Rant about Hollywood

What is there to say about the current crop of films in the theaters that hasn’t been said? It’s strange watching a film like WALL STREET 2. On one hand, it’s a pleasure seeing a big film, with big stars and expensive looking sets, on a big screen. Money buys a certain amount of size and my 50″ screen at home is never going to be as big as that 50 foot screen at the theater.

The fact that the movie isn’t good is a little besides the point. Oliver Stone might have gotten away with such a mediocre film a few years ago. Studios always put out disappointments. Now it just seems old fashioned, which, in a way, is worse.

In my mind, audiences have finally started wising up to the fact that Hollywood movies stink. Because Hollywood enjoys a defacto monopoly on the theater screens, the only result of this is audience decline.

Hollywood loves to blame all movies, but they don’t consider anything besides what they do to be a real movie anyway. Until the theater owners step up to the Hollywood machine, there’s not going to be a lot of change.  Still, it’s incredible to watch some movies make it through to the theaters – a mindnumbingly tough road to travel – and see how out of touch they are.  It is not unlike GM putting out their boring, ugly gas-guzzlers that keep breaking down and then wondering where all their customers went.  But that is what happens in corporations: the people at the top came up in the decade or two before they came to the top, so that’s what they know; it’s hard to steer these huge corporations in new directions.  It’s the same in film.

Now more films are being made outside of Hollywood and then brought in for distribution.  Some better films will surely come of this, but also some bigger misfires.  The real trouble remains getting the films from the minds of filmmakers who want to make them, to the audience that wants to see them.  Hollywood can claim over and over again that the audience isn’t showing up, but it’s just a form of denial.  Hollywood has spent three decades disenfranchising audiences only to turn around and blame any current film that isn’t pre-branded for the decline of American theater goers.  Reminds me of the Republicans blaming everyone but themselves for the deficit that happened over the last ten years.

Hollywood needs some new ideas, and they’re just not up to the task of trying them out.

There are no new ideas, except that there are

I was sitting in my daughter’s violin class this morning when I noticed the teacher’s sockless ankle in her Converse sneaker. She’s not young and there were some varicose veins. This was real life, but for some reason I thought, I have never seen a shot like that in a film. It wasn’t the most pleasant image, but it wasn’t as gross as it sounds. My point is that you could probably follow those varicose veins up to a very interesting story.

Some people, particularly in Hollywood, like to say that there are no new stories, but that we tell the old stories over and over again. Now, of course, Hollywood does tell the same stories over and over again. It’s part of their business plan, part of their DNA, but that doesn’t mean that that’s all there is. If you think about it, there’s a million stories all around us that Hollywood wouldn’t touch, but that, if told in an interesting way, would certainly hold up to the latest bland rom-com.

Let’s take an easy example: Considering how many of Hollywood’s biggest stars are now over 50 years old, how many films are there about 50 year olds? There are plenty of films with 50 year olds in them, but that’s not what I’m talking about. How many films are there that deal with problems and issues that 50 year old men and women have to deal with, like stale marriages or divorce or the fact that your health starts falling apart. I’m sure the list is longer, but I’m not 50, so I’d have to do some research. Who would want to watch one of these films? If it were interesting, I would.

Before I start sounding like someone with a geriatric fetish, there are a million areas that are just out of bounds: and what’s funny is that they are kept out of bounds by the same people who say that there are no new ideas.

I wrote a script that takes place in an office. It always gets compared to OFFICE SPACE or THE OFFICE. Were there really on two office stories that needed to be told? It makes you think how groundbreaking OFFICE SPACE was. I can imagine that Mike Judge had to convince a bunch of skeptical executives that people might actually be interested in what happens in an office – because it have never been done before.

It’s easy to shake the plot line of any film until you’ve got it down to its basic premise, and then declare that it’s just like some other movie. OFFICE SPACE is about a guy trying to rip off his company. You see? Just like a ton of other movies.

Except it’s not.