Have you ever noticed that in movies that are “chick flicks,” billed and marketed to women, where there are women in a family going through something or women who are friends going through something, that the movie creators always throw in a scene of them dancing together, often on a bed, sometimes resulting in a pillow fight, usually for the montage of how special their relationship is, or sometimes it is to show how women who were enemies are now good friends, and then they use that in the preview to market the film? Damn, it’s dumb.
It seems like whenever a movie cover has four or five wide stripes, with people in some of the stripes and words in the others, the movie is always crap. Whoever designed that cover style should know that it marks a movie as not worth seeing.
This was published on Huffington Post. See it here.
It is movie awards time. The Golden Globes were just handed out and the Oscar race is nearly on. I could not believe Avatar won the Golden Globes award for best picture. Why is it that if a movie is filled with spectacular special effects it is considered a best picture candidate?
Asking this question is some evidence that I think a best picture is one that actually contains characters who show some complexity, or a story that is unique in some way beyond what the film looks like. I simply do not consider as best picture a movie that is unique only on a visual scale. There were so many deliciously brilliant films this year, I’m frustrated that a film whose only merit is visual is sweeping the awards yet again.
If Avatar had been set on earth, with humans riding horses in their beautifully lush jungle, the imperialists coming to destroy the land for profit, it simply would not have been possible best-picture fodder. I doubt it would barely climb out of B-movie-land. The story has been told, and it has been told better. The Mission comes to mind. Even Australia, which had some predictability and overwrought elements, but visually stunning panoramas, was a better film. At least it attempted character development.
However, Avatar is a visually stunning movie, and for that reason alone, everyone is going to see it and it is winning awards. Give us a few years and its effects will not be quite so grand after we’ve seen the same sort of thing a few hundred times. Remember Jurassic Park? The first time I saw that movie I was awestruck. I saw it again recently and while it is moderately entertaining, the dinosaurs are no longer quite so spectacular because I have seen giant CGI creatures so often, I am used to them. Not such a thrill these days.
Halfway through Avatar I was already frustrated by its bland formula and dialogue. The characters on Pandora lacked anything unusual other than what they looked like. Sure, James Cameron spent years creating this “other world,” but that world certainly looked awfully earth-like to me. The characters were prototypical natives, down to their bare feet, the beads in their hair, and feathers in their arrows. There is the tribal chief queen and the royal children destined for marriage. There is the natives’ intrinsic harmony with that land. And let’s not forget their natural-world deity (native Americans, anyone?). Even their alien steeds, both land and air versions, look like horses — albeit with some extra legs and wings, and reins that could connect to their riders’ minds. Yes, in some of the details, the Na’vi were clearly aliens, but nothing about them was unique to the point they were unrecognizable as fundamentally human, something one might expect would occur on a planet somewhere far from earth.
And the human characters, don’t even get me started. They were such caricatures, I could hardly stand to watch some of them. The bad guys were Very Bad. We knew they would be Very Bad the moment they showed up onscreen. The early dialogue in the film was unrealistic, managing to give us all the background we needed in the span of ten minutes. Hyper bad Marine colonel. Check. Scientist who wants to save Pandora and empathizes with the natives. Check. Evil corporate greedy guy. Check. Main character who will save the day. Check. Sexy native woman who is won over by main character. Check. And on and on. None of them had any depth beyond a mud puddle.
I suppose I should not be surprised that a picture so visually breathtaking while simultaneously lacking any depth is considered by many to be the best picture of the year. Spectacle seems to be the theme in so much of America these days. Rather than intelligent debate regarding complex issues, politics has been reduced to screaming sound bites and accusations. The worse the behavior, the more attention it gets. Reality television has mostly replaced anything resembling more complex programming. Spectacularly bad behavior replays constantly where the most loud and obnoxious wins, at least to the extent that the winner gets their face plastered all over the tabloids, their hideous behavior played out ad nauseam.
I liked Avatar. I did. I was moderately entertained when I wasn’t squirming in my seat at the made-for-t.v. movie dialogue. The visual effects were cool. But I just can’t see it as a best-picture candidate. Best means superlative of good, surpassing all others in excellence. Avatar may be the best today for visual effects, but in all other areas it was barely average. No matter how you cut it this just isn’t what a best picture should be.
Milla, Boyfriend, and I watched the Cary Grant/Audrey Hepburn movie Charade tonight. Good flick. Milla really liked it. Some things were kind of dated, but it was still enjoyable. And Audrey Hepburn’s outfits were fantastic. It’s like the child of Duplicity, keeps you guessing. Anyway, I recommend it.
On another note, I avoid the news lately. In my current mental state, I simply can’t handle all the negativity. However, I peruse a few pages including Huffington Post. Today there was a story (see it here) regarding a Republican moron, er, congressman, who has created a, shhhhhh! Secret list of socialists!! Oooooh! Can you BELIEVE this? I was so upset, I could hardly stand it. No wonder I don’t read the news anymore. The one time I do and I discover socialists are creeping into our guvment.
Well, we’re just gonna have to root them dang socialites out, I’m telling you. Get rid of anyone who thinks the guvment should pay for schools or roads or hell, social security (see that horrible word social in there? It’s like herpes, you can’t get rid of it). Big bad socialites, wanting the guvment to help pay for things like healthcare, education, transportation, and the like. Hell, we should let people who can’t afford it DIE if they can’t go to the doctor. And what’s the point of paying for schools? They all teach the wrong stuff anyway. And don’t even get me started on transportation. All roads should be toll roads. That way the people who can afford it will drive and the rest can just stay home. And if they can’t afford a home, well too bad for them! Shit. What is this world coming to people? I swear, the anti-American bastards, we should just line them up and shoot them.
I saw The Great Debaters last night. I spent a good deal of the film feeling even more fired up that we need to continue to fight racism in this country, only lately the racism is more obviously against middle easterners and Mexicans. It is as if racism against these groups is acceptable, as racism against blacks was not so long ago.
I feel so strongly that as a white person, the thing I can do to fight racism is to call it when I see it. Racism is racism is racism. I will not accept racist emails in my inbox clothed in the mask of righteous indignation about how our tax dollars or spent or sent as some deceitful public service message claiming to be about “protecting” me from terrorism when it is really bigotry, and not even much disguised bigotry.
I get SO angry that this continues. As I watched The Great Debaters last night, I got even more fired up about the email I had received on Christmas day. I came home and felt that fire and wanted to DO something and wondered, what can I do? I can write. I lay in bed unable to sleep with the desire to write something, anything more than just an angry response to a bunch of bigots. As I did this, I conceived a novel. I have all of the characters. I have the location. I have the basic premise of the story. And I am going to write it and hope that ONE person reads it and THINKS and gets as fired up against racism as I did when I received that racist bullshit bird poop email and as I watched The Great Debaters.
It is time for those who hate racism in this country to stand up against the racism that is allowable now, racism against middle easterners and Mexicans. It is time to say that racism against these people is NOT okay. Ever.