What is Cinema – Baby Don’t Hurt Me, Don’t Hurt Me…No More
Recently Martin Scorsese and Francis Ford Coppola came out against the MCU, basically calling the movies unwatchable, and other unsavory things, from high atop their ivory towers.
At first, I was taken aback. I’ve podcasted. I have listened to some awful independent podcasts. I have put out some awful independent podcasts (I blame those on Mr. Holiday, I was amazing) I would never publicly come out and say which podcasts are awful. I would never say which podcasters are idiots, well unless it was Mr. Holiday, and I told him that to his face.
As I thought about it though, I have come to the conclusion that they are right. I am a student of film. I love watching movies, I love the movie going experience, and though opinionated, I have watched a wide variety of movies in my day, from silent films to Joker (trash). Some of them are deep, dialog driven films, and some of them are just mindless entertainment.
When I see the current “comic book movies”, I now think of them as the serial shows that came on before the Saturday Matinee, where they always ended on a cliffhanger. Soap operas for kids so to speak. And every Saturday, kids came in droves to see a movie, see what happened, and repeat it the next week.
The movies are like that. Instead of each week, they release one every few months. You really don’t get anything preachy. Some of it doesn’t make sense. Physics be damned. For the most part though, you are entertained.
In today’s society, where kid’s attention spans are short (make them read, not play on phones), where online forums can make or break how long a movie is in theatres, as well as numbers (lots of dudes being self righteous in basements while drinking grape soda), these movies are perfect. Lots of action, lots of humor, and the writers have 70 years of comic books to steal plots, so really, there is not nearly as much effort to put out a script.
As a bonus, the kids (by kids, I mean the fans), aren’t going to see if Chris Pratt puts in an Oscar winning performance. Oh no, they want emotion, they want it close as possible to the original books (not too close, because there has to be something to bitch about…over and over…and over and over… until the new film comes out), they want special effects, and they want CGI. You fill it in with some basic laughs, and you are going to make $400 million.
Now, I see where Scorsese and Coppola take offense. These guys are taking the time, putting in research, and coming out with a piece of art. They aren’t messing around with a lot of CGI. They don’t have actors staring off at something, so it looks like they aren’t interacting with each other. Their attention to detail is to get the right expression, at the right time, held for the proper amount of time, not making sure the ship used is close to the comics, or close enough.
Coppola’s “Gangs of New York” is a far superior film to any of the “comic book movies”, it made $197 million. “The Godfather” made $137 million, and that movie is superior to “Gangs of New York”. Yet monetarily, they fell far short. Granted, they were from a different time, but inflated, they may come close, but they didn’t generate the money.
Why? Well, most of the movies that these gentleman made, were geared towards adults. And if you want to be totally honest, I feel most were geared towards white adults. There’s only so much money out there, when you are hitting that market.
Scarface, by Brian De Palma, made just under $70million, and that has been referenced in every rap song in the 90’s.
It’s comparing apples to oranges though. Scorsese, Coppola, De Palma, Ken Loach…no matter what they think, are not making movies for the masses. They are making movies for adults. They have made some transcending stories, with characters that will go down in history akin to Rhett Butler, Scarlet O’hara, Rick Blaine, Sugar Kane Kowalczyk as some of the greatest ever…but they’ll never beat the Comic’s at the office. (well, they beat the Punisher movies.)
The point is, you got guys who are comparing a Picasso, or a DaVinci, or a Monet, to a Ditko, or a Kirby, or even a Liefeld. Though all are art, they aren’t the same type of art. They tell different types of stories. (Well, I’m not sure what Picasso’s story is saying)
Some art takes months, if not years to complete, and some art is needed Friday, because we have a god DAMN deadline, but it is still art nonetheless, each with their own fans, and some fans crossing over.
So no, I don’t fault Scorsese and Coppola. Granted, with their early success, they pretty much have an open ticket to do what they want. And they make masterpieces. Well, they used to, now it’s a lot of documentaries on bands Scorsese liked, or movies that seem to be retreads of their older hits.
I had to go on IMDB to look up Ken Loach. After studying his filmography, and giving each one careful consideration, it is safe to say that I will probably die before I ever watch one of his movies. Are they bad…obviously not, he keeps getting hired. But, he’s a niche director, and art house crowds, and the Oscar’s, are his crowd.
I just find this a case of some directors not named Ken Loach, who have been so successful, that they’ve become elitists. They have forgotten how hard it is to fight for money, so you can make your dream happen. Plus there is a bitterness, because they have made beautiful film tapestries, and have done it consistently for 40+ years, and they know they would have to combine the box office of every movie they’ve been involved with for the last ten years, to make what Marvel has for a year.
I also suspect that there was a bit of them creating a little controversy for their friend Todd Phillips, and his crapterpiece “Joker”. Honestly, the movie falls into what they’d consider “cinema”. Dark, brooding, well written…everything an MCU movie isn’t. The subject matter is good cinema, not good comic book.
Do I want to see more movies like “Joker”. Not as a comic book movie. In fact, if I saw it in a non comic book setting, I’d have probably enjoyed it more.
One last note. I found it odd that Steven Spielberg came out against Netflix, and how it was ruining the movies somewhat. If I was a young director, making me some “cinema”, and Netflix gave me $10million to make it happen, if they could release it…I could not sign fast enough. The goal of every director, of every artist, is to get their work shown. Many movies, if they were to play the release game in place now, would never get their movie made, or at least not get to make the script come to life themselves. Not every director is guaranteed credibility, regardless if their last release was a piece of shit (OK, I really liked his last release as a director “Ready Player One”).
In a nutshell, they aren’t wrong, the movies aren’t “cinema”. They are rollicking good times, geared towards a younger audience, and families, that their movies aren’t going to reach. They are assholes for whining, and look like they are jealous, but while they live in a mansion (much like Overlord John and Ol’ Kentucky Regan), I am eating Ramen noodles for lunch, and calling them assholes, so who’s smarter.