Sunday, March 05, 2006

Narrative and Character

I recently read an article by Roger Ebert. He was discussing the five best picture nominations for tonight's Oscars. The big topic this year is the lack of "box office" generated by the best picture nominations. It's a far cry from TITANTIC or LORD OF THE RINGS. This year it's "artsy" films that nobody has seen. Here's the Ebert quote I like:

"Hammered by the idiocy of formula television and video games, a generation is forming that has no feeling for narrative and character. The Oscar nominees represent filmmaking at a high level, but who do you know who has gone to see more than two or three of them?"

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7 Comments:

Anonymous Matthew Jones said...

Ebert has a mild point about narritive and character but Hollywood has blamed TV for every bad box office year since the box was invented. Do they CREDIT television when they have great years? Of course not. It's the films. The way I see it, this years crop are not easily marketable or they are targeted at a niche audience. (But then again, wasn't the first STAR WARS a big gamble?) No, it's not evil TV. It's pretty clear for me that it's the niche marketablity of the films.

Go down the list: A gay cowboy love story, interwoven story of racial issues, [a limited release] film of a 50's writer and his death row subjects, a TV newsman goes up against McCarthyism, Jewish hit squad give some payback to Palestinian organizers of terrorism. Not exactly family-fun films. Which is fine by me but somehow they're surprised the box office is low?? Worse yet, Ebert blames TV? He should know better. What a chump!


SIDE NOTE: I am of the opinion that most of this years nominees are somewhat light on "umpf". Don't get me wrong, there are some really good films in there but not any "great" ones. In my book, last years THE AVIATOR is better than all the films this year too. (Don't get me started about MILLION DOLLAR BABY winning last year. Still pissed!! The Academy lost a lot of street cred on that choice.) One of my favorites this year was SYRIANA and it wasn't even nominated for picture so I guess i'm out of touch with the ever-aging Academy.

12:46 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

To quote Matt:"I am of the opinion that most of this years nominees are somewhat light on "umpf". Don't get me wrong, there are some really good films in there but not any "great" ones."

I couldn't agree more. What you said sums up how I feel about the Class of '05. I must confess that I was not able to get out and see them all. Your pick of SYRIANA (which I did see) for best film I also agree with, but it is not a GREAT film. Here's to hoping that '06 will be better.

9:54 PM  
Anonymous The Uncool said...

While I too was disappointed with '05's offerings this year (did anybody LOVE anything?) I would like to split hairs with Ebert on something. While I agree that this generation may not have an understanding of character, I TOTALLY disagree they don't have one on narrative. In my book - that's all they do have. And to be honest, every single movie hollywood churns out (and sot so called independents) are very strong in narrative.....

from WEBSTERS, "narrative" - something that is narrated, STORY, the art or practice or story telling....

Well, point of fact, FAILURE TO LAUNCH tells a story. And it's probably very TAUGHT in doing so. Pretty woman had a pretty strong narrative. Pretty clean cut. Boring and annoying as hell, but a strong narrative.

The problem isn't the lacking of narrative or story. the problem is HOW YOU TELL THAT STORY. David Lynch's blue Velvet is not amazing due to it's story. Umm. kidnapping, murder, it's pretty basic stuff. The genius is in HOW he tells that story. In fact most of the movies I love I don't love because of story (or narrative). I usually love it because of character, uniqueness in STYLE of the telling the story, or an emotional connection. ....

which leads me to a tangental point ...

On one level, I don't even care about narrative. SLACKERS is one of the greatest movies ever (easily in my top 100) in my opinion. It is VOID of narrative. Quite often I prefer movies that I EXPERIENCE rather than necessarily UNDERSTAND.....

Kubrick, when once pushed by an interviewer remarked, "do I have to tell you what everything in the picture means? Can't you just experience it."

Final point - while I begrudgingly admit the world is going down hill - it's not TV or Video games that is to blame for weak movies. It's the lack of an original voice. Where's Charlie Kaufman when you need him.

8:44 PM  
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