A movie reviewer, having wasted time on a Farrelly brothers movie, and being fortunate enough to be employed by the New Yorker, attempts to find some greater meaning in the experience. God knows, there has to be. There just has to be. Ah: a meditation on Hollywood, Art, and the intersection of the two. And the accidental nature of the same! Now we're cooking.
....there are two prevailing strains of criticism regarding its movies. Some critics love Hollywood films as such, and find their modes of entertainment, their moods and actors, snappy behavior, sharp dialogue, and elegant costumes and sets to be an intrinsically tonic, anti-academic inspiration. Others see its homogenization of experience into happy endings, its salesmanlike tone and syrupy heart-tugs as an ambient and relentless falsification, a front line in the war of public and official lies against the truth of actual life. I exaggerate, but the over-all question remains: Is the art of Hollywood the rule or the exception?
The war of public and official lies against the truth of actual life. You do exaggerate. I'm not sure how an official lie can be forcibly disseminated through a movie. They tell stories, and when the movie is intended as a diversion, not a serious work of art to whcih you must pay close attention because this is Important, well, you want the story to turn out well for characters you like. Having enjoyed another ration of fiction, we get back to reality. Perhaps we try to make our own happy endings, or see past events as happy endings we didn’t realize at the time. It’s sad to expect life to have Hollywood Moments; it’s also sad not to know you do have them. You just don’t experience them with close-ups and music and proper lighting. So what's the problem? It's not Hollywood Happiness that gives the dumb and loud and banal an exaggerated sense of drama and entitlement, it's reality TV and afternoon chat.
I came across piece that after I’d discovered an online trove of Box Office magazines. They’re aimed at theater owners - more on that in a bit. The covers demonstrate the speed and depth of cultural debasement in the late sixties / early 70s, something that was performed by Hollywood and smeared over the rest of the country. I know we’re supposed to have some hipster reverence for cheap sexploitation grindhouse flicks because that sweaty grinning little macaque Tarantino digs them, man, but - well, let's look at the 1937 ad.
And here's 1973.
Twenty years later:
Twenty years later. That was fast.
There’s lots more to highlight, and that’ll come tomorrow. Two points. One: the 1937 magazine has a section on how to exploit local resources - that’s their word, exploit - to gin up interest in the movie. Public lies! They’re quite helpful.
Two: The section on new theaters is always a pleasure, since it was almost impossible to make a bad theater before 1969 or so. This one looked interesting.
There's some inadvertant documetary in an early film called "Skaterdater," and it has a brief exterior shot:
Googled around for some pictures and history. The sites had references to dates enjoyed in the theater's heyday, notes on its destruction, and regret over the murders.
The murders: a crew came in after closing, locked it up, stole the receipts, and killed all the staff.
The movies didn't make that happen. The fashionable disdain for happy endings didn't make that happen. "Lies," public or official or otherwise, didn't make that happen. I guarantee someone knocked over a theater in 1937, too. A few years earlier people had rooted for the charismatic gangsters, too. Pop culture could be brash and blunt and direct, but it wasn’t stupid, pandering, cheap, and scum-coated like the stuff that rolled over the land in grindhouse days. Hollywood did that on purpose and said that was the truth. And that was the lie.
When I mentioned theater owners, I imagine some guy who’s been in the business for 30 years, had a wife and a family, daughters of his own, and he picks up his trade publication.
And recalls 20 years back:
Remember, Disney is the word that’s supposed to make you roll your eyes.
I'll provide a link to the mags tomorrow . . . although there was a link in today's Strib blog.
New! A look at Witt's grocery store. Some lovingly restored ads. Strib blog up around 12:30 - hit the Star button below! Bookmark! - and Lint, which is the T button. Bookmark! Updates also pumped out on Facebook and Google+ as well.
There's no excuse for not reading it all. NONE whatsoever. See you around!