There’s no one reading this now who does not remember the films from their youth that changed their lives. From the moment the title credits appear on the screen, you are transformed, changed with each ticking minute of cinema, parts of yourself both known and unknown unraveling, as for a Prince’s welcome, to a world one believed only existed within the secret recesses of the heart. The feelings welling up in your chest, tears the same ruck in the corner of your eyes, with the hope of inspired and foreign lands far away, the adventures that now could be had, and the future loves one may embrace.
There was some kind of religiosity there in the theater once the lights went dark—the flickering images on the screen now in control of your soul, captured in the holy prison of light and shadow.
Now I wouldn’t say that I am a cinephile. I would say my life was saved by movies. Despite any chaos (and we all have chaos growing up in some form or another) around me, some kind of Eden was a button away, locked in my room in the darkness, eyes glued to the screen. It was my bullet proof vest against the world, that though they may have injured me, the snipers rounds of chaos could not touch my chest when the small television (yes, the 80’s people) glowed in the shadowed room and the world of film unreeled before me.
Now don’t start thinking The Bartender Knows is getting high-fluent on you, dear readers, but ask yourself, now, riding the tail end of 2013, when was the last time a popular film brought you to these majestic heights? Have you learned more about your world, yourself, your lovers, from watching Thor: The Dark World? We should rename it Bore: The Yawn World. Did you guys watch The Hunger Lames: Catching Tired? I did with the folks over Thanksgiving weekend. When I left the theater, yet again, bringing my hand to my yawning mouth, felt that sneaking suspicion that someone had just robbed me of $10.50 and is saving that and the hundreds of millions that will follow for his secretaries 3rd indoor Jacuzzi as a Christmas present.
Has everyone given up on trying to challenge the audience? Must there be a parade of poorly made and unnecessary remakes (see: OldBoy), acned teenage glutton fantasy superhero films (any Marvel/DC releases), and the infantile drivel of women empowering themselves not through brains and real world tactics, but with bows and arrows and fending off their precious virginity from dickless vampire/werewolves (Hunger Games/Twilight)? Have you noticed how sexless these films have become? Notice the lack of blood in these films. People die in record numbers (children even) yet there deaths are as inconsequential as the nutritious value of the popcorn snapping between the teeth of the millions of young people who ‘eat’ these mindless pieces of garbage up (yes, insert soapbox under my feet now).
Now there there. I’m not against some goddamn entertainment for the kids. I loved Indiana Jones (not 4—Fuck 4) when I was young. Was Indy realistic? No, of course not. Was Indy a role model? For me, yes, I did actually want to be him when I grew up. Who wouldn’t? Charming, curious, always on the verge of losing a fight. That sounded almost like my middle school years (maybe not the charming part).
It was created by the Spielberg/Lucas team back when they actually could make respectable movies and not horribly banal, self-aggrandizing 2 hour advertisements for the video games, coming to an Xbox near you.
I am hating, that’s true. I am fucking hating on what has become a mockery of my precious ‘grand’ cinema, my only church, the only religion I have ever ascribed to. And now half of the audience are grown adults going to these movies. Nothing is more frightening to me than ADULTS discussing personality traits, inner motives, and psychological issues of comic book characters at my bar.
Grow the fuck up, people.
And do not, I repeat, do not give me the ‘movies as escapism’ argument. All great works of film will always bring escape from your lives, pushing your mind to see worlds the audience have never seen (see: Gomorrah), explore the harsh realities of self-delusion (see: Blue Valentine), experience the brutality and senselessness of violence (see: Only God Forgives), and lose their sense of logic and reason, if just for a brief time (see: Primer, Upstream Color). Cinema is about escapism. Cinema is not a place to ‘turn your brain off’. That’s what Fox News is for.
I do think there is a problem with our countries obsession and saturation of these, frankly, movies for children. Did I read comic books growing up? I did. When I was growing up.
Let me put it in clearer terms. Does anyone find it slightly disturbing that the highest grossing films in this country are Superhero films, Animated Features (aptly and simply named ‘Planes’, ‘Cars’, and ‘Frozen’), and geriatric love stories (these are the worst—GrandMom-Coms). Freud would have a field day analyzing a culture of people who idolize super humans with powers they will never possess. Hell, at least the “Watchman” had some fucking in it, albeit in a flying spaceship.
I know half of you will hate this blog (talk about drunks, man!) and the other half just might be bored. I am just utterly frustrated with what I see as a ‘dumbing down’ of cultural necessities like curiosity, learning, the confrontation with uncomfortable emotions, and a simple, pure aesthetic beauty.
What could incite the soul more than the raised arms of the boy being rescued by American soldiers in Japan in “Empire of the Sun”? Or the pure cinematic wildness of “Reservoir Dogs”? How about the unabashed sexuality and murderous dread of any involvement with Sharon Stone’s character in “Basic Instinct”? Or the horror of Hannibal Lector? Or the brutal, drunken honesty of “Barfly”?
Where are these movies today?
Okay. Enough (take soapbox out and burn it).
I need a drink.