Hollywood Cinema Part One (or – What I Dislike About Film)
Yesterday was the first ‘Hollywood and Beyond’ seminar. Hollywood cinema is not really my thing, in all honesty, I find the films never really live up tot he hype, and as I pointed out in class, I don’t like to pay over the odds for something I expect to be disappointed by (this was immediately shot down by fellow classmates with suggestions such as ‘stream it’ and ‘take your own popcorn’ – however, my point still stands – it’s jolly expensive going tot he cinema these days, so why waste the time and money on something I’m not sure about?).
I do not deny, there are some really great Hollywood movies – Jaws, Psycho, Jurassic Park (I like it) and even War of the Worlds (again, I quite enjoyed it at least), but the task to identify key features of Hollywood film left me cold.
We were, quite literally, listing all the things I detest about certain films. Or Hollywood films, at least.
- big budget productions
- star studded casts
- romantic/love story
- family orientated
- action packed
- happy endings
…and so on.
Sure, many independent films can have these characteristics too, for instance, I will always watch a film with Vincent Cassel or Tadanobu Asano (perhaps with the exception of Battleship and Thor, but Ichi the Killer and Survive Style 5+ more than make up for these misdemeanour’s.), they are my Johnny Depp types (I did mention that just because someone is a ‘star’, it does not mean that they are necessarily a good actor – note JD and Keanu Reeves – however, I think that Vincent Cassel and Tadanobu Asano are particularly good actors, as well as being rather attractive fellas).
I like a good love story – Breathless was mentioned in my last post, as was Amelie – perhaps two exceptionally soppy films in their own special way, but my problem with Hollywood is the fact that the love story always seems forced, and almost an afterthought. My first thought when this was mentioned in class was ‘it’s something for the girls’, which goes hand in hand with the happy endings. Perhaps a very cynical way of looking at this line of thought, but true, all the same, I feel. After all, we girls love a bit of romance don’t we? I have lost count of the number of times that I have seen a Hollywood remake, particularly of foreign language films, and they shove a love story in it for no apparent reason. Why?!!
It was disputed that a lot of Hollywood movies are family oriented, (this was my point, by the way), but you can’t get away from the mass marketing of films, particularly the officially merchandised lunch box, action figure, pencil case and posters. But then again, it’s all about the money, perhaps linking back to the ‘for the ladies’ point – widening audience appeal.
When we moved on to talking about particular Hollywood films, I was quite impressed with the things people were mentioning (looking over the module guide today, however, I realised that they chose what has been suggested in the ‘further viewing’ section) – Alien, Star Wars and Jaws (based on it being the first ‘Blockbuster’ and mass marketed production). Someone mentioned Harry Potter, which was then disputed, as ‘it was made in England’. My point of it being produced by Warner Brothers, as well as fitting into all the categories for what constitutes a Hollywood film, was pooh-poohed, but of course, the studio system was at the heart of the rise of Hollywood, with WB being one of the original ‘Big Five’.
I am somewhat disappointed that we don’t take a look at ‘New Hollwood’ (60s/70s when Hollywood went through a period of being a bit political and rather good) as we did last year, with Easy Rider and Dog Day Afternoon being two of the major stand out films from the ‘old’ module for me, but time does not allow for that this year, unfortunately. I guess I’ll have to watch them in my own time. Shame.
On a slightly different note, Sunday 7th October sees Splendid Cinema in Worcester showing Takashi Miike’s Hara-Kiri (Death of a Samurai). After mentioning how expensive the cinema is, I can highly recommend Splendid Cinema, as for the bargain price of £5 you get to see a varied selection of films from across the world. So put it in your diaries, and keep an eye on their blog and Facebook page for regular updates as to what is showing.