The ways

Driving from Memphis to Atlanta, as any good Southerner should from time to time.  We passed a Huddle House featuring “pulled pork five ways.”  I immediately asked, what are the other 4?  The jokes continued in the car with my son and me riffing on ideas way past the tolerance of mama bear.  One was that we shall give up our respective jobs and go work at that huddle house to master all 5 ways.

Passing it again today the sign had changed… I imagined a 90s comedy where a guy with a traumatic brain injury in a small town shows up thinking that the huddle house is a fighting dojo ala karate kid he learns the ways and readies himself to fight the big boss and get his house back.

On the surface, it looks silly and exploitive, but I imagine and the entire town that has taken one of their own under there collective wings and they all look out for him.  They accept this odd behavior and everyone plays along.  It not only keeps him happy and comfortable but pulls the entire town together.

An outsider thinks that he is one of their own and they are suffering from some collective guilt and that explains their reactions.  The answer is simpler, he wandered into town one day.  The sheriff determined he was harmless and no one was looking for him and the town just adopted their own “Don Quixote.”  To the point that they erect windmills when he needs something to tilt at.

to be continued…

Why the Fifth Element is the greatest movie of all time.

If you have ever been in the heated argument over which movie is the greatest of all time, you will be attacked with such titles as Citizen Cane, or some other movie you only watched in college for an assignment.  I would make the argument that The Fifth Element is not only a great movie but the greatest movie of all time.

How can I make such a claim?  Am I drinking?  No, not now.  I was not drinking when I came to this conclusion.  I will lay out the argument for my thinking below in the format all consultants use.  No, not a powerpoint deck, but that is a good idea.  I will give you a list of bullet points.

Why The Fifth Element is the greatest movie of all time:

  1. It is an original story – This may not seem all that important, but it is not an adaptation, a remake or a sequel.  It just is. It stands or falls on its own merits.
  2. It has a dedication to its own art – They created a language for just a few lines of dialog. Sure, others have created their own languages, for movies, but they could have just used French and no one would have batted an eye.  No, they went the extra mile.
  3. It uses humor naturally – There are no pauses for jokes, the humor is natural and integrated into the story with being heavy handed.
  4. It is a massive story with incredible stakes – If the heroes fail, we lose everything. Not just a bad day, but all life.
  5. The characters – All of the characters have their own motivations and lives.  From Ruby Rod to the flying street food vendor.  Every character has a life and depth.  We feel for each of them without dwelling on the idea that we must feel for them.
  6. The Opera singer – I will just leave this on here.  The musical interlude is the culmination of all musical interludes.  Just perfectly executed.
  7. It is very serious without taking itself seriously.
  8. Our protagonists are deeply flawed.
  9. Our antagonists are just as flawed and developed as the protagonists.
  10. It is my favorite movie to date.

Number 10 is the only one that counts but if you are you are regularly pulled into the which is best discussion, feel free to use some of these points to annoy you film major friends who are probably better educated on the subject.  A well-researched argument for the absurd takes just as long to refute as an argument for a valid point.

I also find the movie Battleship to be an excellent moment in cinema.  I may, in fact, have seriously bad taste in movies. Please keep that in mind if taking a suggestion from me.

Fade to black

The recent trend in movies to use the fade to black instead of a complete ending is disturbing to me for more than artistic reasons. I understand a writer letting the reader/viewer interpret the ending events. I have done it myself.

I do not think this trend is driven by a sudden line of parallel thinking screen writers. I suspect it has more to do with keeping a movie to the modern mark of 90 minutes.

Top tier blockbusters are allowed to go 140 to 150 minutes. A-list movies go 120 minutes, but the vast majority of B list so called “direct to video” movies must hit the magic 90 minute mark.

This makes sense when you only think of costs. Making movies cost money. The more you shoot the more it costs. If you shoot that oh so satisfying epilogue, someone has to pay for it. You have to edit it. You have to polish it with CGI.

This sudden trend of fade to black is less about style and story telling and more about economics.