Monday, March 2, 2009

My Entertainment: Watching Shallow Movies

There is one episode of David Suchet 's "Poirot" where my sister and I laugh pitilessly at the melodramatic heroine, who explains her love for a man she knows to be no good by claiming that "some things are bigger than happiness." What does that mean? Some things are more important than happiness? Like living out an unhealthy obsession? That happiness is fleeting and a dark, immoral coupling has longer-lasting repercussions? You can see I don't have much sympathy for the underlying sentiment.

My primary objective in watching almost all movies is for entertainment. I have long since determined that, for me, reading is the preferred medium for acquiring information and even appreciating art. Still, some movies do a poor enough job at creating their fictional world that I find myself unable to suspend my disbelief long enough to even enjoy them.

A smattering of other unfortunate movie philosophies:

"Titanic": Cheating on your fiance is okay if you feel like he is a big meany. Especially if your mother is pressuring you into marrying said meany. Your moral and intellectual superiority have been established as you spout unconventional sentiments at the dinner table and support Picasso based merely on your own impeccable taste even before he is famous.

Romantic comedies are almost too easy. There are so many problems I don't know where to begin. They are like watered-down fables, complete with a simplistic moral. Here are a few examples:

"Someone Like You" (terrible, forgettable film with Ashley Judd and Hugh Jackman): Don't be a cynic: men are not all selfish pigs, and as proof, you end up with the guy who has jumped from woman to woman the whole movie without any kind of character development.

"27 Dresses": If you're unsatisfied with your love life, it's because you've been self-sacrificing for too long. Instead, you should lash out at the person nearest to you in a very cruel and public manner. Wait, that's mean. But wait, you finally stood up for yourself. Wait, I'm confused!

"Serendipity": Is luck important? Do you make your own luck? Is life some inscrutable combination of luck and initiative? I don't know what this movie is trying to say, and I don't think it does either. But it's bad.

"Runaway Bride": It is bad to try to meld yourself to be what others expect of you. You should be yourself, and you need this to be revealed to you by a mysogynistic reporter whose purpose is to exploit you.

I'm not saying there's no way to take pleasure in some of these movies. I've obviously seen them all, and the previews don't usually conceal what kind of movie they will be--so mea culpa. It would be nice if writers could venture passed the tried and true and not assume the worst about their audience for once. There are certainly plenty of original, good movies out there, but they are often so full of violence and sex that I decline to see them. As for the usually tamer romantic comedies and action adventure movies, perhaps it is possible to reinvent a genre without disappointing the audience, to try something a bit new and work within the conventions. In the meantime, I'll read my book.

1 comment:

Nicole Lake said...

Hey Deb,
"you get what you get when you go for it!" (Barry Manilow song from Foul Play)

Have you seen Flight of the Conchords? It's an HBO show, but I rented it on NetFlix. I think you would really enjoy it!