Sunday, February 26, 2017

WSJ Editorializes on Hollywood Malaise

Rod Pennington writes that "Sunday's Oscars ceremony takes place during one of the gloomiest times for the film industry in recent memory." With ticket sales trending down, Pennington has some specific advice.
The solution to today's film malaise is simple: better storytelling. Studio executives seem to have forgotten the basic rules preached by the late mythology scholar Joseph Campbell, and his model of "Reluctant Hero." Over four decades this formula has dominated blockbusters: Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter and Katniss Everdeen, among many others, are ordinary people reluctantly thrust into extraordinary situations. Elaborate car chases and stunning special effects are fine, but audiences still want someone they can root for.
Since this advice echoes my previous posts, I have no choice but to declare Pennington a genius.

With home theaters a norm, Hollywood believes that to get people off their couches and into movie theater seats, they must blow things up, speed around corners, kill multitudes in gruesome detail, overly edit action scenes, and lay down an ear-splitting sound track. Nowadays, the story is so secondary that the sound track routinely overpowers characters speaking to each other. Screenwriters who understand dialogue write for cable, where they're allowed to strut their stuff. Today's movies are empty calories loaded to the gills with noise and eye candy. Can Hollywood once again learn to walk and chew gum at the same time? I believe so, but only when the story becomes paramount and all the rest is viewed as the delivery system.

And by the way, you know, when you're telling these little stories? Here's a good idea - have a POINT. It makes it SO much more interesting for the listener!" Planes, Trains, and Automobiles


  1. I have held your view of most American cinema for some time. Therefore, I now declare you to be a genius.

  2. Any news on "Crossing the animus "?

    1. One more pass-through and cover design remain. Unfortunately, I've had some personal issues that have slowed progress.

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