Wednesday, 7 March 2012

It boils down to discernment

Brave New World (The Star)
7 March 2012

In a way, film and film appreciation is a reflection of real life, with the world becoming more and more enamoured by the flashy surface at the cost of any real substance.


THE Artist won best film at the Academy Awards recently. I haven’t seen it because it has not come to our cinemas, but I have been told that it was a clever idea and little more.
A film in black and white and totally silent, like the days of Harold Lloyd, is indeed novel, but apparently there is little else.
I won’t say anything about it because I have not seen it. But I find the Oscars to be farcical anyway. It has little to do with my life as it is, but it is usually quite a fun little distraction when it does happen.
This rather neutral feeling I had towards the whole thing changed many years ago when Titanic won the best picture award, beating LA Confidential. The gritty and complex story about corrupt cops in Los Angeles, set in the 40s was, to me, utterly brilliant.
It was beautifully shot in a distinctively noir style, had a plot which twisted and turned, amazing characters played brilliantly, and yet it lost. And lost to what? A mushy pile of steaming sentimentality.
James Cameron sure knows how to handle slam bang special effects, but apart from Terminator, Aliens and arguably T2, that’s all he is good for.
Titanic was filled with dreadful lines uttered in the most cliched manner. It was filled with moments of cringingly bad stereotypes and ended in the most ludicrous fashion.
I mean, I know the heroine was quite a big girl, but come on, there was plenty of room on that chunk of wood she was floating on.
It was as if the Academy was populated by 12-year-old girls.
I suppose it is inevitable. Film and film appreciation is in a way a reflection of real life. The world has become more and more enamoured by the flashy surface at the cost of any real substance.
To continue with my Cameron bashing, let’s look at Avatar. It seems to me that the wonders of the special effects blinded people to the positively colonial tone of the entire film. Poor little natives, so simple yet so noble, need mighty but enlightened colonials to help them. They are too childlike to help themselves, you see.
Now, at the end of the day, you can watch whatever you want. No one should stop you from taking your pleasures where you find them.
I myself am very partial to rubbish movies. I rather liked Ghost Rider Spirit of Vengeance, for example. But I hope that I am discerning enough to notice that it is utterly forgettable fluff and not the best movie in the history of movies.
I suppose that is what it boils down to: discernment. In the movies, just as in life, are we able to make that distinction between something of real worth, and something that may make us feel good for a little while but is ultimately of little value?


dukuhead said...

this is the age of the gloss, the fluff, the form over the substance. like everything else in life today, truth is just not palatable enough, not enticing enough, not engrossing for mass-consumption. We want our dinner in 5 minutes, out thrill in seconds, our gratification now! consequences be damned.

Tiger said...

Megan said...

Totally agree with you. Felt the same way when they overlooked the brilliant 'shawshank redemption ' which was a celebration of perseverance and genius in favor of 'Forrest gump' which celebrated morons.

Pecker said...

Yes Hollywood films fill your multiplex cinemas in merely a few cliched genres: action hero, horror/supernatural, cop/corruption/mafia, romantic comedy. How repetitive and predictable.
I always go for the Asian flick if I can, far more refreshing for this matt saleh with bad indigestion from Hollywood acid reflux.