June 17, 2005

Hollywood Jumps the Shark

Yes, I know, “jumped the shark” jumped the shark a while ago, but sometimes nothing else says it.

Neal Stephenson in the New York Times nails exactly, precisely, what’s so horribly wrong with the new Star Wars movies.

He concludes that because Americans are not only willing to tolerate such dreck but actually flock to it that we’re in decline. Ann Althouse disagrees and says Hollywood is declining instead.

I agree with Ann about Hollywood and I agree with Neil about Star Wars.

Anyway, the intellectual and artistic bankruptcy of Hollywood really struck me last week when I went to see Cinderella Man. It’s an okay movie. Not great, but worth renting if you can’t think of anything else and don’t mind some average-quality filler.

That movie didn’t impress me much one way or the other. What struck me was what I saw as I walked down the hall toward the screen that was showing that movie. The wall was lined with posters for upcoming movies, as usual. And every single last movie advertised was either a re-make or a crappy dated TV show. The War of the Worlds. (Okay, I do want to see that one for the popcorn factor.) Bewitched. The Chronicles of Narnia. The Bad News Bears. The Longest Yard. The Dukes of Hazard. The Amityville Horror. Oh, and another Herbie movie is coming out, for God’s sake. What’s next? Day of the Triffids and Gilligan’s Island? They already did The Brady Bunch.

Not every movie coming out right now is a re-make, but eight out of eight advertised are. The only genuinely good movie I’ve seen since I got back from Lebanon was Downfall, and that was made in Germany. Even Ridley Scott, one of my favorite directors, couldn’t make a movie about the Crusades that was worth watching.

Most movies I see in Portland are at the Fox Tower downtown. It’s a ten-screen multiplex owned by the Regal chain that plays nothing but independent and foreign films. Not long ago corporate multiplexes of that sort didn’t even exist in this country – at least they didn’t exist in this city. The way Hollywood is going these days, we might see a whole lot more in the future. And I will be grateful.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at June 17, 2005 1:53 PM
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