Thursday, December 04, 2008

Sullivan's Travels

I watched a good old movie last night with Amber: Sullivan's Travels. It is about a wealthy Hollywood director in the 40's who is tired of making funny movies and wants to make "serious" movies, or movies that more reflect the hardships of the time. He wants to make "Oh Brother Where Art Thou." (How funny that someday that movie would be made and it would be a comedy.) However, he has never experienced a hard day in his life and decides to become a hobo. To his amazement, in his travels he discovers that even though people experience tough times, it doesn't mean they want to wallow in films that reflect their tough times.

I agree.

Recently, filmmakers have lost touch with this idea. They can't seem to wait to get their greedy hands on recent disasters or painful events. As soon as something horrible happens, they are licking their chops to exploit it. "W," though a decent movie, was made too soon. He's not even out of office for crying out loud. Soon after 9/11 we were swarmed with films about the event. Again, too soon. And they are still making them, or movies about terrorists, or some remake or retake of the Manchurian Candidate.

As for me, I could really use a good comedy. However, it seems that the art of comedy in film has gone bye bye. I can't remember the last time I saw a good, wholesome, (or halfway wholesome) funny film. I can't even remember the last smutty funny film. Yeah, there have been all the stupid slapstick films, which are fine I suppose, but where are the great comedies? The last great comic film I saw was Napoleon Dynamite. And although I do love that film dearly, it is sad that that film seems to be the last good original cinematic comedic offering we've had.

People need to laugh. People need to dream. That's why people make films and go to films. Besides the Harry Potter films, what film has given us a little faerie dust so we can fly away to Never Land, or to a galaxy far far away? Even Superhero movies are all going gross and vulgar thanks to Frank Miller. The last Batman movie, though excellently crafted, was just sorta depressing. I liked it when I saw it but I really don't have the urge to see it again. If it weren't for Ironman, I would be giving up on superhero movies altogether.

Even tried-and-true action genres are limping... I recently saw the latest installment of James Bond and I couldn't even muster the energy for a review. Well, here it is: It was a Bourne movie. For about five minutes, halfway through the movie, it was a Bond movie. Other than that it was a cacophony of endless close ups and tremendously noisy car chases. Not even a lick of heartless romance. And "Quantum Solace"? What kind of Bond title is that? What the heck does that even mean? Grade: C.

So because of the recent good film drought, Amber and I have decided to catch up on all the great films that we've wanted to see but haven't seen. Sullivan's Travels was our first and it did not disappoint. People don't make films like that anymore and that's just sad. Films are turning into big giant music videos with saturated colors with nary a still shot that lasts more than 3 seconds. Everything has to just move around, CONSTANTLY. God forbid they give an actor 10 seconds to manufacture a feeling, a sly look, a subtle change signifying an Epiphany, like say, when Cary Grant discovers that this rich old aunts have been poisoning the old geezers. What a great moment! Or what about those Catherine Hepburn eye gestures? Or what about that moment in A Love Affair to Remember when Cary sees the painting and realizes that he's been a poop-head? (Yes, I admit I love that flick.)

I'm sorry to cast such a downer on my favorite artistic genre, but film making these days seems to have creatively stagnated. Of course, this could be just me. You guys seen anything worth a darn lately? Any films that don't want to make you slice your wrists in nihilistic depression, or any films without some sort of political AGENDA? Filmmakers and actors need to quit thinking they are so darn important and get back to the business of making people dream, think, cry (good crying) and laughing. Tell us a dadgum story, for cryin' out loud.

You guys got any classic film suggestions? How bout favorite film moments? Acting performances?


tiny dancer said...

I love Breakfast at Tiffany's because it is so interesting, funny (like the interesting-character kind of funny, not slapstick funny), and maybe what I love most- not afraid of being boring! Slow scenes, uncomplicated plot... its just watching a beautiful time in someone's life. I love the way it doesn't try too hard to be anything... exciting, cool, artsy. It just is what it is, a story. And one last thing I have to say, what happened to that soft lens?!? I'd take that over HD any day.

I love old movies, they're the best. Good movie recently though is Bella. It borders on the trying too hard to be artsy thing but it passes in my book. Beautiful, real story. I may even like it better than Breakfast at Tiffany's, cuz I'm a sucker. Have y'all seen it yet?

This is definitely the longest I've ever commented on anyone's blog. :)

Stephen said...

Here are some of my favorite films of the year so far, if you want to check out something current:

1)The Visitor
2)Flight of the Red Balloon
3)Son of Rambow

Dwain said...

Totally agree. Why is it that the only "great films" I have seen or quote end on end are Pixar movies?

The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, oh, and A Fish called Wanda, but I loves me some Brit Com. Hey that's it. The Brits have stopped making decent movies, so Hollywood can steal the idea and like boost the budget by a couple of million and throw in some CGI. That's gotta be the answer, we blame the British....

Tully said...

I like Ironman too...I was surprised that I liked it. Not that it's recent, but Juno was pretty cute too.

Seth Ward said...

Tiny Dancer, Breakfast is one of Amber and I's fav's! Great one! I know, where did that soft lens go??? Btw, MORE long posts, please. Fun! See you guys in a few weeks!

Stephen, thanks for the suggestion, I've especially wanted to see Son of Ranbow and had forgotten all about it. Thanks for the reminder! I'll check the others out as well.

Dwain, we can always blame the Brits, or the Canadians for that matter. The Incredibles will not be topped, I think...

Tully, I liked Juno as well. However, I was skeptical as it seemed like the movie was too aware of its own coolness at first, but halfway through it won me over good. Very sweet film.