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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Cinema’s postmodern plague

    T

    he trailers preceding a feature film have always been one of my favorite aspects of the movie-going experience. If I’m late to a showing and I miss the trailers, I feel deprived, even if I get to see the feature in its entirety.

    Ever since I was a child, I thought that this was how I would always feel, but then I went to see a film a couple months ago – in May, prior to the release of the summer blockbusters. Preceding the feature I went to watch, I viewed the trailers for two films in particular that perturbed me: “”The Omen”” and “”Poseidon,”” both of which were remakes of older flicks from the ’70s.

    Immediately after this, I quickly compiled and jotted down a list of all the remake films that have been released in the past three years on a receipt that was in my pocket – I ultimately listed 22 movies off the top of my head. “”What does this mean?”” I found myself asking, and I couldn’t help but conclude that Hollywood is now fully embracing the postmodern notion that, in art, everything has already been done.

    Consequently, producers now have no qualms about drawing forms (particularly plots/storylines) from the past and presenting them as something new or – at the very least – modified. But is the crap that Hollywood regurgitates really modified?

    It’s true that artists and filmmakers don’t exist in a vacuum and that they must draw inspiration from the past in order to progress and move forward. Many of Shakespeare’s plays, for instance, were inspired by and based upon works of history that the playwright had read, but he tailored and manipulated the material in such a way as to make it his own (i.e. thoroughly original).

    The films that Hollywood has reproduced in the past few years, on the other hand, don’t significantly alter the past material; what’s more, it’s extremely difficult to see how movies such as “”Freaky Friday,”” “”House of Wax”” and “”The Hills Have Eyes,”” which were never all that great in the first place, can even be made decent, let alone improved upon.

    I’ll concede that Lindsay Lohan is much more attractive than Jodie Foster ever was as “”Freaky Friday’s”” lead female, but making essentially the same film with a more comely lead actress is hardly something that can be deemed an “”improvement”” or a novel take on old material.

    To be fair to the producers of the aforementioned films, I will say that remakes of obscure, campy films from the days of disco aren’t as dreadful as the deluge of sequels currently being released.

    The first “”Final Destination,”” for example, was entertaining enough, but the subsequent two films – which amounted to little more than strings of scenes in which pubescent teens succumb to Rube Goldberg machines of death – were superfluous to say the least. Slick, polished remakes of cornball b-movies are bad, but sequels are wretched because they’re remakes of contemporary a-movies, which tend to be more devoid of intellectually stimulating content and artistic expression than b-movies from 30 years ago were.

    Moreover, once a film series becomes a trilogy, the sequels are remakes of remakes, and so forth.

    Whenever I think about the utterly tawdry and contemptible films that Hollywood has a penchant for making these days, I think also of children who are starving in the Sudan, children who could use the millions wasted in making such awful movies to put food in their starvation-swollen bellies.

    Then again, at the risk of sounding inhuman, I must admit that if Hollywood spent millions on the production of great film art, I would have difficulty deciding whether or not the money should be put toward assuaging world hunger and mass starvation.

    This is a classic aesthetic/philosophical question: Is a great work of art worth more than an average human’s life? Considering the caliber of the movies Hollywood has been making for the past few years, it’s clear to see that its answer to the question is: Not only is a great work of art worth more than a human life, but a mediocre work of art is, too.

    Andrew McGhee is a sophomore majoring in physics. He can be reached at letters @wildcat.arizona.edu.

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