Family Movies and the American Dream

August 7, 2008 at 10:40 am 5 comments

I put up with a lot of shit from people on a day-to-day basis. But there is one thing I cannot let go, will never surrender, and will continue to stand strong by: 


You can take your Godard, your Lynch, your fucking Kim Ki Duk and Kieslowski. I know they are “revolutionary for their time”, and a fresh “alternative to mainstream cinema”, but frankly, a little part of me has always thought of them as stuck up, artsy assholes. Harsh, I know. But upon entering my fourth year of film school, I’m going to have to come clean and admit: I don’t really like art movies! Don’t get me wrong. I’ll watch them. I appreciate them for what they are, and yeah, I like some of them because my art school education has given me a trained eye. But that’s just it: They’re art movies, intended for a small audience of people wealthy enough to take a chance on something weird and probably heart breaking. These aren’t films for the masses, and these auteurs know that from start to finish.

 
After just getting back from “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2”, I proudly state what a solid movie it was. I think it’s directors like Saana Hamri that have the power to truly inspire people on a large scale. I know mainstream box office has been decaying since the 60s as a forum for revolutionary thinking, but that’s just it. No one is trying to be convinced. And that makes slipping things like interracial relationships, non-standard concepts of beauty, and seriously flawed protagonists that much easier to swallow, especially in Hamri’s newest flick.

Check out the sexily normal bods of America Ferrera and Amber Tamblyn  (center). Kids, it's OKAY to have flesh now!!

Check out the sexily normal bods of America Ferrera and Amber Tamblyn (center). Kids, it's OKAY to have flesh now!!

True, there are plenty of art movies that do have these ingredients. But most will never really be known. Most directors would rather work outside of the corporate system and stick to their smaller arenas then jumping into the hollywood shark tank and try to make change from within. What we end up with are franchises of directors-for-hire that repeat the same shit, day in and day out. 

Amber's boyfriend in the film. Not once do they mention that he's asian. Hallelujah!

Amber's boyfriend in the film. Not once do they mention that he's asian. Hallelujah!


 
This isn’t really a review about the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. This is more of a hurrah for directors like Danny Boyle (Millions), John Lassetter (Wall-E), the Coen Brothers (Raising Arizona, O Brother Where Art Thou?), and Hamri for making solid movies that a whole country can relate to. New filmmakers deign to change the world with their movies, but don’t have the balls to make them accessible to a larger audience. I salute these directors that have the guts to take simple plots and make them universal stories for everyone to enjoy. 

Check out Alexis Bledel's love interest. Not only is he half white/half black, but he's in art school, too! Too bad I can count all the black students in my film program on one hand.

Check out Alexis Bledel's love interest. Not only is he half white/half black, but he's in art school, too! Too bad I can count all the black students in my film program on one hand.


 
It’s as if these heroes of cinema have decided to run for president of a country, when all other lowly filmmakers can only bitch about the system and abstain from voting. It’s pathetic, it’s stupid, and I’m sick of our country’s lack of artists that are willing to take a stand, grab mainstream arenas by the horns and decide to take them on. “But my story is universal!” they whine to themselves. “It’s got man contemplating his existense, a small rape scene, a waif-like/alternative female love interest, and, a vague ending!“. 
Get a life.

That’s why, when I do see a good movie that a whole family can relate to, I am ecstatic and overjoyed. That means that all those who saw it are affected, and with a broad age range, that means that family movies have the ability to affect a lot of people. This is what real change is about. If the 12 year girl in the audience is thinking to herself “Gee, I don’t need to look like a gangly man-stick in order to be pretty”, or the 65-year-old-slightly-racist grandmother realizes, “Well, it looks like it’s safe to date black people now!”, then mission fucking accomplished. This movie unapolegetically trounced a lot of racism, body issues, and confidence problems that too many women suffer from. And best of all, kids didn’t have to go to Sundance to take that lesson home.

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More Televised Nostalgia Let’s Discuss

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. alisaurus  |  August 7, 2008 at 9:57 pm

    i have to guiltily admit that i sort of enjoyed that movie aquamarine about the mermaid girl… though i will also add that i only watched it because i was forced to while babysitting…

    Reply
  • 2. parkrangerolivia  |  August 7, 2008 at 11:17 pm

    oh yeah, i missed that one! but i thought the disney channel original movie called “13th Year” about the mer-MAN was pretty good. Plus, it had Uncle Joey!

    Reply
  • 3. Betty  |  August 8, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    I’ll take a movie that entertains or enlightens over tedious arthouse stuff any day. It’s a rare art film that I’ll watch again and again over, say, Titanic. Good family movies are hard to come by, too, aside from the obvious Pixar films. Maybe the first Pirates of the Caribbean? The best YA movie I can think of offhand is Bend it Like Beckham. It has enough sex to seem risque to a 13 year old, but it’s clever and likable enough for almost anyone to enjoy it, I think.

    Reply
  • 4. parkrangerolivia  |  August 8, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    Bend it like Beckham! That movie is always underrated because it’s technically a “chick flick”, but I have a hard time finding another film that shows the dynamic of assimilated Indian families in England and America better. “The Namesake” was pitiful. Plus—they also had an interracial thang going on. Great family movie!

    Reply
  • 5. Mathieu Kassovitz « Googly Eyes  |  August 29, 2008 at 11:31 am

    […] to go to war against them, but I can’t because they don’t give a s–t.” Like I’ve said before, I applaud mainstream directors that have the guts to enter the Hollywood arena and try to make a […]

    Reply

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