTED and NOTES ON A SCANDAL, and older ones like A PLACE IN THE SUN. Also, as you read, I am totally geeked for my next cinematic Batman fix.
However, by accessing hindsight and judging my panel-viewing habits at Comic-Con, I'm obviously way more into what's on TV now than what's on the big screen. Snobs will contradict me, and that's their perogative, but we're going through a downright amazing time on the tube, with pay cable competing with basic cable and the bigger network stations. This summer alone has brought us another smart season of THE CLOSER, and also the mysterious, sleek-yet-disturbing series MAD MEN. This fall, I'm excited to get in to PUSHING DAISIES and REAPER, not to mention returning favorites like HEROES and, eventually, LOST (which I'm dying to see again).
And, really, when was the last time you saw female roles like the ones TV is bringing us? Again, THE CLOSER, BATTLESTAR GALACTICA (with Mary McDonnell's brilliant President Roslin), DAMAGES (with Glenn Close walking a fine line between unnervingly psycho/clever and vulnerable), plus a whole slew of new power chicks like BIONIC WOMAN and THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES.
Where are these roles on the silver screen except for a few fleeting glimpses every once in a while? Even in last year's Oscar winner THE DEPARTED, which I really liked, don't get me wrong, the "female role" came in the form of a lame-ass police psychiatrist who didn't do much but irritate me and sleep with the male leads. Please.
A few days ago, I was browsing the aintitcoolnews.com site, and there was a ruckus about the Rob Zombie HALLOWEEN remake (which I touched on in my Comic-Con reports). The regular reviewers--except a lone holdout, I believe--tore it apart. In the process, one of them wrote something that really got to me, and I'm posting it because it'll probably strike a chord with anyone here who genuinely loves movies.
(The emphasis on certain phrases is mine, and I've avoided some of the more colorful words because even though I'm thinking them, too, you'll get the drift without them.)
"Frankly, I’m depressed by the entire thing. I’m depressed by the months of coverage. I’m depressed by watching Rob Zombie spin his wheels at a time when he should have been working on something original. I’m depressed that this is the sort of fare that gets greenlit in favor of taking a chance on something new. And I have to ask... because it’s killing me now... but at what point do executives in this industry regrow their [er...juevos? -CG] and actually start doing their[...]jobs again? If you are a development executive, your job is not just to regurgitate the easiest answer over and over and over, pilfering the shelves of whatever studio you’ve got a deal with and remaking everything while you mark time until you go do what you “really” want to do. Your job is to develop material, to develop voices, to find stories worth telling and people who can do them justice. The only reason you [...] monkeys have films to remake is because someone before you... people who actually had the stones to make original material... did their jobs right and allowed these original stories to get made. We are in danger of creating an entire generation of movies that are simply retellings of someone else’s work. Is that really what we want to leave behind as the sum total of this decade of film?"
And this, folks, seems to be yet another reason I visited the LOST and HEROES and BIONIC WOMAN panels at Comic-Con instead of the movie stuff in Hall H. LOST is its own beautiful, complex beast, and it's influenced and challenged television for the better, IMHO. And even though the writers of HEROES have definitely read WATCHMEN and X-MEN, at least they're spinning the material in an interesting new direction. Same with the darker, more message-driven BIONIC WOMAN--there's a purpose in remaking these things. The creators have a certain vision that the old premise has encouraged, and I actually find that exciting. I also don't mind when we English-speakers "translate" foreign movies for our market, if it's done well. What I don't find so exciting, though, is when someone thinks it's okay to remake a movie almost shot-for-shot while changing it just enough to justify bringing it back (BAD NEWS BEAR anyone? PSYCHO?).
Listen, even A BUG'S LIFE paid "homage" to THE SEVEN SAMURAI, but it was done so deftly that most people never even realized it. Musicians take a tune and riff on it and, in the process, they create something fabulous.
But, really, can we back away from the uninspired movies sequels and remakes? Maybe that would help in getting my butt back in a theater seat....