On Movies or, well, not.

This post is inspired by a friend of mine asking me why I don’t go to movie theaters much and rarely, if at all, turn on the television.

Truthfully, the shows that attract me to the television are very few in number, and movies with me are a huge hit-and-miss. Not to say that I don’t want to see Inception, but I’m still rather hard-pressed to go out for that one.

There have been some trends in movies lately that I am not quite a fan of.

The latest trend, and one that I’ve been observing steadily, is that of what I call the brainless comedy. Comedies have gone from slightly intellectual/heartwarming, to just plain stupid. Perhaps it’s just me, but I see precious little appeal in a movie like Stepbrothers or anything that even remotely features Will Ferrell. Now, I’m seeing the subways plastered with Dinner for Schmucks, and a little research tells me that it’s a remake of The Dinner Game, wherein the prize goes to the person who brings the biggest idiot for dinner.

Considering the Will Ferrell trend, this cannot bode well. I think that a witty – truly witty – comedy is a forgotten art.

OK, I will admit, I shouldn’t find CSI funny and normally I do not, but the episode You Kill Me – wherein a lab tech devises a CSI-themed board game – was hilarious. It was well-plotted, well-engineered, kept in tune with the series and nonetheless, was a moment of amusement, which takes away from the general somber tone of the show. Really, what’s wrong with that as an approach to film, rather than what boils down to overgrown bathroom humor?

The other trend is compressing events in history and overdramatizing them. The Other Boleyn Girl is a good book. Key word, book. Philippa Gregory knows how to write and did a good job of fictionizing the details of what was already reported by historians. I want to know what the hell Hollywood was thinking by compressing a near-500-page novel into a two-hour film. None of the historic attitudes of the people were remotely portrayed in the film. None of the private Anne/Mary discussions that were very well-done in the book were shown. Nothing about the sisters’ spat when Mary married without permission for the second time. Instead, it’s been reduced to a plotless costume drama, wherein the events of history are glued together only by the actors and by the fact that this did take place and Anne Boleyn was the first English queen executed.

I mean, hell, The Tudors TV series is also badly flawed historically, but at the very least it attempted to show the interpersonal details. Maria Doyle Kennedy’s Catherine of Aragon was wonderfully portrayed, steady in contrast to Henry VIII’s outtakes. And as an aside, I should mention offhand that each and every film/TV portrayal of Catherine of Aragon is flawed: in reality, Catherine was a short redhead, seeing as she’s a descendant of the Gaunt family of England.

However, I digress.

So far, I’ve seen very few movies that attracted me to the theaters, not just because of the aforementioned. It seems as though the top-grossing movies are either building on concepts that have been done before, taking the “untold story” approach, or are the adaptations of novels. The last I actually enjoy more than most; I’ve seen every Harry Potter film. The fact that Twilight seems to be one of the higher-grossing films shows that novel adaptation works as an idea – my opinion of the series is aside here. But it seems that, with every release date, the originalities of movies are dwindling rapidly. That is dismaying, especially considering that there are many independent writers – novel and screen alike – that would work phenomenally well if adapted to the silver screen.

This goes right along with what I said about independent authors: try them out. Just because they don’t have Penguin Books, or Simon & Schuster, or Little, Brown & Company behind them does not at all mean that they’re not good. Some of the best works I read were by people whose bylines never saw official print.

Personally, I’m developing quite a fondness for foreign films – and yes, novel adaptations are top of the list. I rented the subtitled The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo on iTunes (Swedish film), and loved it. Noomi Rapace’s portrayal of Lisbeth Salander is a career-maker, and if you didn’t read the book, do. I will say, it is NOT an easy read, especially if you had traumatic experiences in the past, but one of the best plotlines I’ve seen in a long time.

Until next time…and I’ll see if I can see Inception on Sunday, provided I’m not completely shattered from all the music I’m seeing this week…

K.G.

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