The changing face of cinema, the Oscars, and a new cinematic jewel for the decade.

Yeah, I think they are a little silly.


They are dumb, trivial, but not worth the time and energy of my passionate scorn. I’ll leave that for other haters.

Some people get worked up about the tomfoolery of the spectacle. They spend too much time complaining about such insignificant cultural detritus. Personally, I just don’t care that much about the Academy Awards. Those who march down that red carpet, or line the same carpet with goo-goo eyes, issue from a different world than I.

We must all have our own brand of “fun,” right? Mine appears to be maintaining a stupid blog. Who’s to say this isn’t just as stupid as idolizing a bunch of vapid celebrities?

In any case, the Academy Awards are upon us, and Los Angeles, being “the” Industry town (a claim that is slowly petering away), revels in the annual occasion. Joan Rivers is gone, so much of the pre-show spectacle that has been the lure for many people who might not be entirely into the award show is no longer. It’s light-hearted stuff, this show biz. Nothing important happens other than that which sprouts in the minds of the ego-driven participants.

I take an interest in movies insofar as they are intellectual feats of storytelling and literary level symbolism, which, in modern American parlance, results in me only liking maybe one, two, or even three movies each year. All other movies are simply boring, bland and unremarkable. Most theatrical features are commercial enterprises with nothing to say but everything to show, and the domestic and international audiences eat that overblown spectacle up. Which goes to show that pop intellectualism is dead and buried in most of the world, not solely the United States. No one wants to be “serious” for movies. Movie-goers want explosions, sex, violence, warm gooey feelings of love, popcorn, soda and candy.

Marvel, especially, seems to embody this mindless profit. Nothing amuses me more than listening to young, hipster types trying to over-think fictional super-humans. Boring. I can’t enjoy that crap, I don’t understand how it’s so popular. I guess people, even many intelligent people, are simply not that discerning or demanding in the realm of intellectualism.

The nature of the business is changing rapidly, as well.

Those of us on the “inside” know it well. I’m being facetious, obviously, because even though I work in the entertainment industry, I’m hardly from the Inside, but I do see, have seen for several years, how emerging digital technology and the concomitant voluminous data pipelines have thoroughly transformed movie-making. Gone are the film and tapes of yore. The physical magnetic and celluloid media are dead thanks to bits and bytes and all that the new digital media portends for efficiency and speed of delivery and shrinkage of the planet, hence, profitable condensation of an industry that once depended on land or air travel if it chose to produce films far from the Los Angeles home base. This was great for California in the infancy of the film industry; now, as television and movie production, courtesy of digital technology, relies less on geography as a mitigating expense factor (oh, tax breaks don’t hurt), it is not as crucial that Los Angeles remains the “home base.” A movie can be shot in Georgia or South Carolina or New York without a hitch thanks to new dailies systems which are smaller and more powerful. They can literally be “mobilized” wherever production is located, even if it’s around the world. Thus all dailies work, which once had to be done back at home base, can now be accomplished onsite and the digitized product then transmitted via very high-speed data lines back to Los Angeles. Sure beats shipping film canisters back to Los Angeles after each day’s shoot…and then, still necessitate dailies transfers to tape.

Which leads to the next evolutionary step in entertainment: consumer streaming.

As digitization of HD footage has become more efficient and widespread, and as internet pipelines have become faster, the appeal of simply watching filmed entertainment on your television has grown. Movie theaters are pricing themselves into “special occasion” territory. The only movies worth spending the kind of money that theaters charge now are big, massive spectacles of special effects that these same theaters can exemplify with their large screens and complex sound systems which can’t be replicated in most living rooms. But even this is slowly changing. UHD and 4K televisions are becoming ubiquitous and watching movies on these “mini-theaters” at home has frankly become a tantalizing alternative to movie theaters with all their attendant crying babies and loudmouth scumbag patrons.

Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, titans of the Industry, foresaw such cinematic evolution. With home entertainment technology, the movie-watching experience can be just as wonderful and you never have to step out of the house or spend over $30 just to eat shitty food. Movie theaters are becoming exclusive bastions of pricey, “Broadway-style” entertainment.

George Lucas agreed that massive changes are afoot, including film exhibition morphing somewhat into a Broadway play model, whereby fewer movies are released, they stay in theaters for a year and ticket prices are much higher.

Being that movies which harbor that “big screen picture” draw do not usually appeal to me, I’ve been going to theaters a lot less than I used to. The last movie I watched on the big screen for the promise of its 3D-glorified IMAX spectacle, was Godzilla. I expected little story, less plot, and even less clever authorship, and I was not disappointed. That movie was all about the monster!

The Academy Awards are a fun watch, but I doubt I’ll sit in front of the television tonight. I’ll most likely find out which movie won the Best Picture via the news. Most of the acceptance speeches are tiring and droll. Watching slender babes try to maneuver off the stage with the hefty Oscar in hand is not particularly fun. Maybe…if they toppled over in their heels regularly, I might trouble myself to watch.

The award fixation also seems a particularly female and gay thing. Real men don’t watch that stuff. The delineation has roughly been so for as long as I can remember. Women and gays are interested in people, especially fancy, hobnobby people, and the Academy Awards are the ultimate voyeuristic people-watching event. This dynamic played itself out when I was still young. My mom would ceremoniously make special time for the Oscars that Sunday night each late Winter. My father, on the other hand, would find every reason to be as far from the television as possible. To this day, he derisively calls the show, and by generic association, all televised awards shows, los monitos. I’ve never asked him, but I suspect this is a play on the Spanish word, muñeca, which means “doll.” Rendering it with the suffix of “-ito” trivializes the Spanish word and transforms it into a comment of self-affected artifice. It’s a very simple, but very descriptive, word…which Spanish colloquialisms tend to be.

Which brings me to the crux of this long ol’ post about something for which I boast such apathy and disinterest: the Oscars.

As I said earlier, it’s rare that more than a couple of movies each year catch my attention to the degree I am spellbound by their execution. Most movies go in one ear and out the other. Most movies leave me feeling entirely unaffected (unless I paid for it, in which case, the economic blow leaves a lingering distaste…). Even rarer are the movies that stand out so strongly that I must parse them into 10-year-rare offerings of magnificence. The first movie to achieve the special Best of the Decade notoriety for the Tens of the new millennium was released last Fall.

I wrote a very short homage to it on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. So spectacular was the movie, I could not conjure words that would do the masterpiece any justice.

And it is a masterpiece. I don’t speak loftily of movies.

Birdman is one of the best movies I’ve seen in many years. For this reason, I may actually take a cursory interest in tonight’s award show. But not a whole lot.