let’s all go to the movies

I love movies, but I don’t get to many of them. Too much money for marginal product–spending ten bucks for a comedy movie with ten laughs is like spending fifteen bucks for a cd with four good songs. The reason people illegally download music is because buying music is too expensive.

In fact, if studios want to stop piracy, they should make movies cheaper. I think you should pay when you leave the theater, whatever percentage of the ticket price you think the movie was worth. You think the studios would keep turning out crap if their average take per person was eighty-three cents?

Major studios are relics, at any rate. I actually think the days of the Zanucks and the Goldwyns, as much as they may have squelched some visionary work, were better for the movie industry–for the fans. I don’t if any of you remember the Lily Tomlin-John Travolta vehicle (a poor word choice, since it implies it went somewhere) ‘Moment By Moment,’ which featured a horrifying hot tub encounter between the two leads. In the days of the big, mean studios, a guy in a suit would have taken the writers to lunch at the Brown Derby, and said “Interesting idea–but Lily does comedies, not romance.” That movie would have never happened.

Part of the problem is the deadening of the American film palate.  Some of the greatest films in history would never be greenlighted (greenlit?) today–too ‘talky’…too ‘complicated’…not ‘high-concept’ enough. Basically, the male American movie-going public likes two things in their movies–breasts, and explosions. I suppose that’s three things, because I’m not sure how well a movie featuring only one breast would do. But two breasts and some explosions–that’s box-office gold. If someone could made a movie about breasts that explode, it would be more popular than ‘Star Wars.’

I personally think that if a movie isn’t deep, it oughta be fun. If it isn’t deep or fun, then it’s just fifty million dollars that could have gone to Habitat for Humanity.  And if I’m watching at home, I usually give a movie the twenty minute test. If a movie hasn’t captured my attention in twenty minutes, I turn it off. I have seen five to fifteen minutes of more movies than I can count. Which is why I love surfthechannel.com.

Apparently Sweden has comparatively liberal copyright laws, because a site based there called SurfTheChannel has every movie and tv show ever filmed available for free. Okay, maybe not every, but oh my god do they have a lot. I’m not sure I should even be telling those not ‘in the know,’ but it’s THE GREATEST WEBSITE IN THE UNIVERSE. Missed a movie that came out last month? Loved the sitcom ‘He and She’ that only ran one season? It’s probably here. Now some of the movies were recorded by a dude with a cell phone in the front row, but they’re free! Just know that if you see a new movie has been added, watch it right away or you will see the dreaded phrase ‘removed for infringement.’

And before you start saying ‘Hey–you’re a creative artist…aren’t these people just stealing? Shouldn’t the people who did the movie be paid?”, let me just point out that for the VAST majority of movies being ’stolen,’ the people involved have already been paid. A couple of times. And there’s stuff you can’t buy, even if you wanted–I’d love to have a dvd of the first season of the second remake of ‘Twilight Zone,’ but I haven’t seen that at Blockbuster yet. Realistically, if I want to have a few friends over for a marathon of  bootlegged “Lou Grant,” I don’t think Ed Asner will have trouble paying his mortgage. And, not that this will stop the flaming outrage, but I do feel guilty about it.

Since I discovered surfthechannel.com, I haven’t been sleeping a lot lately. It’s been sensory overload–like an epileptic on Red Bull in Vegas. And I’ve been having strange dreams. Here’s the weirdness: I’ve had more than one dream which featured a celebrity–IN A CAMEO! Famous actors appear in my dreams, but they don’t have speaking roles. I’m in some surreal library/delicatessan/army recruiting office, and there’s Corbin Bernson! Understand–he’s not part of the ‘plot’ to my dream, he’s just…there. A couple nights ago, the thing I remember is that Christopher Meloni was in my dream–for no apparent reason. He wasn’t a part of the story–he just showed up in some of the scenes. Any amateur shink wanna take a shot at that?

The Chris Meloni dream is not the strangest dream I’ve had lately. When I was still working the day job, one night, in my dream, I woke up to my alarm, took the train to work, sat at my desk, took the train home, and got ready for bed. I had a dream in which nothing happened. In a world of infinite possibility, my mind created a dreamscape identical to my actual life! Now that’s wasted time. I felt almost cheated when I actually woke up.

My favorite film genre–movies where entire cities are destroyed, by aliens, some space virus, or some combination of cataclysmic natural disaster. Not sure why, but I get a real kick out of seeing places I’ve been to slapped around, and I find myself strangely inspired when all of society’s hopes rest on the shoulders of a b-level movie star, like Tom Skerrit, or one of the Quaids.

‘Volcano’ was great, simply because a volcanic eruption is one of the only horrible things that hasn’t actually happened to Los Angeles. And ‘Earthquake In New York’–if cars blowing up are cool to watch, it’s exponentially cooler to see the Guggenheim Museum crumble, or the Statue of Liberty slowly topple into the bay. Unfortunately, that movie screwed up by wasting the first hour giving us the personal back stories of the people who would ultimately be buried in the rubble. Just get to the destruction–let’s see some iconic landmarks collapse already! The best of the bunch is, for my money, ‘The Day After Tomorrow,’ which manages to include multiple natural disasters, a cautionary tale about global warming, AND Randy Quaid! Tell me it wasn’t great to watch a tornado turn the Capitol Records building into a bunch of building-sized frisbees.

I’m also a sucker for old-school monster movies, but I’ve always been curious. Before CGI, when aliens were actually hard-working, unappreciated working actors in green costumes, one thing was a given. It was always “Attack of the Fifty-Foot” something. What I want to know is how was it decided that fifty feet was the height at which a genetically-mutated, nuclear-fallout-created anything becomes threatening to mankind? Did studios say “Well, a seventy-five foot tall broccoli stalk is just silly–nobody’s gonna buy that. Make it fifty feet tall and you’ve got yourself a movie.” I mean, wouldn’t a twenty or thirty foot tall thing that’s not supposed to be twenty or thirty feet tall be just as scary?

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Posted 5 May 2011 by MisterComedy in category POP CULTURE