To crib from Byron: I want a hero. A super-director with a special power.
That power is trust.
Too few film makers these days are of the show-not-tell variety. Even the good ones seem to resort to preachiness as their work matures. An example: Ang Lee’s Life of Pi, an intriguing flick that ultimately turns to allegory to tell its story.
It didn’t need it. And that made it unsatisfying. But it’s not the only movie with this issue.
True, speechifying in film has been around since day one, with works such as Intolerance, The Great Dictator and others being benchmarks. Yet these days, it seems the genre has proliferated, with “man must” themes pervading serious cinema. They end up being hokey, as the dime-store morality in Forrest Gump was—becoming easily digestible pieces of protein without flavor.
Consarn it, I want more than just grill marks on my steak. I want seasoning, too—and it can’t be overcooked.
Many of the promising works of American filmmaking these days suffer from exactly that. They’re broiled too long and underseasoned, so you’re left not hungry for more, but annoyed that your meal cost so much.
Trusting the audience would make everything better.
So in this State of the Cinema, I urge the directors of today to edit. Leave exposition, back story and preaching on the cutting-room floor. Fill your movies with mystery and let the audience figure things out. You don’t need to be Harold Pinter, but you do need to believe in us.
Will you, that cinema hero, come? In anticipation, let’s sound the trumpets. And beat the drums.