16/06/2013

Movie Crazes

Photo by annaberthold

Hollywood has a reputation of going through cycles of repeating genres, for lack of a better term. If a film is an instant success, then that surely means that for the next 5 years or so, audiences are going to want to watch the same type of film over and over. If it isn't 'torture porn' (Saw, Hostel, A Serbian Film, etc), teen High School comedies (10 Things I Hate About You, Never Been Kissed, She's All That, etc) then it's magical fantasies (Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, The Golden Compass) and vampires (Interview with the Vampire, Twilight, Byzantium, Fright Night, etc) I will look at two sub-genres and choose a film to represent the best and the worst of each.

Vampires

The current craze seems to have sparked after the success of the teen franchise Twilight based on the books by Stephanie Meyer. Of course, vampires existed a lot longer than this on screen.


The Best:

Interview With the VampireInterview With...
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  I'm slightly cheating with this choice as this technically came much before the craze was triggered. However, it is still one of the best films of the vampire canon. Originally based on the popular Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice, Interview with the Vampire showed us that Tom Cruise may actually be able to act and introduced us to Kirsten Dunst who was outstanding as the child vampire Claudia (though has not really matched the same intensity since). The film starts with the vampire Louis (Brad Pitt) telling his story to an interviewer, letting the audience see his version through flashbacks. It is a story filled with more heartbreak than joy, as Louis gets used to becoming a vampire, however reluctantly. The issue of turning a child into a vampire (Claudia) is represented well with Kirsten Dunst coming across very believable as Claudia struggles with the identity of being a much older woman trapped forever in an 11-year old girl. It also deals with the complicated relationship that Claudia develops with Louis without coming across as perverted and unnecessary. There are no bright moments in the film, each scene shot as dark as the subject's matter. The pace and mood comes across as sombre and yet intriguing as the audience awaits to see what is in store for each character. There are scenes in the film that almost come across as a dance, with each character choreographed to mirror the movements of how a vampire should appear, according to director's choice. This becomes apparent in the fight scenes which have a faster pace to represent the vampires' invincibility. Every character in this film comes across as believable, making the audience sustain belief that this may be a possibility, at least for the remainder of the film. It is a film that focuses on the story and plot rather than purely the fact that this is a film about mythical creatures.

The Worst:
Twilight
Twilight
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 It may be a popular film with the rabid fans, but let's stick to credibility here shall we? For this piece, I will only include the first film out of the franchise considering that is the only one I managed to sit through. I get quite annoyed with films that not only have teenybopper audiences going crazy in ridiculous manners, but also for films that aren't actually any good in the first place. I went to see this film at the cinema and was totally underwhelmed. I heard such rave reviews and everybody was talking about it so had to check it out to see what the fuss was. The result was me sitting in the cinema wondering if it was me refusing to like the film purely because everyone loved it or if everyone else was blinded by certain actors' 'charms'. The acting was stiff and wooden and the plot did not hold my attention. The so-called vampires were not believable, if we were suspending belief that this can actually happen (sparkling, glittery vampires - what is that all about?) The plot was something done time and time again, vampire falling in love with a human girl which was done with a lot more credibility in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV series). The action sequences seemed forced and more farcical than a dance, the voice-over was done in a bored, monotonic voice that had me to bored to tears. And yet, the franchise spawned five more films all because of its devoted fanbase. This is the film I blame for generating a lot of copycat films, where the media is now obsessed with using vampires in every chance they get, whether that be in films, TV shows or books, making the audience with any sense avoid any film with a vampire plot attached to it.



Teen High School Comedies

This term best describes the spate of films in the late 90s-early 00s which focused on the comedy, light-hearted drama and romance of the American teenage life.

The Best:


10 Things I Hate About You
10 Things I Hate...
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I remember seeing this on a video that we rented and instantly loving the quick-witted, fast paced comedy. Yes, it may be aimed at teens, but I still watch it whenever it's on the TV. Based on Shakespeare's Taming Of The Shrew, it works as a modern update successfully - compared to other films around the same time trying to update Shakespeare's work (O comes to mind, a modern re-working of Othello). The on-screen chemistry between Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger is unmistakable, with Stiles slowly softening to the charms of Ledger over the course of the film.The film's plot goes on the lines of girl wants to go to prom but is not allowed to attend by her over-protective dad unless her sister goes along. Of course, the sister is very anti-prom which is where Ledger's character comes in - set up as someone to ask Stiles to the prom in order for Joseph Gordon-Levitt to take Larisa Oleynik's character. The film seems to be a launchpad for most of its cast, with Ledger and Gordon-Levitt having successful careers after the film and Stiles having a decent career. 10 Things...is a feel good film which a lot of teen movies seemed to be around the same time. Its up-beat and good fun atmosphere is what keeps the film fresh in audience's minds and also works on multiple viewings as it doesn't tend to get stale.

The Worst:

The Girl Next Door
The Girl Next...
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 Whilst this film was a little after the era that I am talking about here, I'm still including The Girl Next Door as one of the worse teen high school films. Certainly not the worst film - I give credit of that to Get Over It, a film so boring, I was falling asleep watching it at the cinema and nearly walked out. But there wouldn't really be much to talk about with that film, due to the fact that I have repressed most of it and would not be able to recall any details. A film I only watched as there was nothing else on television, The Girl Next Door comes across as limp, poorly written and poorly acted. None of the actors made an impression on me and the plot just sounds like it has come from a teenaged boy's mind, which clearly comes across on-screen. A teenager has been accepted into university but won't be able to afford to go, girl moves next door and it's discovered that she's a porn star. I get a bit confused next to what happens - he's excited because he really fancies the girl or he's excited because he thinks her earnings can help him with his tuition fees. Either way, he comes across as an unsympathetic character - a geeky boy thinking he has what it takes for a beautiful adult star to fall in love with/pay for his learnings. Add in an intimidating ex-boyfriend of the porn star and an unrealistic conclusion and you have me almost asleep and peeved that I've wasted an hour and a half. It certainly isn't a memorable film and has me hoping I never come across it again as I will just turn off. I remember it leaving a sour taste in my mouth at the unrealistic portrayal of characters.

Hollywood will always continue to stick with whatever they think are making their earnings at the box-office - no matter how bored the audience becomes to be. All they see is money rather than an original storyline/concept. Which is a shame, because when a film is original and successful, there's a guarantee of a slew of copycat films.

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