— Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine from Casablanca, 1942
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August 7, 2003
Some speculation Now, I think
— Posted by John Campea
So, the question we must ask (and by “must ask” I mean “might possibly find ourselves wondering about if we’re bored and happen to be a member of a movie review web site”) is what is different this year? Some would say that this really isn’t a very relevant question, because the answer relies on things like personal preference in movies, and what the fad at the time is, etcetera. This is true. For example, I happen to really like comic books. Right now, movies based on superheroes are very much in style, which means I get to see shows like X-Men, Spiderman, the Hulk, and on and on. Sweet for me, crappy for someone who hates comic books.
However, I believe there is a deeper trend at work here. A quick overview of movies in the last decade reveals a continuing increase in the number of movies that are clearly, for lack of a better term, pure fiction. What am I talking about? Of course, any movie that’s not a documentary or based totally or partly on real life is pure fiction, but that’s not what I mean. What I’m talking about are movies like Pirates of the Caribbean, Lord of the Rings and The Matrix that are obviously not rooted in our reality at all. Now, this is just me speaking, but personally I love a story that is larger than life, something that manages to completely take me away from everyday life and everyday problems. If I want to hear about the problems we face in the real world, I’ll watch the real world.
When you’re watching Spiderman, you don’t have to worry about who’s really the bad guy, what’s Peter getting out of the deal, or any other shades of gray. It’s all laid out in black and white, good and evil.
And that’s a good thing.
Complex stories are fine. My #1 movie of all time is the Godfather. There’s enough gray in that flick to paint a battleship. The point I’m stumbling towards is this: people enjoy stories that are clearly just stories. Not everything has to be gritty and meaningful.
If you agree or disagree with me, email John and let him know about it (just click on his name to the left there). He just moved to Toronto, and needs something to fill his long, lonely days. Answering your questions and comments might make him feel a little better. Unless of course you ask stupid questions, or all of your comments are personal insults directed at his looks or hygiene. But, that would make me feel better, so really we’re looking at a win-win here.
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