Thursday, 12 January 2012

Invasion of the Philistines

“. . . saw a movie this year called Basic Instinct.

Now, Bill's quick capsule review: piece of shit. Thank you. . . . Anyway, after I saw it about eight times . . . come to find out, after seeing this film, all of the lesbian sex scenes were cut out of this film because the test audience . . . was turned off by them!

Boy, is my thumb not on the pulse of America. I don't wanna seem like Randy Pan the Goatboy. . . but that was the only reason I went to that piece of shit film. Sorry.

If I had been in that test audience, the only one out front protesting that film woulda been Michael Douglas demanding his part be put back in.”

-Bill Hicks

So David Cameron wants to see the UK make more ‘commercially viable’ films. This is a serious piece of arse-backwards logic as I can guarantee you that any film as a sop to a specific audience will probably be a commercial failure and will certainly be an artistic failure.

Cameron's viewpoint is supported by one Julian Fellowes of Downton Abbey fame;

"When you actually analyse that it means it should only go into films that nobody could conceivably want to see and there's no logic in that - you want to make a film-friendly, audience-friendly industry.

It's not a question of not having minority films, it's just opening it up so we're also getting behind films that people might want to see."

Now Julian appears to have a decent artistic record but his viewpoint is I am afraid completely *retarded*

I find it staggering that an accredited screenwriter can make the assumption that someone, somewhere is making a film which they think nobody will want to see! Presumably Julian assumes that some screenwriters unlike himself purposefully set out to make deliberately obscure and unpopular films as some sort of sadistic act. Julian would probably argue that Picasso should paint his figures properly as nobody likes funny shapes.

Commercial success is elusive and it relies on artistic integrity. If you disagree with this statement you are basically saying that people are stupid and we should cater to their stupidity.

The slightly annoying man with Britain's largest vocabulary (Mark Kermode) has a better viewpoint;

"There are loads of great British films made every year and only a fraction of them actually find a foothold in cinemas. If you really want to address the way the British film industry works address exhibition and distribution - that's the answer."
I must agree that most cinemas (especially outside London) play nothing but the usual Hollywood drivel such as Alvin & the Chipmunks, The Last Airbender or another fucking superhero remake. The fact that Hollywood distribution rams this stuff down our throats shuts out the possibility for people to seek out more fulfilling and challenging Cinema. This endless marketing of films devoid of artistic merit has seen some somewhat bizarre policy responses elsewhere.

The reality is that great art always needs a patron and often it is not recognised in its time. In classical times patronage came from the King or nobles or the Church and today it comes from arts groups and government funding. We should be supporting all kinds of film which develop our culture and push the boundaries of what that means. By definition ‘mainstream’ suggests repetition of the obvious, the banal and the same tired stories.

This kind of reductionist message is mirrored in music where we have the constant stream of vacuous, trite replicants appearing in our charts perennially singing the same, tired ‘mainstream’ songs. Do we really want our film industry falling to the same populist tides where people phone in to decide the most appropriate ending or the casting of the leading lady?

Film is at its best a fantastic art capable of changing our perspective and enriching our lives. Why should we wish to stunt the growth of our consciousness by encouraging an artistic race to the bottom. We can never know what great art is until it is beheld by people. However I can tell you that great art comes from the heart and not the head therefore if one can ‘think’ that one will make something successful one will most certainly not do so. All this reminds me of the excellent British film “Exit through the gift shop” which highlights quite succinctly the difference between a great artist and a someone trying to think like one.

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