Trial by Fire
The film plods at points, trudging along, and there are a few misguided narrative "devices" tacked on, but still, "Trial by Fire" bristles with anger.
A synchronistic cartoon from Peet Gelderblom at Lost in Negative Space.
Now, some people say everything is just fine, and that we've even had a better-than usual crop of summer pictures this year: "Knocked Up," "Ratatouille," "Superbad," "The Bourne Ultimatum"... On the other hand, there's "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," "Hostel Part II," "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry"... These, I submit, are conscious or unconscious cries for help.
None of my prescriptions is a panacea, but among the measures I suggest Mr. and Ms. Hollywood might want to consider are: more nudity (way more nudity); less emphasis on pain and torture as a form of entertainment (bad for concessions sales, for one thing); better recycling of stars who have fallen out of fashion (like John Travolta in "Pulp Fiction"); watch HBO and learn about sex, violence, character, and storytelling; don't keep making sequels until the original audience hates you for it (even the last installments in "trilogies" tend to range from disappointing to insulting); stop wasting time and depleting resources fighting protracted, losing battles against technologies that have always proven to make you more money in the end: "The future arrived the day before yesterday and you're still pretending it's due next week."
Read the full "letter" here.
...[Why] why do adults in Hollywood movies still behave as if they're on "The Dick Van Dyke Show"? (Nothing against "The Dick Van Dyke Show," which is one of the great achievements in television history, but you know what I mean: Rob and Laura not only slept in separate twin beds but they always wore pajamas.)
Sex in the movies seemed like it was going somewhere in the '70s, with "Five Easy Pieces," "Last Tango in Paris" and "Don't Look Now." In 1993, the great Julianne Moore played out a full-frontal scene -- an argument at home with her husband -- in Robert Altman's "Short Cuts," and it wasn't the nudity that was shocking, it was the physical and emotional reality of the scene. Do you know people who pop out of bed after sex sporting underwear? Who's in such a blasted hurry to get dressed?
The best special effect in the history of movies is the human face, with the human body coming in a close second. Use it. You think torture porn sells? The audience for porn-porn is exponentially larger. (Have you heard of this thing called the World Wide Internets? It revolutionized a whole lucrative section of the movie industry -- mostly the one located beyond Warners, Disney and Universal in the farther reaches of the San Fernando Valley.)
Got any advice for "Hollywood" yourself?
This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...