for 3 April 2001. Updated every WEEKDAY.
Ten Reasons Not To Go To the Movies
i occasionally read your little virtual rag despite my tendency to become annoyed with the we-know-all-and-the-rest-of-you-are-fucked attitude. but your recent guide to avoiding Bad, Evil American Movie Entertainment, while funny, was about as played as the clichéd clichés you describe. haven't we been bemoaning the state of glossed-over Hollywood entertainment since the beginning of time? and i wonder how many truly good or even just plain entertaining movies of our past would hold up to your ever-so-helpful guide? let's try a few examples:
1.The Impassioned Genuflection
you mean like as in Shawshank Redemption? that was a pretty good movie. and, oh wait, Streetcar Named Desire? "Stel-laaah!" not to mention about a billion Jimmy Stewart flicks.
2. The Singalong
you mean like The Blues Brothers (the original, not that gawd awful "2000" sequel atrocity)? or Stand By Me? or (speaking of "I Will Survive") Priscilla, Queen of the Desert? i can't stand musical theater mostly for the near embarrassment i feel when someone bursts into song during a particular comedic or dramatic moment, but taking it out as a unnecessary evil is going a bit far. same goes for film.
3. Outrunning the Fireball
geez, how many great "action" flicks has this been done in? like Die Hard. like a good lot of the Indian Jones or James Bond movies. like, um, Star Wars.
4. Suburban Wankst
ok, i'll give you this one. though, pseudo social commentary isn't just left to the Suburbia Sucks clan.
5. The Romeo Spill
right. and take that heap of slapschtick comedy with you, will you're at it. i mean, duh, schtick is schtick. i don't think a single Charlie Chaplin, Marx Brothers, Abbott/Costello, Buster Keaton (etcetera) piece would have made it past this one.
6. The Blank Uzi
however right you are about the precision of machine guns, please see number 3. also, aren't movies supposed to do that? i mean, make the impossible possible? sure, by using the same AMAZING thing happen over and over (and over) again, they make the impossible ordinary and boring. but still.
7. The "Star" Treatment
see, you showed yourself up in your own argument. the cheer that greeted the Fonz was pretty cheesy but it was fun. just like when Sean Connery gets off the horse at the end of that Robin Hood remake. "ooh, look. Connery. how perfect." (er, don't worry, i'm not convincing myself with this one either.)
8-9. Overly Sentimental Crap That Makes Me Wish I Hadn't Gotten Butter on My Popcorn
you win these, too.
10. "He thought..."
this is so a function of the trailer rather than the movie. if we judged movies by their trailers, we'd have a whole lot of movies switching good-versus-bad sides.
it seems like we'd be left watching black-and-white "art" films and My Dinner With Andre about a thousand times if film entertainment were left up to your standards.
thanks for the hotdog,
ZZZZ...Oh! Uh! ... Sorry, Mr. McLeary, I must have nodded off there after you said The Shawshank Redemption was a good movie.
Subject: omigod! you are so funny!
you are! thanks for putting into words the black bile boiling inside me!
I work at Consumer Reports and I couldn't agree more.
That should be a trademarked advertising slogan:
"I work at Consumer Reports and I couldn't agree more!"
People would pay top dollar for an endorsement like that!
absodamnlutely brilliant (the 10 reasons not to see a movie, i mean). trouble is, there aren't many new movies left if all the criteria are applied.
you may not find this as funny as i found yours (and mine's out of season), but check it out.
Thanks, Mr. Mobley. As a music critic, perhaps you'd like to address the gravest of all movie trailer abuses Samuel Barber's Adagio For Strings. I'm too much a patriot to advocate frivolous changes to the Constitution, but if a new amendment were all it took to free our nation of Barber's A minor opus, well...
Hi y'all. The "other work by Vicki Lester" link at the end of today's Suck piece (27 March 2001, "Ten Reasons Not To Go To the Movies") points to Bartel D'Arcy's page.
(Nice piece, btw. Would that the "valuable consumer information-- news you can use" segments on the local tv news were so helpful.)
Thanks, Ben. Bartel and I had a great laugh about that mixup, I can tell you. People are always asking me if I know BarTel d'Arcy.
It's good to see you back on the automatic weapons hobbyhorse. It is actually slightly harder to hit something with a full auto weapon than you might expect: until you get used to them, they jump around like mad and tend to ride up on you, but as you say, they're pretty good at what they're supposed to do. They also have a tendency to go through things and to have MUCH longer ranges than the little hand guns that the Heroes usually are using.
But you again left out the "drop the gun or I'll shoot the hostage" scene. That one's my favorite.
You are correct, sir. You know, if they just took all the brain power that goes into figuring out how to get the hero's wife or daughter into position to be taken hostage in the final scene, and applied it to some useful purpose... Well, at the very least we'd have a cure for cancer by now.
The makers of trailers lie for a living. They tell us things and promise us experiences that do not always come true. In fact, rarely does a film live up to the expectations the trailer sets.
However, cinema is an art form capable of many experiences. Cinema, like most art, causes varied experiences for various people even though they all witness the same exact thing. Thus, to judge trailers or cinema against a fixed list of dos and don'ts is about as inane as telling a lover of painting not to view paintings that have blue in them or images of Christ. Just because blue paint and the whole cross motif are widely used does not suggest that they cannot be used effectively.
Trailers are perhaps the highest form of advertising. No other motion image uses graphic text combined with imagery combined with music, edited together in less than 2 minutes to relay a glimpse of a narrative story that just might be moving, or exciting, or worthwhile. And the choice as to whether or not a trailer is any or all those thing is to be made by the viewer, based on their experiences. Not based on your list.
I take it you do not have any experience making trailers or marketing films. And you sound as if your take on the entire trailer entity is slanted based on some unfortunate experiences you seem to have had in a theatre.
May I suggest you digest the trailer to Shallow Grave, or the Usual Suspects, or Seven, or perhaps you would find the Dark City trailer especially nice as it breaks all kinds of trailer structures and rules (it's more usic video style has a unique charm). If those do not tickle your fancy, try the teaser to Any Given Sunday as a powerful experience, or U-Turn, or The Cell, or the current trailer for Memento. Try movie-list.com and go wild. The best editors in the world cut these pieces. And it sounds like you think they owe you some money...$9.00 each to be exact.
Yiiacchhhhrrrggggghhhh! Wuh? Oh! Sorry, Mr. Edwards, I guess I drifted off there when you started calling movies "cinema."
I read your "Ten Reasons Not To Go To the Movies" in Suck and really enjoyed it: I'd like to e-mail it to some of my friends but I don't see that button on the page does Suck still have that option?
Adrian Doran, Art Director
Thanks, Adrian! Please pardon our appearance, as they used to say at Caesar's Palace, Rome wasn't built in a day! The little-used mail to a friend function is temporarily being housed at the Suck storage facility in Reston, VA. We're hoping to have it up and running again as soon as Bush II Administration plans for anti-PRC preparedness go into effect. Keep the home fires burning!
You wrote that "[w]hether it is more courageous to kill a bull ... or to ride it while it wants to kill you is a matter for greater scholars than ourselves to take up."
Perhaps some far-sighted rodeo entrepreneur could bring back the ancient Minoan sport of bull jumping where the player stands in the path of an enraged bull and, just before being gored, grabs a horn in each hand and jumps over the bull.
I'm pretty sure I saw Jackie Chan perform a similar move in one of his Hong Kong pictures. I can't remember what the original title was, but I think it was released here as "Danger Detective" or "Police Fighter Macho" or something like that.
If the PRCA is going after the NASCAR audience, making rodeo as life-threatening as possible would certainly seem to be a good idea.
Alice the Camel
I wanted to let you know how much your article made me think. I'm an Idaho native, went to college in LA, and live in DC right now, so the divisions from Salon's election-night map are pretty much the same as the seams in the fabric of my dementia.
Rodeo pretty much is the only sport constructed around a lifestyle, but the lifestyle always had an emptiness at its heart. For both men and women, ranching was often about how to survive and do your work in the face of long days and nights with no one to talk to. The work, and the essential loneliness of that work, predicated forms of entertainment that were ostensibly about ranch skills, but were also about connecting with others in a way most people didn't get to do more than once or twice a year.
If rodeo seems overwrought, maudlin, and occasionally cruel and offensive in its attempts to capture the fickle American attention span, remember it grew up without needing to work so hard. The loneliness people bring to the rodeo now is entirely different: every day on TV and in magazines they see images of celebrities who are happy, rich, and connected. Most live incredibly far away in coastal cities where everyone patronizes, or worse, ignores, ordinary folks in the red parts of the election-night map. Rodeo spectators are turning to a form of entertainment that self-consciously celebrates ordinary people while adding the glamour of arena lights: you're not alone, and in fact, you're fabulous. In that, it is very much like NASCAR, so the T-shirt overlap is no surprise.
My once-again single mother is headed for the National Finals Rodeo again this year, if she can scrape enough cash together, and if her rodeo-fan ex-husband doesn't get his guns back from the sheriff and do something stupid. I'm stuck in DC hoping she can get her life back together. If rodeo makes her feel less alone, maybe she won't go back to the son of a bitch. Then again maybe the cowboys-n-cowgals stand-by-your-man horseshit she heard at the arena made it possible to stay as long as she did. It's hard to separate out where the community of sports fans ends and her essential feeling of emptiness start. But then, I think that's the case with all good obsessions.
There is an uncomfortable duality to rodeo. It's hard to know whether to celebrate it as one of the last real traditions of American frontier culture or simply cringe at what an absurd spectacle it can be.
Your take on the historical role of loneliness in rodeo is a very interesting one. Even today, rodeo devotees take great pride in their role as outsiders outside an urban culture they see as poisonous and unwholesome.
It's easy to see why this world of old fashioned chivalry, church going and general warm fuzziness appeals to so many people. Who hasn't considered the advantages of life on the Ponderosa? In fact, many people are probably quite happy with some variation of this ideal. But modern rodeo employs all the bells and whistles of urban culture to display the Western Lifestyle, and as a result, cowpeople end up looking ridiculous.
Best wishes to you and your mom.
Alice the Camel
Great Rodeo Article in Today's Suck. As far as I'm concerned, any activity whose National Championship is held in Las Vegas automatically goes on my list of Good Things.
Not pooping in the arena
Before you make such sweeping statements, you may want to check where the National Feces Juggling Championships are held.
Alice the Camel