The Taste of the Midwest
I've been attending movies in the Wisconsin Film Festival all weekend and it's hard to express how disappointed I am so far. I went into the movies with an open mind, I didn't expect the technical aspects of the films or the acting to be up to par with a typical Hollywood production. However, I did expect that these independent filmmakers would create films with interesting narratives. How wrong I was. We would have been so much better off attending mostly documentaries, where, if the subject sounds interesting, the film will be too.
Now, I'm not here to slam all of the films. The Godfather of Green Bay was one of the funniest movies I've seen in years, and I'd encourage everyone to see it if it comes to a town near you. But, for the most part, the films I saw were a disappointment at best and a disaster at worst. For instance, last night we attended "Certain Women". The film is described like this:
The working class townspeople of Claremore are gossiping. Has Hilda become the Mayor's mistress to get away from her abusive father? Is 18-year-old Louellen sleeping with that travelling salesman? Is Clementine (Festival cofounder Wendi Weger) trying to corrupt the town's new pastor? Does Nannette serve more than coffee at the seedy all-night diner? Certain Women pays tribute to, but also defies, the 50s period style of Caldwell, opting for contemporary small-town situations and a low-tech cinematic style.
Sounds good, right? It might have been but for the poor cinematography, awful acting, cheesy dialogue and sex scenes that were even less arousing than those in "Eyes Wide Shut". This movie was so bad that at about the 45-minute point droves of people starting leaving the theater. We were among them. As we were leaving, a laughing volunteer for the film festival made damn sure that we were able to register our opinion of the film. I'd feel bad for the filmmaker, who was at the screening, but someone, at some point, should have told her that her film was a gigantic piece of crap.
People more liberal than me like to bemoan the state of Hollywood movies as a reflection of the bland tastes of non-coastal Americans. The idea is that for every silly blockbuster there are scores of great undiscovered films that will never see the light of day because unsophisticated Americans don't want to have to think while watching a movie. But, I think the actual truth is that Hollywood usually delivers the absolute best products (it's capitalism, baby!). For the most part, struggling filmmakers aren't struggling because they refuse to dumb down their vision for the masses. They're struggling because they just aren't good enough yet. Of course, it's much easier to blame your failures on the poor taste of others than it is to accept them as your own. Heh, that sounds just like the Democrats, doesn't it?
Call me an ignorant Midwesterner if you must, but let me just say that I'd so rather be seeing Beauty Shop with Queen Latifah today than yet another disappointing alternative feature.
Posted by at April 3, 2005 01:02 PM
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|# April 3rd, 2005 2:12 PM Daddy|
|The state of Hollywood movies is a relection of 2 things:
1) Executives who weren't good enough to be writers or directors, giving out "Mercedes notes" in story meetings, then re-editing the film (poorly) if it didn't test well.
2) The so-called bland taste of people WORLDWIDE. Hollywood isn't focused on middle America; it has a much broader focus. That's why there aren't so many pro-American films--they're concerned with the impact on foreign markets.
True, Hollywood makes a better product--but only by default.
|# April 3rd, 2005 2:13 PM Daddy|
|I just noticed "relection". Oi.
Anyhoo...anybody ever see "Gummo"? Worst. Movie. Ever. With the grosses bath scene ever.
|# April 4th, 2005 7:38 AM alvin_cross|
|The medium of film has been completely destroyed by the profit motive. Even "independent" film makers use equipment produced by evil corporations like Sony and Kellogg’s. Performance Art is the only visual medium that has not been corrupted, because no one wants to see it whatsoever.
One time I saw a 46 year old alcoholic dance naked around a tuba filled with gasoline and little torn up Polaroids of Bea Arthur. You're probably not sophisticated enough to see how brilliant it is.