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Why Do We Watch Movies?!!!

It’s a bright new day in the year 2013 and it seems at last that the harmattan is about to rear its head here in Lagos (thank God for that). Today is the First Feature Wednesday we have in the new year and I have been saving this particular day for my brother @testifytruth; the beginning of a thing sets the tone for the rest of that thing so I want us to start the year with a discussion I had in varying tones with various people at various times over the course of 2012.

This question continually plaques my subconscious but my friend and brother has done an awesome job of putting our thoughts down in clear great words for you to consume and ponder….. without much ado we ask you……

Why do you watch movies?

Is it not to escape from our reality into the alternate universe the filmmakers present to us? Is it not to fall in love with the characters, the plot, the music, the journey?

I love movies, and I watch them for all those aforementioned reasons, and many more. I especially love and admire the amount of time and craft put into producing the final output we see on the screen. But above all, I love movies that truly entertain and dare to impact something into me, and by entertainment I mean the element of SURPRISE, because my mind is wired in such a way that once it has experienced some new media such as sound, image or a taste, my mind savours that experience at that moment like a drug, like a new high, like a child that has found a new play thing. If you offer a similar experience later on, my mind isn’t excited as much, and the excitement only decreases further with more offerings of similar experiences, till I reach the point where I just want to scream out, as though in response to Russell Crowe’s Maximus Decimus Meridius in Gladiator, “I am not entertained!!!”.

It is no news that Hollywood, the world’s number one cinematic exporter, is running out of ideas. But the day they stooped so low as to make a movie out of a board game, was the last straw for me that broke the camel’s back. I had finally, after repeated disappointments, lost all hope in Hollywood.

I have no beef with adaptations and reboots and sequels and prequels, as long as they’re produced from a fresh perspective and with a captivating plot, then you can take my money. The less the creativity put into making a movie, the dumber the filmmakers think the audiences are, for they reckon they have understood that the audience just wants to watch anything, and will pay to watch anything, and so they don’t need to put effort into the films.

Herein lies the dilemma; the real filmmakers want to make a great film, but he’s under strain by the big Hollywood studios to make money. Money is made if you can draw the crowd, and statistics prove that the crowd wants to watch mindless albeit beautiful explosions and soulless slow-motion effects, with a handsome lead actor and a sexy supporting actress. But the most important part of a movie is the part most ignored by these studios; the plot. The plot or the story line of the movie is the foundation upon which all CGI and eye-pleasing effects should be built. Baba Movie Pencil and I had a discussion about this dilemma; the filmmaker or screenwriter wants to tell his unique story, but the studio wants to make money on their investment. Because the filmmaker knows his story is unique, and may not sell as much as the studios would want it to, and considering the power of promotion these studios wield and the filmmaker desires, the filmmaker is left with no choice but to compromise his initial plot in favour for what will sell.

So is the fault with the audience; the consumer who helps in fattening the pockets of the studios thus fueling their greed, and hence controlling the decision of what type of movie will continue to be made, or is the fault with the Mr Movie Exec, who makes billions of dollars yearly from his docile customers, and what is the solution?

Taking a look at Movie Pencil’s top 10 movies of the year 2012, only one movie; Man On A Ledge was a confirmed original idea, and it performed very poorly at the box office compared to other movies, and also was badly received by critics and audiences:

Movie

Source

Approx. Budget

($ million)

Approx. Gross

($ million)

IMDB Rating

The Avengers

Comic book

220

1,512

8.4

The Dark Knight Rise

Comic book

230

1,081

8.7

Cloud Atlas

Fictional novel

102

66

8.0

Man On A Ledge

Original

42

46

6.6

Ije

Original (unconfirmed)

[Unavailable online records]

[Unavailable online records]

[Unavailable online records]

The Vow

Biographical novel

30

196

6.7

Argo

Biographical book

44

164

8.2

Dr Seuss’ The Lorax

Chldren’s book

70

349

6.3

The Amazing Spiderman

Comic book

230

752

7.2

Lincoln

Biographical book

65

132

8.2

Think Like A Man

Fictional book

12

99

6.0

Snow White And The Huntsman

German fairy tale

170

396

6.3

Life Of Pi

Fictional novel

120

304

8.3

Step Up Revolution

Street dance culture

33

140

6.2

Of course several other factors influence how financially successful a movie may be, and critical response is based on a collective individuals’ opinion, but this post is concerned with the content of the movie, the underlying story that is supposed to capture my imagination for about 2 hours of my life, and I want to spend those 2 hours well. Do not forget, our minds are forged, consciously or unconsciously, by the media we consume, so if I’m going to willingly visit a cinema and bare my mind to be fed and formed by the product of another person’s imagination, it better be something worthwhile!

Due to this dearth of cinematic food from Hollywood, and I get hungry a lot, I have been forced to seek satisfaction from other countries and I have not been disappointed! Classic movies have sprouted everywhere from countries such South Korea with OldBoy [2003] (Hollywood remake helmed by Spike Lee planned for release by 2013, smh) and the rest of The Vengeance Trilogy, The Raid [2011] from Indonesia (with its eerily similar plot to Dredd [2012], and why it isn’t on the Movie Pencil list of best movies for 2012 is criminal!), the fantastic Mr Nobody [2009] from Belgium, Rust and Bone [2012] from France and Belgium, The Secret In Their Eyes [2009] from Argentina, 3 Idiots [2009] from India , and so much more!

So the question is, “Can We Not Cinematically Create a New Thing?”

Indie writer and filmmaker Kirby Ferguson answers this question in the negative, with Part 2 of his intriguing and well-received short documentary films, “Everything Is A Remix

Once again, I have no beef with movies that are based on other works of art, but can we at least be provided with movies that will intrigue us so much that we won’t dare go for a bathroom break in the cinema for fear of missing a single scene? Can’t we have movies that we’d watch and not want to leave the cinema when the end credits roll due to its sheer impact on us, and we’d discuss about on the drive home, and for weeks to come? Can’t we have movies that will satisfy our basic need to be entertained AND trigger our intellect?

Yes, yes we can. Some say I’m biased about Christopher Nolan, but Inception was the Jesus Christ of movies, the saviour, and the light in the dark. Inception is one movie that combined all the elements of being a major box office success; explosions, slow motion and breath-taking CGI, a brilliantly intellectual plot, an ecclesiastical soundtrack (Oscar judges must need to get their ears checked), an ending open to the audience’s interpretation, and above all, though it was inspired by several past works of art, it was an ORIGINAL script from Nolan’s mind! As popular British film critic for the British Broadcasting Corporation Mark Kermode  vehemently described in his critique of Inception, “If a movie can treat its audience this smart and still pull in a huge amount of money, then Hollywood has no excuse to dumb down a movie to get a mainstream audience”.  I completely agree!

Other outstanding movies that have achieved similar success a la Inception include South Africa’s District 9 [2009], France’s The Artist [2011], Britain’s Slumdog Millionaire [2009], all of which defied Hollywood’s mediocre standards and dared to push boundaries, and have been extremely financially successful IN Hollywood, and all around the world, just by simply being creative. Not necessarily by spending loads of money on a budget, nor casting known actors, but by sheer creativity.

That’s all I ask for, be a light in the dark. Be creative.

Perhaps if man connects back to the Source, they might recover the power to truly create a new thing, but I digress…or do I?

Cheers to a creativity fruitful 2013!

You can follow my dear friend and brother @testifytruth on twitter for more details.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. toonna

    2nd January 2013 at 8:52 pm

    Will I be biased to myself if I start a slow clap to this post?!? Cheers to Movie Pencil, and a glorious 20123!

    • brova KASALI

      2nd January 2013 at 10:03 pm

      -smilessss- Wonderful post sir :). I commend you both.

  2. tywo

    3rd January 2013 at 12:56 am

    Wow! Didn’t even realize there were other cinema industries in so many other countires! Belguim? France? ARGENTINA??? U guys, I give It to u. Really wld love to watch such films now. Una dey try, esp ur research. Ur appetite for movies tho…amazin. I agree with the dearth of creativity..also believe a star will shine if its really a star- so ‘creative’ film producers shld get a move on. I watch movies to learn & be entertained. Nice work

  3. toonna

    3rd January 2013 at 9:22 am

    Reblogged this on Truth In Motion.

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