Why pay to be depressed at the movies? The
Oscar voters might accidentally honour David Lynch for Mulholland
Drive but only because in their befuddled brains it actually made
is certainly the case that the most watchable films for 2001 were
not made in America by the major studios.
The Golden Globes were announced yesterday. Prizes for the best
films and performances of 2001. The snag is, we havent seen
almost half of the films honoured as they have not opened in the
UK and of course since we are a year behind the USA with their TV
shows, we havent seen the episodes so honoured. I beleive
they have already been seen in Cape Town, Timbuktu, but not London
Mind our own Hackwriter Yvette Barnett reports is 'brilliant and
made her cry', but the premise of a sexist mathematician becoming a
schizophrenic and coming up with game theory for the Rand Corporation
doesnt quite grab my imagination, no matter how good Mr Crowe
is. The trailer looked sharp and it's always good to see Ed Harris there.
but maybe I just don't want to cry right now. I note that although In
the Bedroom won a Golden Globe award as well and is just about
to open here. It is another film about family life, boy dating girl
from the wrong side of town that looks thoroughly depressing, no matter
how great Sissy Spacek and Marisa Tomei are in it. So utterly depressing
is the best foreign movie, the Croatian No Mans Land.
They could and should have chosen Amelie but no one gives
prizes for happy movies apparently. Better luck for that
film in the Oscars. Just as 'Ocean's Eleven' is fun and harks back to
a different era, it wouldn't win an award because well you just aren't
allowed to have fun and hark these days.
I note that Jim Broadbent won a best supporting actor for Iris
which has just opened here and this is another bleak depressing story
about the disintegration of a famous writers personality.
I was very happy that 'Moulin Rouge' won a prize, thoroughly deserved
because it at least has passion and verve and has completely reinvented
the musical. I would have liked to have seen The Royal Tenenbaums
but that hasnt opened here either. Gene Hackman gives a great
performance we are told but
And that brings me to the point, as aspirant screenwriters you can trot
along to British Screen, the Film Council and any lectures by film makers
and they will go on about the audience and how the Americans
will only make films that target 18 year olds. Clearly this is a load
of balls. Perhaps this was true twenty years ago but films are made
for the potential awards now, bugger the 'audience'. What sells is disease,
madness, agony and pain and getting through it.
Right now we have American financed films such as Fred Schepsis
Last Orders about some old blokes down the pub celebrating
the wasted life of one of their drinking pals the
audience for this vehicle starring Michael Caine, Helen Mirren, Bob
Hoskins and others is what? 70 plus. Who the hell wants to watch old
blokes boozing and shouting and not even being as funny as Alf Garnett.
The same went for the long disappeared 'Strictly Sinatra'. Dull, depressing,
anti-audience. ' Rat Race' might appeal to someone who misses 'Death
Race 2000', or Burt Reynolds movies, but few others. Is no one asking
about audience at all? There certainly isn't one in the cinema.
'A Beautiful Mind is directed by Ron Howard, so right away you
know it has a happy ending and lots of hugging by tearful men in it.
Yes yes, this is why it wins awards, but no, Ive seen Good
Will Hunting, one maths film is enough for me. (Yet
I know that Carine will want to see it and drag me along so she can
cry and then get cross with me for being so unmoved).
Alzheimers disease is awful and I hopeand pray I never get it,
but persuade anyone under 24 to see Iris?' other than devoted
Kate Winslet and Judi Dench fans? Girlfriends will have to work very
hard to get their blokes into the cinema for this - but no doubt like
me they will be dragooned.
You might argue that these same arguments would militate against me
going to see Robert Altmans latest movie Gosford Park,
winner of Best Director at the Golden Globes, but you would be mistaken.
Despite the awful, excesses of Dr T and the Women his last
film, Gosford Park has the witty and sarcastic Maggie Smith
in it and from all else meanness and biting bitchiness will ensue. It
will be funny and that counts a lot. There just isnt enough funny
Cynically we know that the reason Miramax and others jump onto the lets
make a depressing movie about a mental or physical disease chopping
down someone famous life is because historically it wins awards.
Nevertheless I dont want to see these films and thus I feel culturally
disconnected. Of course the voters at the Golden Globes are the overseas
critics based in LA and they obviously have their own agenda. You know
they will be far too cynical to give Harry Potter an award
and too cowardly to give the excellent Ghost World anything
for fear of condoning Steve Buscemis character in the film. There
are so many films that could have been rewarded but are excluded because
there can only be one Best Foreign Film. It is certainly
the case that the most watchable films for 2001 were not made in America
by the major studios. Nevertheless, come the Oscars, where the average
person with a vote is already suffering from cancer or alzhimers, you
know A Beautiful Mind and Iris has been made
just for them. .
The Oscar members might accidentally honour David Lynch for Mulholland
Drive but only because in their befuddled brains it actually made
I also dont want to see Black Hawk Down, not because
it is a boys movie about violence in Somalia, but because it most likely
will not give a moments glance at the Somali point of view. Yes they
were vicious warlords and life is short, stupid and dangerous there,
but seeing as a thousand Somalis died in this operation, I think they
feel quite differently about the subject than the US financiers and
politicians. For the same reason you can keep Behind Enemy Lines.
Just another bombastic film about more American heroes and nasty Europeans
getting in their way.
So, what will I see? Well I am looking forward to Monsoon Wedding
if it ever escapes London and finds it way to the multiplexes. (Otherwise
I have to justify spending £15 on a train and £9 on a ticket
to see it, plus £4.35p for a coffee and sticky bun at Starbucks
almost every movie I see costs around £30 or more to see
so it has to be worth it. This is the problem of living outside London
and cinema going in general).
The Royal Tenebaums will be a must, Rushmore
his last film being so good. I suppose Vanilla Sky but advance
word isnt good on this, although it is one of the best trailers
Ive seen since Scooby Doo (Im serious). The
curse of Penelope Cruz will bring any movie down. She was good in Jamon
Jamon, but that is it. Of course Monsters, Inc,
looks great and Oceans Eleven has to be fun. At least no
one is going to be dying of cancer in that one.
With luck there will be a good French thriller to tide me over between
and some independent film from China or Japan or somewhere where you
learn something and watch something beautiful. Last years In
the Mood For Love was a revelation and one hopes something like
will turn up.
I hear good things about The Glass House opening next week.
And although I also hear that the Shipping News isnt
a patch on the book, I will probably go to watch Kevin Spacey in that
and K-Pax when they finally arrive.
Other films that look interesting for 2002 but we await release are
Steve Martin in 'Novocaine', John Woo's 'Windtalkers', with Nicolas
Cage, the Butterworths 'Birthday Girl' with Nicole Kidman, 'The Business
of Strangers' with Stockard Channing and Julia Stiles. 'The Emporer's
New Clothes with Ian Holm doing his Napoleon again should be amusing.
Perhaps Mike Figgis with 'Hotel ', and from Japan 'Warm Water under
a Red Bridge' will be refreshing and 'new'. From France (although I
have seen it) the arresting Betty Fisher will surprise people. It starts
strangely and and makes you uncomfortable, then from out of nowhere
becomes a comedy. 'Time Out' from, Laurent Cantent looks worth waiting
for as well.
So, maybe I am not culturally deprived after all, perhaps it is just
around award time the drizzle of depressing films is unleashed to empty
the cinemas whilst they redecorate or something. Meanwhile, whilst you
go and see Lord of the Rings for the tenth time (just to
make sure Sean Bean is really dead), join me in a rebellion. This year
skip the poignant human dramas about disease and the like and leave
them for Eastenders or Emmerdale storylines; or novels, such as Johnathan
Franzens The Corrections, this brilliant but depressing
genre is just getting out of hand.
Let 2002 be about the reinvention of cinema and entertainment.
And may this be the last year of the British Gangster movie. Surely
there has been enough now. 'Lava' and the awful 'Shooters' opening this
very week to uniform terrible reviews.
* Oh yes, if you want a decent soundtrack as opposed to the actual film
buy Spy Game soundtrack. 90 minutes of experimental
material and quite thrilling music. Pity about the film, but you cant
win them all hey.
© Sam North
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