lengths of comfy verdure

i like to sit back, relax and opine.

Monday, February 27, 2006

movies today PART ONE


it occurred to me last night, as i lay, immobilized by my recently initiated excercise regime--more on that later-- while warren walked the dog, that the reason we don't go to the movies any more is partly because they are all terrible. (another reason is that we really don't like to leave the apartment for anything.) i mean they are all boring. because they are all the same. and what's the same about them is their structure. it's the structure that the "plot-o-matic" software, described in my previous post, probably helps you arrive at. it's just a given these days that you set your main character up for twenty minutes and then "something happens that turns her whole world around," etc.

this is not a novel observatioin by any means; it's what we mean when we say that a hollywood movie is "formulaic". but it occurred to me that part of what we must do, maybe even most of what we must do, when we "set up" our main character, in other words, tell the audience who she is, is establish what the character desires most in life. because then the plot unfolds as a function of whether she gets what she wants or not, how she gets it or not, who gets in her way, etc. this is a very 20th to 21st century consumer culture american way of identifying a person--by what she wants.

for example, GI jane wants most in life to be a high ranking military officer (she is even willing to endanger her marriage toward this end.) in order to accomplish her goal, she must prove herself as valuable as any man in combat by becoming the first female navy seal. (if you are going to watch a formula movie, this is the one to watch. i LOVED watching demi kicking some serious camo ass.) or: the protagonist of todd solondz's *palindromes*, 12 year old aviva, wants a baby. she'll do *anything* to get one. (i won't spoil it, but i don't recommend subjecting yourself to the excruciating things she does, either.)

i'm not saying that other cinematic, or other narrative, traditions don't define their main characters by what they most want in life. but lots of french movies, for example, don't, and then there's even the american, terrence malick. oh, and short-lived harmony korine. but the constant barrage of dreams realized, vengeances wrought and journeys home is exhausting in a rapidly declining culture, such as ours, in which culture itself has devloved into a mere expression of an unending cycle of desire and consumption. it's the ultimate product placement, the hollywood three act structure. we can't conceive of life any other way, i was thinking, lying in bed, contemplating the fact that i pretty much have everything i have ever really wanted passionately, and wondering what i should want passionately next.



At 1:48 PM, Anonymous kat said...

Tia, you are so insightful and intelligent. I am glad I read this. I feel enlightened!


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