Monday, June 2, 2008

Remember Remembering?

Now, I agree with the general consensus among fans and critics that Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (damn, what a mouthful) was no worse nor no better than any of the first three. In fact, I've heard several people say that this one is actually the third best movie in the series, with Temple of Doom in that oh-so-coveted fourth place spot. With this in mind, why the fuck did Hollywood even attempt to make a fourth movie, knowing full well the risk of this movie possibly tarnishing the legacy of an amazing trilogy?

As Rogers Waters once sung, "Money: it's a hit. Don't give me that goody good bullshit." And this, dear readers, is the driving force behind the Hollywood studio system today. Hollywood has had to adapt to evolving audience taste for the last twenty years. The average viewer's attention span is slowly decreasing, making him or her in constant need of action, thrill, suspense, and, overall, entertainment. The consistent desire for thrill rivals the ultimate goal for studios: profit. A moneymaking hit is no longer guaranteed in today's entertainment world. Studios are worried to shell out hundreds of millions of dollars on something new, something radical, groundbreaking because audiences may be fearful or loathe to this aspect.

So where does Hollywood turn to for a better guarantee? The past. Nostalgia. Familiarity. Security. Think back to last summer's blockbusters: Spiderman 3 (based on the old comic books), Shrek The Third (channeling and demythologizing children's fairy tales), Pirates of the Caribbean 3 (based off the old Disney ride), Transformers (inspired by the 80s toys and cartoon), and so much more. Studios bank on people to flock to these films because of nostalgia. If it's based on something that already had popularity, it's hopefully bound to make some money because the film already has an audience. Not only this, postmodern cinema also invokes the fusion of other genres to spice things up. They turned Starsky & Hutch into a comedy; apparently, Jonah Hill is remaking 21 Jump Street. GI Joe and The A-Team will soon be exploding into theaters. Seriously, WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON HERE?! WHERE IS THE ORIGINALITY OF BRAND NEW IDEAS?!

Indy 4 had a lot to deal with, but mostly it had to combat two main challenges: how to handle Harrison Ford's old age and how to show something new while staying true to its roots. SPOILER ALERT: the only way a new Indiana Jones film would work is if they made it somewhat realistic. Now this is not to say that the movie is realistic by any means; hell no! I mean, there are fuckin' aliens in the film. But it made Indy realistic by staying true to Ford's age. His first words in the film reference his old age and how "it" used to be easier. In order for Ford to mention this, the time period of Indy also had to evolve: the film is now set in the greaser-soc challenged 50s that Reagan adored. But these two answers to the film's biggest challenges present several problems. While Indiana Jones is still that same great archeologist adventurer that we have come to know and love, everything else around him has changed. You've got a new sidekick, who off the bat, is working for the Russians, then for the CIA, then for the Russians again. You've got Indy's illegitimate son, played by Shia LaBeouf, who channels Brando's The Wild One, and that's pretty much it. The dude fuckin' swings with monkeys--seriously? Karen Allen comes back as Indy's first love, and they pick up where we last left them, arguing like animals and then still making those puppy dog eyes. I'm not even gonna mention Blanchett's supposed Russian accent. No one in this film had anything to do except Indy! Lastly, the last three Indy films all had one thing in common: although there was an element of the supernatural in each film, these moments were still grounded in reality because they were based off mystical and spiritual entities: the Lost Ark, the rocks from ToD, the Holy Grail. This movie attempts to create its own mythology (Lucas claims there are actual crystal skulls) but Spielberg's fascination with sci-fi that prompts him to throw in random aliens and have a spaceship fly off into space. Close Encounters of the Third Kind, anyone? It was just too unbelievable and cheesy to accept. So we've got the same great character, but an okay atmosphere, environment, plot, and supporting characters. No worse but no better, either.

I miss the days when we could simply look at one film as its own entity. Now, everything seems to be a remake: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Halloween, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, GI Joe, The A-Team. What hurts me most is this brand new movie American Teen, which I'll admit, looks intriguing and entertaining, but that fuckin' poster ruins it for me because of its direct ripoff to The Breakfast Club, my favorite movie of all time. I don't want a new Club; I like mine just the way it is. I like looking back on it and remembering how good it was for me, how good it still is to me. This Hollywood air raid of nostalgia is tarnishing my idealistic views of movies I've come to know and love. And here's another thing: while I adore this film, I realize that not everyone loves or even likes this film. Hell, kids today may not have even ever heard of it. Is this really the best way to get people to see an apparently stunning real-life documentary, by comparing it to an exaggerated 80s pop movie?

Postmodernism is creating schizophrenia everywhere--there is no singular identity anymore. Everything is just consuming everything. With everything being "updated" with today's technology, I'm starting to forget what it's like to remember what it was like to remember something with fondness. Now don't get me wrong, there are still phenomenal postmodern films out there (see: any Apatow film, The Dark Knight which is going to be fuckin' sweet, and of course IRON MAN), but seriously, will someone show me something new already?

Nostalgia Mix:
1. I Remember The Days by The Blue Van
2. The Past and Pending by The Shins
3. Yesterday by The Beatles
4. The Times They Are A-Changin by Bob Dylan
5. Use of Time by 311
6. Past in Present by Feist
7. Redundant by Green Day
8. Time by Timbaland feat. She Wants Revenge
9. Good Times, Bad Times by Led Zepellin
10. Time Is Running Out by Muse
11. Nostalgia by Yanni (yeah, I put Yanni on a playlist)
12. Nostalgia by The Lost Art

Playlist available on my project playlist, see link above.

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