Friday, July 30, 2010

Fletch on Movies

As part of my Shabbat/convelescent reading, I've been going through the "Fletch" novels of Gregory McDonald. Like every red-blooded Genxer, I was introduced to Fletch via the movie, which I often put in my top 5 favorite movies. The first book has basically the same plot skeleton, but is not nearly the same level of comedy, as the film. I will have more to say about the books soon, but I wanted to jump the topic with a quote from a later book in the series, "Fletch's Moxie" which is about the movie business. McDonald sets his books in different 'worlds' and will go on a particular author-filibuster on that subject (e.g. the art world, journalism, politics).

"Moxie" is about movies and actors, and the following speech is a wonderful description (something I wish I'd written) about the terrible 'message movies' that usually win Best Picture, and what is mistaken as 'serious' filmmaking:
"I’m just reading this filmscript.” Fletch jiggled his knee under it. "I don’t know, of course. Never read a filmscript before. It strikes me as pretty terrible. The characters all seem to be like people you meet at a cocktail party—all fronts and no backs. They don’t talk the way people really talk. I do a little writing myself—on days when there are hurricanes. It seems to me, in this filmscript much time and space are wasted while the author is floundering around trying to arrive at an idea. All that should be cut away. Don’t you think writing should begin after the idea is achieved?" Mooney was looking at him like a bull bored with the pasture. "It treats controversial old issues in an insulting, offensive way. Instead of trying to create any sort of understanding, my reading of it is that it is trying to provoke hatred—deliberately."
Apply this to any number of the Best Pictures of the past decade (e.g. American Beauty, Crash, Million Dollar Baby, anything by Ron Freakin' Howard after Apollo 11).

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