Sunday, February 25, 2007

Professional Bleepers

(Note: On Sundays I am posting a Sabbath blog, my logic being that the Sabbath is a good day to post about things that I enjoy. Fun writing is recreational writing, I figure. So, here is Sabbath post #6.)

The Academy Awards will be given out tonight. We’ll probably watch the show at our house because we all like movies.

My hometown of Barnesville, Georgia had one theatre during my growing up years—the Ritz. I can’t be sure what the first movie I ever saw there was, but the first one I remember was the James Bond flick Thunderball. On Saturday afternoons my mother would drop me off at the theatre with fifty cents in my pocket and with that fifty cents I would watch the double feature, watch the first movie again, and buy popcorn and a Coke. Those were the days.

I saw only two movies with my parents. One was The Green Berets, John Wayne’s movie about the Vietnam War. Let’s just say that it was in a different vein than Apocalypse Now or Coming Home. The other was the original Walking Tall, the one starring Joe Don Baker as Tennessee sheriff Buford Pusser. I think that one of the lines used in advertising that film was “It should have been a love story.” It wasn’t. It had a lot of graphic violence for 1973 and the language was, to put it mildly, quite salty. When it was over my mother said, “Why do they have to talk like that?” I answered her, based on all the worldliness that I had acquired in my fifteen years, “Because that’s just the way it is in the real world, Mama.” I’m not sure whether she sniffed or shrugged at me, but either way she dismissed the thought as silly. Folks didn’t talk that way in her real world.

In recent days we’ve watched two of the movies that are up for Best Picture tonight: The Departed and Little Miss Sunshine. It goes without saying that they are both excellent movies. The Departed is a Martin Scorsese directed crime drama starring Leonardo Dicaprio, Matt Damon, and Jack Nicholson. The performances are mesmerizing, the story engrossing, and the climax, at least in my opinion, disappointing. And the language is atrocious. But, folks talk that way in the real world. Little Miss Sunshine is a wonderfully enjoyable movie. At times it is hilarious, at other times heartbreaking, and at yet other times embarrassing (in the sense that you’re embarrassed for the characters because of the situations they’re facing). The cast is outstanding, especially Abigail Breslin, who plays the little girl whose family is determined to get her to a beauty contest hundreds of miles away. And, at times, the language is atrocious. But, folks talk that way in the real world.

Well, I have to agree with Mama (shrug, sniff): they don’t talk that way in mine, and I’m glad. And frankly, it bothers me to have to put up with it in order to see these otherwise outstanding cinematic achievements.

Now, I’m no prude about this. I’ll be the first to admit that if Clark Gable had said, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a hoot,” it would not have had the same effect. I just fail to see why professional screenwriters can’t come up with anything better than “I’m going to (bleep) your (bleep) head off if you don’t (bleep) tell me what I (bleep) need to know.” I also fail to understand why, in order to convey that a character is upset, most screenwriters can’t come up with anything more original than having the character stomp his foot or throw something against the wall and say, “Bleep.”

In my opinion, those screenwriters are not earning their money. They need to exercise a few more brain cells, type a little longer, muster up a little more creativity, and find some better ways and better words to give their characters to express their thoughts and emotions.

I’m sure that I’m way too simplistic in how I look at this, but to me, they just make otherwise very smart movies sound dumb.

No comments: