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Entertainment / movies / July 2, 2011
By Eileen Jones

American movies are dead, people. I know I’ve hinted before that American movies, collectively, were unwell, maybe even terminally ill, but that was in the still-hopeful past. Now it’s officially over. We can stop checking its pulse in the form of the weekly movie openings to see what’s being offered to us, because nothing’s being offered to us, and nothing’s going to be offered to us. Pull the plug. Hollywood, we hardly knew ye.

It’s the 4th of July weekend, and that’s when the studio conglomerates used to stake their all on something big. It usually turned out to be something laughable as well as big, but still, ever since Jaws started the summer blockbuster tradition, we’ve been able to count on Hollywood at least attempting a huge Independence Day act of showmanship. But this year, what do we get? Transformers 3—or is it 4?—and Larry Crowne, a tiresome-looking heart-warmer with Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. Old junkyard action and old scrap-heap stars. It’s like an acknowledgement that Hollywood has nothing left to give, nothing in stock that isn’t long past its sell-by date. It’s all empty shelves back there.

And it’s not like American independent filmmakers are stepping up with stuff that’ll electrify us, either. They’re down to retreads too. They’re opening Terri, about a sad obese teen who finds an understanding friend in the school principal played by John C. Reilly—an infuriatingly phony premise targeting the indie audience sweet spot, flicks about supposedly edgy, quirky misfits who find happiness without having to compromise on their quirks. There’s also The Perfect Host, one of those class-commentary turning-the-table things about a criminal insinuating himself into a wealthy home only to find out his host is a more dangerous creep than himself. It stars David Hyde Pierce.

Have you hit Fandango to buy your tickets yet? No, I didn’t think so.

That’s how it’s gone this whole year, and last year too. You check the openings, you stare in disbelief, you resign yourself to more Netflix rentals or hope something’s on TV. You exclaim solemnly to others, or they exclaim to you, how remarkable it is that all the American talent seems to have migrated to TV, the writing talent and directing talent and acting talent. They tell you about True Blood or Modern Family or Breaking Bad, you rave to them about Justified or Reno 911 or Archer.

I’m currently surviving on reruns of a show called Party Down which only lasted two seasons but is the best thing I’ve seen in ages. Never thought I’d see the day when a new take on cracked American utopianism could be presented to me and I’d believe in it again. Somehow these gifted Party Downers have combined utopian dreams with merciless satire, and not shorted either one. Party Down is about Hollywood hopefuls working for a badly-run catering company, and each episode covers another catering job in L.A.—a pornography award show after-party, a community theater’s opening night event, the funeral for a pillar of the black community, a fundraiser for an expensive pre-school, Steve Guttenberg’s birthday party.

Catering these events is rotten, demeaning, dead-end work for our cast of would-be actors and writers and urban-achievers, and it’s presented with horrifying accuracy. If you’ve lived in L.A., and/or tried to “make it” in the entertainment industry yourself—God help you!—then you recognize it all, the miasma of desperation and delusion and networking and envy, the frantic self-help New Age talk, the dead-eyed vicious types that thrive there and all their ready-made victims that are swarming into town every day.

You also recognize the low charge of excitement that pulses through all the crap and keeps you there long after you know it’s a mug’s game. You’re always so close, so close to scoring the invitation, meeting the producer, getting the part, signing the contract, living the fantasy. That’s how you go crazy there, it’s always just about to happen, you’re just waiting on one phone call to give you the good news, and in the meantime you can see the Babylonian revels in the VIP room though the cracked door and your friend knows someone who can get you in.

The hero of Party Down is Henry (Adam Scott, now in Parks and Recreation, another excellent show), who starts off the series as the guy who’s finally gotten wise and quit trying to be an actor. He’s still driving the BMW he bought when he did a beer commercial that made him briefly famous for a lame catchphrase, “Are we having fun yet?” Thin, melancholy, and worn around the edges, Henry has adopted the pose of someone who is in Hollywood but not of it, catering events at which everyone else is scrambling and scheming and sweating while he looks on with quizzical irony. It’s a popular pose in Hollywood, but tough to hold, and Henry can’t hang onto it.

The impeccably structured series ends with Henry, still wised-up but helpless to resist, going in to audition for a part in a film. By that point you’ve gotten so fond of all the poor losers and so caught up in the crazy kinetic possibilities that open up/close down/open up again for them at every event, you think, “Ah, no, Henry, don’t do it!” at the same time you feel like “What the hell, go for it, Henry, maybe it’s all worth it!”

Yeah, the show manages to re-sell Hollywood to you even as it eviscerates Hollywood. Most amazing thing.

And it’s a good reminder that, perversely, we don’t want Hollywood to die, we’re really hoping it’s just in a deep coma. We need the films; it’s tough to do without them. It’s strange to remember that only a few years back, there was this burst of great, heartening movies, and American filmmakers were right in there slugging. In 2009 we saw Inglourious Basterds, Coraline, A Serious Man, Tropic Thunder, District 9, The Informant!, Capitalism: A Love Story, and The Fantastic Mr. Fox, all stunners, and there was strong stuff too in The Dark Knight, Iron Man, Sherlock Holmes, and Taken.

You know what’s been great so far in 2011? Rango. That’s it. Rango. And it’s July.

So what happened?

Mark Ames suggested to me that the obvious answer is, the easy money has dried up since then. Oligarchs are sitting on theirs, taking a wait-and-see attitude, and nobody else has got any. That’s bound to curdle the guts of notoriously not-gutsy American film producers, studio execs, and financiers, and make them want to play safe. Even mildly risky fare gets dumped. One result, as everybody has already noticed, is a bigger percentage of sequels coming out in 2011 than in any previous year: Transformers 3, Pirates of the Caribbean 4, Hangover 2, Kung-fu Panda 2, Cars 2, X-Men 4, Harry Potter 16 or whatever it is…

We might also be looking at the sheer exhaustion of the Hollywood business model established in the mid-’70s-early-’80s, the “blockbuster” system. After The Godfather and Jaws and Star Wars hit it big in the ’70s, Hollywood businessmen figured out that using “synergistic” marketing and merchandizing methods, they could make a few big “tent-pole” films so internationally successful they’d support entire studios for the year, regardless of how well the rest of the year’s slate of films did.

When independent film became an ’80s-’90s phenomenon, initially as an alternative to the super-commercial Hollywood product, it got swiftly co-opted and became a useful part of the overall system, a kind of oppressed and vampirized minor leagues for the studio conglomerates. Films developed and financed by struggling indie producers make for nice easy pickings at film festivals, where new talent gets scouted and any interesting film ideas or innovations get stolen.

It all worked pretty well, off and on, or at least pretty profitably for the conglomerates, for a surprisingly long time. But lately it doesn’t seem to be working for anybody. Something needs to change, something is DUE to change. Not the nibbling changes around the edges of the main system caused by increased DVD sales and rentals and piracy, and streaming video and same-day-as-theaters releases and all that—something bigger and more basic. After all, the classic Hollywood studio system only survived thirty-some years, and now we’ve had thirty-some years of the blockbuster-and-indie-film system as its successor. We seem to be sick of that now, with good reason. If we want movies at all during the next thirty-some years, we need a new system.

Of course, we could just simplify and blame audiences for everything. Critic Manny Farber did that back in 1952 in an article he titled, uh, “Blame the Audience.” In it, he noted that the reason we have so many big sloppy sanctimonious movies instead of lean, mean, sharp movies was because American audiences were too stupid to get their fat asses into the right theaters to see the right movies when they happened to come along. Of course, he blamed other critics even more for encouraging audiences to like the wrong kind of movies. That was back when people read critics.

It’s still a good point. Though I’m not sure TV audiences are any better than film audiences when it comes to a buzzard-like preference for consuming offal. Nobody much watched Party Down when it first aired, great as it was, as loaded with dazzling talent as it was, so the Starz Channel brass axed it with easy-come-easy-go efficiency.

There’s a rumor that Party Down might get made into a movie, though. Probably about the same time the cult show Arrested Development gets made into a movie; it’s always already just about to happen any day now. And that’s why we need Hollywood to wake up from its coma.



Add your own

  • 1. Punjabi From Karachi  |  July 3rd, 2011 at 12:43 am

    I’m really happy to see Eileen make the historical analogy, to the thirty year system that rises and falls. I think that’s quite appropriate and we definitely might be seeing the dawn of a new system. Let’s see. For now, I’ld like the banks and Harry Potter, to please finally finish. The end of Harry Potter, will be the end of the Twee Britain mythos at least. Good riddance.

    Now let’s get rid of the banks and enter the future.

  • 2. Anton  |  July 3rd, 2011 at 12:54 am

    After watching Adjustment Bureau I can’t help but agree that Hollywood really seems to be in coma. It’s not only that afore mentioned movie sucked, but that it was crappy in such an old fashioned way. But I think that at the very marginals of Hollywood great stuff has been going on for a decade or two. Lone Star. Fargo. Big Lebowsky. Serious Man. Adaptation. Eternal Sunshine of A Spotless Mind. Election. About Schmidt. American Beauty. Etc, etc. These movies are far from blockbusters, but they have quite big budjets, make ok amounts of money and often get nice media boost even at the Oscar level. Now what drives me crazy is the way all cowardly film critics and just about everybody wants to make old movies into these holy cows. Let’s not get overwhelmed by nostalgia. Let’s face it, in the fifties even the best of movies were clumsy as hell. The acting, editing and especially the writing were nowhere NEAR the level of any of the movies I mentioned above. Nobody claims, that Turgenev was ah so much better than Chekhov just because he wrote some decades earlier. No litterary critic prefers Marlowe to Shakespeare. I hava always hated Hitchcock. I saw Vertigo when I was 9 and I HATED it for it’s retarded script and crap acting, all the logical shortcomings and the stiffnes of the artificial sets. As an adult I still hate it just as much. It’s these film critic wankers who have made Hitchcock, an ok entertainment craftsman IN HIS OWN TIME, into some holy sage who can’t be challenged. Fuck Hitchcock, John Ford and the rest of them holy cows. Oh, and one more thing: Why do European and especially asian films get extra points for not being American? This drives me crazy. Agreed, most commecial film, all over the world, are retarded. Bollywood is the most extreme example of this. But if I have to make a list of the most unretarded films of all time, there would only be contemporary American films on the list.

  • 3. Anathame  |  July 3rd, 2011 at 1:07 am

    Arrested Development is the greatest show ever, I’ll check out Party Down, I’ve never heard of it but I have now.

  • 4. jon  |  July 3rd, 2011 at 1:16 am

    Of course, you don’t HAVE to watch american films. I’ve been watching french films and if you can get past the feeling of being horribly pretentious in watching ‘french cinema’ and of course the sub-titles, the films are amazingly good. Plus, they don’t have the american fixation on the happy ending which can be genuinely shocking to watch, so conditioned are we to the ‘happy ever after’.

  • 5. Pascual Gorostieta  |  July 3rd, 2011 at 1:16 am

    Party Down was a great show and Lizzy Caplan gives me a serious case of “matzo fever”.

  • 6. Kristina B  |  July 3rd, 2011 at 2:56 am

    party down is an amazing show.i refuse to believe it’s gone. the best thing since arrested development went off the air.

  • 7. Mr. Bad  |  July 3rd, 2011 at 4:15 am

    “In 2009 we saw Inglourious Basterds, Coraline, A Serious Man, Tropic Thunder, District 9, The Informant!, Capitalism: A Love Story, and The Fantastic Mr. Fox, all stunners, and there was strong stuff too in The Dark Knight, Iron Man, Sherlock Holmes, and Taken.”

    Kind of lost me there, all pretty average and not going to be on anyone’s all time list. Also, Iron Man and Tropic Thunder were 2008, right?

    Good movies are still being made, just not in this country, luckily they will be distributed here: Last year A Prophet and Animal Kingdom were excellent – Tinker, Tailor Soldier, Spy looks promising this year. True Grit, Winter’s Bone, The Tillman Story were standout domestic last year. What about some love for Stakeland?

    The summer is always death for good movies, the prestige stuff does look weak this year but it always does when the Cohens don’t have one in the running.

    It think that part of the problem may also be that the “critical” element of our media may have completely divorced themselves from reality and pronounce anything remotely acceptable as good, I mean, “Taken”? Really?

    Take a page from Ames book and just start eviscerating anything that moves, tear out your hair and spit bile at the screen, that’s the Exiled ethos and you’re letting us down.

  • 8. Ella Farts-Gerald  |  July 3rd, 2011 at 8:51 am

    You’re right about the most compelling work being on TV series rather than in movies lately. Thanks for bringing PARTY DOWN to my attention. I’d never heard of it. The STARZ package offers little incentive to subscribe.

  • 9. Tom  |  July 3rd, 2011 at 9:08 am

    The Tree of Life owns

  • 10. derpotism  |  July 3rd, 2011 at 9:35 am


  • 11. Flatulissimo  |  July 3rd, 2011 at 10:01 am

    Allow me, if I may, to provide a soundtrack for your disaffection:

    From 1979, of course, because American music has been dead for even longer than American movies.

    And yeah, Party Down is great. Just started watching it myself, because it was streaming on Netflix. And Breaking Bad is better than any (American) movie that’s come out in recent memory.

  • 12. Mike C.  |  July 3rd, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    @9 You misspelled “blows.” Total wretched, self-important agony. It made me question my interest in watching movies.

    Jones is really relying on subjectivity here to reinforce a point. Natural; maybe unavoidable, but debatable. To run through some of the examples of films allegedly putting the current stuff to shame (with opposing subjectivity):

    Inglourious Basterds
    – Was a totally derivative Tarantino one-man circle jerk. He hasn’t been good since his brain dissolved between Kill Bill 1 and 2.

    Tropic Thunder
    District 9
    – These fell squarely into ‘just OK’ territory.

    The Dark Knight
    Iron Man
    Sherlock Holmes
    – Three average/messy action flicks, each again saved only by the affectations of one actor.

    The previous decade was riddled with years bearing little of value. There’s nothing unique about this year; it’s rather the progress of the disease that distinguishes it. Don’t worry; we’ll all be entertaining each other on YouTube soon, hoping for affiliate pennies. Then the human race will reach its apex: a planet of asocial hominids staring into screens, masturbating in hyperbaric chambers.

  • 13. Mike Flugennock  |  July 3rd, 2011 at 8:22 pm

    But, Eileen… WHY do we need Hollywood to wake up from its coma? Modern Hollywood is the Terri Schiavo of cultural institutions, in a hopeless persistent vegetative state. Fuck it. Pull the plug. Let it die.

  • 14. ABC  |  July 3rd, 2011 at 9:53 pm

    Go watch ‘Delhi Belly’ and write a review about it. It is an (Indian) English movie made by Bollywood, that opened on the 1st. When a movie by Bollywood is the best at the local AMC, it does speak volumes to the depths that Hollywood has sunk to.

  • 15. fartman fart  |  July 3rd, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    Wait wait wait. I’m with you for the most part, but SHERLOCK HOLMES? That was a giant pile of shit.

  • 16. JohnFigler  |  July 3rd, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    Hollywood needs:

    – Get rid of happy ending. Serious, sometimes you need to kill somebody to make the whole story have sense, sometimes it’s the main character even.

    – Get back to the we work in making movies here ethics. Just like when Ford got a van, a camera, 50 cans of virgin film and 100 bucks for expenses and was told: I wan’t material for 2 movies with that in two months. Deliver or there’s an Hungarian ready to do your job for half the pay. No more marketing dictatorship.

    – Massive executions and forced labor for those 40something ex-nerds, now industry executives, vindicating that reading comic books back on their adolescences was not for losers.

    – Acting talent would be fine, but not really necessary.

  • 17. Cum  |  July 4th, 2011 at 12:12 am

    The best episode of Party Down was the community theater one. I watched it with a housemate (back in California) who was at the time starring in a “Pirates of the Carribbean” themed community production of The Tempest as well as an entirely faux-Brit and faux-Russian accented satire called Temptations.

    It was wayyy too true to life, she was ashen-faced by the end.

  • 18. Rawlery  |  July 4th, 2011 at 12:26 am

    Not really. Maybe if you have greater artistic expectations from movies but their worldwide economic and cultural clout is significant (particularly movies from the 2000s)

  • 19. Cum  |  July 4th, 2011 at 12:26 am

    Yeah let’s talk about Iron Man and The Dark Knight. The message of both movies is that we should worship white male billionaire weapons manufacturers. Because sometimes the system becomes so corrupt, we need a lone dictator… er… vigilante to take back the weapons that he had sold into that system.

    So that he can kill more of the same people that were dying beforehand, only it’s morally acceptable now because all the shots are being called by our benevolent corporate sociopath now instead of those corrupt soft-on-crime politicians.

    Sometimes a black sidekick helps them out.

  • 20. Ro  |  July 4th, 2011 at 12:55 am

    The film industry in this country has been little more than a soulless force for cultural decay for many years now. I have seen so many homicides and explosions on the screen that even when I see the real thing it doesn’t mean anything to me. Every time I see a gun on TV or film I just zone out and turn it off. I’ve seen it all before, a billion times over it seems. Ironically, if you want to see a film that really cuts to the heart of what it means to tell a truly human story that you can relate to, you can find it in the work of filmmakers from Iran, a country that is routinely demonized for having qualities that Hollywood hacks constantly shovel into our faces with their crap. It is irony at it’s very best. One place to start? If you haven’t seen it, go on Netflix and check out “Nobody knows about Persian Cats”. That will give you a new appreciation for what real artists have to go through to put out real art in places where they can only dream of the latitude we have here in America.

  • 21. Punjabi From Karachi  |  July 4th, 2011 at 2:04 am

    Then the human race will reach its apex: a planet of asocial hominids staring into screens, masturbating in hyperbaric chambers

    Bit much?

    Inglourious Basterds

    It was good. It took the World War II kill all Nazis genre, and tortured it amusingly to death for our entertainment.

    Hans Landa was impressive and thoroughly enjoyable. When we watched it, we had fun watching the damn thing.

    Was a totally derivative Tarantino one-man circle jerk.

    No. Inglourious Basterds may have been derivative, but it was derivative in a good way. And no, it was a daisy chain that involved women quite nicely. He killed of a genre that was getting overused, quite well.

    He hasn’t been good since his brain dissolved between Kill Bill 1 and 2.

    I think you maybe right. I saw Kill Bill 1, chock full of all these references and for me it didn’t fill the hype, whilst although Kill Bill 2 was more subdued, its resolution actually made me feel right. I would trade Kill Bill 1 for Inglourious Basterds any day. LOL, now Kill Bill 1. That was a derivative circle jerk that left me (I was a kid then) feeling frustrated.

    And speaking of frustrated, what is it with the overused jerking off metaphors Mike C?

  • 22. Mike C.  |  July 4th, 2011 at 8:27 am

    @Punjabi From Karachi

    Frequent, maybe, but I object to overused. I think wanking summarizes this era in American history. Baby boomers were the first generation to find their self-importance echoed by a vulturous entertainment industry, and receive a soothing affirmation of their juvenile impulses (if not their ability to continue acting on them), arresting their perception of the world as something acutely attentive to their histrionics.

    They put on plastic hats, said “pow pow,” watched the establishment take a dive, and quickly believed in the firepower of their index fingers.

    Boomer complacency was lost on no one but themselves. Every industry has been watering down our proverbial porridge more with each passing decade. Media is just one example. They don’t have to take risks, and they know it; they can estimate the monetary value of of an actor’s fame, a director’s prestige; and if the overall success of a movie isn’t projected to be high enough to justify the cost of making it good, then cut useless corners like writing. I suppose there’s a declining arc awaiting even that subterranean nadir, in terms of mediocrity, and our reactions to it.

    Now media is so devoid of purpose we’ve turned to watching two minute videos of, well, each other. We’ve become self-sustaining, like Grampa Simpson when the nurse fixed his full catheter and empty IV bag by swapping them.

    I keep comparing anything Tarantino makes to Pulp Fiction (and Reservoir Dogs, to an extent). Watching a scene like the superhero speech in KB2, it seemed like his momentum had waned, and the script was finally creaking under the burden of his references.

  • 23. tout  |  July 4th, 2011 at 8:32 am



    I never thought I’d see one of you.

    I have seen me some Prequel Defenders, and had a roommate who is a Final Fantasy 13 Fanboy/Defender, but I never thought in 2011 I could see with my own eyes, a Tarantino defender.

    Maybe in thirty years when things swing back around and it’s cool to say he wasn’t a hack, you’ll smile a little smile and know you were there first.

  • 24. Mr. Bad  |  July 4th, 2011 at 8:48 am

    @ 2. Anton

    “Let’s face it, in the fifties even the best of movies were clumsy as hell. The acting, editing and especially the writing were nowhere NEAR the level of any of the movies I mentioned above.”

    Yes, in no way can movies like ‘The Sweet smell of success” or “All About Eve” compete with our modern super writers/auteurs and if you look at the “above referenced movies” like About Schmidt, Lone Star and (ugh) American Beauty you can’t help but see how obvious your point is, how could anyone disagree?

  • 25. woundedduck  |  July 4th, 2011 at 10:25 am

    Tree of Life makes up for a lot of mediocrity.

  • 26. radii  |  July 4th, 2011 at 11:42 am

    you’re missing something important, Eileen … Gen-X/Gen-Y has nothing to say. Most of them have never read a book, and if they do write, it is text-message shorthand. These mucks are now in charge at Hollywood meetings that greenlight films and they know nothing, have little to no taste, and have usually been nepotized into their positions thanks to mommy and daddy, and like their generation(s) have no point-of-view and no politics to inform any “art” so we get fucking Bewitched and My Favorite Martian movies that don’t even understand what made those TV SHOWS popular in the first place. As for independent film, as South Park’s parody of ‘Gay Cowboys Eat Pudding’ pointed out many many years ago, just about every subject involving weird, quirky, “offbeat” characters has been done, usually badly, and done to death in indy film. Again, if you only can throw a mish-mash of quirkiness onscreen as your submission then you really have nothing to say. STORY is what matters, and few in Hollywood know what one is any longer. Gen-X/Y/Millennials are used to shorthand with their characters – they want a cardboard cutout like they get in their super-violent videogames – too much work to slog through backstory and nuance.

  • 27. Flatulissimo  |  July 4th, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    @17 – when watching that community theater episode, I kept thinking of Eileen’s theater post:

    “The worst movie ever made is better than this ghastly failed spectacle, and television is the fountainhead of human genius compared to what goes on in theater.”

  • 28. exploitedtimes  |  July 4th, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    Thanks Eileen! I’ve said it before but again your stuff is a great compliment/addition to exiled and your style couldn’t fit any better. Still your voice is unique and original. And sharing your disgust and disdain for Hollywood product in general, I appreciate insight into the work you deem worth the time.
    The site looks and feels balanced and complete, really good right now, in no small part thanks to your contributions.
    Cheers to your success and exiledonline!

  • 29. Mike Flugennock  |  July 4th, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    When, over three or four successive summers about six or seven years ago, I saw the screens choked with remakes of TV shows, superhero franchise movies, and movies based on comic books, I decided that it was official: Hollywood has run out of ideas. Eileen may be right about Hollywood being dead, but I was way ahead of her on that, imho.

    Same with independent films, as far as that goes. For the first few years of the indie-film boom, quirky, weird sociopathic characters with no socially redeeming qualities were fun to watch, in the same way that old Mercury/Atlas test-launch footage from the late ’50s is fun to watch. As time wore on, though, that shit started getting really tired, and as formulaic and cookie-cutterish as any of the regular crap coming out of Hollywood.

    In fact, my prediction for the next big wave of indie films will be films about normal, reasonably well-adjusted, sociable and likeable protagonists.

    Regarding Eileen’s excellent article about modern theatre, my prediction for the next big wave of trendy Shakespeare productions will be Shakespeare productions set in the actual place and time period in which they were originally intended, as opposed to current productions which all seem to be set in 1950s/60s America, which stopped being “cool” and “edgy” long ago, and which I’m now sick to goddamn’ death of seeing.

    It’s kinda like magazine cover illustrations which parody Roy Lichtenstein paintings: it was funny and cool the first few times, but nowadays it’s like announcing that the art director hasn’t a goddamn’ original idea to his name.

  • 30. gary  |  July 4th, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    most movies are pretty bad..even in the “golden age”..but now they seem worse..american beauty?..american bullshit…no country?…no ending…serious man?…seriously boring..inception?…deception..departed?…doa…true grit?…true shit….iron man?…no spiderman….tropic thunder?…come on..adjustment bureau?…funny hats….dark knight?…darkhype….all these movies were so hyped they could never be as good as advertised if it wasn’t for winters bone and kings speech i would not have seen a good movie for for tv it gets worse…if south park is suposed to be funny then i might as well kill myself now…justified?…no justification….arrested development?…can’t watch it…please…the only decent shows on tv now are spongebob and pawn stars and you can quote me

  • 31. taco  |  July 4th, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    at least review tree of life or something

  • 32. Mike C.  |  July 4th, 2011 at 7:40 pm

    I’ll review Tree of Life.

  • 33. Epsilon  |  July 4th, 2011 at 11:21 pm

    Hollywood cares about making money and money is on international box sales and merchandise.

    So, superhero movies, movies with tons of special effects and sequels. That’s it.

    If you want to see the results of an industry being dominated by 40 year old ex-nerd fanboys, check the comic industry. Hint: It sucks hard now.

    Fuck Boomers. Bunch of worthless hippies.

  • 34. Trevor  |  July 5th, 2011 at 6:34 am

    The Perfect Host sounds like that old Dennis Leary movie The Reff, only without the subtle wit and nuance…

  • 35. anton  |  July 5th, 2011 at 7:35 am

    @ MrBad:

    I’ll modify my statement. In the 50’s the BEST of the movies didn’t look clumsy as hell, the two examples you give prove that. But many so called classics from that era ARE clumsy as hell, and to challenge this is nothing short of sacriligious it seems. The reason for this orthodoxy is a combination of the usual emperors’s new clothes syndrome, love of nostalgia and intellectual wankers needing to find a way to get sentimental without compromising their ah so sharp wit and distate of the moronic masses. The sentimentality of old films = good, kosher, halal. The sentimentality of modern films = ugh… I think Hitchcock, for example, WAS ahead of his time, but I don’t see why that makes him such a holy cow. A film with as crappy dialogue, acting and editing as in Vertigo would be laughed out of theaters by both critics and audience if it were made now, or even if it had been made, say, 40 years ago. Even someone like Jack Lemmon, great actor to begin with, IMHO did his best work in more contemporary films like Glengarry Glengary Glen Ros for example or even in his small appearance in Short Cuts. I hope you’re not gonna reply: ‘Short Cuts & Glengary Glen Ros..??! (Ugh…)’ Because, no offence, it’s hard to think of a more typical wanker reply than just writing UGH in brackets when dismissing some film. I bet you that if it was possible to send a black and white print of either of those films with a time machine into the glorious past, all film snob wankers would worship them like golden calfs. Now neither of those films are timeless classics, just good films, that’s all. And a hell of a lot better than so called timeless classics such as Vertigo, On the Water Front, Sunset Boulevard, Touch of Evil etc

  • 36. Oscar Zoroaster  |  July 5th, 2011 at 8:20 am

    Hollywood’s attitude is, if your not in the pre-teen demographic go fuck yourself. You can’t blame them though since the Harry Potter’s and Twilight’s seems to be the only movies that bring them out in droves.

    Everyone downloads movies. Thats a problem when a large part of your revenue is in dvd/bluray sales. Also If your going to make a blockbuster you have to be thinking in the back of your mind, is a screener going to be leaked onto the internet for everyone to download for free. At least the music industry can make money in live concerts if no one actually buys music.

    Hollywood can make better movies that adults will pay to watch in a theater, but the downloading issue has changed the business model of making movies forever

  • 37. uprisible  |  July 5th, 2011 at 11:49 am

    McLuhanesque perspective would be that digital/dirt cheap you-tube quality ‘production’ is decentralizing and returning Entertainment Enterprise to small “e” — but the with an indefinitely long tail that can whip around endlessly in the hypergrowing, immortal cloud.

    There’ll still be thought-controlling plutocrat-directed propaganda ‘theatre’, but it won’t emanate from the geographically central place “hollywood”. Instead there’ll be ephemeral dominations of the cloud by infectious memes that are instantly picked up and modified by the masses a la 4chan. But, whatever the thought-control power-lever ‘art/entertainment’ is, the plutocrats will have their minions in there swinging and predominating, as they always have done.

    And shortly thereafter there’ll be post-human cyborg-ity and then ‘human’ concerns will have been rendered moot history.

    Within 75 years. All this is assuming near-term physical continuation of electrically-powered scientific Civilization

    the end.

  • 38. Rawlery  |  July 5th, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    Let’s be honest Americans will be known in the future for bringing the ‘action’ genre in movies little else. Maybe ‘romantic\sex comedies’ but I think the Brits maybe beat them on that one.

  • 39. Plamen  |  July 6th, 2011 at 10:28 am

    so does that mean you will have to switch to writing reviews of books or comic books theater or Foreigner movies?

  • 40. Bob  |  July 6th, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    I think the harsher financial climate is definitely a factor, the same thing has happened to games. Nearly all the big money titles are sequels and/or first person shooters rehashing the same tired formula yet again. Just look at this shit, bearing in mind that “Modern Warfare 3” is actually “Call of Duty 8”:

    I’m inclined to agree with the evidence that Hollywood greatly exaggerates the effect of piracy to excuse crappy movies. If something’s out that I actually want to see then I still go to the cinema, but this happens rarely – Coraline, Dark Knight and the new Star Trek were the last few. Otherwise I don’t even bother downloading it.

  • 41. pat b  |  July 6th, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    There is no reason why Hollywood was needed to make Party Down.

    The pilot was shot at Rob Thomas’s home when he was between jobs. You could shoot it all
    put it on youtube and sell ads.

    saya production cost of $40K per episode, you need say 2 cents per impression or 10 million viewers to make it pay.

  • 42. darthfader  |  July 6th, 2011 at 3:44 pm

    10 million views is a LOT for YouTube, pat. The viral videos you love are usually nowhere near those numbers.

  • 43. Cum  |  July 7th, 2011 at 3:19 am

    Someone brought up the shallow characterization and writing that goes into mainstream action games, and also that someone brought up the obvious example of COD: Black Ops. The single player campaign was so atrocious that I am embarrassed to call myself a gamer. Awful plot, bad dialogue, offensive scenarios, and tasteless historical revisionism… these factors all serve to undermine the game’s ability to keep me immersed, which is my primary qualifier for what makes a game good. Of course if the core game mechanics are entertaining enough to outweigh these other factors, then a game can still be immersing (which is why I’ll still do the multi-player mode of Black Ops, or play other games that offend me).

    In the past I have tried to argue that videogames can be art, that they can communicate an important message and can be well-written. The Modern Warfare games are a strong counterargument. But then we can’t expect artistic value from a game series that the developer explicitly stated would serve as pro-military propaganda. Games like Black Ops are more like… virtual team sports for a generation raised on hyper-violent media.

    But yeah, even recent low-brow smash-hit games can still have their great subversive moments:
    – Bioshock’s take-down of Ayn Rand

  • 44. zot23  |  July 11th, 2011 at 10:57 am

    Let’s not forget that Corvette Summer arrived in line with Godfather, Star Wars, etc in the 70s. Eileen is committing the nostalgic error of editing the good from the bad. Hollywood was plenty shitty and corrupt years ago, it’s plenty shitty and corrupt now. Of course Transformers 3 sucks, no one is going to remember it in 20 years. But 20 years ago I was watching Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, Xanadu, and Faces of Death. All contemporary to those “great” films Eileen listed. We don’t think of them because they are not worth remembering. Deer Hunter was a great Vietnam movie, ever seen the Braddock movies Chuck Norris made? I think there were 4 of them (which is as much as I want to think of them at all.)

    The film industry was no better or healthier in the past, it was just different (just like say fashion in the 70s.) Know why the films in the 40s and 50s are so classic and great? ‘Cuz the shitty ones they also pumped out were allowed to crumble into dust and no one cares. We only remastered 12 Angry Men, Casblanca, or The Maltese Falcon because they were worth saving for future generations.

    You’re looking at the pablum and comparing them to the gems of yesteryears, which is simply not fair. Of films in the last few years, here’s what you should be using:

    Inception, Black Swan, The Tree of Life, Restropo (sp?), The Hangover (pt.1), perhaps Scott Pilgrim and Zombieland (maybe, not likely but maybe.)

    20-30 years from now, there will be bitching and moaning about how Hollywood doesn’t make movies like those anymore. When really, it’s been pretty consistently good and awful at the same time. Our lovely human memories just filter out a lot of the crap.

  • 45. CensusLouie  |  July 14th, 2011 at 11:39 pm

    Dark Knight, Iron Man, and Taken? Really?

    I’ve been floored for years that those movies received the critical acclaim that they did. Beyond the lame stories, they (not to mention all the Transformers movies) were at their heart, sickening right wing propaganda (and not even the fun kind like old 80s action movies).

    -Dark Knight

    It was sad that Ledger died, but come on, people. This movie was a mess. The length this silly comic book movie went through to come off as DEEP IMPORTANT social commentary was ludicrous. Trust our billionaires who take the law into their own hands, for they will use intrusive surveillance only to catch the evil terrorists, after which they’ll totally give up those powers honest cross my heart. Plus the Two Face transformation scene was laughable.


    Because the most important thing in the world is preserving a white American girl’s hymen.

    -Iron Man

    Another billionaire weapons manufacturer has a change of heart when he’s shocked to learn that the weapons he produces are used to kill people! He makes things right by…making an even better weapon that he personally uses to kill people. The only reason to watch this movie is if you REALLY want to watch Robert Downey improv for 2 hours, and even then you have to watch him do it with Gwyneth Paltrow.

    But honestly the most disgusting thing about Iron Man and Transformers were their portrayals of the white man’s burden in the Middle East. The locals are all smiling children who love us! The U.S. military are all humanitarian heroes who love the locals and are only there to defend them against aliens and each other! We SHOULD give the military total carte blanche in rooting out hidden domestic enemies, regardless of collateral damage!

    Yeah, fuck those movies.

  • 46. CensusLouie  |  July 14th, 2011 at 11:51 pm

    I tried to get into Party Down but just couldn’t. I’m even one of the people who lived in and tried to “make it” in LA.

    I got the impression it would only appeal to people who HADN’T lived through “the business” experience, because those who had know that it’s too depressing and soul-sucking (which is why only those with no soul make it) to get any enjoyment out of a recreation of it.

  • 47. CensusLouie  |  July 15th, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    Alright I gave Party Down another shot.

    Turns out it’s pretty good!


    …good lord is Jane Lynch awful. I like how the show recognizes how awful improv comedy is, yet that’s where Jane Lynch comes from and it shows through in her performance.

    Yes, LA is full of new age types and there is tons of comedic potential there, but Jane flubs it the same way most improv actors do; it’s always more about the actor going “pay attention to me!” than it is the actual joke. She thinks everything will be funnier if you’re louder and make exaggerated arm movements.

    Ditch her and you’d have an almost perfect show.

  • 48. Mudhead  |  July 16th, 2011 at 3:16 am


    Thanks for the direction to “Party Down.” It is every bit as good as you’ve said, and I’m sorry I missed it the first time around. Good shout-out.

    And fuck the rest of you if you think I’m kissing ass.

  • 49. Epsilon  |  July 29th, 2011 at 9:29 am


    Uh, Iron Man was always like that. In fact, Stan Lee created him to piss off hippies.

    That’s why he’s cool.

  • 50. T. AKA Ricky Raw  |  August 11th, 2011 at 11:53 am

    Uh, Iron Man was always like that. In fact, Stan Lee created him to piss off hippies.

    That’s why he’s cool.

    Your response is kind of irrelevant to CensusLouie’s point. CensusLouie wasn’t discussing whether Iron Man the movie was true to the comic or not, just whether the premise sucked. Pointing out that Iron Man was like that in the comic too without actually discussing CensusLouie’s criticisms of the premise doesn’t disprove his claim that the movie sucks. It just implies that the comics sucked for the same reasons the movie did.

    I also agree with CensusLouie’s critique of The Dark Knight.

  • 51. Jeanne Quian Long  |  November 28th, 2011 at 10:22 am

    there is no such thing as a good movie

    extracting resources from the impoverished, creating nothing, building nothing, feeding clothing and housing noone, all for the sake of attention and masturbatory fantasies

    the entire canon of human art, collected and integrated across the millennia of our existence and swarms of our numbers, are not worth a single loaf of bread or a tank of gasoline

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