The Shiny and the Sweet

This fake trailer is a funny SNL skit. A send-up of Marvel’s inability to make good use of its female characters in the films—so the premise here is that they make a formulaic “chick flick” instead.

But a deeper joke can be mined from the skit. Hollywood only makes two types of films anymore: GCI spectacles, such as the big franchise films—or of a kind of degraded Buddhism, a narcissistic/self-help-manual “journey” in which a protagonist learns to detach from his or her great desire and then is rewarded by having it fulfilled anyway.

There are other kinds of movies, of course, but these are the two main genres (which are sometimes mixed together as in animated features by Pixar and the others).

I wonder if young people even realize major studios used to put out big budget movies that were narratively and emotionally complex. Even messy, as life is messy. “Bonnie and Clyde” or “Lawrence of Arabia”, say. These were done with the incredibly out-of-fashion idea that you can entertain people without pandering to only their most superficial impulses, something explody (shiny), or something teh adorables (sweet).

There are few top directors who have carved out a way to still make personal films: Tarantino, Paul Thomas Anderson, and Wes Anderson, but even they’ve been around awhile already. Now, when new directors have small films hit, like “Monsters” by Gareth Edwards, they get immediately sucked into the machine. First he made the terrible new Godzilla movie, next he’s doing a Star War and then Godzilla II. (Being terrible does not prohibit a movie getting a sequel anymore: “Prometheus” and “The Three Stooges” both have sequels in the works). Others, like Joe Swanberg, just stay the hell away.

Michelle McLaren, not an indie director, but television best working director (“Breaking Bad”, etc.) recently split from the Wonder Woman movie over “creative differences”, which could mean anything, but I hope it means she is looking for projects where she can display a personal vision. We’ll see.

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