Life in Hollywood, below-the-line

Life in Hollywood, below-the-line
Work gloves at the end of the 2006/2007 television season (photo by Richard Blair)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Stupid vs. Gloriously Stupid

Then there's just being lazy, in my own gloriously stupid way...

Hundreds of movies come out every year, very few of which I ever see. I can’t even remember the last time I saw a movie in a theater,* but when a feature does catch my eye, I add it to my Netflix queue for eventual viewing at home. Sometimes a particularly compelling trailer (on TV or the Internet) will pique my interest, but for the most part I depend on film reviews to guide my quest for cinematic quality – and a well written film review is a treat in and of itself.

Having seen the trailer for “Fast Five” a number of times on television, I can safely say it’s unlikely to end up in my DVD player. I’ve nothing against high-octane car chases, bloody gunfights, or lots of sexy, scantily-clad young women gyrating on screen, but there’s a time in life to fully appreciate such spectacle – and that time is between one’s 18th and 34th birthdays, the demographic most prized by every studio’s marketing and distribution department.

That said, reading Mick LaSalle’s review of “Fast Five” almost makes me want to see the movie. LaSalle is a terrific writer and one very smart guy, but he’s not a film snob. He doesn’t allow his personal cinematic predilections get in the way of a review, giving a fair shake to every film on its own terms, be it an art film or action movie. If a movie sucks, he'll tell you exactly why it missed the mark, rather than simply trash it as unworthy of your attention.

I don't agree with Mick every time -- some films he loves left me cold, while others he panned I enjoyed -- but his reviews are always a great read. Here's a passage from his review of "Fast Five," drawing the distinction between “Stupid” and “Gloriously Stupid”:

“Lin has also found the tone that eluded him in "The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift" and "Fast & Furious." He has finally made the transition from stupid to gloriously stupid, which is all-important in action movies. "Stupid" is when a movie offers something ridiculous but takes it seriously - and expects you to take it seriously. "Gloriously Stupid" is when a movie offers you something ridiculous and knows it's ridiculous - but then promises to go way beyond ridiculous and surprise you with how insane and grandly ridiculous a movie can be while keeping a straight face. "Fast Five" does exactly that.”

If you like this kind of writing -- and are curious about the rest of Mick’s review -- click here.

Turning to the small screen, Hollywood Reporter Television Critic Tim Goodman is just back from vacation (or as he calls it a "work stoppage") loaded for bear with another of his wondefully snarky “Everything We Know We Learned From Television” columns. These were a regular feature during his glory days writing for the SF Chronicle, and he’s brought the tradition down I-5 to the Big City on a very occasional basis for the Reporter. Whether the current “Everything” columns will prove the equal of those from his Chron days remains to be seen, but I can say one thing with certainty – back then, he was never moved to compare watching a television program (the Royal Wedding, in this case) with having shards of bamboo jammed through his penis...

Ouch. Tim Goodman holds strong opinions about television, and has never been afraid to speak his mind -- which is one reason he's always worth reading.

Check it out.


Out of work for the moment -- and out of town for a while – I won’t be posting much over the next three or four weeks. With Hollywood a distant speck in my rear view mirror, real life is now imposing its own set of demands, and I'm currently feeling neither the energy nor the motivation required to stare into this screen and conjure something out of the ether. Call it a hiatus, a time-out, or just a period of uncertainty – maybe I’ll post, maybe I won’t. If I knew, I’d tell you, but I really don’t know. All I can say is that it's time to sit in front of the fire for a while and gaze into the flames.

To wallow in warm mud of cliché, I’m just gonna go with the flow and play it as it lays...

* For many reasons, none of which are worth discussing...


Penny said...

Enjoy your time off Mike! But if you start to crawl out of your skin for a Hollywood fix, I'm back on stage 15 (May 18th I think), and you know you are always welcome to drop by. :)

Embracing my time off as well,

D said...

have fun up north. You've earned it!

Michael Taylor said...

Penny --

Glad to hear you landed the gig. If/when I'm on back the lot, I'll stop in -- but right now I'm a long way from Hollywood...

D --

Thanks. It feels good up here.

12pt said...

Have a great trip! Read you when you get back.

A.J. said...

I'm envious of your getaway right now. I'll be eagerly awaiting your next post, whenever that may be. But I want you to know that until then, I'll be working hard to incorporate the phrase "Gloriously stupid" into my vocabulary whenever possible. :)

Susan said...

Ah, that ripple in the Force we felt was you returning to the northland, eh? And it's been chilly enough for that fire in your photo to feel welcome, I'm sure. I hope those feet and the rest of you enjoy your work stoppage, Michael. It's nice to have you back home.