Sunday, December 19, 2004

Let there be Love.

Today I'd like to talk to you about Love.
In particular, Romance.
Specifically Romance in Film.
It's in every movie. It's written to be in every movie. Because Love conquers All. But here's what I can't stand. I can't stand it when you have a film with a simple idea or even an incredibly complex-structured story and then you have the subplot of the love interest shoe-horned in. And it sticks out, it sticks out like a sore thumb. But it's still in there, in almost every movie because it's "something for the girls". Like a token gesture, almost like the token black in a sitcom.
An example of this is a film I much admired "A Few Good Men" with Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson. This was a film about honour and loyalty and challenging a system that had contempt for any sign of weakness and whether such measures were necessary. Now maybe it was because i disn't like Demi Moore much in it, but her character in that, to me, disturbed the flow of what was a strongly focused story. You could have dropped her character and still had a great film, perhaps even better, that remains tight. "The Caine Mutiny" as I recall, didn't need any unnecessary love interests. And one wonders whether it was necessary to throw her in to avoid the film being dismissed as "boy's stuff" and thus losing half the population of viewers.
Now lest we all start to assume that Stony is an old misanthrope shaking his fist at all the young lovers parking, let me say... I like a good Romance. A really good romantic story can give you a thrill that nothing else can give you other than being in love yourself. I remember a few years back when I was taking an English Lit. paper and we had to read "Jane Eyre". Bloody Jane Eyre? I thought, I don't wanna read that! But I did... And ended up really enjoying it. Dear dry Jane and her infatuation with the brooding but equally-smitten Rochester. The enjoyment of the novel was also compounded by the Lecturer we had for it. A rather dowdy, frumpy-looking lady of about 50 with shortish greying hair. Possible lesbian, I surmised in my mind-wandering musings during lectures (as you do). But when she talked about "Jane Eyre", she changed. She seemed to grow younger and became almost this skittish young girl. She really *loved* this book. She told us that it was not Jane she imagined Rochester falling in love with, but herself... Isn't that a lovely story?
And that's the thing about a good Romance! It's almost like a vicarious thrill where you swap yourself in place opposite the star/starlet you admire and imagine them falling in love with you. Such themes, I believe, cannot and should not be relegated to sub-plot status but deserve a movie unto their own. And more! Does anyone remember "Bram Stoker's Dracula" with Gary Oldman and Winona Ryder? The love story between Dracula and Mina not only gained prominence but plowed its way to centre-stage, no doubt dissapointing millions of Horror-fans worldwide... I liked it though.
So where does that leave us? Should we have it so all movies should try to compromise between its own themes of Good vs Bad, say and Love shall conquer All? Or will the audience be willing to sit through a film that deals strongly with its own themes while leaving all throughts of romance aside? Or, if we want to be sure of retaining that female audience, should romance be treated as like comic relief? A break in the tension? What do you think? I'd like your feedback, especially the girls out there. Do these love interest sub-plots serve a need for you? What is it you want to see?
And let me just pre-empt those "I just want a movie that tells a good story" answers. I'm not disputing that but when you have a story, especially for film, which a lot of people work on and rely on to make money, you want something that appeals to as wide an audience as possible. So what compromises are you willing to take when you go to the movies?
Talk to me.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Roll Call!

Ok, let's get some shout outs in here
If you're reading this, drop us a post, tell us who you are and your relationship to me
Go!

Sunday, December 12, 2004

All I wanted to do was reply to someone! And now I have a blog!

So I saw this movie last week, National Treasure. Yep, that one. I liked it! I liked it a lot. Every review I read panned it like.... something you pan. But I liked it, it was a fun action-adventure film.

Which brings me to this critique of most movie ciritcs. Most of them are unabashed independant fans. It's the Donnie Darkos/Ingmar Bergman/Wes Anderson/what-have-you crowd. These are the guys that pretty much get paid to watch a wide swath of films and quite happily point the finger and go "Crap!Crap!Crap!" at anything that doesn't challenge them on a deeply profound level that most of us might find faintly pretentious.

Here's the thing. You don't bloody send a die-hand Blockbuster fan to review The Straight Story by David Lynch, a beautiful moving film about an old man who visits his sick brother across country on a motor-mower, you'd get something like:
"Oh that was the WORST thing I've ever seen! Mate. I didn't see ONE machine-gun in the entire film, no one got shot! No one got butchered! Here's the thing see, the movie was about this guy that goes across country on a lawnmower... I kid you not, a lawnmower! Now how many high-speed chases are you going to get out of riding a lawnmower? And not even a souped-up one! See what they shoulda done, is have the old man take the lawnmower to "Pimp My Ride", get a nice turbo-charged engine on that mutha with some big-ass mags and watch that John Deere mow down all those country hicks with blood splattering everywhere, and hey! Maybe give the old man a chainsaw for a hand! Now that would be totally awesome."

So I ask you, why on earth would you get the Indy crowd to review the unashamedly fun blockbusters?