Bad Run at Cinema

By the way, since I want to say this:

What a crappy month it’s been for films in the cinema. I hadn’t gone in some time, but of the three films I saw, only Kung-Fu Panda amused me. Actually, it was good fun, once you got beyond the feelgoodishness of it all. I mean, it was very nicely animated and had some funny bits, some cool imagery — man, that scene with Master Oogway the turtle and the peach blossoms, man — and all that badass Tai Lung business, that was some fun, even if I was snickering (inwardly, always, at animations) most often at parts that the Korean audience around me seemed not to find so funny.

(And yes, I still like it even though in her exam one of my students compared me to the Panda, writing, “He is you 100% Professor Gord! You exactly! So big~ and cute~ bear!”)

But the other three films I saw in the Cinema?

The Happening, indeed. As in, what the hell is happening to M. Night Shyamalan? Or maybe, better, what the hell is happening in Hollywood, if a piece of crap like that got released? Actually, I’d prefer to call this movie The Crappening, but I’m sure I’m far from the first to make that crack about this film. Whatever you say, I’ll defend Sixth Sense, and Unbreakable was a great movie. However, something bad happened when Mr. Shyamalan worked with Mel Gibson, I imagine — Signs was a stinker — and while he held it back during The Village, which was, you know, not brilliant, but, you know, alright enough, the condition came back with a vengeanes. We got the mess Lady in the [Swimming Pool] and, now, yes, The Happening is the worst of all. (Er, need I say “so far”? Please, tell me Mr. Shyamalan won’t be given any more money to waste. I can stomach spending millions on a good film, it doesn’t even need to be great, but on crap? Seriously? I’d rather the money goes somewhere useful, like, you know, researching differences in toilet style between Europe and North America.)

What I mean to say is that The Happening is horribly written, terribly acted (the heroically bad example being, “Look! A car!” said, while pointing at a car that is one foot away, though, “Yeah, but… why did it start in the parks?” being a close second), inexcusably poor in production quality…

Wait, I have it. It was exactly the episode of Twilight Zone that one would write if one were commissioned to restart the series for a special audience comprised only of the mentally challenged and for those with advanced cases of Alzheimer’s Syndrome. And I am not insulting those people, either. That is how poor in quality everything about this movie is: it’s as if it was designed for people too disconnected from the experience of viewing for any attention to need to be paid to making the film, you know, interesting, amusing, surprising, funny, or, er, good.

And then there’s Doomsday. I had not seen any trailers. In fact, the only thing I knew about it was that it said, in big bold letters on the back of the Korean promo paper, “SF,” and since I take an interest in what is promoted as SF here, I checked it out. Well, this film is best described as a montage of different genres mushed together. First, there’s something like 28 Days Later, a disease outbreak in Scotland. So Scotland gets fenced off, which reminds one of Children of Men. Then there’s some evil dystopian government stuff that overtly references another British politician (Hatcher? Come on!) and then, very quickly, we’re into the female protagonist going into the “Hot Zone” to prevent the same 28 Day Later-ish thing from happening in London. Then we have some military SF-ish stuff — basically hi-tech infantry battling what is a cross between punk rockers and Picts from Braveheart. This gives way to a kind of knights/castle/tyrant narrative, which features a long combat pit duel that may well have been choreographed by watching Gladiator. And then there’s a twenty-minute long car chase — yes, car chase — with the Pictish-punk rockers, and a cruddy trailing-off-into-pointlessness. I almost walked about at several moments, but I just didn’t believe it could actually get worse. It did. Continually.  I was in pain. Okay, but then again, that was the day after I discovered my (mild) case of high blood pressure, and I squirmed a lot when the flashing, smashing, bashing action onscreen elevated my pulse. Meaning, yes, my pulse elevated, but I assure, mostly just as a fight-or-flight reaction to the full-blast noise in the cinema.

And call me a killjoy if you like, but when I watched the latest Indiana Jones film, I kept asking myself, “Were the earlier Indie films this bad?” My friends gleefully have replied, “Yes, they were.”

So it’s been a rather disappointing month in the cinema, that is, aside from Kung Fu Panda and Iron Man. Which, oh, yes, I haven’t blogged about yet. I really liked Iron Man.I don’t know the original comic, though, and I think the beginning was a bit long. As in, it took too long to get going. But I liked the film anyway, at least for a single viewing, though it’s been too long since I saw it to have much more to say about that, except, of course, that I wish Hollywood would, for once, think of a new bad guy. The Muslims-in-Desert trope is growing a little tired, already.

But three out of the five films I watched in the cinema stank. That’s not good.

On the other hand, some of the films I’ve watched at home — like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and The Graduate. Both of those films were very distinctive of their time, very interesting and stylized. The way in which sharp dialog is inescapably stylized is something that’s come to interest me. Both films are funny, alternately dark and light, and very surprising. But I do wish that Robert Downey Jr. hadn’t put out that CD.

(The last track is one of his songs, and I was all, “Huh?” and only twenty minutes later, I felt so badly for the man. But hey, he’s the one who gets to play Iron Man, and get paid doing it, so I’m sure he doesn’t need my pity.)

No links, because I can’t be bothered. All these films will come up if you google them or copy the name to IMDB for a search.

19 thoughts on “Bad Run at Cinema

  1. When I saw the trailer for Doomsday and before the name was revealed, I was sure it would be called “28 years later” – I think my math was off by one or two years but it the timeline was dang close.

    The Happening was terrible but there was one homage to ‘On the Beach’ that I liked – they reach the new construction and there is a sin, “There is still time…to buy” or something like that. So, 5 seconds out of the movie was alright.

    I enjoyed the new Hulk (with a short appearance by Tony Stark (Downy)) but liked Ang Lee’s better.

  2. What I liked about Iron Man was the fact that it had it’s cake and ate it too, villain wise. Sure there were Muslim terrorists, but the ultimate bad guy was Obdiah Stane(who was funding the terrorists) or as you might put it, the “tired old trope of the military industrial establishment villain. Think The Bourne Trilogy, The Sum of All Fears (ironically the novel it was based on had Muslim terrorists, not Neo-Nazi industrialists), Basic, The recent remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers with Nicole Kidman, the recent remake of The Manchurian Candidate with Denzel Washington, Redacted.

    I think including Muslim terrorists is great – at least it’s topical, and post 9/11 I think I can name exactly the number of films with muslim terrorists on the fingers of one hand.

  3. For a really good article on the paranoid style in American cinema, check out Ross Douthat in The Atlantic Monthly. I was also impressed with the way that they dispensed with the back story and made his origin part of the plot.

    I haven’t seen The Happening but I’ll probably rent it when it comes out on DVD. In a review I read about it, someone pointed out that the environmentalists all meet horrible ends, while the couple of the film survive and have a baby, presumably to help contribute to the ecocide.

    Nice post, since you aren’t posting any links, I’d like to point out that I’ve written briefly about Iron Man.

  4. Kwandongbrian,

    Haven’t seen either Hulk (never been a fan of that character, and everyone who’s mentioned it to me before you hated the first Hulk film) or On the Beach — though, for the latter, I definitely will, now. Fred Astaire in a film about nuclear holocaust? Why haven’t I heard of that before? I am SO gonna see that one. Soon!


    Note that my objection is not to whether the bad guys in a film are Muslim or not, but rather that sticking Muslims-in-deserts into a film has, by now, become a very shortcut to easy exoticism. “Oooh, why don’t we have some ‘Muslamic types’ here?” It’s lazy and easy, but boring to me by now.

    As for the current “culture war” over whether Hollywood is being too PC or being reasonable in its handling (or not overusing) the trope of Muslim terrorist villains — a different issue, mind you — I think this article is interesting in a lot of ways.

    The movies that Hollywood made “about Russia” include far more than the movies Hollywood made containing Russians. Red Dawn looks silly now, whereas Invasion of the Body Snatchers still resonates enough for a remake today, and is still ripped off in SF cinema all the time. Both films are about the same thing, but the prosaic revelation of anxiety is often less interesting than the metaphorical one. (Just like Godzilla is way more interesting and reveals way more about how people felt about nuclear weapons than any mainstream film I’ve ever seen, including The Day After (which did not age well).

    I really think that article I linked is bang-on: Hollywood hasn’t found a workable metaphorical structure for expressing the American anxieties of the present. Probably that’s partly because Americans are more sophisticated now than they were in the 1940s, but also because half of the country or, hopefully, more is leery of how fear of Muslim terrorists is being used by the White House. These concerns are hard to metaphorize anyway, even harder for a sophisticated audience, and it’s even harder when one’s multicultural values — valid multicultural values, mind — dictate certain kinds of depictions, like the literalist ones you describe as “topical,” inherently problematic.

    Plus there’s no metaphor that’s gained traction in terms of embodying the essence of the ideology of extremist Islam as seen by Americans, probably because extremist Islam looks so much like Christian fundamentalism, really, but with better guns. Communist ideology was metaphorized into pod people; what’s the metaphor for anti-American terrorism?

    But also, I’m kind of glad Hollywood isn’t filling screens with Muslim terrorists, to be honest. That would just be contributing to the cultural terror that is already so elevated, and giving aid an comfort to those who would exploit that fear to strip citizens of their Constitutional rights. And I think it’s that fear that Hollywood is probably focused on working out metaphorically, these days… and rightly so.

    Islam is, after all, a minor threat. It has killed how many people? As compared to, say, cigarettes? (Yes, very skewed site, but the stats at least look like they’re relatively solid.)

    Seriously, guys like this aren’t competent, and it feels like dropping Muslim baddies into films will only build up a mystique of danger, competency, and power that will help these sorts of people.

    (And, yes, I admit that I remain skeptical of the immediate flood of awe and praise that was given to the planners of the 9-11 attack. Yes, praise: people talked about this as if it was the result of genius on the scale of Mozart, of planning on the scale of a major world war. Likely a lot of that was people covering up for the ineptitude of airline security and the handling of the situation, but it lent those terrorists an air of competency that I think is probably far greater than they really had.)

    In any case, filling our media with stories of scary terrorists seems to me only to be doing their jobs for them, by building up a low-level anxiety out of proportion with the real threats to freedom, security, and prosperity in the developed world.

  5. Actually, I’ve heard Red Dawn is really underrated. John Milius, one of the guys behind Apocalypse Now, Conan the Barbarian and Rome was behind that film as well. I don’t know how big a film buff you are, but the character of Walter Sobchak was based in part on John Milius, who is friends with the Coen brothers.

    I get what you are saying, but the argument that portraying Muslim terrorists as criminal masterminds (when they tend to be more like the guy wearing Air Jihad sneakers) could be applied to just about any film archetype – the cultivated serial killer, or the bank heist committed by a bunch of “professionals”.

    Bums have to be put in seats. Those archetypes are handy because they are so entertaining, if only for a couple of hours. Really good directors, like Roger Donaldson or the Coen Brothers know how to break the mold when it comes to those archetypes and make it work. As for the others guys just using the same old same old, well, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

    I don’t really care about the politics of using Muslims as terrorists – I just can’t believe that it hasn’t been exploited to it’s full commercial potential. With the exception of the The Bourne Identity all of the films I mentioned lost money at the box office. Putting bums in seats should take priority over whatever brand of politics film executives want to sell.

  6. BTW, again, I’ve blogged about the new Indy Jones, but if makes you feel any better, I think the first two hold up rather nicely, but III and IV, while they have much more bloated budgets, just don’t have the same heart. The series was always self-aware from the get go, but with III, it had become a little too self aware for it’s own good, and not surprisingly, the quality has diminished somewhat as a result.

  7. Mark,

    I can’t believe someone who was involved in Apocalypse Now was also involved in Conan the Barbarian. I’ve re-watched the latter semi-recently and was revolted at how bad it really was.

    And yeah, you’re right that villains of all kinds are often blown out of proportion. However, it’s fears of a brilliant Muslim plot to kill us all that the Bush administration and Congress has been using the shred the bits of the constitution they don’t like, not fears of brilliant bank robbers or brilliant computer hackers.

    Although, at the moment, fears of brilliant computer hackers are being used, subtly, by the Korean media, in service of securing the primacy of corporate media and in order to get people used to the idea of a need for censorship and banishment of any anonymity, plus increased government control of internet content, and the “genius hacker” archetype is one taken that is very common here now (my students came out with all kinds of crazy assertions about what hackers can do, such as “hjack the Pentagon and start a nuclear war using only a gameboy”!). That archetype was taken directly from American media from a time when depicting hackers that was was used in service of similar assertions of the need to control the emerging internet. (See Hacker Crackdown for the most obvious of period of time at which Hacker paranoia was at its height.) I don’t doubt there are some hackers out there — Korea has some of every kind of person — but the reason hackers manage to screw up so many websites or make off with millions of people’s private data is really just crappy security and inept sysadmin work. People who majored in something else working in the field, and doing a bad job of it, in other words… an endemic workforce problem here.

    We can fully expect that notion to be recycled anytime increases in government or corporate control of Net content or architecture are attempted in the future. (As they certainly will be.)

    That’s one reason I think that there’s a different political significance to just going on and throwing in some Muslim terrorists into your movies.

    By the way, the “cultivated serial killer” archetype does reflect reality a little: some psychopaths are extremely charming, extremely intelligent, and excellent manipulators.

    And if profit (what you call bums in seats) is the prime directive of Hollywood, then they’re wise to avoid using stock Muslim terrorist figures. I mean, look at the violent reaction worldwide that a few cartoons got — despite these cartoons being in essentially the same vein as countless offensive, racist, and nasty cartoons that have appeared in Arabic newspapers over the years, and even in the present!

    Butts in seats might be good, but burn victims in seats are bad for the industry, and however small the number of fringe lunatics who would blow up a cinema for showing a film featuring Muslim terrorists, it’s a bigger contingent than the number of Neo-Nazis who’re out to defend their honour.

    Am I saying we should cater to the demands of anti-defamation organizations? Well… we should be careful and think about how our depictions are used. Have you ever seen a film where a Muslim wasn’t finally irredeemable? (I can think of one: Malcolm X, but that’s a black American Muslim.) It’s like white actors in Korean films in Korea: well, sure, the white bad guy is easy, it’s possible, but when you notice how almost every white guy in every film is either an outright villain or a decoy villain, you start to think about how films serve political ends, and what the long term effects are. As some have pointed out, regardless of where you’re from, anti-Americanism is not a particularly useful habit of mind, but it’s certainly encouraged by most of the Korean films in which (white) American characters appear.

    (Well, from what I’ve seen: I can think of two exceptions — one character each in The Host and Welcome to Dongmakgol but, as much as I enjoyed them in part or in whole, both those films have over-the-top anti-American elements too.)

    But anyway, I think you’re too easily conflating “selling politics” with ethical considerations and artistic preferences in the decisions Hollywood directors make in handling this subject. It’s easy to observe how a vast, untapped market exists, but it’s harder to jump from that to the idea people ought to be exploiting it. That is, as long as you’re willing to agree that arguably not all potential markets should be exploited, then suddenly it becomes the studio’s, or in good studios, the director’s prerogative — and responsibility — to decide.

    And by the way, I’m not saying depiction of Muslims in art is off-limits. I have a short Cthulhu mythos story sitting in my to-revise folder where members of an ancient religious group from Persia (who pass themselves off as Muslim for convenience’s sake) come to Innsmouth, I think it was, to fight an ancient evil that has been hiding out there for centuries.

  8. So am I the only one who thought of Mad Max when watching the Doomsday trailer?

    We saw Kung Fu Panda a few weeks ago. It was indeed a lot of fun. Like you, Gord, I was the only one in the theater laughing at certain lines (Jack Black’s narration of the opening dream sequence gets totally lost in translation).

  9. Charles,

    If I’d actually seen a trailer for Doomsday, I’d have skipped the movie. Damn! Must research more carefully.

    Yeah, I liked that bit. Lime was laughing too… yet another way for me to remind her that her English si way better than she sometimes thinks. :)

    I think a lot got lost in translation in that movie… the people around me mostly found the really obvious stuff funny, but less of the, er, stuff I think of as “jokes aimed at the adults.”

  10. In addition to John Milius as director, Oliver Stone wrote the screenplay for Conan the Barbarian, and Roger Ebert, the dean of American cinema gave it a good review, or at least he wasn’t as down on it as you are. I’m not trying to be perverse, but you’d be surprised by how many intelligent/talented people can be involved in a film production. Apparently William Faulkner was one hell of a script doctor. It’s one of the reason why I try to be open minded about films – they tend to be team efforts, and a surprising number of intelligent people can be involved in the production of seemingly ephemeral stuff.

    As for the politics, well, I can’t say for certain whether or not more muslim villains will put bums in seats. I don’t think enough films have been made to prove that point. I do think the evidence indicates that the “paranoid style’ or using the “military-industrial” complex as a foil isn’t working, and Hollywood could broaden it’s horizons a little bit when it comes to picking villains. Full speed ahead, damn the ethical considerations!

  11. Mark,

    Yeah, I don’t care if Sergei Eisenstein was in the cutting room (though man I wish he had been: Conan The Proletarian would be so damned funny!!!), Conan The Barbarian has not aged well as a movie. I bought it for four bucks at Homeplus and regretted spending even that on it. It was fun when I saw it with Aaron Sklar and Mike Armstrong (I think it was then, anyway, and would you believe, Armstrong live in Korea now too?) but as a grown-up, it just made me shake my head.

    As for Ebert, I’ve often disagreed with him, once more isn’t shameful. They’re opinions, of course. But Conan isn’t seemingly epehemeral, it is utterly ephemeral. It’ll be watched in the future far less even than, say, the music of Anton Webern will be listened to. Webern is weird and difficult, but also good enough to maintain a small, devoted audience. Not to say that all ephemeral art is trash, of course, but I doubt Conan will be much viewed even seventy years hence, any more than anyone but scholars read any of the war-prediction tracts and novels of the mid-to-late-nineteenth century that enjoyed such immense popularity in their time.

    Instead of swapping Muslims for Russkies, rich industrialists, and neo-Nazis (aren’t those all “paranoid style”?), maybe Hollywood should start putting out movies that are a little more challenging and thoughtful? Maybe even well-written ones?

    As for full speed ahead and damn the ethical considerations, uh, no, let’s not do that. That’s pretty much what bad guys do in Hollywood films, and if we do that, then what’s the difference? I guess I’m just not down with amoral money-making in and of itself. I think ethical considerations are important.

    I also think having lived immersed in pop culture that routinely demonizes people who look like me has sensitized me a bit. Not to whine, but you get bloody sick of it and start to see why people complain about negative representation.

    And anyway, I think big huge companies are the biggest threat to human hapopiness and prosperity right now, not exaggerated shadows of relatively small and relatively weak groups of Islamic Islamist extremists. When our tech level and distribution increases, I’ll totally change my mind — any smart kidhaving a bad hair day can be a global threat once tech is developed enough, as Vernor Vinge noted somewhere in Rainbows End — but right now, I can’t see Afghanistan engineering superplagues or nuking Western cities. I can, however, see companies claiming increasingly large amounts of the collective resources and power of our planet, however.

  12. I don’t want to get to0 wrapped up in defending films I haven’t seen, but since I like what I’ve seen previously and know about Milius I’ll have a go. Isn’t part of the problem here the yardstick that you are using? If you compare Milius to Eisenstein, Milius will always come up short. If you compare Milius to Peckinpah or Siegel, sometimes he’ll fail and sometimes he’ll hit the benchmark.

    In the same vein, but in a different field, I’ll admit, if you compare Dorothy Parker to Ezra Pound, she probably doesn’t look as smart. However, my dislike of Pound and Eliot really has nothing to do with my readings of Pope, Milton or Parker, and everything to do with my appreciation of W.H. Auden.

  13. Mark,

    You haven’t seen Conan the Barbarian?

    Well, yeah, there is the problem of comparing works that have different criteria for success. I think Auden vs. Pound is a little unfair as an analogy, though: it’s rather hold up, say, something like Southey (popular, at one point poet laureate) versus Langston Hughes. My book collection tells you which one I’d rather read, and that sentiment is shared pretty widely, now.

    With Pound versus Auden (and I don’t think Pound’s necessarily all that “smart,” by the way, heh), it’s like reading Ursula K. Le Guin and criticizing her for not writing something more like what Heinlein would have written, right? Tastes may vary. But anyone who claims that much of the work published in Gernsback-era pulps is more successful on its own terms than, say, Heinlein or Le Guin is ignoring the difference between setting the bar a foot off the ground (entertaining adventures with half-nekkid ladies!), and, well setting it higher (entertaining adventures with characters that are more than cardboard cutouts, engagement with politics on any level, and so on).

    Even shrugging aside the commonalities between a film like Strike and one like Conan the Barbarian (both explore fantasy, if somewhat different regions denoted by that word), I feel comfortable saying that Strike fulfills more of its own inherent (apparent) criteria for success more effectively — and with tons more style, despite fewer resources available at the time — than Conan can be reasonably argued to have done, despite more resources and a much simpler set of criteria for success.

    In other words, I think we can count on a film like Strike to continue to “work” for the kind of people who like delving into propaganda films about class and power for a longer time and more consistently than we can expect to count on Conan to work for people who like (what turned out in film to be1) unsophisticated, fantastical adventure stories.

    Subjective or not, that is my honest opinion and prediction about the Conan franchise. Well, until Hollywood remakes the series, like it’s been remaking everything else.

  14. Red Dawn and Conan the Barbarian are both on my Netflix queue, and I am familiar with some, but not all of Milius’s work. So I’m not being argumentative for the sake of being argumentative. I am genuinely interested in exploring his work more.

    My Peckinpah kick is starting to wind down (at this point I’ve seen everything I can get my hands on except for his television work and Convoy) and what with Milius’s involvement in Apocalypse Now, Dirty Harry Conan the Barbarian and Red Dawn the seventies and early eighties, seem like a good creative period for him, although after seeing Rome, I think he might still have some tricks up his sleeve. I’m banking on Conan the Barbarian and Red Dawn being interesting failures at worst, and if they suck, well, I’ll just stop watching them.

    Early Oliver Stone screenplays (I’m thinking Scarface) demonstrate his mastery of the three act structure, and later Stone (I’m thinking of the Jim Morrison biopic) demonstrates an almost uncanny understanding of the Romantic movement. So there might be something interesting in Conan the Barbarian, but I won’t know that until I see it, I guess.

    I average about two or three movies a week, and while I don’t share your (forgive me if I’m reading too much in to your comments) opinion that most films are poorly written garbage, I do find myself exploring increasingly obscure niches in my quest to find something interesting that I haven’t seen.

  15. I have a friend (sort of out of touch now, but anyway) who’s very into Peckinpah. Me, not so much. I’m curious to hear what you think of Canon. I wish Korea had something like Netflix. (Apart from subscriptions to a TV service… something I could watch on my PC, especially old pulpy Korean films.)

    I watch fewer movies than you. It’s not unfair to say I think most films are garbage. I think Sturgeon’s Law — er, Revelation, says Wikipedia — is probably true: 90% of everything is crap.

    Not all films that are crap are poorly written (sometimes bad acting or production or directing or whatever ends up getting in the way): but almost all films that are poorly written end up being crap. (Not all, but most.)

    At the same time, I think well-written speculative fiction movies (SF or fantasy, anyway, less for horror) are VERY difficult to write, and very difficult to film, though sometimes effective spectacle can overcome a mediocre script and acting. (The Matrix is quite old-hat and predictable, and sometimes dumb, on the page, but was a hell of a fun film because the look of the thing on the screen was so masterful.)

  16. For most creative efforts, I think a bell curve is at work. It isn’t so much that everything is awful, so much as varying degrees of average. As action films go something like Wanted isn’t bad, but there wasn’t anything to really distinguish it from the rest of the herd either. Same with Indy 4 – it was okay, but for the most part everybody was just spinning their wheels. And because most things are simply that – average – you’ll find high points and low points in every production. Things will be a little uneven.

    Although I would agree with you on one thing and apparently it’s considered to be a “law” in the film industry as well: if a film is really bad, and is a complete flop, everybody will agree that it had “script problems” from day one.

  17. The Bell Curve works fine too… but I figure, with so much other good stuff in the world, it’s pretty hard for me to invest the time in varying levels of okay. I mean, I’d rather watch the good films (or deliciously, spectacularly bad ones, if they’re enjoyably bad) and then move on to other things that interest me. Like the boxed set of Wagner opera DVDs Lime got me, or all the books I have waiting to be read.

    And yeah, “script problems” seem to prophesy a poor movie. Though sometimes I wonder how many truly good, original scripts are ruined through the process of “fixing” them? These days, a film like 2001: A Space Odyssey would never get made; the test groups would require a happy ending (“None of this space-fetus crap!”) and a romantic love scene.

    Brings to mind Yo La Tengo’s video for Sugarcube, and how making stuff “accessible” and, like, more saleable tends to require some, er… well, watch the video…

  18. I just love films. I’ll walk out of or stop watching stuff I don’t like, but that’s only about one in ten or twenty. A lot of really good, original, challenging work still gets made. Spike Jonze, Michael Gondry, Charlie Kaufmann, P.T. Anderson, and Wes Anderson put out stuff that is always worth watching.

    However, a lot of money on the line, and I can see why a lot of creative choices get nixed. And these things are team efforts – I’m not as big a fan of auteur theory as I used to be. As Harrison Ford told George Lucas on the set of Episode IV, “George, you can type this shit, but you sure as hell can’t say it.”

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