Byron Pitt lives and breathes cinema, displaying a rare and sometimes explosive passion for the silver screen - often with unpredictable results. GeekPlanetOnline is proud to present a movies column from the self-confessed “film drunk”; a man who once yelled at an entire cinema for laughing at Johnny English…
My new job is in sales and a couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of a three day training course away from home. However, said course also featured a crap load of intense work, all taken by a guy who kept reminding me of Blake from Glengarry Glen Ross.
IMAGE: Fuck you! That's my name!
CAPTION: A long way away from Tina Fey
The final gruelling day had us talking about a subject that many dread: failure. For an absorbing half hour I was locked in a room with the most animated middle aged man this side of Robin Williams
IMAGE: It's not your fault.
CAPTION: Seriously, he made this guy’s shit look restrained
The man’s inspiring and motivational ranting had my mind wondering about failure, and how we seem to soak up and retain things we perceive as failure quicker and more easily than things we consider successful. My pop-culture addled brain, as always, had me applying this to my love of loves...movies.
When it comes to film, our dark side get unleashed, and we are constantly (and often viciously) maiming directors with verbal swipes. After placing the new Scott Pilgrim trailer up on Facebook a few days ago, a friend (who will remain nameless for lazy reasons) threw a right hook at the feature's second theatrical: “This is going to be dreadful. Edgar should be ashamed.”
His second comment was no less of an attack on the film but made more sense in terms of context: “It looks shit.”
That is something I can get behind. Many feel a film can look shit from a trailer, hell the Cinematic Dramatic podcast often sees me bemoaning the look of various flicks like the pompous asshole I am.
But Edgar Wright should be “ashamed” of this “dreadful” movie? Why? Because of of a two minute trailer? A piece of promotion that is very possibly edited outside of the original production team? Each to their own, and I dare say I have prejudged the odd movie or two. I will however, say that Wright himself is so engrossed with getting this movie finished that he doesn’t even know what’s marketing where. Apparently he had no idea about Universal slamming pictures all over the London Excel Expo until he caught a tweet on his feed. It’s a commonly known fact that directors have little control of a film's marketing and so while the trailer can’t please everyone, I doubt it can dictate a film's pacing, overall plot and all the other things that a 90+ minute film may not be able to replicate in 120 seconds.
A Youtuber (illicitfilms) ranted, “the director of amazing movies like Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz made THIS? This is soooooo horribly horrible it's a shame... that director "had" potential, key word being "had" thus the past tense, meaning no longer.....”
I must admit this made me laugh at the idea that the mere sight of this two minute bit of marketing fluff proves that Wright has lost all the talent he has or may have had. The idea of this would be a handy excuse for certain directors.
Why do we do this? We seem to hold our strongest critical cynicism for directors we like. Both comments I picked seem to display that Edgar Wright is/was a director that both people enjoyed, but all it takes is a disliked trailer to have us film fans braying for blood, tears and forgiveness as if none of that was used in the making of films.
It’s bad enough the internet has allowed us to create film communities, which can easily become vast hubs of cynicism in a blink of an eye. We suddenly become vultures picking cinematic bones dry, damning whole careers quicker than Galactus can eat a planet.
But what’s so shit strikingly hilarious/sad is how we appear to compare one failure (or perceived failure) to multiple successes. Edgar Wright’s Spaced sitcom and first two cinematic endeavours are already considered iconic cultural cornerstones, not just to cult fans, but to a hefty majority of casuals and critics. Somehow to some, two minutes of footage has made the previous work null and void. I considered other directors that received similar treatment. Joel Schumacher, a schizophrenic director at the best of times, has still managed to craft some entertaining genre projects, with Phone Booth, Falling Down and Tigerland being particular stand outs. Let's not forget he had a hand in creating the only thing that could bitch slap Edward Cullen into an undead eternal slumber:
IMAGE: Kiefer is sleepy
CAPTION: Ladies and gentleman: The Jack Bauer Vampire
But despite all this, over everything, he will always be remembered as the man who nippled Batman.
CAPTION: Also the hair doesn’t help matters.
Why is it we seem to value the bad over the good? Why is it that a creative can produce two or three pieces of good product, but will be shot to shit because of a lesser piece? Have we raised the bars so high that anything that doesn’t reach the same point suddenly becomes a huge disappointment? Is it that in this age of film where we not only have so much product, but so much weak crap that those we consider brilliant must constantly strive to exceed our ridiculous and almost delusional expectations? Does everything our favourite writers/directors create have to be fantastic in order to keep our faith in cinema?
I have a friend who loved the Coen brothers, till he got burned with No Country for Old Men and Burn After Reading. Since then, he has no interest in anything new they do. He’s loved more of their movies than he’s hated and yet those two films have put him off completely. I was struck dumb.
With an artform (yes, my pretentious backside still considers it one) that is as subjective as cinema; in which an opinion of a film can change merely with the passing of time, I constantly ponder why films' failure, both perceived or actual, appears more important to us than the movies we DO like. I certainly didn’t write off David Lynch after the brain fart that is The Lost Highway (I’ve tried and failed to enjoy it three times). Five years later he created one of my favourite films in Mulholland Drive, and for that I am forever grateful.