Jewish World Review August 17, 2001 / 28 Menachem-Av, 5761
Depressed after seeing uncut version of Apocalypse Now --- and for good reason
FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA nearly lost his home, his mind and his life while making Apocalypse
Now, his complex 1979 update on Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness.
Seeing the film this weekend, with its previously edited-out scenes added back
in, was a real downer - and not because it reminds me of a war we should
have never fought and never lost. It's depressing because its brilliance makes
me realize that this is the summer of the death of movies.
a re-release of a 1970s film is the only interesting theater fare so far this
year, I know that the major studios have simply given up on anything that doesn't
appeal to 14-year-olds who hang at the mall and download MP3 files all day. After
all, if the goal is to lure millions of adolescents into octoplexes, why bother
with artistic storytelling? Who needs a plot? And scripts? Dialogue is so over.
evidence that Hollywood has given up, look at the summer's top-grossing films.
Almost all are sequels or remakes. The Mummy Returns? Move over, Stanley
Kubrick! Jurassic Park 3? Creative genius! Planet of the Apes? Step
aside, Cecil B. DeMille! Rush Hour 2? That took guts! American Pie 2?
Watch your back, Billy Wilder!
Why worry about writers'
strikes? To get a film greenlighted these days, go to Blockbuster. Find an old
movie and turn it into a new one the kids will like. Or make a movie from an old
TV show - or, better yet, an old cartoon series (Josie and the Pussycats).
BAD MOVIE, PART 2
It may sound simple, but it's not.
I tried to rework some of my favorites for the new Hollywood culture:
Dick. Today Ahab would have to be sensitive and vulnerable. Ben Affleck?
And he'd have to be an environmentalist who was on a desperate mission to save
the whale rather than kill it as he waged war against the whaling industry. Queequeg
would have to be turned into a love interest. Tara Reid, perhaps? Somehow, I don't
think Melville would approve.
- Raging Bull. We'd somehow
have to get the brothers back together in the end and find someone more sympathetic
to play Jake LaMotta. Affleck comes to mind. And here's an idea: Matt Damon could
play his brother. But in the end, Jake must swear off fighting and help start
Mothers Against Boxing and Violence in Professional Sports. Nah; it won't work.
Boxing wouldn't excite teens. Maybe LaMotta could be a professional skateboarder?
Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. The mental hospital could serve as a backdrop
for a love story - preferably, a love triangle involving Jack Nicholson and
one of his best friends, also a patient. But of course the Nicholson part would
have to be cast as someone more charming, more attractive. Like, let's say, Ben
Affleck. And Nurse Ratched would be more human if she were waging her own personal
struggle against HMOs. A perfect role for Gwyneth Paltrow!
BAD MOVIE, PART 2
The sad thing is, these scenarios
aren't any worse than what Hollywood is now delivering. We've gone from inspired
casting and writing in Apocalypse Now to films that shouldn't have made
it out of a high school drama department. Coppola created something stunning out
of light and words. But what's important to the Hollywood of 2001 is a quick return
on investment. That means ripping off what already has been done - and it's
not even a prerequisite that the film was decent the first time around.
high-minded media types and entertainment moguls bemoan the public's obsession
with Gary/Chandra or Bill/Monica, they should consider Tinseltown's entertainment
alternatives for the over-18 audience. Hollywood plots aren't half as interesting.
The characters aren't nearly as complex. The scripts don't have the nuance. Thank
G-d for politicians. And thank G-d for Coppola, who gives us the only drink of
water in this summer movie
07/20/01: The other, maybe more important, news
06/22/01: Washington's pro-Bono worship is unnerving
06/01/01: Burying conservatism
05/17/01: Ashcroft's abuse of power
JWR contributor Laura Ingraham is the host of a radio show syndicated nationally by
Westwood One Radio Network. Comment by clicking here.
© 2001, Laura Ingraham