Hollywood Drowns in Its Own Crap, Vanishes. News at Eleven.
by James Killough
I didn’t watch the Golden Globes last night, not only because I don’t have a TV, but because Tuttle and I had something of a PFC editorial meeting about this blog’s new format, after which Kimball and ten others come over for a potluck dinner. I believe I drank three bottles of wine, so if I sound as unfunny and needlessly venomous as Ricky Gervais in this piece, you know why.
We did half-heartedly keep up to date with the awards via a live blog from the Guardian on my laptop, but nobody was really interested. I barked out winners every now and then to almost zero interest, which is notable because we were in Hollywood and half the party was involved in The Business to one degree or the other—okay, one guy shoots porn. Details.
“Madonna won,” Tuttle said at a certain point, looking at his smartphone.
“Why that self-important cow!” exclaimed another guest before she launched into a personal anecdote that sounded much like every other personal anecdote about Madonna I’ve ever heard.
At this point I can’t help but admire Our Madge, mainly because she is moving into my particular Battle of the Somme: directing. That and I tend to root for the underdog, and she is someone everyone seems to love to hate. I’d probably get along with her; taming talented dragons is something of a specialization of mine, until I get bored with the bad behavior and wander off to the next Quixotic quest.
I have yet to see Madonna’s W.E., but I hear it’s very beautiful, so maybe Kimball and I will review it in the upcoming weeks. Madonna has also been quoted as saying that “it was not fun to make.” Indeed, directing can be a painful process that can turn your life upside down, inside out if you let it. What broke me out of that mold was talking to a colleague of Gus van Sant’s, who listened to my handwringing for a few minutes before saying, “Look, it’s very rare to get the opportunity to direct no matter who you are. So just enjoy it.” And I have ever since.
A producer friend summed up my sentiments about The Artist the other day, which won the Globe for Best Musical or Comedy Picture: “Did you see it? I was, like, it’s okay. Meh. What’s all the fuss about?” I suppose the fuss should be that it’s not complete cack, like almost everything we have seen on the big screen this year.
The same guest from last night’s party who barked out her opinion about Madonna said, “Whoever the publicist on The Artist is should be given an Oscar,” for manufacturing such a to-do over nothing.
“Harvey Weinstein,” I replied. It looks like Harvey is definitely back in the game after a Herculean fat-boy struggle over the past few years wrangling financing, restructuring his company, producing flop after flop, and trying to buy back Miramax. I wish him extra pepperoni and cheese on a large pie at the Oscars.
If I hear anyone praise The Descendants, I become like Inspector Clouseau from the Pink Panther parrying an attack from his sidekick, Cato, by launching himself midair across the living room in a karate kick, which sends him crashing through the wall into the next room. How anyone can film Hawaii so indifferently is a special talent of Alexander Payne’s. And it’s a pity you can’t see my impersonation of Clooney’s Globe-winning performance, in which I bug my eyes out and drop my jaw open, and that’s it. Here, I’ve found a pic:
Brad Pitt’s turn in Moneyball is far more impressive. For once, I forgot that I was watching Brad Pitt, and that is a benchmark all movie stars should aim to hit, which is why Streep is so consistently successful.
I haven’t seen Iron Lady yet, but I’ll be reviewing it this week with Kimball. We’re going to save ourselves some money and watch an Academy screener over at his place and vlog from different rooms. But I know I’m probably going to enjoy it, if only because Streep is such a genuine, rare talent. I almost feel guilty not paying to see her performance because that is what you should spend money on, not something like The Descendants, which could just as well be a premium cable movie of the week.
In an article in The Wrap entitled What Ails Hollywood, non-crap producer Mike Medavoy (Black Swan) said,
The decision to rely on remakes and sequels at higher costs either makes people feel that they have seen a movie and can either wait and see it on the after-market, or miss it all together. Fresh and different helps in the long and short term. It finally comes down to picking the right films and at the right cost — not by bankers, but by a combination of people who love movies and know talent, story, and character…
In other words, content is king. Original, quality content to be precise. Applying Hollywood watchdog Nikki Finke’s catchphrase “Don’t bore me” would be appropriate to what audiences are feeling towards the studios and even the independents: You bitches raised ticket prices a whopping eight percent the past year alone, and you’re serving up weaker drek than ever. And you expect to be compensated?
As I’ve said before—and this is something none of the Hollywood pundits in The Wrap article mention—people will always go to the movies: it’s still a cheap way for mom and dad to shut the kids up for a few hours and get out of the house, and it will always be part of a mating ritual for ninety-nine-percenter couples who can’t afford live performances, or simply don’t have access to them regardless of economic circumstances.
Despite my inclination to go on strike and not even comment on the awards season this year because of the astounding mediocrity in the running, I am going to limp along with it grudgingly, whining all the way by writing posts like this, reviewing as many of the contenders as I can. As sappy as it sounds, film is my passion, my vocation, something I am willing to suffer a great deal for, so if I smack my peers around bare-knuckled and it gets bloody, just see it as a healthy dollop of tough love.
However, no doubt Hollywood will remain deaf to the barrages of critics like me; if our guest thought Madonna self-important, hanging around with studio executives or agents from the bigger talent companies would take her breath away. It will be business as usual in Hollywood until there is nearly no business left, which is the point when socks will get pulled up, and a new wave will come in to shake things up. And that’s one wave I intend to be around to catch.
I leave you with the best moment from the Golden Globes, brought to you by my true evil twin, John Wood the Plumber. Oh, to be Gaysian. Maybe next lifetime: