Man of the Moment

Sean William Scott

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Sunday, March 05, 2006

In Which Dorian Is Apathetic About Cinema 

I really don't care about the Academy Awards. I think I've described them as "Hollywood's biggest circle-jerk" often enough that at this point even I'm tired of hearing it. (As I type this, bear in mind that I have no idea who won what.) And I'm not "rooting" for Brokeback Mountain to win, as some people seem to be. Firstly, because the film's merits and flaws stand well enough on their own, without some kind of vaguely official recognition. Secondly, my sense of self is not impacted one bit by whether or not a bunch of rich, mostly white, mostly male, mostly homophobic celebrities consider a film with gay themes worthy of vaguely official recognition or not. And thirdly, because it's always been my observation that the award for Best Picture traditionally goes to the most self-important, self-congratulatory film of the year. Which makes Crash, a film in which white people learn An Important Lesson About Racism a lock for the win.

There are, of course, rare exceptions to the criteria for "Best Picture." Return of the King won, not so much on its own merits, but as an "atta boy" to Peter Jackson for the Lord of the Rings trilogy as a complete body of work. Plus, the Academy occasionally feels the need to make populist gestures by nominating a crowd-pleasing film. Mostly to deflect the criticism that they, well, only award the most self-important and self-congratulatory films.

So, for no particular reason, Pete and I went to see a film almost guaranteed to be nominated for no awards next year: Ultraviolet. How was it? Well, this is the conversation Pete and I had about one third of the way into it:

Dorian: "So, they're not even going to pretend that this has a plot, are they?"
Pete: "It's pretty, though."

That pretty much sums it up. It's a sci-fi action flick that doesn't hold together or make any sense in the slightest, in which vampirism is used as an extremely heavy-handed metaphor for AIDS. There's something vaguely Old World about it. The way it's shot and edited reminded me of several European science-fiction and action films I've seen over the years. I almost expect that the picture might make more sense once it's dubbed into German or French. And this and the similarly flawed Night Watch are the only films lately that I've had any desire to see.

(I should add that at this point there's no guarantee that I'll end up seeing V for Vendetta. I will be in the Bay area that weekend with friends, and increasingly, if I don't go to see a film within a week of it's opening, I don't make time to see it at all. I think the lack of urgency past that first weekend is that, if I didn't want to see it before everyone else had a chance to see it and spoil it for me, I must not have really wanted to see it very much at all. Plus, at this point, I kind of suspect seeing the punditocracy going ape over it might be more entertaining than the film itself.)

And, when I look at forthcoming films, to see if anything this year might entertain me, or at least find enough films to say something about to generate at least one "looking at trailers" post, I come up empty. I mean, this is the best I can come up with lately:

Stay Alive: Oh, look, a shlock-horror riff on Mazes and Monsters. Only with a far less compelling cast. And I loathe Tom Hanks. Actually, having Tom Hanks reprise his M&M role in this might make it slightly more watchable.
The Notorious Bette Page: How do you make a Bettie Page bio-pic and not cast Jennifer Connelly?
The DaVinci Code: This was the worst book I ever had the misfortune of reading. Yes, even worse than A Separate Peace. And it's going to be a huge hit. That depresses me tremendously.

So, I may not be seeing very many movies for the remainder of the year. Which, in the long run, is fine, as I have plenty of films in my Netflix queue to get me through the year. But, it's worth noting that as a film-goer, I have very broad and eclectic interests in film. And I actively go to the movies, several times a month. And I have no desire to do that anymore because all that is being offered to me as a film-goer is dreck.


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