Wednesday, April 10, 2013

"What's Left?"

I like movies.


Sorry, that was a little loud.  But you knew it was coming.  Who writes a piece starting with “I like movies”, and then writes about liking movies.  Where’s the obligatory surprise in that?  That’s like opening with “I like bagels” and you just talk about eating bagels.  No “But I once tried to slice one, and the knife slipped, and I am now missing a thumb.” 

The audience requires a “BUT.”  Otherwise, it’s just a guy eating a bagel. 

“But does it need to be ‘Bold’?”

I said I was sorry.

“It’s too late.  My ears are ringing.”

I’m moving on.  With, now, a third apology to the tender of ear.  I like movies.  Movie attendance was a regular habit until well into early middle age, or maybe middle middle age.  I do not know where the line is.

Anyway, then…I didn’t stop going to movies exactly, but I seriously tapered off.  To the point where now, if I see a handful of movies a year…that’s how many I see. 

The question is,

What happened?

In case you’re thinking, “Earlo, are you going to bore us with yet another jolly jaunt to the “Generation Gap”?  The answer is, not entirely.  And the hope is to not bore you at all.  Though a hope is not a guarantee.

Yes, part of my falling away as a regular movie attendee has to do with the movie business’s decision to focus their attention on the younger – considerably younger – movie-going audience.  But this is hardly the entire story.  Some of my aversions to certain movies or movie genres are strictly personal, inhabiting the areas of taste and temperament.  I hope they are not too personal, allowing you the opportunity to identify, rather than simply dismissing me as irrelevantly bizarre.

Here, in no particular order – other than the order in which I thought of them – are types and genres of movies I will not be attending without some weapon of Earlistic destruction pointed at my head:

I will be seeing no movies whose climactic moment is the Prom.

I am not leaving the house for zombies.  (This proscription includes vampires.  Anyone, in fact, who should be dead, but isn’t.)

No movies involving miracles.  (The miracle would be if you got me to go to one.)

You will not find me at movies involving undercover cops, where the only question is when they’ll be found, and what will happen to them when they are.

I will not be seeing movies based on books that I liked, or based on books that I didn’t.  It is also no easy task to get me to a sequel, a prequel, or a remake, the latter inevitably reminding me of the superior version they made first.

I am a definite “no-show” at historical epics whose commitment to accuracy is limited to the costumes, the hairstyles, the lighting and the props.

Terminal illness movies are out.  As are movies where a character suffers an incapacitating injury, which precluded independent visits to the bathroom.  Append to that films about people who have been shot, and once recovered, are nowhere near what they once were.  Add also movies about characters who lose limbs, even though their lives are immeasurably enriched because of it.

I am reluctant to lay down hard cash for a romantic comedy whose ending can be predicted from the beginning.  (Jennifer Aniston is a skillful actress in this regard, convincing me, at least, that she didn’t see it coming.)

In the context of predictability, I resist seeing movies – generally sports movies, but sometimes it’s a Spelling Bee – where the underdog wins.  (The only one truly surprised by such outcomes is the highly favored opponent that the underdog defeats.  “We forgot.  It’s a movie.”)

I am not enthusiastic about movies set in the future.  They deny me the opportunity of complaining “That would never happen”, because, though it’s exceedingly unlikely, it might.

(An “Intermission” for two types of movies my wife refuses to go to, and since we attend these things together, this supplements the list of movies I can’t see.  Dr. M, a psychologist, eschews all movies about the mentally disturbed and their subsequent treatment, on the grounds of, “That is not even close to anything real.”  Dr. M also rejects movies where the anorexic leading actress weighs less than the Oscar that her tortured performance will inevitably bring her.  Okay, now back to me.)

I do not need to see movies in which Russian mobsters operate sex-slave rings.  I get enough of that watching Law & Order SVU.
Despite their immense popularity, I steer clear of movies whose Special Effects upstage the storylines or, even worse, replace them.

Do not expect me at movies where a prostitute is handed a Platinum Card, and is sent off to Rodeo Drive.

I mm not real comfortable deriding specific performers, one, because it’s too easy, and two, because you may be fans of the performers I’m deriding, but I am “this close” to closing the book on Will Farrell and Adam Sandler.  And Paul Rudd is on the cusp.

They don’t make many of them, but still, I am reluctant to buy tickets for a movie about a genius scientist or mathematician, where, for two or more excruciating hours, you have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about.

You will not see me at a “Death Penalty” movie where they’re executed, and the audience has to watch.

Anybody buried alive, or trapped and they can’t get out – I am sweating just writing about it.

And finally, the whole “umbrella” category of “Violence”, both physical to extreme emotional, including war movies with exploding body parts, bomb detonation movies where when you cut the wrong wire first you do not get to go home, airplane movies where the plane’s acting crazy and “Sully” or even a drunk Denzel Washington is not the pilot, movies where attractive people go swimming and some subterranean predator chews off their legs, torture movies (whether they lead to Bin Laden’s whereabouts or they don’t), “ransom” movies where, for incentive to payment, frantic family members are the agonized recipients of a loved one’s finger, any movie where the survival of one species requires consuming the brains of another…

I think that’s enough.  Though I am sure there are types of unacceptable movies I have overlooked.  It’s a admittedly formidable list.  Which includes virtually every popular movie – good and bad – of the last twenty-five years. 

I like movies.  But, excluding the aforementioned categories, there is really not much left for me to see.


PG said...

Almost all-inclusive. I'd only add movies where the lead has to pretend to be proficient at an art that takes years to develop....let's say, a ballerina, for example, and the audience focuses it's attention on the clever editing to determine whose arms and legs are really flapping around in, say, Swan Lake. And then she kills herself!
Movies where a person is washed up on a topical island without any sunblock...
Movies where a couple promises to meet at the top of the Empire State building (never a good plan).

Frank said...

You are too kind to Adam Sandler as that book should have been burnt years ago.