Earlier this Sunday, the venerable New York Times issued a particular section on upcoming movie releases for the critical summer season. Before laying out what we’ve to look forward to, the initial page featured some “Memos to Hollywood” from critics A.O. Scott and Manohla Dargis.
I thought Mr. Scott specifically offered up some important, though hardly new, suggestions for the industry:
1) Allow individuals to see movies how, when and where they want to;
2) Fix our nitwitted, confusing ratings system;
3) Give some edgy young fun flicks franchise makers the chance to enliven the embarrassingly stale phenomenon called film comedy;
4) Political correctness could be the enemy of art and entertainment- take a stand; strive for some controversy in your films, get people talking;
5) Scorsese and Spielberg- think small again (fat chance); and finally,
6) A depressingly apt and descriptive listing of all of the tired formulas still being flogged to the public, accompanied by a heartfelt plea to complete something different and better.
Ms. Darghis, working as she does for one of many top surviving newspapers in the land, inspired me significantly less than her colleague. Maybe she is supposed to speak for the youth, however the youth I meet are brighter than this.
As an example, she saluted Pixar for building a film with women protagonist (something on everyone’s mind), decried the portrayal of effeminate gays (does Sean Penn count?), and called for more movies with Rachel McAdams and James Franco (I like Franco, but I’m seeing plenty of him. Does he need a job?).
Most annoyingly, she contradicted A.O Scott’s first well-made point concerning the public’s desire to consume film how, when and where they choose by taking the urban public to task for not supporting foreign and independent films at their neighborhood arts-house! After all, “DVDs and downloads pale alongside the big-screen experience”, and companies like New Yorker films are losing sight of business!
That is our fault, Manohla? Hollywood’s marketing might, which marginalizes the awareness and distribution of these smaller films, isn’t the principal culprit? And sorry to break it for you, but more and more folks watch a good portion of the movies in the home, and very happily too, for reasons of price and convenience.
Later I had to wonder if the ensuing irony was evident to anyone at the Times. Shifting out of this lead article, I quickly unearthed that the rest of the section was dominated by plugs and ads for only the forms of movies these critics are asking Hollywood to avoid making.
On the list of cinematic treats in store for us this summer:
The much anticipated re-make of “The Taking Of Pelham One, Two, Three” for individuals who found the first classic had too many words and insufficient bullets;
A drama (yes, drama- and about terminal illness) misleadingly titled “Funny People” starring Adam Sandler and Seth Rogen, logical perhaps for the reason that their latest comedies stopped being funny;
A brand new variation on the plodding “Da Vinci Code” called “Angels and Demons”, with Tom Hanks still sporting that silly haircut (only Hollywood so blatantly aims to capitalize on failure);
The inevitable sequels… for “Harry Potter” (he should have chest hair by now), “Ice Age”, and the eternally witty, effervescent “Night At The Museum”;
For anyone already nostalgic for “Beverly Hills Chihuahua”, the high-minded Jerry Bruckheimer brings us a movie called “G Force” starring-you guessed it- a guinea pig;
Not to mention a fresh (airbrushed) Sandra Bullock romantic comedy called “The Proposal”, starring a much younger man with nice hair named Ryan Reynolds.
Needless to say, it’s not absolutely all bad; it never is. To be fair, you will find always a couple of surprise gems buried amidst the muck. Personally, I will undoubtedly be curious to see whether:
The classically beautiful (but never effeminate) Johnny Depp can bring off his portrayal of tough, macho gangster John Dillinger in “Public Enemies”;
Quentin Tarantino can pull himself out of his recent spate of creative self-indulgence with “Inglorious Bastards”, starring Brad Pitt;
Meryl Streep’s rendition of Julia Child in “Julie and Julia” approaches my own personal legendary impersonation- search “Julia Childless” on YouTube.
Till these breathless moments arrive, Ms. Darghis, I will stay blissfully in the home, watching the Criterion release of “The Friends Of Eddie Coyle” on DVD. Who knows? I may even program my own, personal Bob Mitchum Film Festival.