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Thread: The Most Overrated Movies of 2002

  1. #46

    Mainstream

    I'm not so sure "mainstream" and "dumbed-down" NEED to go together, but too often they do. And with so many people throwing money at schlock like Men in Black II and other overhyped, overmarketed sequels, it sort of proves its own theory, that people will pay for anything, no matter how badly done or condescending it is, if it's marketed properly. America is a nation of trendy consumers, and it's important for the average moviegoer to see MIB2 JUST SO THEY CAN AGREE ON HOW BAD IT IS. Never mind that twenty great films might be playing in the next theater; MIB2 is the one they've been hearing about on Entertainment Tonight for three straight months.

    Look at our newspapers. USA Today is written for a 12th-grade mentality. If that's all we expect of the average American, it should be no surprise that John Nash's story needed to be "dumbed down" for the masses, much less made homogenized like every other Hollywood mainstream production. I'm surprised intelligent films get made at all, since people obviously can't market Adaptation or Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (which is moderately intelligent but is certainly badly marketed) to a gross of more than $20-$30 million.

    I was born in 1977 so I wasn't around for the alleged '70s heyday of films, but it seems to me from what I've read that audiences were able to embrace more challenging, incendiary material at that time. Can someone who was an active moviegoer before the Blockbuster Era explain to me how audiences have crumbled from discerning, intelligent individuals to the present lowest common denominator herd mentality they've adopted?

  2. #47
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    Re: Mainstream

    Originally posted by miseenscene
    I'm surprised intelligent films get made at all, since people obviously can't market Adaptation or Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (which is moderately intelligent but is certainly badly marketed) to a gross of more than $20-$30 million.

    Intelligent films get made partly because they often become profitable when international gross, video rental and sale, sale of television rights, etc. are added to domestic gross.

    I wasn't around for the alleged '70s heyday of films, but it seems to me from what I've read that audiences were able to embrace more challenging, incendiary material at that time. Can someone who was an active moviegoer before the Blockbuster Era explain to me how audiences have crumbled from discerning, intelligent individuals to the present lowest common denominator herd mentality they've adopted?
    Youth culture was very important in the 60s and 70s. Hollywood eventually realized this and financed films from an unusually talented group of kids such as Scorsese, Coppola, Altman,etc. Hollywood and the Media had yet to refine mass marketing. The big studios did not have quite the monopoly over screens worldwide they have today. In certain circles, the new Godard was as much a topic of conversation as the new Dylan or the Vietnam war. Repertory theatres showed a diferent film or two every day, not only in big cities but also college towns. The screening of an old Mizoguchi or Renoir film was a public event. You could not rent the vhs to watch at home. This would soon change. Cinema would become something increasingly private, experienced in solitude. People would still yearn for community and seek it in places like filmwurld.com

  3. #48
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    You Expect Too Much

    I can't believe so many posts ask for some sort of miracle film that will somehow compress in two hours in some digestible form that the general public will accept and pay money to go see that accurately and completely explores complex societal issues. Drug and corruption as in "Traffic" was a lot more simple to transfer to film than the difficult, convoluted mental health issues. Those of the general public who haven't been touched by serious mental health illnesses have enough problems just sorting out "split personalties" (an out of date term) along with "schizo-personality" (a non-DSM-IV). "A Beautiful Mind" managed to retain the integrity of what "schizophrenia" is in terms that etched into peoples brains. I think some of the authors of these posts believe that a majority of these movie goers are going to recall more than two or three images from a movie over a six-months or a year's time (without taking any tests or constantly studying or reviewing the material in their hectic lives). I believe that "A Beautiful Mind" stuck to one of the most important, singular images that of what might it be like to have "schizophrenia." Just being able to convey that concept, this one idea, makes "A Beautiful Mind" a triumph and success as a motion picture. Whether or not the treatment of "schizophrenia" was accurately portrayed or not was besides the point. I mean how many people are going to sit through Parts I, II, III, IV for six or ten hours? What about all the affairs John Nash had. Accuracy and realism necessarily go out the window when one sees feature films. If the general public wants education and to learn about real topics, that why we have libraries and schools and the Internet, public service messages, and documentaries.

  4. #49
    If the general public wants education and to learn about real topics, that why we have libraries and schools and the Internet, public service messages, and documentaries.
    Hmm. That's like saying films only exist to give us theoretical views of events, or pure escapism. I think the fact that enough of us on here are complaining about it shows that there's an audience for films that aspire to more than two money shot images in a 90 minute timespan. Catering to the short attention span and abyssmal IQ of the average American is a great way to sell "product," but it's a horrible way to harness the full potential of film as a means of communication.

    Beyond that, if leading the public to believe that schizophrenia is basically escapism, in which the afflicted spend their whole lives talking to imaginary friends and going on wild adventures, it seems to disrespect the full range of the disease. I'm not asking for documentary realism in every biography, but I am asking for some kind of honesty or integrity that goes beyond altering facts so as to appeal to the public. Changing the facts so people will be interested is not benefiting anyone except the stockholders of the studios.

  5. #50
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    Dumbing down?

    I can understand someone's being taken by Beautiful Mind and loving it. I cannot ever accept that it is a sound treatment of schizophrenia or teaches anyone anything up to date about mental illness.

    I also don't buy that mainstream movies are always dumbed down and I certainly don't buy that they have to be. "Average" intelligence is not a state of idiocy, but the average audience may be ignorant of many subjects. That's why intelligent mainstream movies can be instructive as well as entertaining, or, by the old Latin motto, dulce et utile, sweet and useful.

    Let's look at some more examples. 1999: American Beauty, Magnolia, Three Kings, The Insider. 2000: Erin Brockovich, Nurse Betty, Almost Famous, Cast Away, Traffic. 2001: Oceanís Eleven. For 2002, I've already mentioned Catch Me If You Can and Chicago. These are all from my personal USA Ten Best Lists. 2001 is low on mainstream because there were so many great relatively offbeat movies that found distribution, such as Memento, Bully, L.I.E., Waking LIfe, In the Bedroom, and Gosford Park. The others were all smart, well made movies and they reached a mainstream audience.

    Ones among the above annual lists that had something instructive to say along with being entertaining are Three Kings, The Insider, Erin Brockovich, and Traffic.

    Or else, I may not know what a "mainstream audience" or "mainstream film" are, and if that's the case, frankly I'd rather not ponder too deeply the question of what the "average" moviegoer can "handle." It's not good for an artist or filmmaker to second guess his audience or his market too much. Best to try to get a film made that's the best you can do, and let the audience take care of itself. That means it may take you years to get your idea onscreen. I know it wasn't a pushover to get Three Kings done. But it was done and it's wickedly funny and smart and timely and I saw it in a mobbed auditorium of a big UA cineplex and I didn't see people walking out shaking their heads in bewilderment.

    It's true: we don't live in the Seventies. We live in the aftermath of the terrible onslaught of Blockbusters, the Terminators, and we live under the critical reign (insofar as critics do reign) of soundbite judgments by Ebert and Roeper or in print of slick charmers who'd rather read a book like Anthony Lane -- instead of passionate movie lovers like Pauline Kael (who had some people, Scorsese, Altman, Coppola -- to be passionate about).

    But my mainstream lists for recent years isn't half bad. And there's always Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings series, which passes muster with the most sophisticated and informed Tolkien fans, and, frankly, goes largely right over my head, though I see its beauty and can appreciate that it's something exceptional -- and it draws in a general audience and enchants children and adults equally.

    I believe that if you can get an intelligent mainstream movie made, and clearly you still can, the audience is there for it. No dumbing down is necessary and to think so is a dumb idea -- though clearly there are plenty of people in Hollywood who cling to such thinking, guys who hold the purse strings. But it's they who are the dumb ones, so you can put one over on them now and again and get them to fund something quite good.

  6. #51
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    I think new filmmakers should take Quentin Tarantino's advice:

    "You should ask yourself if your film is NEEDED. Would you be pumped to see your own film if you didn't make it?"
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  7. #52
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    Comprehension

    Any of the movies that I've read on this thread appear to just scratch the surface of the topic they are about - 1999: American Beauty, Magnolia, Three Kings, The Insider. 2000: Erin Brockovich, Nurse Betty, Almost Famous, Cast Away, Traffic. 2001: Oceanís Eleven.

    Traffic attempted to give us three different perspectives on the drug traffic problem in two hours, with the apparent assasination of a leading prosecution witness - how many times has that happened in this country? Erin Brockovich gave us sexy female gets public records by using her body. Almost Famous gave us groupies - a really socially relevant topic that is sure to lead to some important understanding of girls I imagine. Nurse Betty gave us crazy too and a brush off by the typical television star who is not really a human, but a caricature. Three Kings us this believeable story about the last war and how millions of dollars are traded away to save refugees - I'm sure I heard that happening someplace in a newspaper somewhere. And oh, yes...1999: American Beauty is great about suicide and well...The Hours isn't getting the same praise...I guess if a man does it it's o.k. but if women do it is cowardly.

    A Beautiful Mind made a great contribution to mental illness because it enabled to general public to take away one image that they'd remember about schizophrenia (most movies can't even offer an image to remember the next day) - that people who act they way they do because they think and believe in the reality of what they perceive. This one singular image held by the public is worth more than most people realize. It begins to create a patch of clarity in a densely dirty window into the human mind. It distinguishes dissociative personality from schizophrenia. It enables people to understand and sympathize with the actions of schizophrenics - not something to be afraid of but something to cope with and try to work through. This movie provided the American public with more technical tools with which to relate to people of mental illness than any of the so-called movies mentioned above offers to public to deal with drugs, with suicide, with corrupt corporations, with war and refugees, with groupies. I mean how many people are going to find themselves marooned on an island? How is the public to treat Nurse Betty who is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder?

  8. #53
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    But the whole message of the movie was that schizophrenia can be overcome by willpower and love. Hiow is that a helpful message for people to take away? It's exactly the sort of thinking mental health charities have been trying to overcome for years.
    Perfume V - he tries, bless him.

  9. #54
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    You're Right - We'll Have To Stay Tuned To Part II

    I agree totally with Perfume V. A Beautiful Mind only goes so far and now it the general public really does need to see Part II. It is vital that the public not be left at this point without the whole story about mental illness. Hopefully some movie will go beyond the notion that will power and love alone can beat back the terrible mental illness of schizophrenia.

  10. #55
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    Death to Smoochy

    On the one hand, Ebert despised it and d.durbin said the mention of the title could "place me into uncontrollable fits of rage...". On the other, Hoberman(V.Voice) loved it and tabuno rated it as 2002's #4. (Tab also wrote that A B. Mind "made a great contribution to mental illness" which certainly made me a little loco, but that's another story). I just had to see it.

    DEATH TO SMOOCHY is a send-up of children's television shows and everybody who gets rich off them. This satirical material, sharp and funny enough to recommend, is delivered by talented folks like R.Williams, Ed Norton, Cath. Keener and D. DeVito, who directed War of The Roses and produced Get Shorty. Yet I had no difficulty understanding the negative reaction and poor box office.
    Death to Smoochy includes a coupla truly detestable scenes. One involves a penis-shaped cookie. It is not used for satire. It is not necessary to advance plot or develop character, and it's not funny.

    The best comment I read about Death to Smoochy came from the beautiful mind of tabuno: the creators are to blame for failing to find an audience. Indeed, they have shaped the material for an audience of hip, urban young parents, a small demographic. The film is rated "R", featuring an avalanche of offensive words and references to every violent and sexual act. The tenth time Williams refer to his character as Rainbow Fucking Randolph you realize Death to Smoochy is too desperate to be hip and adult . Most importantly, Death to Smoochy would have lost none of its bite by getting rid of the smut. There's good stuff here about big business, hypocritical Charities, the television and advertisement industries,cheap tabloids, gullible audiences, etc. The material could be shaped to appeal to everybody age 11 and up.
    Last edited by oscar jubis; 03-08-2003 at 06:23 PM.

  11. #56
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    This is why I can't understand the limbo that this movie has been left in with regards to UK distribution - how bad can a movie with Edward Norton and Catherine Keener in it possibly be?
    Perfume V - he tries, bless him.

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