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Friday, March 03, 2006

CNN Worried About Oscars 

But what is going on in Hollywood?

I haven't seen any of these movies because it's awfully expensive, but CNN conveys some of the alarm people might feel about a controversial "Oscar" event:

These five films -- respectively, "Brokeback Mountain," "Crash," "Good Night, and Good Luck," "Munich" and "Capote" -- as well as nominees such as "The Constant Gardener" (pharmaceutical company chicanery in Africa), "Transamerica" (pre-op transsexual goes on a journey with a son) and "Syriana" (the intermingling of oil and politics) have prompted observers to wonder: What's going on in Hollywood, so often the land of spaceships, buddy comedies and damsel-in-distress thrillers?

Well, indeed. Buddy comedies—gosh, there seems to be something in my eye—those were the best. Redford and Newman, Gibson and Glover. Of course Brokeback Mountain is, I gather, a kind of buddy movie. And damsel-in-distress thrillers? As I said to Mack Sennett the other day, I'd like to think that the talkies are a passing fad, but I guess they're here to stay.

But what is going on in Hollywood? If I may be so bold, it's safe to say that whatever goes on in Hollywood bears some kind of resemblance to what is going on in the rest of the US. That's because a picture will only be made if a lot of highly-paid guys are convinced that people are going to pay to see it as soon as it's released. They're sometimes wrong, but that is the principle that decides which movies get made. Quirky pictures are left to independents and foreign rascals.

Critics justifiably complain about the falseness of Hollywood movies, as if movie-makers were out of touch with ordinary life and portray everything in an alien fashion because they have spent so much time drinking champagne with society dames and playing baccarat. But ultimately they cater to the audience. They learn what people want to hear and they give them more of the same. That's the achievement of US cinema and, unfortunately, its flaw.


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Watching TV is a good way to tear yourself away from the computer.