We’ve only gone through a few months in 2013, but so far, I’m not mad impressed with what has been offered to us as moviegoers and what is on the way to the big screen this year.
While sitting in front of my television this evening, I saw a commercial for the 3D version of Jurassic Park (how old is that!?), another one celebrating G.I. Joe: Retaliation hitting number one at the box office, and I recently saw online the release date for Twelve Years a Slave was recently announced (December 27). When will it all end?
The numerous remakes, from the Sparkles of last year to this year’s releases of sequels for Evil Dead, Iron Man, Star Trek, Despicable Me (though I might have to check that one out), Thor, Hobbit and billions of others mean this will be another year of a huge lack of creativity. Even some of the independent films I’ve checked out so far have been a little stale. And in a moment of bad judgment, I decided to let the trailers for Tyler Perry’s Temptation woo me in to a big movie theater and per the usual, things didn’t end the way I had hoped. Blame it on predictability.
All of these things leave me to wonder, what has happened to creative storytelling in films over the years? You know, complete films with morals, surprise endings that made you go “Whaaaaaaaat!?”, characters you admired like you knew them personally, and stories that just kept you glued to your seat? These staples in film have been pushed into the background for too many parody movies, sad remakes of movies our parents went to the theaters to see back in the day (really, do we need that Carrie remake??), one too many horror films, enough I-got-drunk-now-lets-party-and-tomorrow-we’ll-forget-everything-that-happened films, and predictable rom-coms. Is this really all that big studios are willing to shell out money to make and all they think we want to see?
There are enough books by prolific authors out in the world for all of us to know that there are some really imaginative and just plain ‘ol dope stories needing to be brought to the masses on film. From books like The The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz to Wild Seed or Kindred by Octavia Butler, Sula by Toni Morrison, Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe (I know there was a miniseries based on it though…) or Go Tell It On The Mountain by James Baldwin (we can go even further back if you like), I’ve played enough of these novels in my head like they were movies, and I’m thirsty to see someone adapt them for the big screen. If done right, these can have as big an impact as turning a book like PUSH into Precious did a few years ago.
And can we get some more heroines on screen? And not your conventional ones? Like a Nola Darling in She’s Gotta Have It? Diana Guzman in Girlfight? Maggie in Million Dollar Baby–anybody?
I just honestly miss the days of new movies that were so great that they got passed on by word of mouth and when you watched them, they were just as good as people hyped them up to be. Movies that explored ways of thinking that you’d never imagined, including the possibility of being able to erase an ex-lover from your mind forever (and then deciding at the last minute that those memories were too great to get rid of), the idea of being able to stop murders before they happen, or the hunt for serial killers who plan murders that go after people who openly commit the seven deadly sins. Even stories that made you look with depth at incredibly real and sad issues (such as, how possible sexual abuse can affect the sex lives of victims as they get older–see Shame). And I miss movies about black folks that weren’t just rom-coms (and if they were, they were damn good ones) or about black female characters always and only going through terrible things, including dealing with abuse or tepid home lives. Beasts of the Southern Wild was a refreshing look at black folks trying to thrive after Hurricane Katrina–can we have more of these stories? All of these types have been done to great results, but these days, all we’re being served is the same ‘ol, same ‘ol. What’s up with that?
But then again, as I said, it’s early in the new year, and the movies could definitely get better (we all know the last few months of the year bring out the heavyweights to prepare for Oscar season). But until then, I think I’ll cling to my Netflix subscription and enjoy my blasts from the past in filmmaking, because the present gets two thumbs down…