Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Jennifer Lawrence wasn’t the only one who stumbled at
this year’s Academy Awards.
The Oscars are an increasingly bizarre display of
decadence – corporate capital’s stranglehold over the film industry, having
laid waste to competing national cinemas in other “markets” such as Europe,
tries in vain to figure out how to attract younger viewers to its sclerotic annual
spasm of self-congratulation, opting this year for all-snark, all-the-time, with
Family Guy’s Seth MacFarlane as host
to an event that began with William Shatner (reminding us yet again why the
original Star Trek got dumped to the ¹Friday
night “death slot” in 1968) and included everything from racist, anti-Semitic
and homophobic humor to Ron Jeremy jokes
& a song to actresses’ boobs.
Hidden amid all that crap were some awards to a few good people, though not
necessarily the best in any given category. It’s a rough night if the only
thing to get enthused about is a lifetime achievement award for DA Pennebaker
& why any exec thinks an infinitely
tedious routine from a TV show that got dumped 45 years ago will keep younger
viewers engaged is beyond me. I kept waiting for an actress – or anyone – to announce
that next year there were would be a medley dedicated to MacFarlane’s penis,
but that it would be a really short number.
an efficient little thriller, tho not the sort of film that would have risen to
the surface in the good old days of American cinema. Likewise Silver Linings Notebook, a romcom whose
premise is that both of the primary characters are damaged. A nice little film
but, save for Jennifer Lawrence’s performance, barely worth rousing oneself
from a two-hour snooze in the theater. Against the excesses of The Miserables or the bloat of Lincoln, however, these two films look
pretty darn good. But against cinema that is worth watching – Beasts of the Southern Wild or Amour – why are these films even on the
same list? It’s not that the Oscar hasn’t gone to outright dreadful movies over
the years – Chicago, Out of Africa, Rocky
– but there was a time when such films stood out against the backdrop of a
vital, raucous industry being challenged by great films from abroad. Nobody
would make Hiroshima, Mon Amour today
– Emmanuelle Riva’s first film in 1959. Nobody would distribute it, nobody
would see it.
No wonder that Netflix sees an increasingly large slice
of its market opting for serious cable dramas – the simple demands of
story-telling over one or more seasons forces better writing, better acting,
better direction than the movies in 2013 have any desire to deliver.
¹ I’ve only seen Lawrence be less than spell-binding in
one performance, X-Men: First Class, where
she plays Raven & looks like she wandered in off a live-action shoot for Shrek.