Emoting about Things that are not The A-Team

I kinda hate Bradley Cooper...

Since summer started, it seems the only movies I’ve seen are blockbusters. It’s almost a given that once school is out, regardless if something interesting is playing or not, I am in that theatre at least once a week. I enjoy the experience, especially since I share it with my friends, but these past few weeks have been difficult… perhaps it’s because I’ve been so focused on catching up on True Blood and Mad Men and haven’t had the time to watch as many films on DVD as I’m used to. The saturation of bland and terrible cinema is starting to get to me and I feel as though I’m slowly losing my mind. I am not only struggling to find something nice to say about the films, but even trying to mute my elitism among my non-film fans is becoming more difficult.

Tonight I watched The A-Team, and though it’s the best of the three films I’ve seen in the past three weeks (the other two being Prince of Persia and Splice), it has pushed me past the breaking point. Though the film has some entertaining moments (mostly due to some charismatic performances) and isn’t particularly inept, I just could not enjoy it. Walking out, I couldn’t help overhearing people proclaiming how awesome the movie was. All I could think was what about this movie is great? I couldn’t think of a single reason why someone would think it was.

Generally, I don’t see why anyone would think most blockbusters are interesting, worthwhile or  even memorable. They are more akin to a good ride at an amusement park than a great “entertainment”. Even if I were to approach and look at them as simply being “rides”, most of them fall short and fail to deliver on a very basic level. Prince of Persia is a perfect example of this, not only presenting an incoherent video game storyline, but presenting uninspired conflict and character interactions that makes Pirates of the Carribean seem like a great Shakespearean comedy. Yet, people eat it up.

DAGGER DAGGER DAGGER DAGGER DAGGER DAGGER DAGGER DAGGER

Even if I were to look at blockbuster films I enjoy and have watched on more than one occasion, I can’t say I’d be sad if I never had to watch them again. I can’t help feeling I come off as elitist and judgmental, but I just cannot fathom why someone would prefer a film like Aliens, The Dark Knight or Star Wars over The Red Shoes, L’Avventura or The Double Life of Veronique. I can see the entertainment value of the former films but their broad themes and archetypical characters and conclusions have never struck me as being moving or evocative. I am not suggesting that people who like those films are dumb, far from it, I don’t have any less respect for people who like those films, but I can’t help feeling they are also missing out on a world of experience and challenges.

In a perfect world, there would be room for both kinds of movies. I like both kinds, or else I wouldn’t bother to watch movies like the ones that I do. On a good day I can even enjoy a mediocre or bad film from a more anthropological level, looking at the ideals, values and queues the film takes that it presents and how that reflects my understanding of society. I know so many people I know would claim I overthink or overanalyze very simple works, but I find it enjoyable. If anything, these are the kinds of movies that deserve this kind of close scrutiny because they are consumed by such a high number of people.

I feel like I am contradicting myself in a certain sense. Though I wish people watched better movies, I am fascinated by the fact that certain movies draw millions of viewers. To a certain extent in our day and age, it is largely about marketing and advertising, but even films that get the full treatment are not guaranteed success. Some films with barely any press are able to rise to the top. Audiences are still fickle.

Thoughtful contemplation

Thinking is a crime, and most people seem completely averse to having their ideas and perceptions challenged. Shutting off your brain now and then isn’t the worst thing, but some people see working towards learning and experiencing new things as being relevant only for work and school. This makes me sad. Even if you were to just put more consideration into movies like Prince of Persia or The A-Team, try to think a bit more critically about why you do or do not like a film, would result in valuable self-knoweldge. Why are people so afraid to open their selves up and peek inside, are they afraid of what they might see or feel? Why do we relate so positively to violence and hate? Learning about yourself and the people around you seems to ultimately the point of our existence, or at least the most rewarding aspect of it, so why are so so quick and willing to shut ourselves off completely from that aspect of our life?

Do I think or even want people to flock to the newest Alain Resnais film? No, I don’t even know where I am getting with this. I just wish I could expose people to new ideas and emotions that great film has opened to me. It is one thing I like to share with people I love and care about, because I think it’s so important and beautiful. My frustration over the mediocrity of these films stems from the fact that most people are not even aware of what they’re missing. Does that make me an elitist or a snob? Yes it does, but my intentions are good, it’s about love man.

I blame this post entirely on Von Samuel. What an ass.

Loving the Dead

No information – historical, experimental, or otherwise – has surfaced regarding the results of sexual relations with the undead specimen, but as previously noted, the nature of Solanum suggests a high danger of infection. Warning against such an act would be useless, as the only people deranged enough to try would be unconcerned with their own safety. Many have argued that, given the congealed nature of undead bodily fluids, the chances of infection from a non-bite contact should be low. However, it must be remembered that even one organism is enough to begin the cycle.

P.4 The Zombie Survival Guide (Max Brooks)

Pamela Franklin has a horrifying encounter in The Legend of Hell House

What are some memorable instances of people loving the dead? A few spring to mind, Wuthering Heights, A Rose for Emily, Laura and The Legend of Hell House. I’m sure I am missing some significant ones. I can’t think of any movies that involve human/zombie love though.

Iconic Film Styles: Shampoo (1975)

Costume Designer: Anthea Sylbert

Such outrageous style, somehow most of this could never fly in 2010, even as part of some retro-vintage throw-back. I wish I could pull off Julie Christie’s hair, especially before Beatty takes the shears to it, though either way… I feel so much more in tune with Goldie Hawn’s style though, more feminine, more hippie, more delicate. Unfortunately, I don’t have the figure to pull them off so wonderfully waif-ishly as she does. For me Shampoo is a film that reflects so completely the style of an era. The film plays out like a strange period piece, especially as the characters seem so incredibly self-aware of their physicality and sexuality. Warren Beatty’s character in particular is perceived by most men as being a “poof”, despite the fact that he is balls deep in most of the women he meets. In many ways, Beatty’s style and persona is more revolutionary and exciting than that of the women because he redefines masculinity in a chic and ironic way. Even beyond fashion, Shampoo is one of the most underrated films of the 1970s, I heartily recommend it.

Iconic Film Styles: Ann-Margaret in Bye Bye Birdie

Luckily we have shows like Mad Men to show an intimate look into a bygone era, so us plebs who don’t have the time or resources to research the cultural impact of certain films and performers. In Season three (Love Among Ruins 3.2), a diet cola company asks creative to recreate the opening with Ann-Margret in order to sell their product. The reaction of the executives in the room only suggests a fraction of the sensation that her performance caused. George Sidney has the foresight to see the effect that Ann-Margret would have on the audience, and at his own expense filmed the iconic book-ends, even having a song specially written for the occasion. I am hardly a fan of the film, but I can’t deny absolutely loving those two scenes. Ann-Margaret’s style in the film is reflective of a new breed of adolescent, it is cute but sexy. There is a palpable difference between her clothing and that of the more mature women, but it still seems to fit into the adult world.

Costume Designer: Marjorie Wahl

Iconic Film Costumes: Brigitte Bardot in Shalako

Costume Designer: Cynthia Tingey

Bardot’s style remains in the 21st century was enduringly modern, unique and sexy. Her trade-mark became less the clothes she wore, but her teased blonde hair, and dark eye-make up. It was also very much about the attitude she took to whats she was wearing. In a large portion  of her movies, clothes were not a given, as often as possible she was paraded around nearly naked, her body more likely draped in a sheet then a fitted outfit. When she does wear costumes, her self-awareness makes them shine. She seems to know all the angles to make them look just right, and is always able to make them her own. Shalako transplants her to the old west, but Bardot does not fit the mold of the helpless woman in distress. Even her costuming suggests power, the presence of pants and hats throughout. Even her dresses suggest a matriarchal power, and though Bardot is anything but matronly, the suggestion remains.

Five Best Films I saw in May

I had a really strong start in terms of viewings in May. Things tapered off around mid-way and I got addicted to tv. Still managed to see about 34 films. I am cheating with this list, posting a trilogy as a single entry… all of these are first time viewings. Alphabetical order.

Autumn Sonata (Ingmar Bergman, 1978)

The Civil War Trilogy (Robert Enrico, 1962-63)

Exit through the Gift Shop (Bansky, 2010)

Playtime (Jacques Tati, 1967)

Une robe d’ete (Francois Ozon, 1996)