Sunday, August 08, 2010

Well, that will be something to look forward to then...

Robert Pattinson didn't find anything sexy about Uma Thurman in their new movie, "Bel Ami." "The sex scenes with [her] are kind of disturbing," the "Twilight" star reveals. But he can't blame Uma for the lack of steam. Explains Pattinson: "Her character, Madeleine, kind of uses sex as a sort of weapon, and my character thinks like an animal."

Can't wait.

A while ago, I had a discussion with someone about the entertainment business and how or whether it should be taken back a few stages to consider the moral impact of its products on society. I'm really not one to advocate making only the Sound of Music and the Song of Bernadette over and over again. My favourite film - in my opinion the greatest film ever made - is the Godfather. Gangster films are my favourite genre.

I don't think that entertainment, art, should be all sweetness and light. I don't think the approach of, say, EWTN and its endless soft-focus videos of flowers and bunnies and perpetual rosaries is really the answer. Entertainment, as we have come to use the word over the last 500 years or so, is supposed to reflect, and help us reflect on, real life. Macbeth is still a better play that R&J and at the end of the play that most people regard as the greatest in dramatic history since the Trojan Women, everyone dies, most of them violently.

I will quite cheefully sit through, say, John Carpenter's The Thing (but prefer the original), or any of the Aliens films, or any number of apocalyptic/monster/zombie explosion films (though I never saw the point of the teenage slasher flicks). WWII, Viet Nam, heck, anything involving soldiers (I admit that I even liked Troy). I am always up for some gratuitous violence, car chases, fight scenes, shoot-em-ups. My favourite director is still John Woo.

I like the stuff that explores the darker end of the human soul and the chronic idiocies of our modern civilisation. (Which is why Fight Club might be my runner-up after the Godfather). I have even identified myself as a conscious and systematic student of human evil...another word for a journalist. This stuff is worth making movies and TV shows about.

But I am not the only person who prefers all sorts of blood and guts to a hideous thing like The Talented Mr. Ripley, a film that you could not pay me to sit through again. A film that even mentioning gives me the willies.

It might be difficult to find anyone who, when cornered, would honestly say that the nihilism and despair of the post-modern entertainment world has had a positive effect on people.

Can this trend be stopped? Should it be stopped?

Most people in the theatre seats aren't nihilists. Don't want to see films in which awful people do awful things in an awful world where nothing has any meaning. Indeed, in many countries, most of the people in the theatre seats are at least nominal or cultural Christians and get kind of down when the Judeo-Christian moral code is mocked or denied. Even if subconsciously.

But the entertainment industry seems to be in a little world all its own. I always thought that the bottom line was really, you know, the bottom line in these multi-gajillion dollar businesses. But I guess when you're that rich already, you start to have other priorities, agendas. To think of other things.

And they all seem to be bad things.

Should we just be letting this whole generation of sex/death maniacs finish up while we ignore them and keep downloading old black and white films until the regime change? Is there going to be a regime change?

Do we have the power to shift the focus?

Where should it be shifted to?

Is it the job of entertainment to fix society? Is it not, perhaps, a case of getting what we deserve? That we have so corrupted our society that our entertainment industry is simply showing us ourselves? Is it merely a kind of mirror in which we don't like what we see?

I'm really asking.



Gregory said...

I cannot answer your question, or at least not in the combox. I can tell you, though, that I wholeheartedly share your opinion that the Talented Mr. Ripley was one of the most odious and repugnant films ever made. (The book was a completely different story, btw.) I can tell you that the expression on JB's face when it ended was one of the funniest things I have ever seen in my life.

Go see Inception, if the Italians ever get arouond to showing it. A stunning, magnificent film.

Anonymous said...

Also, FWIW, after struggling with my reaction, I have concluded that the new Tilda Swinton "I Am Love" is good enough art that (regardless of what the filmmakers intended) it is not nihilistic, it is The Wages of Sin, in technicolor. Be sure and stay for the credits.