In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_mv5bmtq1mze4mte3of5bml5banbnxkftztgwotcyndm3nte_._v1__sx1216_sy640_

Amy

Sometimes, it feels as if we are eavesdropping on day-to-day conversations rather than just hearing the usual litany of platitudes and regrets.

Thumb_large_nxcfdsanskih09xq74fjnyhw4g0

Stray Dog

"Stray Dog" largely succeeds because Granik's technique complements her subject. Both he and the film are modest in their goals and cherish the value of…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives

Griffin Mill and 'The Return of the Player'

player.jpg

He's baaaaack. And he's miserable.

Michael Tolkin, who wrote the novel and screenplay on which Robert Altman's "The Player" was based, has published a sequel in which studio executive Griffin Mill, now 52, is trying to get out of Hollywood. Tolkin has this to say about the state of movies, in a New York Times interview:

“The movies haven’t been very good the last three or four years, they really haven't," he said. “Everybody knows that. At least that, maybe more. And what they were will never return."

The source of all this creative- industrial- complex angst is the death of what he both eulogizes and parodies: the classic journey-of-the-hero story structure, analyzed by Joseph Campbell in the 1940’s, popularized a generation ago by George Lucas through “Star Wars," spouted and shorthanded by studio executives ever since, and all but trampled to death, Mr. Tolkin said, by nearly every subsequent action movie and thriller that Hollywood has turned out.

Or as Griffin puts it: “Physics cracked the atom, biology cracked the genome and Hollywood cracked the story."

What he's talking about, of course, is the ubiquity of screenwriting guru Robert McKee's story structure techniques, satirized in "Adaptation." with Brian Cox playing McKee.

Tolkin (not Tolkien) says he got the idea for Griffin Mill from watching Elliott Abrams at the Iran-Contra hearings. Abrams was indicted, pled guilty to withholding information from Congress, and was later pardoned by George H.W. Bush, only to serve in W's National Security Council. Tolkin says:

“I was obsessed with the question of how could he sleep at night, because it was obvious that he was lying. I guess I was interested in the modern sociopath: the political sociopath, the bureaucratic sociopath."

The way Tolkin sees it, America's "national myth" is formed and expressed by its movies, and that's why both are ailing:

That heroic story structure also happened, as Mr. Tolkin points out ominously, to suffice for an American national myth — witness Horatio Alger, James Stewart or “just the myth of the American little guy" — the myth of a hero with a sense of duty, honor, courage, righteousness and justice. But that too, he fears, is dead, and he pinpoints its demise on a spring day in 2004 when pictures of United States soldiers humiliating Iraqi prisoners circulated the globe.

“I don’t think America’s had a good movie made since Abu Ghraib," Mr. Tolkin said, before clarifying that he’s talking about big movies, not the minuscule ones that have met the industry’s quotas for unembarrassing award nominees. “I think it showed that a generation that had been raised on those heroic movies was torturing. National myths die, I don’t think they return. And our national myth is finished, except in a kind of belligerent way."

How depressing. But then, Tolkin ("The Rapture," "The New Age") has never been an uplifting guy. I'm still traumatized by his 1993 airliner-crash novel, "Among the Dead."

Popular Blog Posts

Why Can't Sad Be Fat?

A rebuttal to Joni Edelman's piece on "Inside Out."

Sex Symbol Without Auteur: The Strange Case of the Gina Lollobrigida Filmography

Three films starring Gina Lollobrigida have been released on Blu-ray; Glenn Kenny looks at them and her entire career.

“Scream” and “Zoo” Seek to Raise the Summer TV Body Count

MTV's Scream and CBS's Zoo premiere tonight. One is worth your time. Which one?

James Horner's Underrated Scores

An essay on the underrated scores of late composer James Horner.

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus