Friday, June 10, 2005

CT Returns!

It's labeled as monthly (and that's not enough), but it looks like Charles Taylor has a new column in the Newark Star-Ledger - High & Low - check it out. Wow, a new Carroll Ballard movie with minimal distribution - maybe some noise will help that situation....
He also gives the lie to David "The Cabbage" Brooks's contention that there are no offshore movies worth talking about. Go.


Lance Mannion said...

This is good news. For a while Charles Taylor was the reason I read Salon. I was disappointed whenever I went there and there was nothing by him that day.

Lance Mannion said...

Read it! It's like most of the stuff CT wrote for Salon, smart, well-put, a trifle snobbish, half hot air, but enjoyable. He puts too much blame on Lucas for a trend that I think Lucas at first only benefited from. Hollywood began to develop more sophisticated marketing techniques in the 60s. Star Wars only proved what the marketers were already figuring out on their own---the money was in selling movies to 15 year old boys and audiences in Bombay. Both those factors did away with the need for good dialogue and complex plotting.

The 80s were still full of good, adult movies. It was during the 90s that those got fewer and farther between and in the last 5 years that they've come close to disappearing. George Lucas didn't make any movies during most of the 80s and all of the 90s.

If I were going to pick the movie whose appearance signaled the end it would be one of three that came out well after the first Star Wars:

Rambo First Blood, RoboCop, and The Terminator. The sci fi aspects of the first two are deceptive. What all three have in common are unstoppable heroes killing lots of enemies, minimal dialogue and nonstop action sequences---which made them very different from the first two and a half Star Wars movies.

grishaxxx said...

I kinda like Charley's hot air, actually - he gets excited about this stuff; it's the more rarified gasbags who make me gasp and gag.

Now, as to chronology. "SW (Episode IV)" was released in 1977. There is a lot of lag time in movie production, given its complexity and expense. Lucas and Ladd and all the others involved in the original project would buy into that. There were other projects in the pipeline at the same time: "The Deer Hunter" is 1978, "Raging Bull" is 1980, just as examples.

What "SW" changed was the economics - the product that was suddenly tooled to do enormous repeat business - addictive candy, and with about the same nutritional value. I mean, this is what movie execs had always wanted (and occasionally got), but never quite this big. And once they got the taste, it really was like "First Blood."

Except that the first "First Blood" came out in 1982 and didn't do spectacular business. "Rambo (First Blood II)" was 1985, "Terminator" was 1984, and "Robocop" was 1987 - and I think all three of those benefitted not so much from "SW" as they did the New Bellicosity of the the Reagan Era.

Hand in hand with that new feel was the John Hughes pic - "Sixteen Candles" ('84), "Breakfast Club" ('85), "Ferris Bueller..." ('86) - the Brat Pack Years. These were modestly budgeted, but made lots of money, too. So comfy.

I'd like to introduce the Julia Phillips Factor into the equation, as well. I think it's pretty clear that coke destroyed Michael Cimino's career, damaged Scorcese's for a while, and for those who never re-surfaced at all, it was a great party on a ship aimed for the bottom. And, I throw a finger to the wingers, this was a decade and more after the 60's party and the deaths of icons (Hendrix, Joplin, many more) whose loss was taken very seriously. Only the mode had changed.

I think it's legit for Charley to call Lucas out on his tin ear, his difficulties with characterizing women, his nostalgia for the most flat-footed of genres (including their sloganeering opportunities) - all of these drive me nuts, too. It's the industry fallout that makes us angrier, though, and Lucas isn't personally to blame for that - he's kept himself (and can!) quite independent of it. They wait on him.

I recall glee, btw, among some people in LA when the Brits came along - after "Chariots of Fire" - and had management authority. Arghhh - "Greystoke" - "The Mission" - gag....carrying culture on your shoulder is a guarantee of - well, new gas in the same bag.

Whatever. The energy is not coming from here anymore. Charley is right about that. It's not that there's not highly satisfying stuff being made, it's that the industry itself has no depth, and US movies become, on average, more and more formulaic and thin - much thinner even than old studio product. Moreover, really original movies from Asia and Europe and S. America and god-knows-where-else arrive on DVD for most of us - at best - and not because they are crude, but because they are the opposite.

It's like every multiplex is a grindhouse, with a higher entry ticket.

So fucking annoying!!!

grishaxxx said...

And I completely forgot about confections like "Flashdance" and "Top Gun" - reminded just now by David Edelstein at "Slate".
[Link: }
Geez, I had only recently moved to Venice Beach, and every woman of a certain age had the Flashdance off-the-shoulder sweats and leg-warmers. Couple of years later, it was Top-Gun flight pants on any guy (str8 ones, too!) in the rag trade, and beyond.
Moving from Chicago to Los Angeles, I felt bombarded by marketing with an intensity I had never experienced anywhere else - it was as bright and unforgiving as the sun - made me want to hide.