Monday, November 15

Why I Hate Star Wars - Or, the Numbers

. . . Or maybe I should come clean and institutionalize this spot to be known henceforth as The Monday Whine (and, come to think of it, I already have its bastard twin in place: The Friday Fuck It).

Unfortunately, a good friend of mine - a very good friend, even though he lives up in the benighted north of England - has already been donned with the monicker Oscar Grouch, otherwise I would lay claim to that as my nom-de-plume.

So, to business. Reading the link article, in yesterday's New York Times, stirred anew my disgust for mainstream Hollywood movies, a disgust that is traceable back to the movie that killed the movies: Star Wars.

This has nothing to do with its quality per se. I am proud of the fact that I've only ever seen the first twenty minutes of it: that was enough to know it wasn't for me. However, I will note in passing that even some of its biggest fans almost rejoice in its plasticity: when, in The Graduate, Ben is cajoled about his future career (" . . . one word to you, Benjamin: plastics"), I suspect that little did the writers know they were anticipating the decline of Hollywood, even as its star was rising.

It's not the quality, or lack of, that pisses me off: it's the fact that it was an overwhelming success (please read that last word with full first syllable emphasis, à la Bob Dylan in Subterranean Homesick Blues).

Some people will realise that I'm basically following the argument put forward by Peter Biskind in his entertaining, if ever-so-slightly anal Easy Riders, Raging Bulls. The argument is that there was a (second) golden age of Hollywood movies that was kick-started by Bonnie & Clyde, leading to the likes of Chinatown, the two Godfather films etc, that was assailed firstly by Jaws, and then killed by Star Wars. In other words, Beatty, Nicholson, Polanski, Coppola and Scorcese are heroes; Lucas and Spielberg are villains.

Well . . . what's to argue about with that synopsis?


The main thrust of the Times piece is that American blockbuster movies have ceased to be American: they're not about America, and they're seldom made in America (increasingly, natch, they're being made in London). The Star Wars of our times in this debâcle has been Titanic, or La epic du monde de merde, as I've been led to believe our French friends call it. Okay, maybe that's pure yarbles on my part, just to keep you thinking here. But hell, it should be true.

The point to be made is that Titanic has no sense of place, and only some trite observations to make along the lines of true love conquers all, blah blah - thanks for that, as I had no idea such things ever happened. All that money . . . to make more money.

My abiding memory of the film is not the film itself (huh, can you think of any memorable lines?), but the fact that it was shown on TV on Christmas Day a few years ago, and so it came to pass that on that day of all days the nation got to see Kate Winslet's tits at about 7pm, a good couple of hours before the divined watershed. And no, her tits weren't memorable either, but their sight was a little perky, pagan consolation for this devout atheist.

My review? It's a two bottles of wine movie. That's the only way to get through it.

The plot holes in Titanic are present in most of the filth currently being thrown at us, usually in sequential format. An example? The Matrix: film or franchise? Discuss. Oh honey, please don't.

Listen. My gripe isn't that these films are being made, but that their massive predominance has squeezed out the chances of others, indeed, of the other, being made. Unfortunately, there's little evidence that the $900m worldwide bounty from Titanic financed any great films: it all seems to have disappeared up its own template, in a succession of disaster movies with diminishing returns. Yeah: they pissed it all away. And be fair, you can't blame Kevin Costner for everything that goes wrong. Can you? You can? No!

The bottom line on all this is that Hollywood produced more great movies between 1967 and 1977 than it has in the quarter century since.

That's a fact jacked, my brother and sisters. And we all know it.

Actually, the New York Times seemed to go to town on Hollywood this weekend, with this piece asking why the delectable Maggie Cheung is not a major, major star in America. Now there is a glib answer here . . . IT'S BECAUSE YOUR FILMS ARE SHIT AND YOU'RE TOO FUCKING STUPID TO SEE IT, YOU DAMN YANKEES - but we know that's not the whole truth, all ways round.

Occasionally, the Oliver Stone stomp is justified: the truth is more sinister.


Tick the box!

Plus ça change. It's your loss.

Anyway, I want her to stay as she is, just helping Wong Kar-Wai make his little masterpieces every other year or so. You want a sense of place? You want a sense of style, a sense of form, a sense of the intricacies of human emotion? Go see In the Mood for Love.

Let her keep making films of that quality, and I'll die a happy man. I do not want to see her floating around lost in some mutant, parallel universe that is actually a very expensive film set stuck somewhere in the vast arse of Australia.

To finish, I also note that there's a movie version of Patrick Marber's play Closer about to be released. History predicts that it will stall, at the box office and on screen, as just about all film adaptations of plays look stilted. For example, who would point anyone in the direction of Glengarry Glenn Ross (which is better than most) and say: "See? That's what you can do in the movies . . . "

Perhaps Marber has rung up some humongous poker debts - else why let your baby get fucked over by Hollywood?

When I went to see Closer in the West End, Eddie Izzard was there too (shorter than he wants you to think; and burlier) - dressed as a man, though it was high summer, which slightly disappointed me, somehow. However, were it otherwise, he would not have been the first actor I would have seen wearing a woman's attire in public: that honour goes to Timothy Spall, who once sauntered into my then local bar like he was Gloria Swanson.

I'm pretty sure that he's one of the many British character actors who have since scrubbed up in the Harry Potter franchise, and must now be rubbing their hands at the prospect of what I hear is known among actors as the "Potter Pension": the generous fees and/or points, and repeat fees from TV etc shall keep them warm, and vodka-sozzled, in their dotage.

The movie version of Closer stars Jude Law. Now, I have never kissed a man, but were I to meet him, I fear I would swoon! Ditto Johnny Depp.

Oh boy, it's the second time in a few days that I've finished with a reference to Johnny's Gablesque charms. This has to stop!

I suppose what I'm saying is, like the song, I'm looking for a girl called Johnny . . .


posted by DD @ 10:33 


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