There is something immeasurably valuable about artifice.
Having life viewed through a heightened, glossy aesthetic lens can shed new light on the mundane world and renew our faith in its vitality and worth. And it can just make it look real good.
But excess of the eye can, like everything else, reach a dangerous level of decadence, overabundance, and gluttony. It can eclipse the fundamental levels that lie beneath the surface images, and eradicate any human nuance, lessons and truths. When that happens, the image, though beautiful, becomes empty. It is simply, to quote the master, “sound and fury, signifying nothing.”
This movie lover visits the theater far, far less than he used to. A disenchantment has crept upon him, to his surprise and against his wishes. However, the Hollywood system has quickly devolved into an assembly-line output in recent years, producing Vaseline-lensed and hyper-CGI, 3-D superhero-explosive-smooth-edged-video-game-bubble-gum fare that satisfies the lust of thirteen-year-old boys, not a mature adult seeking challenging, thought-provoking portrayals of the human condition.
Not to sound pretentious.
But why should one apologize for having high standards in art? Have we reached a new era in filmmaking where, like everything else in society of late, simplicity and thoughtlessness reign? Is this a reflection of a bigger malady that is plaguing the minds and tastes of the population, gorged on microwave pizza, video games, and reality TV?
We want our films fried, electrified, and simplified, the masses seem to be clamoring.
Where is the refuge for those of us who crave art? Where can we go to satisfy our needs? And what about those of us who don’t subscribe to that abstract mothership of films, NetFlix? Is it too much to ask for intelligent films to visit the local theaters, to be viewed as they were meant to be: in monumental grandeur?
In this ever-increasing business called show, and a world battered by a crumbling economy, it looks like the lack of funding and faith in art is going to consign real films to the rental pile before they even get their place in the cinematic sun. Producers are going to play it safe and pander to the lowest common denominator, the key word being common. And I don’t blame them, really. If I were in the business of making money, the furthest thing from my mind would be the integrity of art, too. Meanwhile, those of us who thirst for something of substance will have to wait longer for our oasis.