I started writing about how airplane food always has gravy, but I had to stop and now I forgot what I was talking about. Something to do with making films with small ideas.
Anyway, now that I’m talking about small ideas, I’ll talk about the idea of a concept movie. Hollywood only makes films that have a concept or an idea that they get their head around, and then, because people in Hollywood are all trying to justify their lives, they like the make the film about something. So, almost as an afterthought, they take the concept and they try to squeeze a little bit of relevance out of it, or meaning or a moral – something to make it about something. Or sometimes, they take an issue, so that it starts off being about something and then the whole film is about that issue, like Blood Diamond or Dead Man Walking.
It’s not just that the filmmakers in Hollywood are trying to justify their lives. They also believe that the audience requires this, on the whole, to feel satisfied at the end of the film. So, think of it as adding vitamins to Frosted Flakes and then calling it a part of a balanced breakfast.
Judging from how much shelf space breakfast cereal takes up, and how many of these crappy movies take up the movie screens, most people have become pretty content with what they’re getting.
But just like breakfast can be much more nourishing and delicious than Frosted Flakes, films can be so much more than about something. A good film is about many things. (Even a bad film is about many things, but, for the sake of this argument, I’m talking about intentional things.) What a film is about can change from scene to scene. At best, what a film is about isn’t easy to put into words because if it could, it should have been an essay or a novel.
A good film, like any work of art, documents the world and the people in it, as it is, in a certain moment of time, from a definite point of view, emotional and physical and political. This is something that needs to happen in every frame of a film, and before that, every line of a screenplay. Meaning is the film. You can’t just add a little at the end.
That’s why they smother airplane food with gravy! It still tastes like shit, but now it’s about something.