I used to love going to see a movie. Sinking into a seat in a movie theatre, with a bag of popcorn and a drink and letting a story unfold used to be a pleasure I indulged in at least once a week.
Things always do change, don’t they? Theatres began showing commercials at about the same time Hollywood stopped making movies I wanted to see.
The end of my love affair with Hollywood came, I think, when Titanic won Best Picture. Like everything else in America, it became about money. James Cameron, I hate you.
Has anyone’s movie going experience actually been enhanced in recent years? We used to point to Hollywood as one of the last American industries that still worked. Perhaps in profitability, because that’s the only measure that counts anymore. But in artistic leadership? Storytelling? In social impact? I think not.
I put Tree of Life on my Netflix queue long before it was nominated for any awards. I was intrigued with the cast (Brad Pitt has done some interesting things and is always easy on the eyes and Sean Penn was fantastic in Mystic River). The story sounded interesting and there was some whiff of controversy that didn’t stick in my brain.
It arrived a couple of days ago. Roughly 5 minutes into the movie, I was starting to wonder if Planet Earth minus Ms. Weaver or Sir Attenborough somehow found its way into my DVD player.
Half of the movie is a fairly linear (with time shifts) story about a family and a loss. While the concept is appealing, the execution left me completely frustrated that I didn’t get more than a brief glimpse into these characters. It was a tease, a promise, and ultimately a bait and switch.
Because the other half of the movie is a Discover channel documentary with spectacular photography and absolutely no explanation of what the eye is seeing. The special effects are stunning. Still, the question must be asked: What the hell was it doing in the movie with Pitt and Penn?
To me, Tree of Life is the perfect nail in the coffin for Hollywood. Technically brilliant. Emotionally completely empty.
I’m too lazy to fact check myself, but I’m confident that Hollywood lost its soul at the same time that large corporations began buying the studios (and lots of other media outlets).
If corporations are the way to run the world – in capitalists eyes anyway – why has the average persons experience with corporate America been so, ahem, unrewarding? One could point in many directions (airlines, the entire service industry) but the entertainment industry is so bad these days that it’s a pleasant shock when something so excellent as The Wire comes along. And of course, the “industry” of awards completely ignored this show. If mediocrity rules, greatness goes unrecognized.
Which probably explains why Tree of Life has been nominated for Best Picture.