Burn hollywood burn, I smell a riot

By Simon Jackson

Fancy getting off your arse and crawling out of that dank cavern you call your mum’s basement? Go and see a movie at the Calgary Film festival–the opportunity to see something original is becoming a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Face it: the alternatives aren’t that great. Anyone who’s seen the recent remake of Bewitched knows not even an unwavering admiration for Will Farell can help it from being anything more than moderately cataclysmic.

Film lovers are in dire need of sustenance these days when it comes to extracting something worthwhile or fulfilling from their movies. It’s all about bland and brand: the big studios play it safe and go for the films with the least risk while still garnering a return. Bland is all about predictability, and you can confidently expect we’ll be seeing a lot more sequels and comic book adaptations throughout the next year. Brand, on the other hand, is about the latest Hollywood fad, paying for movies with extensive product placement and advertising. Herbie Fully Loaded should have carried the tag line “more turned- out labels than a supermarket.”

So cynical has Hollywood become that a script doesn’t pass muster without an accompanying marketing strategy to sell related products and merchandise. Aware they can abandon plot, story and character in favour of lots of explosions and special effects, Hollywood shovels us mouthful after mouthful of the meager repast. They have become lazy and ultra risk averse, preferring whenever they can to find an old movie and recast it, certain a former success can be dusted off, new actors added and result in a hit. Burt Reynolds becomes Adam Sandler; throw in Chris Rock for good measure and lo, we have The Longest Yard… again.

The blame lies with, well, you. Generation Fed-Ex. The new university crowd born and bred on fast food, basic cable and over-the-counter painkillers. You want it all now–yesterday if at all possible–unwrapped, sliced neatly, labelled, and with sugar on top. It should be low fat, de-caffeinated, wholesome, and most of all it should involve the use of no higher brain functions whatsoever. As long as we keep coughing up the cash for the latest remake of The Stepford Wives, they’ll keep churning them out with a new puppies and rainbows ending tacked on.

The only way out is to vote with your money. Instead of pouring cash into the big studio coffers so they can waste it on another plotless remake, why not visit the Calgary Film Festival? Not only will you be supporting your community, but the independent film makers who just might dare to give you something fresh or challenging rather than canned or rehashed.

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