Setter’s ‘Spectives: The Real Horror Picture Shows

Setter Drawing for Blog 082613Let it be said (or written, as this format requires) that I’m not a fan of camp.

No, I’m not railing against burnt marshmallows, off-key singalongs or lopsided kickball teams. I’m ranting about the genre spawning the most insufferable Baz Luhrmann films or Stephen King tales. The ones that make Fellini flicks look subdued.

It ain’t art, in my opinion. And I wish we’d have less of it.

The thing is, it’s much easier to be over the top when it comes to script, direction, acting, et al., than it is to take ’em seriously. That’s because camp doesn’t need to be credible—it takes the short route, and that’s often enough.

Movies should be more than that. People shouldn’t have to settle.

The remake of Carrie makes me worried about this market. The original—camp at its most tiresome—seems to have accrued the luster of age, a phenomenon the villain Belloq cynically observed in Raiders of the Lost Ark. This sheen has been deemed worthy to capture in reinflicting this story upon the public, and I’m concerned it’s just the start of the trend. How much do we need of the same half-eaten sandwich, anyway?

The expectation, it seems, is that some people go to the movies to laugh at them instead of revel in them. To make fun of silly situations and come out thinking they’re like a ride at an amusement park, where cheap thrills welcome everybody. There’s a fear of becoming too involved in a real picture, such as The Godfather, where you’re forced to immerse yourself in a world you’ll never inhabit. Great films are scary. They require commitment.

Dr. Frank-N-Furter and his minions don’t require such dedication. It doesn’t stop, perhaps, their fans from participating in the campy singalongs. But such activities might cause them to miss the arias of real filmmaking.

And that, in my opinion, would be a shame.

Skip’s Quips: A Skunk Cabbage By Any Other Name

Blog Sketch 082813Wherefore art certain schemes to market the Bard so silly?

Taketh Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet, for instance. Or rather, William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet.

That’s William with a “W.” Shakespeare with an “S.”

And dopey with a “d.” C’mon, who else’s Romeo and Juliet would it be–Irving Berlin’s?

I’m not sure why such a prestige picture needs the added prestige of the famous author’s name in lights above it. It’s different,  methinks for a film like Fellini Satyricon, where the source material’s not as well-known, and the director’s the selling point. But R&J?

I don’t think anyone’s gonna come up to the theater and say, “Drat–I was hoping for Christopher Marlowe’s version.”

In reality, this is just a modern way to tout a vintage, though hallowed, brand. But I think there’s a double standard. You don’t see movies touting Homer’s The Odyssey. Or Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales. Or Madonna’s Sex.

Thank goodness is what I’ve got to say.

It’s obvious the cachet of Shakespeare’s name lends itself well to movie titles … or so Hollywood may think. Yet his lilies don’t need the gilding. The Bard’s greatest works speak for themselves and lack the pretension artificially ascribed to them by application of marketing nomenclature. Frankly, if the studios want to reach a new audience with R&J every decade or so, they should concentrate on casting it better and giving it a less-flashy director. (It remains to be seen how Carlo Carlei’s Romeo & Juliet will fare, though I suspect it can’t be worse than Luhrmann’s iteration.)

My concern, then, isn’t whether a rose by any other name would smell as sweet. It’s whether today’s filmmakers think so.

I hope they do.