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Brutal reality in fantasy

Posted by Jeremy Schultz on April 24, 2007

Somehow or another, there’s been an increasing theme of brutal reality in movies lately. Have you noticed? Maybe it’s just the movies I’m choosing to watch (OK, I know this is part of it), but I think there’s a bit of shift in movie-making these days. It used to be that you’d have your yearly Se7en or Saving Private Ryan, and the rest of the year was spent laughing at comedies or ooh-ahh-ing at over-done action movies ala Armageddon (by the way, does anyone make comedies besides Will Ferrell anymore? I’m getting sick of this guy.). I used to complain about predictable Hollywood endings and yearned for more realism. But now, movies increasingly have no ending; they are a snapshot of time, after which the camera shuts off and the credits roll. Here’s the growing list of not-so-Hollywood-ending movies I’ve seen in the past few months that fit this bill:

  • Tsotsi – story of a young South African gangster who car-jacks the wrong BMW
  • Hotel Rwanda – ok, this one’s a true story, but if you haven’t seen it since I last recommended it, you still should
  • Babel – keep a close eye on your kids
  • The Prestige – as the second of the two-movie magician trend, I think I enjoyed The Illusionist a bit better with it’s unfolding love story and peerless ending
  • Hollywoodland – another true story, whoops! The original TV Superman, George Reeves, struggles with his super powers. I actually really liked how they unfolded the story in this one. No happy ending here, my friend.
  • Crash – fairly self explanatory
  • Junebug – this was just painful, don’t see it
  • The Black Dahlia – by the end I was thinking, “did we really just sit through that whole thing?”
  • Little Miss Sunshine – award winning and everything, but this was more sad than funny to me. I know it’s supposed to be a “go ahead and laugh at them, that’s the point” kind of thing, but I just don’t go for that.
  • Borat – whoa, way too much naked man. I think a couple of the folks that Borat threw water on needed it, but to continue the trend here, this movie became more and more painful by the time it was over.
  • The Constant Gardener – just read the IMDB “plot keywords:” AIDS, Diplomat, African, Third World, …. You get the idea, not exactly ingredients for cookies.

Wow, putting this all down, I think I’ve answered the question: quit renting only these types of movies! Maybe I’m selfish; I seem to lean towards movies where I learn something. In most of these stories, the characters learn something: about themselves, their world, or others within it. Maybe I should rent less movies and spend more time reading the eight or so books I have lying around waiting to be read. I know I’ll be learning something then!

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