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A Man Who Has Nothing In Particular To Recommend Him Discusses All Sorts of Subjects at Random as Though He Knew Everything

Under The Boardwalk

This is where I tell you that I’ve never seen Boardwalk Empire, but I’m going to write about it anyway, and you scratch your head like you do.

I found that showreel of special effects for the show fascinating. I think that the technical part of the production of movies, TV, music, and so forth has become so versatile and realistic, and engrossing effects readily achievable, that it’s overshadowing the stories or music or whatever the locus of attention’s supposed to be in the first place. The actors can’t act, they’re told to say ridiculous sentences and do unbelievable things while everything explodes, with deserts of filler in between the plastic oases of action. Singers barely mumble into a microphone and have it turned into a robotic melody while they hop around like second-string cheerleaders, all decided beforehand by committee. That sort of thing is driving me to the abandoned island of hardcover books, LP records, and David Lean movies.

Boardwalk Empire‘s coterie of participants hints that it might be better than your average teleplay, but I’m not that likely to go out of my way to look at it. I’m tired of gangsters. Do you know any crooks? They’re deadly dull, generally, and kinda thick for the most part. I’ve known some really interesting honest people. Hollywood dug a shallow grave for honest people a while back and rolled them in. It’s much easier to get conflict and action going if someone pulls out a gat from the get-go. But it’s kinda lazy, and it gets old pretty fast. The pistol is the official deus ex machina of American entertainment. Got a plot hole? Fill it with a bullethole. Problem solved!

I suppose I should just enjoy The Old Man And The Sea And A Nine-Millimeter And A Shirtless Chick by Michael Bay like everyone else, but I’m having a hard time with it. I’m still interested in the process, and astonished by what the people that aren’t in charge are capable of doing. Hardworking and talented people can put anything on the screen. It’s not their fault if you hired Pauly Shore to play Sam Spade in a musical.

I’d –ahem– kill to put words in these actor’s mouths, surrounded by these visual wonders. First, you kill all the characters’ fathers. Writes itself after that, really.

6 Responses

  1. Singers barely mumbling into a microphone and having it turned into a robotic melody while they hop around like second-string cheerleaders, all decided by committee. That sort of thing.

    Heh. I caught part of some Abbot & Costello show on TMC last night, and they had the standard (for the day) scene where some woman is singing in one of those loungey nightclub places. Do they even have places like that anymore? Anyway, her voice was fantastic, with just the right hint of what I believe they used to call "sass," lovely figure, just her in a pretty dress on an empty stage. She didn't move around much, just enough for punctuation, and if I were male I would have been extremely punctuated, I'm quite sure.

    Made me sad that we don't have anything like that today.

  2. I love that you said "gat."

    I also agree with you. I have a friend who tells me all the time that I need to see this movie or that movie because it won an academy award. Blech.

    I don't trust the likes of 'em — Hollywood that it — ever since E.T. lost to Ghandi for best picture.


    My comments are never on topic — I can't help it — you always make me think of something else when you have these semi rant-y posts.

  3. I find that after missing TV for 2 1/2 years while my wife worked on her degree, I really haven't missed anything. We have since watched probably 5 hours of network TV and then only reluctantly due to breaking news or some such. I have continued to read and listen to music.

    I have worked as an extra on a few feature and independent films here in Central Texas. I found myself drawn to the technical workings much more than to the acting side of film production.

  4. The old studio system turned out lots and lotsa formulaic dreck, too – they were called "B movies" and as many (or more) of them were produced as were "first run" pictures… we've just forgotten them because, unlike television, they are not endlessly recycled to fill broadcast hours.

    The new technologies make it possible to tell stories that otherwise could not be told.

    They lower the financial and technical barriers to entry – which lets more people to tell us stories using visual media. This increases the chances of something really interesting getting produced.

    I've really enjoyed many "art" films my kids and I have found on the internet, long after their limited run in American cinemas.

  5. Just for the record Ghandi did actually win best picture over ET. I believe the Director, Attenbrough made reference to ET in his acceptance speach.

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