It might be over-stating the case to say that Hollywood movies have become Infantilized…vacuous comic books on a big screen. Certainly there is still a pocket of adult themed films usually held back until December for award consideration as if to appease the cineastes. Today’s L.A. Times has an article about some “high-risk” projects soon to be released. Yet half of them are by European directors. Also available through Netflix streaming is a fine array of foreign films which have never found distribution here. Ample proof that the art of cinema is still alive....just not here.
But for the most part American studio films aim only at my senses which are numb after a few previews and my hormones that are already spent. Heart and head have to be parked outside. The crop of blockbusters that show in theaters are deleterious to my fragile well-being. They spook and snooze me at the same time.
On my no-watch list are those about zombies, vampires, sharks, dinosaurs and man-eating tomatoes. No ghouls or grotesqueries. I’m also averse to coming-of-age films in which the characters are 37 years old with arrested development at age eleven. I’m done with haunted houses on dark and stormy nights. I have no interest in watching ninety minutes of explosions, close-ups of carnage with body parts or car-chases through a market place destroying dozens of fruit stands and assorted human beings.
I don’t care if they love all this in China. They also eat dog and scorpion. They loved Jerry Lewis in France but I won’t hold that against them. There’s no accounting for taste. Of all the millions poured into film-making can’t one studio accommodate the aging boomers and parents of boomers? Are we, the chopped livers, not also a market?
The Brits know how to do it. All their world’s a stage. I’d rather watch Michael Kitchen grimace and twitch than Adam Sandler snicker and stare. European movies know what to leave out. They understand the power of the under-statement. They leave room for me to enter. Hollywood over-explains. Each scene foretells the next because it is formulaic.
I know that every story has already been told. But not quite in this way with those nuances by these actors. There is sufficient mystery in human relationships so one doesn’t need to introduce inter-galactic creatures invading our bloodstream with supernatural powers.
I’m aware that much of what was produced in bygone days was junk. But among the pablum were watchable films that didn’t rattle our sensory apparatus. The dream factory invented Noir. They sent our toes tapping with musicals. Capra defined Americana. Welles punctured it. The two Hepburns charmed us. Bogey hard-boiled us.
Now the covered wagons are gone and we are left adrift in the wasteland with a shuttered gate on the factory and broken windows. There is a speckled banana growing black in the fruit bowl. Stories are rotting, untold, behind this window, that off-ramp.