2.24.2011

No risk = No greatness = Hollywood

Two things have been buzzing about The Desert:

1)  The Bodyguard remake

2)  Dogtooth's Oscar nomination

The first -- which, yes, is disgusting and yet another sign that Hell is safe to skate on -- has brought about a new wave of "rock bottom" declarations.  I've read several statements along the lines of: "We've officially run out of ideas."

And while I, myself, have made similar comments, let's face the truth.  There are tons of ideas out there.  This town, and the world, are swimming in original and exciting scripts.  If that weren't the case, all of these foreign movies Hollywood is remaking wouldn't exist.  People are making new and exciting films, America and Hollywood just aren't part of that group.   Anyone who's read specs or is in a good writers group or has connections to people trying to make it in the entertainment industry has read some pretty exciting stuff.

It's bold, it's new, it's thrilling.  And it's not getting made.

Hollywood is in a catatonic state of risk aversion.  They're a business, and they're quickly losing all pretensions that claim otherwise.  Why make Tonight, He Comes when you can make Hancock?  Why make something new when you can remake Let The Right One InLe Dîner de Cons, The Karate Kid, Clash of The Titans, Arthur, Old Boy, Footloose, and Alice in Wonderland

It's solid business sense.  And it releases a steady string of shitty, if not merely reiterative, movies.

It's kind of like an analogy of books I once heard the author Maile Meloy repeat.  Essentially, even if you're an avid reader and assume you can read a book a week, and you assume an adult reading life of 60 years, that's 3,120 books read in a lifetime.  That make sound like a lot, but when compared to the number of books out there, and the number of books one might want to read, it's not.  That basically means every book you choose to read is predicated on the extreme value of that week spent.  That's another book in your lifetime which will cancel out thousands of others.  Every choice is crucial, and determines what you WON'T read in your lifetime.

So, if we assume that the average, prolific filmmaker makes a movie every two years and has a successful career span of 30 years, that's 15 movie.  15 movies.  So I often find it remarkable that Speilberg would choose Old Boy, or Tim Burton would choose Alice in Wonderland.  That's just like choosing Hamburger Helper over a steak for one of your last 15 meals. 

But it brings in larger paychecks.

The second issue of talk is Dogtooth, the Greek Oscar nominee.  Apparently there's been some complaints about such a film being nominated.  The Academy has received objections over its inclusion in the Oscar ceremony.

Yes, the film is definitely not going to get a TV run on ABC Family, and it's challenging and ugly.  But it's also exciting, fresh, superbly made and -- oh, wait -- challenging.  I bet no one involved is taking an Uncle Scrooge swim through a bank vault full of coin over that one.

But this film is incredibly more transfixing and thrilling than almost any of the other Hollywood nominees.  What kind of industry are we in when a challenging, original movie isn't embraced?  I understand the heartland demo, or Focus on Family, objecting.  But Hollywood?  If Black Swan is as "extreme" as we're willing to go, we might as well throw in the towel and just start cranking out the Fockers movies.

There is no shortage of ideas or originality.  There's just no outlet for them.  But Hollywood only puts it's foot where the $$$ is.  So if all everyone goes to see is the safe regurgitated bets, then that's what they'll make.

How many people saw something this year that wasn't screened in a multiplex?   How many people saw Dogtooth?

I think a lot of people should stop complaining.  A lot of people are making a lot of beds.  Lie in them.   Or stop making them.  Messy beds, people.  See Dogtooth. 

ps.  For those who haven't seen it:

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