As the Oscar’s get moving, I’ll be writing or practicing piano; I haven’t seen all of the best picture nominees or films with best actor/director nominees so watching them seems pointless. What does excite me every year are the Razzie nominees, which they announce the same day as the Oscars;
This year Adam Sandler with 12 nods including worst actor, actress, writer and producer, crushed the previous record for number of nominations (5, by Eddie Murphy) for a dingle year. When Jack and Jill came out, living in New York and forced to be inundated with oversize posters where the human heads on them are sometimes five times the size of the real life version and airbrushed to the Alien Pudding Limit, I could feel the Shame Radiation emanating from the tree corpse turned into the paper forced to be used for this poster. Usually I try to actually see something horrid before getting angry for having two hours sucked from my life like the machine from Princess Bride minus the charm and wit of that film. For some reason, seeing this film even being released felt like a tipping point; I’m not certain a film like this would even get suggested, let alone made, thirty years ago.
I don’t believe in good old days; I don’t believe in looking back unless the future has a rear view mirror. Glorifying the past is an epidemic of the human mind. So I usually avoid saying film isn’t what it used to be or paved roads aren’t what they used to be or anal sex just wasn’t what it once was when Eisenhower was President, “There used to be good old fashioned quiet guilt and inner persecution.”
I will say, in film and maybe in other arts that the pendulum, the poor pendulum that used to swing back and forth in different directions but at the same general longitude of quality, is stuck on a piece of gum on a wall and hasn’t swung back towards the slower moving, calmer, soul-digging risky ventures of the 50’s-80’s; I realize there’s a lot of forgettable film made in those times also but I can’t help but notice, when watching a film like Some Came Running or Laura, the film noir classic, my inner heart-art muscle gets that good ache, as it reminds me of what it means to grapple from moment to moment with the sensibilities of being a mature, sophisticated adult in a world that wants to dehumanize that at times. The actor in Laura whose name eludes me was so present and the director so trusting of that presence not much cutting back and forth and Law and Order camera bouncy bouncy was needed, making the seemingly sparse camera movements all the more meaningful and noticeable without being awkward. Am I making sense here? When casually looking for a DP to film Frenemies a few months ago, most of the reels I saw were one, two or three second shots that bounced from one to the other like a frog on Snickers. I don’t know how to glean anything from two second shots spliced together; the other thing I noticed was eager over maneuvering for dramatic effect. As one who is familiar with forcing, trying too hard in art over the years, I know the look.
The same with music; sometimes I get the sense that music gets used to compensate for something not happening on the screen with/between/among the actors that should be; it happens more often than I’d like.
For me it all comes down to the acting and trust; a few months ago when I was with this modeling/acting agency briefly one of their modeling agents, a very successful and candid fellow, said that thirty years ago actors were hired on talent and today it’s looks; I imagine he was riffing off the CW; I’m not so fatalistic but that’s not what you want to hear from someone supposed to be getting you auditions, especially when I don’t have Taylor Lautner Abduction abs.
The question becomes was there a Jack and Jill equivalent released by a major studio during the 1950’s, the same year they released On the Waterfront? The pendulum that swings through the breadth of the human experience combined with the inner knowledge we now possess as we move through the 21st Century hopefully will create soul mad, exciting, Undertow Embracing, character and relationship saturated grappling of our human experience; I love good films and what’s more important I love films that touch that Inner Gnaw and leave me like my muscles feel when I leave the gym, alive in the most profound way.
Here’s to the Good New Days.