Friday, September 25, 2009

People in Montana like to watch movies that don't suck

Two days in and I'm already bored. I will not be moving to Montana any time soon. I haven't watched TV since Monday. Is it still there? Did Sam and Dean kill the Devil yet? Has Los Angeles sunken into the sea?

It has been nice hanging out in the quiet and seeing the stars at night. Did you know there are places where you can see the moon during the day? I totally forgot that was even possible.

But after the novelty of that wears off you're still sitting in a house in the middle of nowhere with nothing to do but walk the dogs, shoot shit and beat on a tire.

My hosts have been intrigued by the process of writing films. They didn't know a screenplay had the story in it. They thought you wrote down a summary of the story and let the actors come up with the dialogue. I'm glad I came out here because when you're locked in Los Angeles you think movies are the center of the universe. You forget that most people don't give a shit about camera angles and color filters. They want to be entertained.

One of my hosts doesn't go see movies much, and when she does she rarely enjoys it. She liked Harry Potter. Other than that I'm not sure what she likes. She said she doesn't like movies with lots of CGI and explosions because she feels like they'll give her seizures. Her husband said much the same thing. "All those Michael Bay movies," he said, are not worth his money and time.

The wife said she doesn't care about camera angles. She just wants to be entertained. I said ideally if the movie is done well, you don't have to know why you're uncomfortable in a scene - you just see the extreme close-up and your brain interprets it the right way. It's kind of like trying to figure out why chocolate tastes so good. Somebody knows the answer but that doesn't mean the rest of us need to know.

But these two people have to drive for many miles to see a film, so they don't go regularly. They don't watch TV much either, and even to get their Netflix videos they have to drive 10 miles to the post office. So seeing a film is a rare occasion. What makes them go, I asked? The trailer. A good story. For the husband it was the stars, but the wife said she didn't care who was in it if the trailer looked good.

These people are both over 30 and live in the middle of No-Fucking-Place, Montana, and they like good stories that entertain them. They don't need random explosions, but they also don't need some weepy drama that shoves a lesson down their throats. They see movies that look enjoyable. The husband saw Star Trek. He did not see Transformers 2. He saw the first Transformers, he said, and it was shitty. He said he'll probably Netflix the movie though, because "it's out there."

This is most of America to some degree, I think. I know my mom's the same way. She only sees a movie on a rare occasion, so if she sees it, there is something special about it.

Which also makes me think - with all the money we spend on films in Hollywood, we should really try harder to make films that are worth the time and effort of regular people. I think sometimes because we go see movies so often and spend so much time obsessing over them, we forget how special they're supposed to be. We forget about all the people who don't live in cities and watch a movie once a week and have tons of kids. But they're out there and they don't like to watch crap.


  1. okay, first: don't EVER talk shit about shooting shit and beating a tire- if we were good, on Christmas, we got to shoot shit and beat a tire.

    second: I totally agree. it's this game we play with ourselves here: if i add this many verbs no one has seen before, the script will sell and we'll be valid. No. It's a good story. Make 'em laugh. Let them remember that first kiss.

  2. Funny, just the other day I made an offhand it-wasn't-that-bad comment about SURROGATES on my Facebook page so an old college friend left a comment asking if that meant I could recommend it for her and her husband for a night out--she wanted to be sure the film would be worth paying for the tickets, getting a babysitter, etc. I thought about it and said no, in that sense it really wasn't worth that but for Netflix it would totally be fine. It's not something I think about all that much but it's a good thing to remember.

    PS--Hope you're having a great time out there.

  3. At the same time, my cousin drove up from Long Beach to see a Sunshine Cleaning with us at the Arclight. We thought it was mediocre, but he liked it, saying something to the effect of:

    "Anything that gets me out of the house is pretty good...It was a lot better than watching a 3 year-old."

    Maybe the moviegoaer's effort in seeing a movie gives the filmmaker a bit of leeway?


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