Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Overall, People Have the Wrong Idea About Movies

I don't know when it began, perhaps it's always been this way since I've been conscious enough to acknowledge it, but somewhere along the way we have lost our imagination. Our collective society has become more and more a closed-off society, especially among people my age. We want instant gratification; everything should be within our grasp. I go inside a public bus and find almost 70% of the people inside to be wearing Ipod headphones. Good luck trying to have a conversation with someone downtown or on campus or on the streets... they're all busy on their cellphones, their mp3 players... something is inside their ears. People can't wait to get home to listen to music or talk to their friends or check facebook. Everything must be done now and as soon as possible.

When you get into that kind of mentality, it affects your mentality in other avenues. One such avenue is the movies. I get beside myself sometimes when people dismiss seeing a movie because the subject matter doesn't interest them. It doesn't matter who wrote it, who directed it, or who starred in it. Has it always been that way? Am I like that? Well, occasionally, I am.

But, the reason why I avoid seeing certain films is because I feel the plot is overly familiar, overdone, overused. Sadly, that's the case with the majority of Hollywood films. Other than that though, I'm open to seeing just about every other film, especially if it's been made by people that I like. Even if it's not made by people I like or care about, I will still see it if I hear good things about it. Honestly, what's so wrong about that? People worry about a movie wasting their time, but how often do we waste our time doing other kinds of mindless shit? At least when you see a movie, no matter how dumb it is, by simply processing and formulating an opinion on it, you'd have at least done something with yourself.

Obviously, if you're simply too busy to see a film then that's one thing, but if you have time to see a movie and you consistently choose only a certain type of movie then what are you really doing with your time? You shouldn't choose something just because it's safe and you know you'll like it. Oftentimes, the films in which you have absolutely zero expectations for are the films that affect you the most. When you go into a film knowing little about the subject matter, you're going to leave the film knowing a hell of a lot more than what you did two hours ago.

When I went into the film "JFK," I only knew the base facts about the JFK assassination. Three hours and twenty minutes later and I was completely entrenched within all these conflicting and contrasting details about the assassination. It fascinated and thrilled me and it was a movie about something I'd otherwise may not have much interest in.

So let's fast forward to the present day. "The Social Network" is coming out this Friday. It's written by Aaron Sorkin who is a very esteemed and gifted writer. He's responsible for shows such as The West Wing and Sports Night as well as films such as A Few Good Men and Charlie Wilson's War. "The Social Network" is already being hailed as his greatest work yet which is saying a lot. The film is directed by David Fincher who is the master behind Se7en, Fight Club, Zodiac, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The film has 47 fresh reviews on rottentomatoes and zero rotten ones and it has a near perfect score on metacritic. What more could you possibly want from a movie?

So you don't want to see it because it's about the invention of facebook? Why is that such a horrible thing? If Aaron Sorkin is writing about the people who invented post-it notes, I'd see it all the same. But the story behind the creation of facebook and the subsequent lawsuits happen to be very, very fascinating stuff. The best thing about Aaron Sorkin is that he knows how to make people sound interesting. I never really appreciated The West Wing when it actually aired, but I used to catch reruns of it on the Bravo network in college and I loved it. Sorkin knows how to write fascinating, compelling characters and he knows how to make it relate to a bigger overall picture. By the looks of it, that is what he has done with this film, The Social Network.

It's not like Mark Zuckerberg (the inventor of facebook) has been behind the making of the film. In fact, he doesn't even want it to get made. Sure, some or most of the details in this film can be over-dramatizations or fabrications, but nearly all films about real-life subjects are over-dramatizations. When you have the best writer behind the subject, it doesn't matter how fabricated it is as long as the writer isn't just doing it for sensationalistic purposes. I mean, honestly, have you ever read Shakespeare's Julius Cesar?

When I look at movies, I move beyond its subject matter almost right away. I don't care that Darren Aronofsky is making a film about ballet, I care that it's Darren Aronofsky making the film. I don't care much about a man that's invested within the oil business, but I do when it's been written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson and played by Daniel Day-Lewis.

Sometimes you have to trust the filmmakers regardless of what you think of the subject matter because, in film and in literature, it's never really about the plot. When you were forced to write papers on books in high school, how much time did you spend on plot? Nearly zero, right? Because you're not supposed to talk about the plot when you talk about a movie or a work of literature, it should encompass maybe a small paragraph in your paper. The rest of your paper should be about the characters, the themes, the motifs... those are the things that make art so interesting and insightful.

You don't want to see a movie because you don't like anybody that's behind the film? Fair enough. But don't avoid a movie just because it's about something you'd otherwise never be interested in. You never know if you're interested in something unless you... learn about it. Yes, that's right. Learning... remember what it was like to learn about things?

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