Wednesday, 18 January 2017

More wheat, less chaff

It's been said that TV series boxsets are now more popular than movies.
This comes as no surprise, because as popularity has increased, so has both quality and quantity in general.
That's not to say it's all good news (there's plenty of garbage out there) but chances are anyone will be able to find several series that appeal to them, providing ample opportunities for sitting on the sofa with a bottle of wine and a tube of Pringles for a good old binge watching session.
Game Of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Orange Is The New Black, Luke Cage, House MD..... hour after hour of quality entertainment that makes you wonder what the hell the movie industry is up to as it continues to churn out an endless stream of mediocrity.

For a while I thought my attention span was suffering from a catastrophic death spiral, but I've come to realise it's a combination of the generally lamentable quality of today's films and me being increasingly fussy.
If a movie doesn't grab my attention in some way within the first fifteen minutes, it doesn't look good. If I'm still not interested after the first half hour, I'll go and do something else rather than waste a further ninety minutes being bored on the off-chance it might get better. If it fails the 'half-hour-rule' then that's that.
Last night I picked a film on Netflix called 'Clinical', which sounded like it was worth a shot.
It survived the half-hour rule, but although it was mostly OK, it took a nose-dive about three quarters of the way through and by the end I wished I hadn't bothered after all.
This sort of experience has become so common that it's almost surprising when I watch a film that actually turns out to be good.

At the weekend we watched 'Hunt For The Wilderpeople' starring Sam Neill.
I admit I was sceptical beforehand, suspicious it was going to be one of those films that sort of wanders along aimlessly and ends up leaving you wondering what it was supposed to be about, but the wife was keen to see it and there wasn't much else to do so I gave it a go.
As it turned out, it was well worth it. I won't do any spoilers here, but if you want a well-acted film that's all about the story and the characters rather than big explosions and millions of pounds worth of green-screen computer graphics, then I'd highly recommend it.
As modern films go, it sits like a diamond in the rough, and I wonder if there are more films out there of this quality that I'm missing out on just because all the publicity gets focused on all the CGI blockbuster nonsense.
We only heard of 'Hunt For The Wilderpeople' because Sam Neill was talking about it as a guest on the Graham Norton show a while ago.

It's for the same reason that I'll often pick a classic film rather than a new release.
I'm bored of over-the-top movies that are just an endless barrage of special effects - I want something with a decent story and proper acting; not just gunfights, car chases, steroid-enhanced heroes and pathetic screaming women.
'Rear Window', 'White Heat', 'Roman Holiday', 'Some Like It Hot', 'To Kill a Mockingbird' - great films.
'Guardians of the Galaxy', 'Fast and Furious 6' - utter crap.
It's not as though I'm an old fart who grew up in the days when Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn were the current film stars and constantly wander around saying "It was much better back in my day!".
I'm 45 and grew up on a diet of 'Knight Rider', 'Airwolf', and an endless list of cheesy 80's action movies, so each of these classic black and white films is a whole new discovery. OK, so they're not all great, but at least they're an entertaining alternative; rather like only ever having listened to bands like Metallica and Judas Priest, then suddenly discovering Supertramp.

'Hunt For The Wilderpeople' can therefore be archived on the same shelf as films like 'Amelie', and 'Breakfast At Tiffany's' while I go on a quest to find some more modern films that feel like uplifting entertainment rather than physical assault.