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Wednesday, March 16, 2011

If Loving You Is Wrong, Well, I Don't Care. I Still Do. AKA Awesomely Bad

The world is a real horrorshow. And in times of feeling overwhelmed, I like to see movies that don't ask too much of me. My interest in film blossomed out of watching a lot of international/foreign-language cinema and drama. I watch a lot of films. 9 times out of 10 if the TV's on, it's tuned to a film. And the more films I see, the more I want to watch silly films, light films, charming films. The more I crave comedy. Counterbalance.

So, recently, I saw Beastly. Let me rephrase that. Recently, I paid money to see *Beastly*. The trailer looked like the gift of awful. I had hoped it would be a hilarious mini-mental vacation. And it was. *Beastly* was the sort of to-the-max all-around bad that mystifyingly passed every stage of production: from greenlighting to actual *theatrical* distribution. But that's one of the wonders of commerce. And somehow, ineptitude can be fun to watch. Like bumbling physical humor minus the physical.

In "honor" of my recent bad but funny encounter, I compiled a list of 10(ish) movies I love despite themselves. And I don't feel guilty about enjoying them.

Innocuous Awful, aka Bad But Fun1

1) National Treasure 1 & 2 - These were just on TV again recently. They are thin and borderline embarrassing. Even Harvey Keitel comes off as a cheeseball here. But it's a formula done with all the elements I can't help but enjoy: location-hopping mystery, puzzles and clues, unassuming cute sarcastic tech-geek straight man, flexible voice of reason scientist type, and hammy lead to amp up the camp factor. Nic Cage can be as over the top as he wants in these. It just makes them more fun to watch. These might be his only films of the last decade where I wish he'd turn it up even more.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

And Here's Where I Comment on "My" Films

Or films I've worked on that you may actually be able to find posted of me.
(As of 3/2011)

Personal assessment time

At some point, you've done all the work you can on a piece and can't do anything more. You accept it for what it is and move on. Like Michael Bay recently has with respect to Transformers. Sometimes things come out exactly how you wanted. And the results are great. Oftentimes they don't. Film is a collaborative art. For everyone to come out satisfied is a major feat.

To the audience, all that matters is the end result. Rightfully so. You want the wheel; you don't care how it was created. From the Creative's view, here's what I can personally offer on/to early filmmakers:

Monday, March 07, 2011

More Isn't Better. It's Just More.

Stop the presses: *Transformers 2* was bad. Michael Bay admits it.

WENN: Transformers was 'no good' Director admits

Just in time to promote the next installment in the *Transformers* franchise. --The NEXT installment.-- (This is where we collectively disregard that the last one was awful and the first one little better. =Capitalism operating on audience optimism.1)

For better or worse, I commend Michael Bay for stating what many will not. Fans and filmmakers alike. About their own work and that of others. [I've done this with mine here.] "That was cr*p. [...] It's a B.S. way to make a movie."

Quote of the Article has to go to Shia LaBeouf, however, and his "You lost a bit of the relationships. Unless you have those relationships, then the movie doesn't matter. Then it's just a bunch of robots fighting."

by Andrew Wippler
. . . Perhaps a memo got lost in the shuffle of shooting without a script, but I believe this *was* a Transformers movie. When I go to see Transformers, it's precisely to see big robots fighting. Not empty clichéd human backstory for cardboard cutout characters. Had the first one been heavier on the robots, lighter on . . . everything else, it would have been far less embarrassing.

Cutting To The Chase

If you decide to go ahead and make a movie where you aren't going to bother with character, why not take a page from Luc Besson's School of 5-minute plot set-up followed by 80 minutes of action à la *Taken*. Full of its own ridiculousness, Besson makes no pretense about what his film is: formula action needing minimal plot set-up. Daughter is kidnapped + Dad is former CIA = Dad goes in search of kidnapped daughter, i.e. Heads will roll.

Besson cuts to the heart of what his film is about (and what the viewer wants to see): badass hero setting bastards ablaze. Not down-trodden father with 30 minutes of weak human interest development. Not slow motion hot-girl car-washing scenes or silly eBay-user tracking plotlines or animal cracker on belly moments (yes, I liked Armageddon (I did), but that scene comes off awkward every time).

No bait and switch. No dillydallying. No showing a gun and never using it.

Context is king. As always.

Clash of the Titans
by Hans van Bentem
Exhibit *Clash of the Titans* (2010). COT couldn't entertain (me) even on a cheese level. I understand the why of the remake: bigger, grander, newer effects. Theme: Man on a mission. Man vs. God. But once you've reduced the premise of the original to a mere revenge plot, why then muddle the goal with a nonsensical, everpresent pseudo-love-interest demigod character and story? This isn't an Odyssey. This is a Clash of the Titans: a story where gods battle. That is what we want to see. Release the Kraken!

Trying to be everything to everyone often just comes off as convoluted. Pick one through-line and stick with it. Decide and accept who your audience is. 2010's *Clash of the Titans* tried to soften its chosen blind revenge angle with (a creepy) romance. The 1981 *Clash of the Titans* knew what is was doing in this respect. The Andromeda love story [unattainable and captive love] as motive was both a more sustainable character motivation and a clean way of including a romance (and pretty, young lovers) in an action film.

More isn't better. It's just more.
Why not focus and aim for enough?

"The man with insight enough to admit his limitations comes nearest to perfection." -Goethe

[6/21/12 Edit] 1 My optimism on this front ended with the first *Transformers*. I ventured no further than that. I can't even fathom that they made a second *Clash of the Titans* movie.