- Having seen almost none of the films nominated this year for any Academy Award (and how Revenge of the Sith could go un-nominated in the effects categories is unforgivable!), my only real opinion on the Oscars last night is on the telecast itself.
I thought that John Stewart did an outstanding job, after a somewhat rocky beginning. However, I don't think that was Stewart's fault, and having now watched enough of these Oscar telecasts, I think I know why: the Hollywood people are severely humor-impaired. In fact, I think this explains why so many recent Oscar hosts have fallen flat, except for Billy Crystal: one, the Hollywood people don't get a lot of the zanier or more sophisticated kinds of humor (I'm thinking of Letterman in the former and Stewart in the latter), and two, and this is big, they have almost no self-deprecation at all.
When I think about it, every time an Oscar host makes a joke about a specific actor or actress, when they show the obligatory closeup, that person invariably has this tight smile and curt nod -- they're trying to act the good sport, but it's pretty clear that they don't find the joke funny in the slightest. (Except for George Clooney, whom I admire precisely because he always seems to show, lurking somewhere in the back of his mind and visible as a gleam at the corner of his eye, that they whole thing is just a big bunch of BS.)
So when Stewart makes a joke like "Bjork couldn't be here because when she put on her costume, Dick Cheney shot her", I wonder if the laughing audience members get it, or if they're laughing because Cheney just got made fun of. And I literally lost count of how many times, in an audience-response shot after a Stewart joke that would have had his Daily Show audience howling with laughter, some Hollywood personage is blinking and quite clearly saying, "What? Huh?" And that's why, once the camera people realized that Jamie Foxx was getting the jokes and laughing at them and having a great time, they started showing his reaction every time Stewart opened his mouth.
- The point was repeatedly made by various speakers at last night's ceremony that movies should be seen on the big screen. Lots of folks like to assume that the box office "problem" is a function of the movies (i.e., the ludicrous "Make better movies and people will see them!" canard), and Hollywood seems to want to assume that the box office "problem" is a function of the audiences (i.e., the equally ludicrous "Stop downloading all your movies!" canard). Odd that nobody seems to want to assume that maybe the box office "problem" is a function of the theaters. Renting a DVD and buying a box of microwave popcorn costs a fraction of what it does to go to the movies these days. Check out this recent Roger Ebert "Answer Man" column, which focuses entirely on how much of a pain it is to go to theaters these days. As wonderful as theaters are now, with astonishing sound and stadium seating, they've priced themselves well out of being regular entertainment venues.
Although Jaquandor dismisses the notion that people don't see as much movies because of the quality, I can't as readily. This year, I've gone to see less movies than any year I can recall in the last 15 years (not by a wide margin, however), yet I've seen every film I wanted to in the theater. I'm sure that if there were more films put out that appealed to me, I would have gone to the theater. The fact of the matter is that if I want to see it in a theater, I can't think of any current issue that would dissuade me.
Now, if the theaters want to take note of some of Ebert's suggestions, like blocking cell phone reception (or maybe employing a portable cell phone jammer) and eliminating commercials, I think that would definitely enhance the experience, but it isn't going to keep me away, either. Frankly, none of that bothers me as much as parents who bring in chatty kids to Rated-R movies. One time I lost my cool so much as to whisper loudly in their direction to "have your kids shut-the-fuck-up, please." What are they going to do, complain about the cursing? They are in a Rated-R movie to begin with! If you can't teach your kids etiquette outside the theater, I'll be pissed off enough to give them a crash course in the theater. Think I have an issue? Not compared to this guy.
Anyway, when possible to avoid such situations, I usually attend a screening of a film after a few weeks, when the crowds have died down and the odds of encountering obnoxious patrons has significantly decreased. I even get a thrill about being one of only a couple a people in a huge theater.
All that aside, this has more to do with the films themselves. I hadn't seen any of the Oscar contenders for best picture because, well, I just didn't have the desire to see them. I didn't have anything against them, but neither would I say, "Hey, let's go watch 'Capote'!" I'll wait for the DVD, thanks. As for "Crash", I had heard long before that it was rascism for idiots, so I doubt I'll bother with that anyway. The last film I saw in the theater, King Kong, was quite amazing, but I wasn't necessarily chomping at the bit to see it. However, there is a movie finally on the near-horizon that has my expectations up, and my Fandango card at the ready.
V for Vendetta is that film. Produced by the Wachowski brothers of Matrix fame, the movie is an adaptation of the graphic novel by Alan Moore. Here's the description of the film from the official site, for those of you unfamiliar:
- Set against the futuristic landscape of totalitarian Britain, V For Vendetta tells the story of a mild-mannered young woman named Evey (NATALIE PORTMAN) who is rescued from a life-and-death situation by a masked man (HUGO WEAVING) known only as Â?V.Â? Incomparably charismatic and ferociously skilled in the art of combat and deception, V ignites a revolution when he urges his fellow citizens to rise up against tyranny and oppression. As Evey uncovers the truth about VÂ?s mysterious background, she also discovers the truth about herself Â? and emerges as his unlikely ally in the culmination of his plan to bring freedom and justice back to a society fraught with cruelty and corruption.