Sunday, July 06, 2008

The Action is Go

There was a time when I watched a lot of late Eighties/early Nineties action movies. I'm talking Predator 2, The Perfect Weapon, and Revenge of the Ninja for starters. I couldn't help notice at least one movie playing on a local TV station or HBO on a Saturday or Sunday. Then there was a time when I avoided that kind of movie like the plague. The time when I watched a lot was middle school and high school. The time when I avoided them was college. Now I have a different perspective.

I often hear about people who, after really digging mainstream movies growing up, become exposed to all kinds of other, non-mainstream movies when they go to college. In turn, they tend to take the piss out of super-mainstream movies. I'm definitely guilty of that: part of my college experience was to pounce on Jerry Bruckheimer-produced movies. I don't think I ever ripped apart his movies on a message board or an e-mail list, but I definitely let it be known to my friends that I didn't like his movies.

The deal was, I think I had only seen The Rock and parts of Con Air at that point. Now that number has only grown by a couple as I've seen both Bad Boys movies, and most of Pearl Harbor. The level of disregard has become less, and while I haven't had a complete change of heart, I'll say I've had a better understanding of context.

There's something in our wiring that can make us renounce certain things in college that we loved before we went to college. In my case, it was formulaic action movies. Once I saw The Matrix, The Killer, and Hard Boiled, there was no going back. Movies can be violent, but also have deep substance? So, anything less is just mindless, toxic nonsense, right? Well, when you're just getting into deeper realms of movie-making, yes. But there was a point when I just said to hell with all of that and decided to watch movies I wanted to watch. No matter how arty, complicated, difficult, easy-on-the-eyes, or super-mainstream, if you're interested, watch it, damnit.

I think my change of heart towards formulaic action movies came from repeated viewings of Hot Fuzz, and its five commentary tracks. Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg wrote a movie that pays homage to the buddy-cop genre, but so much more (ie, The Wicker Man, Dirty Harry, Murder on the Orient Express, and so on). Seeing the value that they see in the Bad Boys movies, I have a different kind of perspective.

Rather than the "it's Friday night and I've got nothing to do, so I'll go see some brainless new movie that looks kinda cool, thus making the movie industry believe I want more brainless movies like this" crowd, it's something else. It's an attitude about liking movies as they are, not with an incredibly sharp degree of arrogance, belittling people who don't see the exact same way as you.

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