Hollywood sucks: a rant

On the plane from Sydney to NYC, I watched a lot of films and most of them were awful. Especially The Departed. Once again, I sat there, jaw dropping, thinking this is what racks up gazillions of award nominations? What are they seeing that I am not? Am I the only one who cares that no one’s motivations make any sense? That there are plot holes so deep and wide you could ride all the world’s horses through them?

Warning: Spoilers follow.

Not that you will care within about ten minutes of the film starting. Frankly I was hoping they would all die. It was the only way in which the film gratified my wishes.

Like why would you, on finally (at long bloody last) figuring out who the bad guy is, go arrest him yourself? Why would you not take the ample evidence you had straight to the authorities? Or at least go arrest him with lots of back up? Why do female psychiatrists in Hollywood movies have absolutely no ethics and sleep with their patients within seconds of meeting them? And why are they not in the slightest bit conflicted by this?

(Side questions: Why did all the white lead males under forty look and talk exactly like one another? I could not tell them apart!)

There were no real people in The Departed. Not one. Maybe that’s what the title really refers to: the departure of charcterisation and coherent plot. None of them had families. None of them had remotely believable pasts. They only existed—and that barely—for the duration of the movie. It wasn’t a movie. It was a shell of a simulacrum of an impression of the photocopy of an idea of a movie.

There’s a reason films and television like this spawn no fanfic. There’s no there there for fans to run and play with. Everything is cardboard. Shiny cardboard with way-too-white teeth.

I also saw Miami Vice which was just as ludicrous. Colin Farrell wins my award for worst American accent ever. But at least it was cheerfully and colourfully stupid and way more stuff blew up.

If I hadn’t seen Pan’s Labyrinth and The Queen recently I’d be concluding that all movies suck. (You know, just like all those folks who conclude that all YA sucks after reading one Gossip Girl book.) But wait a second. They’re not Hollywood films, are they?

Why does Hollywood keep spending gazillions of dollars making so-called A grade movies that make no sense at all, are badly written, cliche ridden, and boring, and why does it keep giving such train wrecks a gold statue with no penis? I’m looking at you, Crash.

I can’t remember the last time I genuinely enjoyed a Hollywood A grade prestige flick. Quite frankly I’ve reached the point where I will never spend money on such movies again. Bugger ’em. I’ll stick to the much-better B grade and independent and non-USian films from now on. Some of them will suck too, but not in the same glossy, vampiric, scary simulacra way that the Hollywood monstrosities do. A pox on the lot of them and their shiny interchangeable stars.



  1. Rebecca on #


  2. holly on #

    But…but…but you have to see my grade a Hollywood flick!

  3. marrije on #

    and why are they so full of pretty people these days? we were watching (a small part of) that great classic Die Hard I on tv yesterday, which was made in 1988, and it was chock-full of not-very-handsome folk, especially the coppers and the airport people. (it also had the very attractive mr rickman, for balance). And it was a breath of fresh air.

    maybe i watch too much csi-like stuff, but where are the normal people in tv and movies? the ones who have regular people faces? even the bit parts all look like they came out of a box at central casting.

    It’s a sad time when i am pleasantly surprised that the current james bond-heroine has a slightly crooked front tooth.

  4. Justine on #

    Holly: Genre’s a different kettle of fish. Of course I’ll see the Spiderwick movie.

    Marrije: I hear you, sister! But I just saw an English movie where all the teeth were glowing white too. Disturbing! Which means the plastic people trend is spreading! Gah!

  5. simmone on #

    arghh! me too! When I look in the paper on the weekends I see nothing worth $15. And I don’t know what the thing with scorsese is now – he’s like a brand. Sometimes I think that seeing films on planes is the ‘truest’ you’re ever going to see them, without the big screen swell all the flaws come out.People on planes should be given books.

  6. Lauren on #

    My old boss at Lions Gate Films used to say an A movie is just a B movie plus a few million bucks.

    My personal pet peeve: simplistic motivation; i.e., shrink sleeps with patients because uncle groped her as child.

  7. veejane on #

    Leo DiCaprio (6’1″) and Matt Damon (5’9″ if he’s not lying) will be very sad to know they cannot be told apart. Or, Leo will be sad and Matt will be thrilled that people think he is taller.

    I haven’t see The Depahted (as people around here call it) but I did see its source material, Infernal Affairs, which was totally incoherent and lovely, the way much of Hong Kong police melodrama seems to be. It was also the middle part of a trilogy, so, at least it had somewhat of an excuse for its incoherence. And it certainly was lovely to look at. Probably would have made a better movie without the subtitles, because then I would not have known about the incoherence.

    I find that I cannot watch good movies on a plane. It has to be a bad movie, or else I have to pay attention to it. Also, tiny tiny screen is best suited to stuff blowing up and other can’t-miss-it gestures of obviousness.

  8. Justine on #

    Simmone: If you haven’t seen Pan’s Labyrinth go see it now! It is worth $15. More even.

    Lauren: Your boss was right. Pity the extra bucks doesn’t add anything on except gloss.

    The Departed didn’t even bother with the simplistic explanations. I swear these movies are getting more and more like Kabuki. The audience is just supposed to supply everything themselves. They’re just supposed to know what the raising of an eyebrow means. The writers and actors don’t have to do any actual work at all.

    Veejane: Fortunately, The Departed is not a good movie. Not by any stretch. I have heard from many that the source material is far superior. I am unsurprised.

    You can’t tell who’s taller.They do everything they can to make the shorties look taller. But everything else about them is the same. And Marky Mark.

  9. gwenda on #

    My favorite absurd gleaming white teeth moment is Matt Damon in Saving Private Ryan. Please. (And there’s another terrible Hollywood movie.)

  10. Justine on #

    Gwenda: Ridiculous! Everyone knows dentistry wasn’t invented until the 1970s!

    I am so with you on Private Ryan it is to gag!

  11. chris barnes on #

    shiny interchangeable stars. 🙂

    Yeah, i often get confused by the current Hollywood bratpack. Matt damon, ben stiller, ben affleck, leo dicaprio… if there’s more than one of them on the screen at any one time they start to blur together.

    besides, i can never again take matt damon seriously after team america.

    (oh, and the the combat scenes in private ryan are great. just ignore the actual story.)

  12. Karen on #

    I like checking out the trailers on apple.com and the one that interests me most right now (besides Pan’s Labyrinth which I’ve already seen): a Dutch film called Black Book. It seems like some of the best film work being done these days is European. Hollywood could take note.

  13. lili on #

    I wish I’d liked Pan’s Labyrinth more. I liked it, but not as much as I thought I would. I didn’t really feel like Ofelia’s adventures with the fawn (who i want to see in a fight with mr tumnus) and the creepy eyes-in-hands guy were really integrated with the ‘real-life’ narrative of the spanish fascists. i wanted the two stories to affect each other more.

    also, not enough monsters. more monsters, less smashing-in-people’s-faces-with-a-bottle.

  14. lili on #

    (i’m totally with you on the queen though. best movie of 2006. except maybe for little miss sunshine. and an inconvenient truth.)

  15. Justine on #

    Lili: You are so very wrong about Pan’s Labyrinth but I have a big heart and will forgive you.

  16. lili on #

    really? tell me how, if you’d taken out the fantastic elements, the ‘realistic’ story would have changed.

  17. Seth Christenfeld on #

    my only complaint about pan’s labyrinth (which I saw last week and loved, and which my mom saw and loved today) was the comparative brevity of the fantasy sequences, particularly the material with the pale man. i wanted more, and i just wish that del toro had given it to us.

    (also: little miss sunshine is adorable and funny.)

    (i don’t get to the movies too much.)

  18. benpeek on #

    you forgot to complain about the rat in the final seconds of the film.

  19. Justine on #

    Lili: I’d have to understand what you’re arguing to be able to respond. But your comment doesn’t make any sense to me.

    Ben: Ah, yes, the rat. I’m afraid that was just too subtle for me. 🙂 Though it was definitely the best performance in the entire movie.

  20. Diana on #

    i liked little miss sunshine, too. It’s the only movie I’ve seen this year which is up for any oscar at all. Wait, I think Pirates of the Caribean 2 has one for “best makeup” or something, Which is good, since the makeup was, perhaps, the only decent part of that crap fest that never should have existed because it ruined my good impression of the first one (impression: fine popcorn fun!)

    I’m surprised at your opinion of the departed, justine, since i’ve heard many writers say it’s one of the best films they’ve ever seen. I’m not a big blood-n-guts-Scorcese person, so I skipped it, but…

  21. lili on #

    justine: my problem with pan’s labyrinth was that the ‘real’ story (the bad spanish fascist man vs the rebels) didn’t seem to influence the ‘fantasy’ story (ofelia in the labyrinth with the faun) or vice versa. i felt that if you removed the ‘fantasy’ part, it wouldn’t affect the ‘real’ part. and i kinda feel that for a story to work, every plot strand needs to work with every other plot strand.

    not to say that there wasn’t a lot that was *right* with the film. there were bits that were amazing and fantastic. but it had been given so much hype that i expected to like it more than i did.

  22. A.R.Yngve on #

    I prefer a movie that wears its tackiness on its sleeve, so to speak, before a tacky and pretentious movie. (For example, The Gangs of New York, which was a huge disappointment from the maker of Goodfellas and Taxi Driver.

    I have Turner Classic Movies (TCM), and I agree with the “attack of the clones” problem in modern hollywood film. Where’s the current equivalent of, say, Humphrey Bogart — who was neither handsome nor young, but immensely charismatic and a “star” nevertheless?

    Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio… they are curiously childlike, as if Hollywood has chronically inbred itself. (Maybe it has…)

  23. Ray Davis on #

    “I could not tell them apart!”

    Oh, good, it wasn’t just me.

    I’ve seen the HK original, and so all through the first part of Scorsese’s remake I was wondering “When is the _other_ guy going to show up?”

  24. Penni on #

    “Matt Damon, Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio—they are curiously childlike” Yes! It’s eerie.

    I wasn’t that big a fan of the queen in the end. I felt like they were all holding back from the heart of the story. It wasn’t funny and satiric enough or it wasn’t dramatic and psychologically searching enough or something – it sort of sat halfway between comedy and drama. I thought Helen Mirren was good, but she was sort of too much the consummate actor and didn’t bring enough of herself to the role, of the humanness that I wanted to see. It’s possible I just had too much champagne before the movie (which sounds terribly debauched and interesting of me, much more so that I actually am). And maybe when you only see one movie a year at the cinema your expectations get all out of whack.

  25. janet on #

    Is Matt Dillon a member of the brat pack, too? Because I always get him and Matt Damon confused, for obvious reasons…..

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