Okay, so, I am hearing from so many people that a person should just go to a film and just be entertained by the pretty colors. Sally said to me that she thinks that I overthink a film. Let me say without mercy that it is possible for cinema to be intelligent and be entertaining!
Christopher Nolan, a brilliant director, proved this point better than anybody else. His remake of the Batman genre had done something that nobody ever really thought possible- making Batman an engaging and smart series of film. Granted, it began that way when Tim Burton had had his brilliant mind attached to the series, but when it was taken away from him, it descended into stupidity. The characters became dry and pathetically cliche, and the plot became so over-the-top that it wasn’t even worth looking at. But when Nolan took the series into his hands, he applied a kind of brilliance that hasn’t been seen much. It was truly The Dark Knight which has taken audiences for a loop. The late Heath Ledger brought a character in a super-hero movie to life the way nobody thought possible.
Seriously, his Joker was possibly one of the greatest characters that I have ever seen. He took the comic to heart, when he created a character who was evil beyond all understood bounds. But the thing that made it the most creepy was the idea that such a character could exist in the world. I truly believe there are characters just as evil, who want nothing more than for the entire world to burn to the ground. It was a brilliant performance, and a fitting epitaph to Ledger, who truly was a great actor, and will be remembered for all time.
But you have films like Aeon Flux, which had Charlize Theron and Alice Krige, both of whom have won Academy Awards, in it. I earnestly have no idea why this is the case. This film was such an awful piece of shit that the earnest truth is that neither of these women, both of whom are good actresses, even great, should have been involved in this insult to a series that actually was pretty good. The original show was pretty interesting, and pretty engaging. The characters were interesting, and the plot was funny and creepy and interesting. That was the original series, however. The film was a piece of crap, just crap.
One diamond-in-the-rough in the world of intelligent cinema is Pixar Animation. This group has really come into their own in the last couple of years when it comes to making films that are supposed to capture the attention of both the young and the old. From the idea that the human race has grown complacent, and the love of two people so completely different in Wall-E, to the idea that even the tiniest person can be great and accomplish great things in Ratatouille. In the last couple of years, Pixar has really come into its own as a studio that makes intelligent films for both the young and the old.
Then you have films like Avatar, and I realize that I’ve kind of blown the horn about why this is such a terrible movie way too much, but I am making a point here. This film had so many opportunities to be something amazing. Instead, it turned into a bullshit cliche that was beautiful to look at, but about as engaging to the mind as a ham-sandwich. I actually did have a little hope for this movie because I have seen a lot of stuff by James Cameron that I actually liked. His film, The Abyss was pretty trippy. He also made the first Alien movie, which was creepy, engaging, and filled with twists and turns which always kept you guessing.
Also, I want to bring something that somebody brought to my attention to bear- the new Star Trek film was not about the pretty colors. The two main characters in this film, Kirk and Spock, were actually very engaging. They picked good people for this. For the role of Spock, they picked somebody who got his acting career off the ground by playing one of the most twisted and engaging characters, named Sylar, on the show Heroes. He was perfect for this role, and it was a break-out performance, showing that he could do many roles.
One film that has given me boatloads of hope for the future of intelligent cinema was The Social Network. This film was incredibly smart and incredibly witty. It was funny, engaging, and at the end, you even felt for the main character (spoiler alert!), as he “friended” his ex-girlfriend and kept refreshing the page, waiting to see how she would respond. And there wasn’t a single character in that film who was flat. Even Justin Timberlake did very good acting, and I didn’t honestly believe that was possible! But Jesse Eisenburg made that role come to life. His monologue to the lawyer about how much of his attention the lawyer had was inspired! Aaron Sorkin wrote the script for that film, and that’s the best thing that could have happened. His brilliant mind is just what that film needed, and it profitted on it.
So, here I am, thinking about the future of cinema. We have directors like Michael Bay, who can’t figure out that his movies suck, or whoever made that god-awful film Aeon Flux, and then we have people like Christopher Nolan, and Steven Spielberg, who can combine great effects with great stories and great characters. It doesn’t have to be one or the other. And when people start to think that it is all about the pretty colors, then we truly are lost as a country. We have been so stupified that we just say, “ohhhh, pretty!” That is a day that I never want to happen, for real!
Until next time, a quote,
“So, no, you don’t have my full attention! You have the bare minimum of my attention!” -Jesse Eisenburg, The Social Network