Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Cinematic Anticlimax: The Feeling of Unfulfilled

Time once again for another guest blog. Today's blogger is our friend Greg. Greg teaches college kids how to write, so we apologize in advance for the big words and instant improvement to quality. Take it away, Greg:

"Nonplus – v. to greatly perplex or bewilder

Despite the fact that movies these days are as close to an entertainment absolute as you can get, I am readily bewildered by the movement away from denouement – no apex, no summit, no acme – no denouement, pronounced day-no-mah. More and more films today present plot and character development for longer and longer periods of time (shows often last an erroneous 3+ hours) only to fade to black without any happily ever after, no hero or heroine walking into the sunset, no bad guy loses and good guy wins or even bad guy wins … no winner, no loser, no closure. Instead, the purpose of films these days seems to be to only peak with a surprisingly unsurprising turn of events that leaves the viewer wanting yet left with nothing to satisfy or quench. It’s a new age in cinema where the goal has shifted from satisfaction in 2 hours, to far-fetched action and dissatisf-action in 3. Let me explain.

Movies are fun, being entertained is nice. But I’ll be honest … spending my free time in a theater doesn’t do a whole lot for me. It’s the equivalent of twiddling my toes or glazing my pastry. I guess most people would argue movies are an escape from real life, that it’s good to be fantastic now and again … after all, who doesn’t want to escape from something you’re in all the time? Obviously I tend to disagree a bit. I confess, I’m not an avid moviegoer.

Films are not the end all be all for a guy like me. Gratefully though there are options to keep me in the know-ish … I love the Red Box and the age of $1.00 movie rentals (maybe the greatest new entertainment value of the millennium to date). It lets me watch films that I would have otherwise never, ever seen – films independently created on a teacher’s salary, films that get shelved in places at Blockbuster that I would never browse. The reason I like these shows is almost absolutely because of their opposition to the mainstream construct. Unfortunately though, the absence of denouement (the mainstream trend) has even filtered into independent filmmaking, disproving the uniquification of their independence. It’s what makes the independents mainstream. It’s what makes me want to cry.

Take a couple movies I’ve seen recently like The Namesake for instance, which if you haven’t heard of, stars House homie Kal Penn, or The Savages featuring Phillip Seymour Hoffman, or Rendition with Jake Gyllenhall (who my wife pictures during intercourse, i.e., sex), or even Daniel Craig’s 007s. All are perfectly entertaining, and at times even very good, mainstream and/or small-time as they may be, yet they all share a similar or maybe even identical feature – when they end, the viewer is left with an unmistakable feeling of emptiness, not the feeling of wanting more that may draw out a desire to return to see the next episode (as I’m sure was the intent from filmmakers all along), but instead a feeling I can only describe as hollow or sunken or not solid or concave … the feeling of unfulfilled.

You may identify with it as that great date you went on that one time, the one where you were really enjoying yourself, but you didn’t get your good night kiss (or whatever it was you aimed at getting on the doorstep) … but that’s not it, not entirely. It’s that date you went on that one time where you were really enjoying yourself, everything was on course for you to get your good night thingamajig, then the evening took a completely inexplicable turn, with no fair warning, to a degree that you could have never anticipated, for no foreseeable reason … and then fade to black, no thingamajig, and worse no reason for your rejection. No explanation, no happily or sadly or tiredly or curtly or dishearteningly or dispassionately or insert your emotion here, ever after. No denouement. No wrap up. Cinematic anticlimax. There is no outcome or unraveling of the plot, there is no purpose.

When this article ends now, you may feel the same way. You might experience the sense of feeling nonplussed and unfulfilled. Maybe you’ll feel like you just got done at the movies."

Thanks Greg. And for our readers who struggled through the big words, here is a picture of Jessica Biel:

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