Fire In An Empty Theater


We must be getting toward Oscar-contender season, because the latest round of globalization-ruined-the-movies stories has already begun. Tracking the lost soul of cinematic art this time around is Lynn Hirschberg of The New York Times. As these sorts of lamentations go, this one is pretty good, but the heart of the genre will always be in quotations like this one, from an anonymous, self-tormenting producer: "Our movies no longer reflect our culture… They have become gross, distorted exaggerations. And I think America is growing into those exaggerated images. My fear is that it's the tail wagging the dog—we write the part, and then we play the part."

Yeah, buddy, that whole future-of-the-nation thing? It's all about you.

I'll revert to my previous statement, to wit:

Counting all the small-budget pictures, independents, vanity projects where Gwyneth Paltrow (our generation's T.S. Eliot) speaks with an English accent, and so on, there are more dialogue-driven movies being made now than ever before.

Just so, cineastes in search of fancypants American film are by no means going hungry these days: Kinsey, I ? Huckabees, Tarnation, and the like are all playing at a theater not far from you. (I give no props to Garden State, which takes my home state's nickname in vain and whose self-infatuated writer/director/star is clearly just trying to be the Bud Cort of the aughts.)

Hirschberg sort of acknowledges this with some kind words for Fox Searchlight, but still manages to locate the bad news:

Thankfully, the so-called specialty divisions of the big studios still try to depict the prevailing mood of the country. But consider a specialty film like "Sideways," which is the best American movie I have seen this year: it has no international stars and no action, and because the film shifts in tone from comedy to drama in nearly every scene, it is not likely to be easily comprehended by a worldwide audience. As far as the big studios go, "Sideways" is essentially a foreign film made in America.

Isn't the real news here that Sideways (which I haven't seen though I'm a fan of Paul "Pig Vomit" Giamatti) is getting an intelligently graduated release, and is now viewable, for example, even in that American Fallujah known as Pleasantville, NJ?

Link courtesy of Arts & Letters Daily. Oscar® is a registered trademark of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.