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Just Bitching About Movies

9 June 2010 by Baldy 5 Comments

I just wanted to take a couple of minutes to rant. It’s not about Schumacher or Bay or Seth Rogen’s overexposure or anything like that. It’s just generally griping about what’s happening these days in movies. It’s not plots. It’s just generic junk about movies.

1. When I’m watching a DVD that I just bought, the first thing that shows up on the screen is a commercial that essentially says, “You’re watching a piece of shit while you could be watching something much, much better. Sorry about the money you just blew on this 8-track, pal! Next time, you need to buy it on Blu-Ray!” It’s like getting married. As soon as you slip on that ring, I guarantee you that’s when the astonishingly hot woman at the office asks why you never took her to dinner.

2. You want to know where VHS has it all over DVD? Previews and warnings. I LOATHE it when I get a DVD and it won’t let me fast forward or skip through the previews and warnings. Really? I must really need to read this warning in French, because God knows the French are dead serious about this. At least with the old VHS technology, you could just fast forward through that junk.

3. I hate graphics-crazy DVD interface designers. When I press “root menu” I want to go to the root menu. Seems simple enough, right? No, these people want to force you to watch and acknowledge how brilliant they are. Instead of immediately going to the menu, they make me sit through 30 seconds of them showing off their art while I begin to scream, “I just want to play the damned movie!!!” If you’ve bought or rented the movie, they don’t have to impress you – they already HAVE you money.

4. I recently saw a headline: “Bullock Denies Rumors Of Sex Tape.” Are you serious? Genocide in the Sudan, nuclear threats from Iran, a record budget deficit. . . and you think this is NEWS? Not only does the fact that this is a headline bother me, but the idea that there are enough people out there who care about this crap to MAKE it a headline bothers me. If I can’t get the tape and I’m not in the tape, IT’S NOT NEWS.

5. First Look. This is just awful. Being subjected to this for twenty minutes before the film starts is simply rancid. You know why? It’s not put together by people who love film! It’s put together by marketing pukes who don’t know jack about movies (except for stupid little blurbs like the fact that Mike Myers once said that he was waiting for the no-talent police to come and take him away, and they will display that fact on screen once every 90 seconds). Push more Coke products. Push sitcoms. Most offensive of all is the First Look (short film and documentary mixed with lots of loud noises and bamboo slivers under the fingernails) at Are We There Yet? Cute movie. Worth watching ONCE if you have kids. I don’t care that they made a sitcom of it – I don’t watch television. I care about the indoctrination film that spouts “are we there yet?” more times than the Police sing “sending out an SOS.” You can’t change the channel. You can’t turn it down. All that you can do is get up and leave the theatre for a while, losing your seat in the process.

6. If you MUST have pre-film entertainment, why not make it something really cool and intelligent? I’m showing my age here, but it used to be that the only things shown before movies were PREVIEWS. That was cool. Then, in around 1990 something new came along. Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers came out with a song called Into The Great Wide Open and they cast Johnny Depp as the lead in their video/short film. That was cool – a film star in a music video (kids, ask your parents what those are) which actually tells a nifty story. It didn’t try to sell sneakers or soda or ANYTHING. It was just cool.

7. THERE ARE TOO MANY DAMNED PREVIEWS! I know that it hurts a bit to say it, but it’s true. I think three is the magic number. It used to be “we just made it – the previews have started!” Now it’s “Would you care for a leisurely game of chess? The previews have just begun.” Don’t saturate us with news of what’s coming out. We can dig all of that stuff up on WorstPreviews.com or something. Just show us to cool stuff, the new stuff. . . and leave us wanting more. Now, they saturate us with information about upcoming films, thereby ensuring that we know the plots well enough to hate the film or love it months before it comes out.

8. I’m sick of how previews are made. Some are done in an original style, but most are this: deep voice speaks a phrase, then 15 seconds of the movie, then deep voice speaks a phrase, then 15 seconds of the movie, repeat, repeat, repeat, 45 seconds of the movie aaaaaand. . . dramatic shot of the title graphics (along with a bunch of BS listing production company, director, four producers, eight executive producers, DP, dolly grip, Poly Grip, ad nauseam). Do something original, please?

9. I know the theatre companies get raked over the coals by the distribution companies and everyone else involved in the process. Way back when I worked at Northlake Festival in Tucker and Terminator 2 came out, AMC only got 10% of ticket sales. I’m sure it’s gotten worse. It makes sense, then, that ticket prices have gone up. The question I have is WHY DOES IT COST $4.50 FOR TWIZZLERS WHEN I JUST SPENT $11 ON THE STINKING MOVIE?! WHY AM I SITTING THROUGH 30 MINUTES OF ADS BUT THE TICKET PRICE STILL SKYROCKETS? I’ll buy one angle, but not all of them. Maybe Mr. Shonk can help with that one, since he knows the business side of things and I don’t.

10. THERE ARE TOO MANY DAMNED CREDITS! I’ve seen films in which I had to get two and a half minutes into it before they stopped showing names of people who contributed to making it. Do I REALLY need to know which casting agency was involved? Director, four producers, eight executive producers, production company, financing company, distributor, stars, introducing special appearance by, music by, DP, third assistant director’s high school sweetheart. . . ENOUGH! That’s the main thing I liked about the film Paranormal Activity. Pop it in the DVD player and play the movie. I don’t think there was even a title displayed. The movie is supposed to be about the movie, not about the people who made it. In this age of IMDB, do we really need to see all of that crap before the film? NO. It’s just egos hard at work, making sure that they get the exposure that their people assure them they deserve.

11. CARS DO NOT FLIP WHEN THEY RUN INTO OTHER CARS. They crunch. Life is not the Dukes of Hazzard or the Blues Brothers (cool as that would be). I’m sure that the car corkscrewing into the air thing was cool the first few times that people did it, but it’s just plain tired. Take Doomsday, for example. When an APC going 30 mph runs into a parked sedan, it DOES NOT FLIP! It crushes the car. AAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUGH! Makes me crazy.

12. CARS DO NOT EXPLODE WHEN THEY RUN INTO OTHER CARS, FLIP ONTO THEIR ROOFS OR ANYTHING ELSE LIKE THAT. Well, maybe once in a blue moon. Gas tanks are galvanized steel and are tested for crashes between 45 and 60 mph. Unless the cars are driving towards each other with a massive combined speed, the tank’s not going to blow. Isn’t it enough to see torn and crumpled steel, torn and crumpled humans and pieces of both strewn across the road?

13. Movie stars used to keep their mouths shut when they weren’t on screen. They knew that they were getting paid to say lines that someone else had written, and that was it. Nobody cared what they had to say about politics or the environment. Who cared that Bruce Willis is a Republican and Clint Eastwood is Libertarian and Ben Affleck is Democrat and Michael Moore hates everything about America? Our only perceptions of screen stars were based on what roles they played. It used to be the only actor’s politics we knew were those of Ronald Reagan. We didn’t watch movies and think “That schmuck has his nose up Hugo Chavez’s ass” or “that guy has five planes” or anything else. They were screen stars, that was all, and that was enough.

14. There are too many movies, and too many auditoriums. I know it seems nuts. Here’s where I pop the Geritol and talk about the old days. I grew up in a town that had two theaters that were separated by about fifteen miles. The closer one had one auditorium. The other one had TWO (wow, I know). When a movie was going to come out, people had been waiting for it for months. When it got to that single-auditorium theatre it was there for weeks. People went more than once if they liked the movie. When they saw that another movie was coming to the theatre, they raced to get to see the movie one last time. When the movie run stopped, people talked about the film. “Did you see it? What did you think? Do you think there will be a sequel?” It was a big thing because maybe 15-20 movies a year came through that place. Once the movie was gone, you had to wait for years for it to come on TV. Where I grew up, lines for cable had not yet been laid so we had to wait for films to hit the networks or TBS.

Do you get it? Movies were a Big Deal. We weren’t saturated. We got to see something cool and were left waiting in anticipation of what the next film was going to be. We think about the buzz that’s created online for films, but nothing was as proportionately effective as people talking about that one movie they’re waiting for. Star Wars? I saw it four times at the Starlight Drive-In because I didn’t want it to go away.

Now there can be a dozen major studio flicks that come out per week. And you can see ALL of them. Half of them will be gone within two weeks. Who cares, though, when you know you can buy it on DVD in a month (I’m talking about your family films, Cuba Gooding, Jr)? Big stars were BIGGER because we only got to see a handful of movies in the theatre each year. Now it’s hard to have a long discussion of a film because the other person was waiting for the DVD and saw another movie instead.

I miss the feeling that movies were being made for US, the viewing public. I realize that it probably hasn’t been that way since the 1940s, but it now feels like the last vestiges of pretense are being stripped away. I want them to bring back suspension of disbelief. Pretend it’s all about me, and I’ll go along with it.

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5 Comments »

  • Brooke said:

    I agree with all the previews being a bit much and now they won’t let you skip through them.
    I have learned when you play a DVD press STOP, STOP, then PLAY and it will skip all the previews, works everytime!

  • Phantom Troublemaker said:

    Word booty!

  • Tina said:

    No matter how serious the movie, when a car runs off the road and immediately explodes, I always laugh my ass off. I’m especially sick of that one.

    And all the other stuff, but what do you expect from the sort of people who tweak movie plots and ratings and such according to “focus groups” and “market research.”

  • TheDedicatedOnanist said:

    Great piece Baldy, particularly your last comment.
    I am not real old, but I am old enough to remember when movies were true events.
    The theme of your last gripe is symptomatic of how commercialism and capitalism has and will continue to fail us, ensuring our lives are completely shalow and hollow.

  • Baldy (author) said:

    Brooke, thanks for the tip! I’m going to have to check that out.
    PT: Shibby, man.
    Tina: Love me some improbably absurb movie physics!
    Tennis Elbow: I appreciate it but I have to disagree regarding the sentiment. Without capitalism, there would be no movies. If not for capitalism, upon invention the technology would become property of the government and would only be used in government-approved projects. See Leni Riefenstahl, for example. Capitalism is the fuel that allows creative minds and brilliant storytellers to share their gifts with everyone else.

    Didn’t mean to get on a political rant, there. Still, because it is still something of an open market, things will balance out. When people tire of sitting through The Twenty and all of the nonsense that goes with it, they will force a change. People got sick of Blockbuster’s way of doing business, and now Blockbuster is imploding. It’s the Circle Of Life (cue music) . . .

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