Films for Fun

20 Jul, 2004 | EntertainmentTdp

Now I'm a big film fan, a film nerd really. Although I've slowed down of late, I still watch a lot of films and my collection is pretty sizeable (but I can still never find one I fancy watching, bizarre really). I love films, always have. (I've just noticed that I call them movies a lot, I had to go back and change three instances of movie to film in the previous three sentences, movies are what Americans watch, Brits watch films, I need to work on that.)

I think part of my wane in movie going (I'm letting that one slide) has been due to a lack of fulfilment when I do go. The magic just doesn't seem to be there like it used to. Partly I can attribute this to Hollywood's current (well, over the last decade) obsession with spin-offs, sequels and re-hashes rather than making new, novel and daring films. They're currently in a TV and comic book adaptation phase, and continuing any franchise that's done well before. Having said that, Spiderman 2 is supposed to be as good, if not better, than the original and Harry Potter 3, while far from perfect, was great fun and Shrek 2 seems to be doing well. On the other hand, we've had Van Helsing, Hellboy, The Punisher, Starsky and Hutch and Garfield: The Movie barely raise a murmur before disappearing (in the States, most of these haven't been released on UK shores yet).

Hollywood's reason for sticking with 'known' quantities is because the price of making a film is spiralling up and up. I'd guess that the average Hollywood film costs about $50 million (apparently it's $63.8 million), while the price of a blockbuster is somewhere north of $100 million, with that much money on the line (and therefore, in many cases, the entire studio) you're obviously going to try and cut the odds of making a Hudson Hawk (i.e. a flop), or at least try and limit the potential for damage.

I used to read all the film mags, check out all the web sites, hang out at some of the forums, but I've cut back a lot on that too. The reason for this is simple, I ended up knowing too much about a movie film (damn, again) before I went to see it. I think this was another reason films didn't fill me with the awe and wonder they used to; I knew too much about them. I knew the plot, the actors, the locations, the behind-the-scenes stories and I think that took away the mystery. My cut back in reading means I know far less about what's coming out, but it also means I know far less about what's coming out, so I miss stuff. I check out trailers on the Apple trailers site, sometimes I make it into the BBC Films section, but that's about it. It gives me an idea of what's coming, just not a very broad one.

Another possible reason for my drop in cinema going may come down to the UK cinemas. I went to the cinema quite a bit while travelling and I think I was spoilt. North American cinemas especially are much better than the UK; the screens are bigger, convenient parking, the seats are larger and more comfortable, and you can find screenings that aren't packed, it's nice. The UK cinemas aren't bad, far from it, but some of them do give the impression they're far more interested in the number of people they can cram in over the quality of the presentation.

In film quality terms, all is not lost, there are people still trying to make the sort of films that will be remembered like those who saw the original Star Wars films remember them. Lord of the Rings is one example and I remember the excitement seeing the original Matrix film back in '99. And there are a few of the neglected genres that are overdue for revival. Pirates of the Caribbean and Master and Commander have hopefully revived the pirate/swashbuckling genre, but westerns are being overlooked at the moment. Hollywood seems to have developed a taste for historical epics (Troy, The Alamo, King Arthur) this year, I'm not sure that's a good thing, but we'll see. I'd like to see Hollywood spread itself a little further, instead of a few relatively big average budget films ($30-50 million), why not invest less in a larger number of more diverse offerings? Pulp Fiction was made for $8 million, The Usual Suspects for $6 million, Swingers and Mad Max for $200,000 a piece. I'd certainly go for 3-4 of those instead of a Glitter, a Wild Wild West or a Gigli travesty, wouldn't you?

Maybe it's just me. Incidently, if anybody out there has any suggestions for films I should see, old or new, drop me a line.

Incidently, I just found an article that says that the UK film industry boasted record levels of film production and their second highest box office in 30 years, anyone who says film piracy is killing the industry is obviously a lying bastard.