In which a group of graying eternal amateurs discuss their passions, interests and obsessions, among them: movies, art, politics, evolutionary biology, taxes, writing, computers, these kids these days, and lousy educations.

E-Mail Donald
Demographer, recovering sociologist, and arts buff

E-Mail Fenster
College administrator and arts buff

E-Mail Francis
Architectural historian and arts buff

E-Mail Friedrich
Entrepreneur and arts buff
E-Mail Michael
Media flunky and arts buff


We assume it's OK to quote emailers by name.







Try Advanced Search


  1. Seattle Squeeze: New Urban Living
  2. Checking In
  3. Ben Aronson's Representational Abstractions
  4. Rock is ... Forever?
  5. We Need the Arts: A Sob Story
  6. Form Following (Commercial) Function
  7. Two Humorous Items from the Financial Crisis
  8. Ken Auster of the Kute Kaptions
  9. What Might Representational Painters Paint?
  10. In The Times ...


CultureBlogs
Sasha Castel
AC Douglas
Out of Lascaux
The Ambler
PhilosoBlog
Modern Art Notes
Cranky Professor
Mike Snider on Poetry
Silliman on Poetry
Felix Salmon
Gregdotorg
BookSlut
Polly Frost
Polly and Ray's Forum
Cronaca
Plep
Stumbling Tongue
Brian's Culture Blog
Banana Oil
Scourge of Modernism
Visible Darkness
Seablogger
Thomas Hobbs
Blog Lodge
Leibman Theory
Goliard Dream
Third Level Digression
Here Inside
My Stupid Dog
W.J. Duquette


Politics, Education, and Economics Blogs
Andrew Sullivan
The Corner at National Review
Steve Sailer
Samizdata
Junius
Joanne Jacobs
CalPundit
Natalie Solent
A Libertarian Parent in the Countryside
Rational Parenting
Public Interest.co.uk
Colby Cosh
View from the Right
Pejman Pundit
Spleenville
God of the Machine
One Good Turn
CinderellaBloggerfella
Liberty Log
Daily Pundit
InstaPundit
MindFloss
Catallaxy Files
Greatest Jeneration
Glenn Frazier
Jane Galt
Jim Miller
Limbic Nutrition
Innocents Abroad
Chicago Boyz
James Lileks
Cybrarian at Large
Hello Bloggy!
Setting the World to Rights
Travelling Shoes


Miscellaneous
Redwood Dragon
IMAO
The Invisible Hand
ScrappleFace
Daze Reader
Lynn Sislo
The Fat Guy
Jon Walz

Links


Our Last 50 Referrers







« A Visit to the Land of the Optimists | Main | Timothy Taylor »

March 30, 2004

Squaresville Can Be Good

Dear Friedrich --

Last night, I watched the Wolfgang Petersen/Clint Eastwood thriller In the Line of Fire for the first time since it was released in 1993. Have you seen it? I think it's terrific. I can't say enough good about Jeff Maguire's brilliant script; about the slammin' (though calm) direction and filmmaking of Petersen and his crew; about the superduper, unanxious-seeming performances, even from Clint. And as the rogue-weirdo baddie, John Malkovich added a lot of spice; this was an early version of his virtuosically creepy thing, and it was still startling. Efficient big-budget suspense, but with enough room for character and color. (I notice, by the way, that Jeff Maguire's only produced screenplay since 1993 was last year's bomb, "Timeline." What a business, eh?)

Watching the movie got me thinking about how fond I can be of big squaresville movies … about how rare the good ones are … and finally about how odd it is that Hollywood creates so very few of them. These days, the industry seems to want most of its product to have attitude or edge, or to be conceptual, ironic or hip (in no matter how dippy, inessential or meaningless a way) -- to be anything but a square-shooting, dignified production that wears its straight-ahead competence proudly.

How strange it is that the moviebiz's establishment makes so few such movies. Curious about this, I started compiling a list of recent-ish movies that are solidly entertaining; have well-turned, 3-act scripts; that feature stars confidently deploying skills and charisma; that have convincing direction in a new yet classical style … Nothing rock video-ish, nothing indie or Lynch-esque, nothing "personal," no CGI spectacles or New Age romances, no new-style overproduced exploitation flicks, no computer animation … Just squaresville -- but rewarding! -- Hollywood.

OK: "In the Line of Fire." "The Fugitive." The Gillian Armstrong version of "Little Women." The first of the "Die Hard" movies.

And then I started coming up short. Do I include the first "Terminator"? How about the Jonathan Mostow movies, "U-571" and "Breakdown"? Or the fabulous "Mimic," or "Devil in a Blue Dress"? "My Best Friend's Wedding" struck me as the most original of the recent romantic comedies, and the Drew Barrymore dramedy "Home Fries" was pleasingly bittersweet …

But I wonder. The first of these are really B-movie pleasures, and the two chickflicks are hip, post-'70s-esque things. So I suspect that none of them really belong. This is obviously a far from complete list, and I'm eager for help here. Might the Coppola version of that Grisham novel qualify? How about "Falling Down"? Both were solid entertainments. I'm probably forgetting many other likely candidates.

In any case, thinking about all this led me to a Larger Thought, or at least a Larger Musing. It's about authority. Let's say that Hollywood is the movieworld's authority figure. That seems plausible -- in a world of foreign flicks and indieflicks, of this and thatflicks, Hollywood is everyone's mama and papa. Didn't Bertolucci once refer to the town as "the Big Nipple"?

How odd it is that such a creature so seldom creates authoritative entertainment, no? But isn't this part of a more general gestalt, an American cosmos in which many of our authority figures refuse to act like authority figures? Instead, they want to be taken as irreverent and friendly -- just like the rest of us, if infinitely more successful.

How do you feel about this? I'm a downtown guy with tons of avant-garde tastes and pleasures, but where authority figures are concerned, I'm happiest when they act like authority figures; I don't want my boss to act like my friend, for instance. Loose and informal, sure, but respectful -- that suits me. (I'm not making an argument here, or advocating it as a Good Thing, by the way; I'm just taking note of my own tastes and preferences.) And I find it annoying that one of the characteristics of the new-style standard-issue hierarchy is that so many of the people at the top refuse to assume direct responsibility for their positions and their power.

I haven't got kids and I'm no one's boss on the job, so I don't have many opportunities in life to play Authority Figure myself. I wonder how I'd do if I had the chance. You, on the other hand, have kids and are an on-the-job boss; you aren't just a pissed-off arty college student any longer. What style would you say you've evolved to express Authority?

Judging by my very peculiar NYC circles, there seem to be an awful lot of parents around who are determined not to play traditional parent, as in "take responsibility for guiding, training and raising the children." Did I tell you about the moment I witnessed the other day? There was a young-ish father with his just-older-than-toddler son. The son babbled something loud and incomprehensible. The father's response: "Say what, dude?" In NYC, come to think of it, there are a lot of families that are ruled, in fact bossed, by the children -- an awful sight.

Anyway. A few questions: any nominees for proud, well-done, enjoyable establishment-style movies? (Let's say from the mid-80s on.) And your thoughts about the new-style, non-authority authority figures?

Best,

Michael

posted by Michael at March 30, 2004




Comments

Well, LOTR will be a family favorite for a hundred years, but too much special effects and not enough romance, I suppose. But Louis Mayer I think would like it.

Four Feathers was done recently, tho not very well.

And there is stuff coming out of Hong Kong and Bollywood. I am not sure what you mean, will think on this some more.

Posted by: bob mcmanus on March 30, 2004 4:27 AM



I think Tom Cruise delivered a few movies like what you describe: "A Few Good Men" and "The Firm". Also, on a different track "Sense and Sensibility." Actually, I may be alone here, but I thought Kevin Bacon and Meryl Streep in "The River Wild" (where he's a psycho) were pretty good straight-up old style Hollywood. Maybe "Appollo 13"? "The Last of the Mohicans"? "Father of the Bride"? "Gladiator"? "Bull Durham"? "Shakespeare in Love"?

Posted by: annette on March 30, 2004 4:57 AM



Oh--and "The Untouchables." And maybe "The Client". Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones are two throwback stars.

Posted by: annette on March 30, 2004 5:01 AM



Off the top of one's head:

Midnight Run

Midnight Sting (I believe it was called 'Diggsville' or 'Diggstown' or something in the US)

LA Confidential

Copland

The Specialist (a Michael Blowhard fave I believe)

Con Air

The Mark of Zorro

The Sixth Sense


and my prediction for the next great Hollywood movie: the next Harry Potter

Posted by: Adrian Hyland on March 30, 2004 5:42 AM



Hidalgo and Seabiscuit are the two I've seen recently. A River Runs Thru It is another.

Posted by: Deb on March 30, 2004 7:06 AM



What, nobody else sees themselves as authority figures, or wants to comment on what it's like to play authority figure?

Hmmm, what to say about being an authority figure? It seems to me that to be a good one (and I've run into very few) requires being upfront and honest about power relationships, which is by no means easy. Telling people "this is what I demand from you, and this is what I will punish if I find it" is not a position many people articulate well, at least in our society. Maybe it's all too Biblical or something. Think of the Roman general in "Ben-Hur" when he addresses the galley slaves at their oars before a naval battle as they are being chained to their benches: "Row well and live"--how many people identify with him? And yet people pine for such figures. It's almost as though authority figures are 'designated embodiers' of qualities people generally aren't comfortable with, or which society discourages the expression of, or something. You want your boss to be, frankly, greedy--unless your organization gets more profitable, you won't get a raise. (You want your parent to be pretty much the same way, as long as they share with you.) You want them to be demanding, Type A personalities ("I want things done my way and I want them done now.") You want them to take risks and push things to a conclusion...if only, I suppose, so you don't have to do those things.

Obviously,the opportunities for abuse of position by authority figures are legion, and I have long maintained that the logical outcome of that is that everyone needs to develop their 'inner authority figure.' (In short, people need to, er, grow up and stop expecting other people to parent them.) Until that happens, however, we'll have to keep pushing individuals among us into such positions and hoping they can deliver.

Posted by: Friedrich von Blowhard on March 30, 2004 8:36 AM



My wife and I went to see the latest movie version of The Count of Monte Cristo maybe three years ago. When we walked out of the theater, we looked at each other, puzzled. It wasn't a really good movie, but it was startlingly "straight." There were no ironic in-jokes, no campiness, no sophisticated anachronisms... It was just a nineteenth-century novel told in a nineteenth-century way.

It must be weird to be a kid today and see nothing but ironic versions of story-types you've rarely seen presented sincerely.

Posted by: Agricola on March 30, 2004 8:52 AM



"...and I have long maintained that the logical outcome of that is that everyone needs to develop their 'inner authority figure.' (In short, people need to, er, grow up and stop expecting other people to parent them.)"

Well, I must agree with that, unless, of course, one is refering to a two-year-old, who has every right on earth to expect someone (hey--here's an idea---how about his actual parents?) to parent him. I think unfortunately the development of an inner authority figure who is not a completely arbitrary asshole (hyper punishing superego in the--much discredited, according to 2Blowhards--Freudian term)depends on seeing an example of that. Which is difficult to find. I also think "parents" are different authority figures from "bosses." Parents need to represent stability, love even when you push away, and boundary setting. Bosses just need to be semi-responsible for themselves (and that's hard to find, sometimes) and clear communicators. If someone needs more than that from a boss, they are still trying to get someone to parent them, and that's inappropriate. If bosses need to try to be more than that, they are exercising inappropriate demands on their subordinates.

Posted by: annette on March 30, 2004 9:03 AM



This business about authority figures being anxious to be liked? It goes way back in this country. FDR was notorious for acting cute.
Maybe it relates to the fact that America is the quintessential salesman's country. Arthur Miller's "He wasn't just liked, he was WELL liked." It sure can be a pain, at times.

About the well crafted film. My all time favorite (although it pre-dates the '80s) is THE DAY OF THE JACKAL, directed by Fred Zinnemann. Totally professional. Not a wrong frame in it, from start to finish.

Posted by: ricpic on March 30, 2004 9:59 AM



I saw Hidalgo.

And I guess that I am also prone to the same sort of one-movie-leads-to-A-Larger-Thought syndrome and I kept wondering about poorly organized the race was...no attention paid to logistics, no food/water for the horses, no -sag wagons' following behind and then how implausible it was that there would be this rich, white British bitch amongst all the (literal) Moslem hordes. The Chief's daughter's (almost) romance with our hero all seems a bit implausible. I also started thinking about the importance of animal-protection groups in movie-making and how even though the horses weren't shown being fed, they must have been. I also wondered where they made the movie -- I assume that it wasn't really Arabia and wondered which part of California has that sort of dunes...and then I remembered that there are also some magnificent "Sand Hills" in Nebraska (a terrific golf course nestled among them, too, I gather) and the whole place is only 5 hours drive east of Denver so one could fly there and visit (and film) pretty easily and then I tried to make mental mnemonic -- have you ever thought of mnemonics as an essential skill of the spy? and how difficult they are to devise when watching a movie? -- to remind me to Google "Sand Hills" when I got home (which I did).

So I know what you go though when you see a movie which you truly, really, sincerely want to believe is superb. But when you are sitting there it simply doesn't ultimately hold your attention and your mind wanders off into some Larger Thought like the political intentions of "Hollywood."

***

And how you could say that In the Line of Fire is superior to Terminator is absolutely beyond me.

Posted by: David Sucher on March 30, 2004 10:10 AM



I think the liberals did away with authority figures a few years ago. Parents and professors are peers, government is not to be trusted, everybody's on an equal level, financial success is nothing to be proud of, nobody has the right to tell anyone else what to do, etc., etc., etc. We did, however, retain some figures who hold some manner of honor in that they can be blamed for leading us into the sorry state we find ourselves in, like a president, government, parents, teachers, the movies we fought to give freedom of expression to, etc. Why, does anyone have a problem with this?

Posted by: susan on March 30, 2004 10:16 AM



Did I say that "In the Line of Fire" is better than "Terminator"? No, just in a different category -- "Terminator" is basically a b-picture, where "In the Line of Fire" is a squaresville A picture. I'm as big a "Terminator" fan (at least episode one; the other two I couldn't care less about) as anyone.

All these squaresville movie suggestions! Most of which, I realize, I haven't seen. So maybe I'm completely wrong: maybe Hollywood really does put out a fair number of them.

But I'm going to treat myself to deciding whether some of these, at least the ones I've seen really do qualify as squaresville A pictures ... Input and disagreements welcomed, of course. Not whether they're good or bad, just whether they're squaresville and proud.

* I'm not sure about "LOTR." Any thoughts here? Strikes me as a CGI spectacular -- 9 hour pop fantasy all cyber-souped up. Can't see Old Hollywood doing such a thing, and see big diffs between it and even something like "Cleopatra." And Peter Jackson deep down is kind of a New Age horror hipster, which comes across, at least to me (although I only saw episode one).

* The Cruise and Grisham films seem to qualify. I wonder if all lawyer-thriller films do -- they're at least attempts to mount straight-ahead, "believable" productions. Maybe that's part of what people like about Cruise and Grisham generally -- the lack of hipsterness and irony. I always wish they'd do a better job of it, but that's probably me.

* Easy qualifiers: "Apollo 13," "Last of the Mohicans" (actually all the Michael Mann pix, no? -- he seems determined to be a new-style old-style filmmaker), "Sense and Sensibility,"

* I wonder about: "River Wild" (basically a b-picture, no?), "Bull Durham" (wonderfully made, but the sensibility's very hipster), the "Zorro" movie (a spoof, or at least partly, no? but so were some of the early Fairbanks movies, so maybe I'm wrong here), "Shakespeare in Love" (English, not Hollywood, which raises a good point -- that some foreign flicks are more Old Hollywood than many contempo Hwood pix: I think that was part of the appeal of all those squaresville but handsome Chinese movies)...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on March 30, 2004 11:59 AM



Sorry about cutting off previous comment. I'm using a phone-line AOL connection, and due to its tendency to crash I've already lost several comments, so now I'm just hitting "post" when it occurs to me ...

More qualifiers: "Father of the Bride," "Gladiator" (although I feel grudging about this, because I want to dismiss it as CGI spectacle, but it's clearly an attempt to revive the squaresville toga pic; heck, maybe I just didn't like the movie), "Untouchables" (although is it maybe a bit too po-mo? maybe not), "Day of the Jackal" (although that goes back to a time when Hwood was still routinely making squaresville pix) ...

More that I wonder about: a bunch that strike me as basically b-pix: "LA Confidential," "Midnight Run" (fabulous script!), "Sixth Sense"... Although they're all straight-faced, and deserve credit for that.

Random reflection: I'm guessing that it was the '60s that made it uncool to assume Authority. I suspect that part of the appeal of Reagan and even GWB to many is that they seem to revive the old Trustworthy Daddy Figure, which I suspect many people miss and want around. As for myself, I find myself thinking about it in opportunistic showbiz terms. If everyone's a hipster who enjoys scoring off of squarenesss, and there isn't any actual competent squareness around, then what you're left with is (to my mind) a nightmare of wannabe hipsters trying to score off each other, and a lot of people who keep quiet in order to protect their own squaresville tastes and temperaments (or at least those sides of their personalities). Seems to me -- from my admittedly media-NYC perch, which colors everything -- that where 50 years ago people were maybe repressing their sexualities and irreverence, these days (what with everything becoming so hypersexed and wise-assish) we've wound up repressing (purely from fear of being riduculed) our square and conventional sides and desires. Many exceptions allowed for, of course. Does anyone else think there might be something to this?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on March 30, 2004 12:09 PM



I thought Miramax was behind "Shakespeare in Love"--which would make it American, even if the cast was British---wouldn't it? Maybe I'm wrong.

Posted by: annette on March 30, 2004 12:15 PM



P.S.---I liked "My Best Friend's Wedding", but if "Bull Durham" is too hipster to qualify, I think MBFW is, too. Julia Roberts as the schemer who doesn't get the guy? Her gay boss? Dishonest emails? I'm not sure if those are straight-up traditional Hollywood things. I don't know if you liked this movie, but "Field of Dreams" may have been the most straight-up Jimmy Stewart-y movie of them all in recent years.

Posted by: annette on March 30, 2004 12:22 PM



You are using a phone line AOL connection? :)

Posted by: David Sucher on March 30, 2004 12:30 PM



Spartan

Posted by: Damon on March 30, 2004 12:40 PM



I think the Harry Potter pictures fall pretty solidly into your categories. It's one of the reasons they drive people crazy: there's lots of dancing-bologna CGI, but at heart the movies are more or less the books, in motion. They always remind me of Ivanhoe in the way they start at the beginning and roll out at their own calm pace.

What do you make of the Mamet pictures?

Posted by: Linus on March 30, 2004 1:14 PM



You can never forget, watching a Mamet picture, how impossibly cool and in the know all his charachters are. Unbearable.

Posted by: ricpic on March 30, 2004 3:28 PM




2 squaresville favorites of mine: Nick of Time, Breakdown (w/Kurt Russell).

Posted by: x on March 30, 2004 4:36 PM



I'm not entirely sure what you're getting at here, but I think "The American President" may qualify. Also a Poitier thriller called "Shoot To Kill". And I don't think "The Mask of Zorro" was really much spoof at all -- there was humor in it, but overall I thought it took itself fairly seriously. (And I loved it.)

Posted by: Jaquandor on March 30, 2004 4:40 PM



Ok, how about these then:

Training Day

Castaway

Payback

The Hunted (anyone with me on this one?)

Tears of the Sun

Up Front and Personal

The Mummy

The Little Princess


I think films like The Sixth Sense and LA Confidential may have Bmovie aspects, but there is a level of craftsmanship that suggests them to me as great examples of Hollywood moviemaking.

One final question: Has anyone ever met anyone, anywhere who didn't dig Midnight Run?

Posted by: Adrian Hyland on March 30, 2004 5:22 PM



Annette -- I dig "My Best Friend's Wedding" in the same way you do! There aren't enough of us who appreciate how brilliant it was. And I agree it's got to be disqualified -- much too hip to be included as squaresville.

FWIW, I haven't seen the "Harry Potter" movies, though I'll see #3 -- big fan of the new director.

I'm with Ricpic on Mamet. Is anyone else? Although I do admire how prolific Mamet is, god knows. There's a man who knows how to give himself permission. A little too much, if you know what I mean.

X -- Don't know "Nick of Time," will check it out. Like you though I love "Breakdown." But I think it should be considered a quasi-B movie, don't you? I mean, that's what I like about it (unpretentious, efficient, streamlined, taut), anyway.

Jaquandor -- Excellent nominees and points, thanks. For a few years there the director Roger Spottiswoode (sp?) was making supersolid, supercrafted movies. Not a candidate (too hip), but did anyone else like a Spottiswoode comedy with Tom Hanks called "Turner and Hooch" as much as I did? Some of Hanks' best acting, and from a period when he was really good. I hear rumors by the way that Spottiswoode was one of the reasons "Bull Durham" was so good. Ron Shelton had written for Spottiswoode, and Spottiswoode helped guide him through his first job of directing. And god knows Shelton's work has only gone downhill since.

Adrian -- More great nominees, although I can tell you've got a taste (much like mine) for B-movie pleasures. Hey, how about a Guest Posting from Adrian about new-style B-movie pleasures? If you don't do it, dude, I will.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on March 30, 2004 7:22 PM



Another non-nominee, but did anyone else enjoy "Stir of Echoes" (little Kevin Bacon horror movie with a "6th Sense"-like twist) as much as I did? I liked it lotttttttts better than "6th Sense." Much tauter, much more no-nonsense, much more, er, traditional ...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on March 30, 2004 7:24 PM



Michael,

this whole b-movie thing is most interesting, because I've certainly never thought of myself as a fan of b-movies, in fact the opposite, in fact can you recommend any good un's, because when I think b-movie only Roger Corman and Samuel Fuller spring to mind.Russ Meyer? Wes Craven? John Carpenter? I certainly have seen few if any of the original b-movies from the 30s and 40s; would love to know if there are any classics waiting to be discovered.

I suppose when I think b-movie I associate the genre with low quality work; for instance a film like Midnight Run is just so well crafted in every department that for me it's not a b-movie although it's definitely a genre movie.

I think the only b-movie I've seen recently was 'Mystic River'.

Posted by: Adrian Hyland on March 31, 2004 2:56 AM



I know Tom Hanks himself considers "Turner and Hooch" one of his own best performances. I also loved "Midnight Run". I can't think of his name, but the actor who played the head mob guy in that movie was a better goodfella than anything since "The Godfather"---maybe even more realistic than Michael Corleone. And "The Mummy"---it's so amazing, that was such a big hit, and I'd totally forgotten about it. But to me, regardless of the quality of craftsmanship, I think that's a b-movie. And, I think Brendan Frasier was too hipster to qualify, I don't know that movie took itself totally seriously.

How about all the Jack Ryan movies---"Hunt for Red October", "Clear and Present Danger", etc.

Posted by: annette on March 31, 2004 5:21 AM



And I enjoyed "The Mummy", btw.

Posted by: annette on March 31, 2004 5:27 AM



Annette--

Spot on about "The Hunt for Red October", although I'm always a sucker for a submarine flick. And Vilnius (Sean Connery) is a perfect example of an Authority Figure in that film. For obvious reasons it seems that sort of character is far easier to portray in a military setting. What examples of moral Authority Figures in a non-soldier charater-- squarish film division-- can folks recommend?

Also, "The Hunt.....October" is-- I find-- a perfect relic of the sense and feeling of its era. At least for those of us raised during the early to mid-80s Cold War era.

Posted by: Karl on March 31, 2004 12:33 PM



Moral Authority Figures in non-military setting(Not recommending the movies as Great Movies, but these characters are Moral Authority Figures. They each have one great Moral Authority Figure scene, where somebody deservedly gets reprimanded or fired or revealed for being an S.O.B.).
See Gene Hackman as a film director in "Postcards from the Edge." See Wilford Brimley (sp?) as a Washington pooh-bah in "Absence of Malice". See See whatshisname as The Judge and Reggie Love's mentor in "The Client". See Al Pacino in the final school disciplinary hearing in "Scent of A Woman". (when he says, "All my life, I always knew the right thing to do. Without exception, I knew. I didn't have the character to do it.") See Donald Trump on "The Apprentice". :)

Posted by: annette on March 31, 2004 1:37 PM



“Nick of Time” is nice little movie with Johnny Deep as a man forced into assassinating a political figure by a character played by Christopher Walken. Great example of a small budget film you were discussing. “Stir of Echoes” I liked as well, although I might need to get it from Netflix again since I haven’t seen it in quite some time.

Posted by: Kevin on March 31, 2004 1:38 PM



the authority figure observation is interesting. i think it's part of why the people that like Bush really like Bush.

Nothing to offer on the movie suggestions atm, but this thought was stirred by your comments:

In a democracy, do we incent authority figures (eg, more Bush-like) that weight their behavior more on their internal compass versus feedback from the governed or do we incent consensus-builders (eg, more Clinton-like) that weight what "the people" want more highly?

The Ben Hur example is a great one - people do respond emotionally to that but is that merely a consequence of our animal heritage? Clearly even democracy has an alpha male, but it is very different from the alpha male with absolute power, and the alpha male model continues to attenuate.

Anyway, just some random ramblings to throw in the mix...

Posted by: Prag on March 31, 2004 2:26 PM



I liked The Mummy, but it was definitely full of ironic humor poking fun at the original mummy movie and other movies from that time period.

Hmm. I recently saw John Carpenter's The Thing, which was actually surprisingly good, for being an 80s flick. Nowadays it would be SFX-ed out, and the CGI creature would look like crap. I really like the ending of it, it's a nice change.

Donnie Darko is a more recent one that I saw, I expected them to try some more games with the ending, but it played out pretty straight. No moral authority figures in that one though. (However, I did take note when I was watching it that it employs the usual trope of goody-goody-character-must-be-exposed-as-fraud. It rather annoys me to see that, but not so much, since I just take it as a sign of immaturity that Hollywood so often has to present any characters with any sort of strong moral or religious convictions as hypocrites.)

Posted by: . on March 31, 2004 2:30 PM



In Raging Bulls and Easy Riders, this topic is discussed. Basically, with the financial success of Jaws and Star Wars in the Seventies, the B-Movie became the A-Movie. By that, I mean that most of the money now went to special effects pictures and the role of the "star" became less and less important because the effects really took top billing. Now, there are very few people who can open a movie, and as such the stars and the movies have become ridiculously expensive and the effects have really imo reached a dead end.

Other than Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman playing Wolverine in the XMen films, almost all male actors come off as being well, emasculated now. Instead of Bob Mitchum or Brando, we get Ben Affleck and Matt Damon. Two men who are not meant to be lead actors imo. Mitchum and Brando are politically incorrect.

I realized the other day that one of the things that explains the popularity of rap, especially gangsta rap, is the machismo. Machismo which is completely missing in rock.

Posted by: andalucia on April 3, 2004 4:22 AM



Shawshank Redemption and The Green Mile, no? What is Darabont if not traditional, old Hollywood?

Posted by: John on April 6, 2004 2:43 PM



"The Negotiator". A formula flick, but a really really good and well-acted formula flick, with two of my favorite character actors in the leads (Kevin Spacey and Samuel L. Jackson) and another in a supporting role (JT Walsh, in his last performance before his untimely death).

As for Mamet, I'd respect him a lot more as a filmmaker if he didn't put his plain-looking and sublimely untalented wife Rebecca Pidgeon in every one of his movies. "State and Main" , "Heist" , "The Winslow Boy"... I could go on, but I've just eaten.

Posted by: Sasha Castel on April 6, 2004 10:55 PM






Post a comment
Name:


Email Address:


URL:


Comments:



Remember your info?