Tuesday, December 17, 2013

A procrastinator's Pick O the Week

I'm sorry.

But not for the fact that I didn't post a pick of the week, for that I think the filmmaking machine needs to apologize: I'm simply running out of ideas.

No, I'm sorry for not being excited about film anymore.  I've lost my drive, that unquenchable thirst for new films and stories, new viewpoints and ideas.  I'm tired.  I'm so tired of films that are so predictable that I can tell you everything that's going to happen before it happens.  I'm tired of sitting down to watch a movie (after paying an arm and a leg) and realizing that the only thing keeping me in my seat is the energy it'll take me to climb out of it.

I'm tired.

But this weekend, when I was supposed to be picking a movie in theatres and a movie to watch at home, I stumbled across A Few Good Men.  We watched the movie on Saturday morning while drinking coffee and it was then that I realized what it was that was bothering me about the films I've been watching:  they're not going anywhere.  A good script, a well written script should keep the momentum going throughout the film.  Every scene should serve the larger story and while it's an obvious thing to say, it's very rarely done properly.

What I noticed while I watched Tom Cruise parade around negotiating on behalf of two clients he didn't really believe is that without saying anything at all, I had a full picture of who this guy was.  I knew what his relationship with his father was from two lines exchanged between Cruise and Nicholson, I knew why Kevin Pollack was so tired and disengaged from the process just from the addition of a wanton baby in one scene that could have happened anywhere.   What's more, after the film was over we spent an hour talking about the motivations, the conclusions and the interactions of the characters.  They ALL had fully realized back stories and even though that wasn't necessarily captured onscreen, there was no point at which I thought, "That guy wouldn't do that, it's out of character."

Now this isn't to say that this movie is the pinnacle of cinema.  It has some good (and famous) lines, includes a reasonably diverse cast of actors and doesn't do too badly on its portrayals of women, even if Demi Moore is ostensibly the only one who speaks in the whole film.  Moore's character (while seen as annoying by her peers and denigrated by Nicholson's Col. Nathan R. Jessup) is never played as a romantic interest for Cruise, rather as a point of tension.  She is never shown as anything other than a lawyer, even going so far as to never take her hair down throughout the film.  It's simply not important to the story.  So with the depth of character, and generally solid performances, there are quite a few things that the film does well.  The most important of these is that each scene-- even those that seem insignificant or are played for comic relief-- serve to keep the momentum of the story going.

And the fact that I can't remember the last time I saw a movie that hits all these points says two things about films these days:

1) I'm going to the wrong ones.
2) Mainstream filmmakers need to try a little harder.

So ultimately I'm not going to provide you with a pick of the week, rather I'm going to suggest that you seek out those films you might not necessarily venture to otherwise.  That you keep an eye on the reviews and perhaps if you have to see a mainstream children's film this holiday season, you eschew Ender's Game (which by all accounts is, "Okay," at best) in favour of Frozen's purportedly fantastic plot and musical repertoire.

Try harder to find films that will delight you.  I will too and hopefully we can renew our love of the medium together because I'm sure you're getting about as sick of reading my Picks as I am of writing them.  Let's do better.

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