I actually watch more movies than I write about here. Some are so inconsequential (early 70s vampire soft core?), and some are so stupid that they don’t even deserve mention. Okay, there’s embarrassment for having chosen and sat through them at all. We’ve all been there. I’m pretty open-minded and end up there a lot.
One such film that I decided to ignore here was The Internship with Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughan. If I bothered to review it, then I would have started by complaining how I felt like I was raped by Google Inc. The product placement has become the movie, a new level of corporate psychological malfeasance. Additionally, The Internship was stuffed with formula, unfunny generational humor and tired shtick. Google should have gotten an executive producer credit and probably put up a chunk of money to remind us of the glory of Google, about a hundred times.
It’s a bit disturbing that the trend is toward corporate promotion and away from art, away from storytelling that matters to people (if that ever was a concern in Hollywood). I may have to belt the next knob who utters the Satanic phrase “branded entertainment.” Bill Hicks discussed a similar situation two decades ago.
Crass marketing calculus has become the product. The concern is no longer a wonderful story that brings along side benefits. The only concerns are the side benefits.
Other films I’ve not bothered reviewing include The Master, which I didn’t take to. Who could, really? It was a dismal and ugly thing, quite unlike the other film mentioned, but still it didn’t resonate enough to warrant an additional review. I’d already posted someone’s take on it here, and I didn’t feel it really earned a revisiting.
The Total Recall remake was mind numbingly bad too, but I spared the readers hoping it would just fade away like a bad commercial. The cheezy 80s Arnold version gains in stature. Others that passed by the wayside include The Incredible Burt Wonderstone, Identity Thief, Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie and The Other Guys. None of these will end up in any pantheon of great comedies no matter how dumbed down the future may be.
I’ve watched and rewatched films, searching for gems, but when they don’t stand out I spare the readers. Yesterday morning I finished watching Hello Herman, a little indie film about the death penalty and school spree massacres. I wasn’t going to post about it as it’s just not done very well. The budget of course was a factor but also the specific execution. Not terrible, but not terribly consequential either.
Today I watched the 1999 film Beat, with Courtney Love and Kiefer Sutherland. This little historical drama tells of how William S. Burroughs murdered his wife. Not a terrible film, but also not clicking. Not worthy of its own post, I’m not going to pretend it’s a Cult Classic or Under the Radar. The Burroughs barrage of insanity, Naked Lunch, however, directed by David Cronenberg is a true mind bender.
So many movies fall short that it’s rather a shame in terms of wasted resources, time, effort. A couple years back they were submitting 10,000 films per year to the Sundance Festival. That’s 10k full length movies, not shorts, not scripts.
The current film explosion is resource unfriendly, gobbling up time, money and dreams. The opportunity costs are significant. All that effort could have been put to something else. I’ve been of the opinion that 90% of them are just a waste of human potential and the viewer’s time. How to get to the good ones without a flood of the ghastly? Can the top 5% exist without the 95% missed opportunities? Seems that so many aim low, confident in their exploitative power: selling sex, selling violence, selling revenge, selling torture porn. Of the ones that actually try harder, why so many botched efforts? Have we seen it all? Is there nothing new under the sun?
I think the industry grinds on because it is an industry. People are in it for the paycheck, and whatever else their “product” foists on the world is not important to most of the people involved. The ideas being spread are largely out of their control, and people need to work. This capitalist system is responsible for churning out mercenary art, art that exists solely because of the money flows. The participants concoct elaborate defenses as to why their system, the one they are personally invested in, is so valid, but the results, to the dispassionate observer, don’t appear so glorious.