A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
Mack Sennett, one of the greatest directors ever (over 1,000 films) believed that movies were just an excuse for a chase scene, and for a hundred years, Hollywood directors lived (and died) by this credo. Fortunately, today we live in a far more sophisticated age, and contemporary audiences are not sucked in by such tricks. These days, movies are complex windows into the human condition. They show us our world without cheap cinematic varnish. With that in mind, here are a few truths we have learned from recent movies, especially the Action/Adventure features, which, btw, have always been a box office favourite.
Detectives, firemen, Special Forces personnel, Forest Rangers and Boy Scouts all have a sordid past. This has left them jaded, sleepy, slightly constipated and somewhat saddened by that condition. They live alone, mainly in squalor and even though they have maximum trouble relating to women (past, present and future) are not gay (at least, not overtly.)
Evil men are good looking, usually corporation rich, have impeccable taste, beautiful wives and/or girlfriends but despite being highly intelligent, always surround themselves with some of the stupidest henchmen in history.
All Assistant District Attorneys, world-renowned scientists, cryptographers, secretaries and American Vice Presidents wear push-up bras.
Dumb-ass sidekicks are always smart enough not to get caught by evil men or their stupid henchmen.
The deadliest marksmen in the world will always miss the first shot and then go nuts, spraying bullets around like they’re throwing pennies to the poor.
And speaking of which, bullets love plate glass windows.
When confronted with evil, men will have body armour, guns, knives, grenades, poison darts, a jousting lance, nunchucks, assorted landmines, two bazookas and a small tank readily available. Their female companions, however, will have a thong, high heels, that push-up bra again and a butter knife.
Men can successfully fend off five, six, ten, two hundred or more determined attackers, but when faced with a feisty female in a love-tap play fight, they will drop like somebody shot them.
When fleeing an explosion, if you run as fast as you can, you will get flung into the air and bounced on the ground like a rag doll. However, if you just calmly walk away you will not be touched.
After having sex, women are normally naked, whereas men usually have their underwear on.
Hand guns prefer to be just out of reach.
Villains never just shoot detectives, firemen, Special Forces personnel, Forest Rangers or Boy Scouts as soon as they catch them but always take a few quality moments to reveal and outline their nefarious plans.
When you hear subtle North African music, innocent North Americans are going to die.
Men can be hit by a train, dragged behind a speeding motorcycle, trampled by a herd of panicking wildebeests and beaten senseless by sixty blood-crazed Shaolin monks, but will only wince when a female dabs their wounds with a Kleenex.
All old buggers are grouchy, but like prostitutes and crack addicts, normally have a heart of gold.
Any criminal investigation, including parking tickets, will eventually end up at a strip club, a seedy bar or a scuzzy hotel.
So, what have we learned?
After over a hundred years of movie making, audiences are no longer fooled by cheap theatrics. They demand more from their entertainment dollar than a series of phony chase scenes. They want sophisticated storylines and complex characters. But mostly they want a true reflection of the world they live in, portrayed with realism and intelligence. Just take a look at Argo. Last year, it won an Academy Award for Best Picture.