Saturday, March 10, 2007

Blandness


After watching Ghost Rider last night, which was just about saved by an on-form Nicholas Cage, I realised that the worst films are those that are forgettable rather than rubbish.

Whilst "bad" films are frustrating to watch, at least they excite emotions (probably not the ones intended) and debate. I've mentioned Babel a few times, and although I haven't changed my mind about it at all, I will recognise that it succeeded in making me think (and talk) about its themes, story-lines, and the techniques of the director. I didn't like most of those things, but at least the film has them.

Ditto for "good" films. It's easy to understand what makes them work: they incite the emotions that the film-maker intends, they grip you, you invest in the characters, and you enjoy the art of the director.

It's the middle ground between these points that is the problem. Too many films nowadays are "by numbers", in that the studio, screenwriters, and director have come together and flung out a film in their intended genre, saying "this ticks the boxes, here you are". These films are usually centre around a big star or director (I'm looking at you Sandra Bullock, Julia Roberts, Jim Carrey, and Eddie Murphy), franchise (such as many of the Marvel comic-books, Shrek, Scary Movie, and unfortunately Star Wars), or whatever the "in" genre is at the time (how many shitty horror films can we take? There have been 3 Saw films and a fourth is in the works!). We lap them up, buy the popcorn, make the Studio a nice profit, and encourage more of exactly the same. We say that we can only see what the cinemas offer us, but if we really wanted art-house cinema, we would get it. The truth is, most people seem to be too stupid or lazy to want to want to be stimulated at the cinema. They want to laugh at the next in the stream of dick jokes or ogle the explosions. But when you ask someone "how was Bad Boys XI?", they will usually shrug their shoulders and say "alright, I can't really remember". It's these bland films that seem to dominate: I can remember watching Hannibal, Catwoman, Da Vinci Code, Superman Returns, The Lion The Witch And The Wardrobe, Fantastic Four, Robots, Catwoman, and Sahara, But I'm buggered if I can remember what happened in them. Pirates Of The Caribbean is the perfect example: the first was edgy, fun, and memorable (with a deserved Oscar nod for Depp); the second was focus-grouped to blandness, confusing, over-acted, and a bit rubbish.

What I'm saying (but I know will not happen) is that film-makers need to up their game and provide us with something challenging for a change. Stop the blandness. I'd rather see a rubbish film like Babel than a bland one like Catwoman. Well, maybe not Babel, but you get my point.

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3 Comments:

Blogger Nev 360 said...

You're watching too many films, Green. Not everything can be edgy and different: we don't always want to be challenged. Bland, forgettable nothingness is just what I want from a film, after the crazy dynamics of day-to-day life!

You're better off finding just one film and watching it over and over again. Like New York Minute.

10:04 am  
Anonymous Simon said...

Interesting point Justin, but then sometimes all you want is a mindless evening of undemanding viewing.

And I really liked Hannibal - looked beautiful, and Anthony Warrall-Hopkins was very good in it. But then I know you are not a fan of the director (whose name escapes me).

10:09 am  
Blogger swishfish said...

Hannibal did look good, which was its major flaw: style over substance. You come out of it thinking that you have seen a good film, but the more you think about it the more vacuous you realise it is.

And I have nothing against Ridley Scott: Gladiator (although overrated), Alien, and Blade Runner were all very impressive films.

10:57 am  

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