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A SIMPLIFIED WORLD?

As we hit our 11th annual milestone, editor Andrew L. Urban reflects on how simple life is (or is made out to be) in today’s world of the movies; Kindness / Crushed Head / Burmese Soldier / Sniper Rifle / Arm Ripped Off … two stars?

The list of plot keywords on the film’s page on imdb was instantly eye-catching: Kindness / Crushed Head / Burmese Soldier / Sniper Rifle / Arm Ripped Off … I imagine this was the same list of words that Sylvester Stallone wrote down on the piece of foolscap sitting on the specially designed writing top on his treadmill at his beachfront gym when he first began to formulate an idea to make Rambo 4. (Opens this week: see Louise Keller’s killer REVIEW of the movie)

Sylvester Stallone knows his audience: it isn’t us critics. It isn’t sophisticated film buffs or mature people with teenage kids. It’s those teenage kids, especially the young men who play video games where they shoot electronic gun-like tools in a vast variety of versions to digitally annihilate the enemy – an enemy without identity. It’s a game, like the games we all played as children; cowboys and Indians, sort of game.

Also opening this week, as I write, are films for totally different kinds of audiences: The Bucket List, old men fulfilling a wish list of things to do before they die; August Rush, young man looking for his parents who thought he was dead; Bella, a guilt-ridden soccer player persuading a young single mother-to-be not to abort; Talk to Me, a biopic about a 1960s petty crim turned radio host in Washington who done good; Margot at the Wedding, about a nasty young woman nobody likes … But none of them have that catchy list of plot keywords.

"mmmm, intriguing"

For example, August Rush has: Separated / Mistreatment / Loss Of Lover / Music / Charles Dickens. See? Isn’t imdb wonderful? By reducing films to their essential plot elements, we can sift through them and pick what appeals. What about Talk to Me, perhaps? Sex / Picket Line / Racial Slur / New Job / Comedy Club … mmmm, intriguing!

In the same way, most publications could dispense with their film critics writing reviews; all those words! All ‘people’ want are the star ratings: *** means get someone to take you; ** means go if you have a free ticket and nothing to do; **** means pay for yourself; ***** means see it, take a guest and pay for both of you. Simple. ‘In a world of simplification … at a time of reductions’ (say this in the voice of the guy who narrates the trailers).

Published: February 21, 2008
 

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