Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Eight Films Hollywood Would Make If It Had Any Guts

I try not to live in the past. As Tony Soprano once said, “remember when” is the lowest form of conversation. There is one thing I don’t mind reminiscing about, though - the quality of American movies from the medium’s inception until around the year 2000.

I especially like the “message pictures” of the Pre-Code era and the 1960’s and 1970’s, a time when film makers were not afraid to address social issues while entertaining an audience. I enjoy movies that have a message, even if it’s a message I may not agree with. Movies that have something to say about the world in which they are made, even as only a context for the main story, are far more interesting to me than the endless parade of comic book adaptations and sequels and remakes that dominate theaters in 2014.

In his film essay series The Story of Film, Mark Cousins brought up a good point that at some time in the 20th century, probably around the time that “Jaws” and “Star Wars” became mega-hits, the goal of popular movies changed from making an audience THINK to making them FEEL. Reaching into the reptilian portion of the brain and stimulating basic human emotions (especially fear and lust) became much more important in the big picture than telling stories that might shed light on something that’s happening in society.

Besides, social issues are divisive and can potentially hurt the almighty bottom line, something movie studios’ corporate parents simply cannot abide. The courage major filmmakers once had to address controversial subjects has been replaced by greed and fear, the two biggest motivations in an industry dominated by lawyers and accountants.

Still, one can hope that at some point those with the means to finance the horrendously expensive art form of motion pictures might turn back toward creating movies that matter. Here are the working titles for some social themes that would provide excellent canvases for dramatic (or maybe even comedic) stories for movies...

“The Poors”: How Middle-Class Americans lost their jobs and became homeless. What it’s like to be a formerly middle-class and current long-term unemployed or underemployed person in the United States

“Return to the War”: The real effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder on returning veterans and how the government fails them at every turn

“Hot Tea”: An examination of the Tea Party and what it’s like to be a middle-aged white Guy in America

“Hell”: A look at date rape in the context of modern femininity and feminism

“Bell Rung”: The life of a professional football player who suffers brain damage from too many blows to the head. What happens to him and the people around him? This could easily be a documentary about Jim McMahon, Junior Seau, Mike Webster, or any of the many other high-profile NFL players who have died from or are coming forward to talk about their brain injuries

“My Kind of Town: The Story of Mayor Richard M. Daley”: a historical drama about the many scandals and problems of the Daley administration, including how the Chicago police tortured suspects for years and got away with it

“The Smiling American”: What happens when an American, fed up with everything, moves to another country and experiences another culture

“Imitation Gold Watch”: What do you do with yourself after you retire? What do you do when the company you’ve worked for stole your pension and you have no savings?

No comments:

Post a Comment