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Black Lamb

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Now in its 14th year of publication, this magazine was created to offer the discerning reader a stimulating selection of excellent original writing. Black Lamb Review is a literate rather than a literary publication. Regular columns by writers in a variety of geographic locations and vocations are supplemented by features, reviews, articles on books and authors, and a selection of “departments,” including an acerbic advice column and a lamb recipe.

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A global embarrassment

September 1st, 2003

BY GREG ROBERTS

The film industry has been a global embarrassment for such a long time, it leaves me with one wish: I hope it gets even worse, until it reaches the final degree of worthlessness, at which stage I can forget about it completely, the way I’ve dismissed popular music.

robertsmanyelling.jpgWhat thrill of freedom will be mine, and soon, too, judging from the quality of recent films. Bin Ladin is right — this stuff is real crap. Watching modern movies makes one a dirty little peasant child digging through the vast garbage dump of Guatemala City, occasionally, rarely, finding a piece of string or a bone with some tissue left on it, just enough to keep him slogging on.

The cardboard characters, the lousy scripts, the moralizing that is so heavy-handed you feel like a stockyard calf getting hit straight between the eyes with a sledge hammer, and the perpetrators — people such as Julia Roberts and Nick Nolte — not only get rich, they get respect for their shameless dreck.

Then there are the sound effects, roaring like jet engines. Psychotic gear-head engineers enhance the sound of ice cubes tinkling in a martini until you think your head has been slammed between cymbals.

I’ve been disgusted with the film industry to such an extent, I’m probably one of five people on earth who have not seen such famous flicks as Star Wars, E.T., or The Graduate. Last year I accidentally caught fifteen minutes of Titanic in someone’s living room, and the dialogue was so moronic I went to another room to stare out at a bird feeder half-full of Nigerian thistle seed. The usual crowd of lesser goldfinches were lazily stuffing their gizzards, as I’ve seen them do a thousand times, but they were a welcome and exciting relief from the disaster of the Titanic.

I uncork my anger at movies that are self-important. I’m grateful for and respectful of comedy. Our family watches Trains, Planes and Automobiles every Thanksgiving. Steve Martin and John Candy are hilarious. Movies such as Office Space and Waiting for Guffman are worthy of many watchings throughout one’s life.

And yet there must be at least one drama that was done right. Oh yes, the Oscar winner of 1940, a movie with good dialogue, superb direction and excellent acting from even the minor characters: Rebecca, directed by Alfred Hitchcock.

Watching this film is right for me because it comes from a time and place to unlike what we see in our daily lives. One of my main complaints about Hollywood is that it besieges me with characters who act and talk like the ordinary slobs I see at the supermarket or drycleaners. I’m sick of films that tell me what America is like in the twenty-first century. I already know too much about that. I’d rather hear a correctly-spoken sentence from a 1940s Englishman.

Yes, I’m aware of al the reasons why films have to be so bad. The investors and shareholders must be satisfied. The script must be accessible to the average moviegoer, a twelve-year-old with the cranial capacity of a mentally retarded squirrel monkey. It must also be appealing to thirty million Malaysian pottery painters. I’m aware of all that. But please stop calling it art. If You’ve Got Mail is art, then so is a Bud Light commercial.

No educated person should waste one minute watching an Academy Awards ceremony. It is simply sickening to see a puffed-up moron such as Oliver Stone take himself seriously because he has sold a lot of tickets. Sonny and Cher sold a lot of tickets, too. Does that make them Beethoven? •

Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Movie Issue, Roberts | Link to this Entry

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