Friday, May 14, 2010

film ain't nothing but televison these days

first off: this is my 300th post.  three hundred huh?  that's a sizable number, and hope all of you my loyal readers are steadily wrapping as many presents as possible to help me celebrate.  you don't even have to wrap anything of worth in these presents, because as the criterion conquistador will tell you, anything wrapped - be it package or present or loonie in straitjacket - peaks my interest wildly. empty boxes with glue on them, if i can't see within, almost always got me wet at the corners of the mouth.

i'll mimic blowing out 300 candles and you can sing some sort of festive birthday song and that'll be the end of it.


i wish, what with this momentous post and all, that i had some sort of positive thing to say about the state of film, but after seeing russell crowe and ridley scott's new robin hood film and i'm more down on the film industry than i have been in months.  i feel almost bad lately, as i've been coaxing the amazing criterion conquistador to all the films i'm attending for review, and they're literally all shit.  i thought that a big historical epic, directed by a filmmaker of note might sway this notion and the criterion conquistador might actually sit through a decent film.

but, alack, robin hood is not only a fairly stupid film, but it highlights a trend in film that scares the shit out of me: it's more television pilot than film.  i don't watch a lot of television anymore, but when i did, i was an enormous fan of pilot season, because you'd get twenty or thirty hints of shows and then be able to decide what you might watch based on that.  the television pilot doesn't have to be a complete story, because there will be one or two or three or whatever more seasons following it that will fill out the story and characters.  thus the opening show of a good long television series is just an admirable way of introducing the central concept of the story and those players who might make up that story.  that's what a pilot is.

film on the other hand, if you've been paying attention, is a singular story, told within the confines of two or so hours, where hopefully, everything wraps up and we leave satisfied, sick on shitty popcorn, and ready for another, completely different movie.  film in nutshell: single story, round characters, satisfying ending.

or at least it used to be.  with the onset of sequel upon sequel upon sequel upon sequel we no longer have to look at film as singular entity.  every film has the potential of starting a series of films, and if those films fail, there's always the chance to just reboot it from start and hope that those new films will catch on and another series will come out of that. this is awful for many reasons, as the space for original cinema is slowly being relegated to art houses and the internet, but what bothers me the most is that films are now becoming pilots.  yup, the opening salvo of any trilogy is just that, an opening introduction, the first act of a three-part play.

take robin hood, a film quite clearly made as a prequel.  we meet robin hood and his merry men and we meet prince john and his unmerry men and we meet maid marion and her cast of characters and the film goes through some rote plot work that slightly fills us in on who these characters might be, and then boom, film over.  we've been teased, tricked and tickled in to becoming curious and now we're downright ready to get invested in another "episode".  we don't wait a week though, we wait years and when the next film comes (already bristling with new cliffhangers to get us ready for the third "episode") we're rosy with excitement.

but this doesn't work behind the central conceit of film.  what this does is create poorly written stories and badly conceived characters that flop about on screen in stories that are built just to be built upon.  i don't want to look at the foundation of a house, i want to see the whole damn thing.  but, no, we're being given the bare bones, so the hollywood producers can fill them in with on-going additions to the series.  we're not watching movies, we're watching introductions.

there's grim times on the horizon people, keep your heads down.


criterion counsel: getting almost to the end of this film and it's only been four weeks since i finished the last one.  with this sort of timeline in place i might finish the criterion collection with arthritis just barely tickling my hands.

1 comment:

wescoat said...

Ha! You're cute. With all the typing you do, you'll have arthritis in a few years or so. You'll never finish all the Criterion films by THEN! Silly guy!