Friday, April 1, 2011

Hollyweird - What does it take?

Painting is easy when you don't know
how, but very difficult when you do. 
~Edgar Degas

You've already seen me express dismay and sometimes even frustration at what's considered worthy anymore. I'm not trying to be facetious. I know there are factors like market share and demographics and box office and even (dubious) tastes and trends. While I try not to be critical or negative of anyone's best efforts, the truth is I do question people's judgement. I see Tweets every day from Liev fans lamenting stereotypes ("The Bad Guy") and mostly wanting more variety and screentime for our favourite thespian. Liev has earned his chops and then some. This should be his era.

If you spend any time on Defamer you come to know that (according to those living in that climate and its environs) Studio Executives are typically not creative minds. While I've never dealt with one in its natural habitat, it would seem that their talents lie solely in the art of saying no. Thank you almighty buck.

Last night I had the pleasure of watching Ethan Hawke's The Hottest State. Having read the book awhile ago and being a fan of most of his work I came to it with high hopes - and I was not dissapointed. It was sweet and intense and passionate.

What's left me feeling empty tonight is the notion of being downwind of something foul. I have the diSTINKed impression that films like the Hottest State are going the way of the elusive Dodo Bird. And they're taking Good Will Hunting and the Everything is Illuminated with them.

My Mom always said if you want something done right, do it yourself. Damon and Affleck penned GWH out of frustration: this was the kind of party they were seeking but they never quite made the guestlist. Ethan Hawke, in one of the most understated and beautifully subtle Deadbeat Dad scenes ever, casts himself in a few brief moments of genius that echo throughout the rest of this small but important story. And Everything is Illuminated was a chance for Liev to stretch his legs creatively and reach for that next highest bar (although I would say he jumped more than a few wrungs, there.)

Anyone who's seen all the Elvis movies (as I have, thanks Pop!) knows that the old studio contract system was not always a Godsend. But there's something to be said for a steady gig. I'd be thrilled to know for sure that Liev or whoever else the subject of your efforts and travails may be is actually getting where he wants to be without a hundred schmucks standing in his way.

It's been a cycle. Studios change gears and no longer make dramas. So, dramas are made by Indies. Then Studios see Indies making millions (because that's what the more discerning public wants) and form smaller, Pseudo-Indie studios to pick up this market. But in the end these are still run by the big studios, so... Squeeze. Squeeze. Squeeze.

Is this why, for me, Indie has come to mean quality? Is this why screenwriting students are taught to study Indies now, knowing the dialogue just has to be that much better since the fancy locations and sets and other distractions are not there to buffer and pick up the slack anymore?

Where is Liev's On The Waterfront? When does Liev utter a line so succinct it becomes household jargon? I feel like an Otis Redding song over here with this waitin' and anticipatin' of more good things for Liev.

Ah well, it could be worse. At least we have a huge body of Liev work to fall back on, and hopes for the future to keep us enthralled.

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