Tuesday, June 13, 2006

small non-contribution

The Sci-Fi channel had a 4 hour 2005 remake of The Poseidon Adventure on last night. This confused me a bit until I looked it up online and realized that for whatever reason, there was last year's remake and the 2006 big screen remake, Poseidon. It seems like overkill to me. Maybe in 2007 there can be a third remake - perhaps an animated version for the kids. Miyazaki could do a decent version, complete with supernatural demons that cause the 150 ft. tidal wave and ghosts that blow holes in the hull. (Hayao Miyazaki has created such animated features as "Kiki's Delivery Service", "Castle in the Sky", "Spirited Away", and others).

But the real question is "did we need two new versions of the 1972 movie in the first place?" There is so much dissertation on big-budget movies and blockbuster hits coming out of Hollywood that I'm not going to add to that linguistic noise here.

I really don't care how Hollywood spends it's money. Either they'll keep investing large sums of money on movies that tank or they won't. But the more money they lose, the more likely they are to listen to the consumer. Capitalism works well for the movie-goer in that one has a pretty strong voice long range in what will be churned out of the movie mill, if said movie-goer gets savvy enough to relize that it will take a few years, considering the length of time it takes to get a movie made in the first place.

Getting back to that 2005 Poseidon disaster flick, I mentioned that it was 4 hours long. That's long enough for me to have ignored it long before anything "disastrous" happened. The actual Titanic sank in less time than that. There was so much space filler and needless dialogue complete with pregnant pauses that were too pregnant that the disaster flick became funny in the idiotic sense.

This actually - and finally - brings me to a point.

Some years back in college I wrote a script for a class that would best be classified as a drama. And it was well-received, overall. My friends and classmates clamored for the ending, which I never gave them. (The assignment did not include classroom completion of the script, only the first hour of it). I got a lot of angered insistence that they know the ending. Now let me set the stage for you:

It was about a twelve year old girl and her 27-yr. old father. Her mother, who would've been 26, had committed suicide some years before, and her father had become an alcoholic and blamed the girl for the death of her mother, and pretty much everything else. He was abusive and controlling. The plot consisted of him pushing her and pushing her until she either became cowed and broken or took control of her life. Well, I don't write weak characters with this kind of opportunity to make a statement about self-preservation and overcoming adversity. So the final question remained "how did she save herself?" I'm not going to answer it for you here, should I actually decide to finish the script or change it into a piece of prose. (Sorry, D___, but you still have to wait....)

Let me say again, it was a well-received script. But it was never going to be made into a movie. Why? I held back NO punches. When there was abuse, it was real, and it was raw. When there were tears, there was blood with it. And there was NO comic relief. I rarely gave the audience a chance to catch their breath, and one comment that was given to me recurringly was "I felt I was suffocating under the weight of this piece. I didn't mind, because it was so well presented, but I didn't get a break from the storyline." Well, neither did my main character.

There was not one needless scene, not one unnecessary word, and nothing that was simply a plot device or a gimmick to move the plot along. It was hard to take, I'll admit. But it was - and still is - worthy because of all of that. It remains my one piece of prose I'm truly proud of.

My biggest gripe about recent movie releases is that I feel I waste my money to get dialogue filler, pointless scenes, and special effects for effects' purpose only. And I'm fantastic at suspending my disbelief for a couple of hours and giving the director the opportunity to sell their "world" to me.

At the end of the movie, more times than not, I leave feeling unfulfilled and agitated. Character development isn't a big requirement in big-budget action flicks or disaster movies. Storyline is negligible and quickly sacrificed, and many times the cutting room floor finds more of the plot than the finished product does. The movie mill churns out mediocre work much of the time and sells it to us (the savvy consumer) for $8.50 a ticket. I frequently wait for the DVD and rent it for $3.49 for two days. My small non-contribution probably won't make any waves at the studios, but then again, as others come to see the logic of my ways, maybe it will -- long term. And I can wait.

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