Monday, December 21, 2009

I Am Terrified for the Future of Filmmaking

I am not a film major, but this past semester I decided to take a course about film genres to (attempt to) keep my sanity amid my accounting and business classes. If I had known then what I know now, I would have stayed far, far away from this class. Let me just start by stating my overall thesis for this blog post: If the people in my film genre class are any indication as to what films in 10-15 years are going to be like, December 21, 2012 can not come quick enough. A nuclear apocalypse would be less painful than the shit movies I'm going to have to sit through from these people.

I must add right here that I enjoyed the class and loved the professor. I had had her before in an earlier introductory film class and thought she was amazing. She actually showed foreign movies, much to the dismay of the idiots in the class, and introduced me to Breathless so I will forever be grateful to her. What drove me crazy about the class was the students. I have been in business classes for so long, I forgot how irritating those couple of kids who have an opinion about everything and feel the need to express it fourteen times a class were. And it always seemed these stereotypical fanboys had opinions during weeks when we discussed genres I didn't care about. During horror week, we had a 30 minute long discussion about Sam Raimi's Spider-Man movies after briefly mentioning The Evil Dead. And, my God, you couldn't shut them up during fantasy week when Lord of the Rings came up. But when melodrama week came up, they were quieter than Taylor Momsen at a Celibacy Club meeting (Not to toot my own horn, but the professor was impressed that week that I had seen Broken Blossoms, Terms of Endearment and In the Mood for Love outside of a film class). As if that wasn't bad enough, it felt like for the most part none of them had a seen a film made before The Godfather but a majority of the class had seen The Neverending Story.

What really set me off about the stupidity of these future filmmakers were our final projects. The assignment was to take a film and discuss it relative to genre, whether it's an argument why it falls in one particular genre, why it's a hybrid of two genres or the persona of one of the film's stars. We had the choice to do a paper or a presentation and, since I obviously never read the papers, I only have the presentations to comment on. And boy do I have a lot to say about them.

The first one that really drove me crazy was a presentation on Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. For a brief second, I actually thought that this might be an interesting presentation because who doesn't love hearing about a Hitchcock film? As the presentation wore on, however, it quickly became clear that the girl probably only chose the film because she didn't have to do much research to find article and books about it. With the number of factual errors in her presentation, she obviously didn't give a shit about the film or Alfred Hitchcock (which is sad because he's only the greatest director ever and far more fascinating than anyone working today). For instance, the girl at one point claimed that Juno and the Paycock was Hitchcock's first film. Now, I don't have the chronology of his entire filmography memorized, but I knew that sounded fishy as soon as it came out of her mouth. Sure enough, the bitch got it wrong. Juno and the Paycock was his 12th film, not his 1st. Seriously bitch, go to IMDb and verify this shit. It's not that fucking hard. As if that wasn't bad enough, she then referred to American Psycho, the 2000 film based on Bret Easton Ellis' novel and starring Christian Bale, as a sequel and/or remake of Psycho. When she said this, I wanted to get out of my seat, go to the front of the classroom and punch her in the face like she's that bitch from Jersey Shore. How stupid can you possibly be? I mean, where on Earth is she getting this information from? Did she just assume that since they both have the word psycho in them they must be related?

Oh, and she was only the tip of the iceberg. There was this other dirty hippie bitch that drove me absolutely nuts even before she started talking. Earlier in the year, while discussing Holocaust films, she came out of nowhere and started talking about Persepolis, which she outright admitted that she had never seen and obviously knew nothing about it. So we had to take a two minute detour from the lecture to get her back on track and finally shut the fuck up. She decided to discuss City of God, which hurt right away since I'm a massive Meirelles fanboy. I tried to be objective at first, but some of the first words out of her mouth made me hate her even more: "I'm talking about City of God which is like ALL in Portuguese." Now, out of context, this may not seem so bad, but the way she emphasized "all" it made it sound like we should give her a fat fucking medal for willingly watching a foreign language movie. Yes, bitch, you are so amazing and we should throw you a fucking parade for your valor and intelligence. Give me a fucking break.

Now I have to talk about the guy who couldn't follow directions to save his life. In the first place, the professor sent at least three e-mails to all the presenters telling them that they needed to bring their presentations on memory sticks because there was no time to switch between her computer and someone else's. I don't know if he didn't get these e-mails, didn't read them carefully or is just a complete dumbass, but he came to class with his laptop and seemed completely clueless and dumbstruck when the professor asked if he had his presentation on a memory stick. I could tell the professor wanted to strangle him--hell I wanted to strangle him--but she had to be nice and quickly disconnect her computer and connect his to the project her. Next his presentation started and it was so awful I would have jumped out the window if we weren't on the first floor. First of all, he decided to talk about Superman, but instead of focusing on one of the films like the assignment asked, he went on and on about Superman's origins in comic books. Uh, yes, that's completely relevant to a film genre class. Then he couldn't get the (unnecessary) sound to work on one of his stupid slides. The professor had to keep reminding him that he only had 10 minutes and couldn't spend the time fixing the slide but he decided to ignore her and kept on fooling around with the sound on this one goddamn slide.

I know this may seem inconsequential and petty on my part, but this whole class just bothered me. Judging by the students, films are going to be even more blockbuster-heavy and dumber than the dreck that gets released every summer. If you can't even get basic facts right in a simple presentation or have such a limited knowledge of films you don't know much about pre-1980 films, what the hell are you going to do when you're a director on a film set? Not anything I want to see, that's what.

I'll leave you with one concluding remark from the last presentation of the day: Casablanca is apparently now a film noir.

(Oh, and if anyone's interested, I'd be glad to post my paper about What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? and how its a horror and melodrama film hybrid. My prof said it was brilliant!)


Marcy said...


Okay, I feel that way about my high school film class too. I mean, it's an easy elective, so I don't feel that horrible about the future of film. All we ever do is watch movies and take objective tests on them. But when someone speaks, it's actually pretty painful.

My teacher wrote some info about A Place in the Sun on the board and indicated that the film won 6 Academy Awards. A student raised her hand and asked, "I don't get it. Do you mean Elizabeth Taylor won 6 Academy Awards for this movie?"

Or when my teacher talked about the Steve Martin remake of Father of the Bride. A student actually asked, "Was the remake Bringing Down the House?"

Or when the teacher tells us that 1939 is the best year for film and shows us crap like Goodbye, Mr. Chips.

RJ said...

"Not to toot my own horn, but the professor was impressed that week that I had seen Broken Blossoms, Terms of Endearment and In the Mood for Love outside of a film class."

Lord. Those aren't even obscure, so this must be a crazy dumb class of kids.

Jose said...

Welcome to the club. When I started film school my classmates thought "Pirates of the Caribbean" and "The Butterfly Effect" were the greatest pictures ever made.
I don't know if they'd made a consensus or something but all of them referred to those two things every time they needed to make a presentation or give an example.
My heart was broken when they decided that since silent movies have like no dialogue like at all they could be seen in fast forward and not miss a thing.
Needless to say so I left that place within a year and am glad to know that my education in film is way better than theirs' will ever be.
So congrats to us!