The cinema of the world is emancipating itself from hollywood. Finally
To say it right up front: i already can’t see al pacino’s blond dachshund eyes anymore. And i also avoid anthony hopkins wherever possible. But: as soon as i turn on the tv, who is standing in front of me again?? Dustin hoffman, tom cruise, meryl streep, demi moore. The whole hollywood movie set. When an american car glides across the screen, i go "click". Of course it doesn’t help.
I have seen every movie with johnny depp, with matt damon, with leonardo di caprio – without even wanting to. Every movie with bruce willis, tom hanks, john travolta, george clooney. Mel gibson or robert redford i already recognize from behind from behind, if the remote control sticks to them for only a fraction of a second. Robert de niro anyway.
I have not been going to the cinema for a long time. Just now there’s a kind of western of the coen brother with some film bosses around the corner. Tommy lee jones and colleagues. Somebody even put an oscar around the film’s neck. "Best film of the year. I can only giggle. I will certainly not watch this joke. First, because i’ll probably see it 13 times in a row on the next plane i’m forced to take, second, because i’m sure to see it on tv at christmas, and third, because i try to avoid movies that try to give me, as a viewer, pleasure in the dead.
Oscar winner: no country for old men. Image: universal
Friends and acquaintances look at me and shake their heads. They think i’m old-fashioned or reactionary, because they they think it’s normal that there are five films about the serial killer hannibal lecter, and that you have to own them all on dvd in a slipcase.
For me the question is different. I grew up with movies. The daily cinema experience accompanied me through my teenage years, the world of movies belonged as a field of vision continuation in every lived moment, the voices of actors served as reference points, provided amusement in imitation. Movies were part of the text of my life. In comparison, in the last 10 years i have been to the cinema maybe 10 times in the cinema .
Mostly only because i went with someone, for example because the friend or acquaintance in question said: "it’s raining. Shall we go to the cinema??"Well, then i just sat somewhere in the 15. Row on a narrow uncomfortable seat and watched a movie, which i would never have seen with my consciousness and of my own free will never i had never chosen. Hollywood did not die for me at the last oscars. And if you go through the list of the "best films of the year" of the last three decades:
In all seriousness: which of these films do i need to see again?? Or even want to put it on my shelf as a dvd to watch at some point, if by chance no hollywood flick should be on tv?
Earth girls are easy
No, for me there are only two films from hollywood, which – perhaps with a quietly provocative intention, but actually quite seriously – i praise to my friends and acquaintances as "the two best hollywood films of the last 25 years". The second best i name first. It is called "earth girls are easy" (1988) and is not easy to find. It is, let’s say, a somewhat silly science fiction comedy with music.
Earth girls are easy
But what’s so unique about it:
- It is a thoroughly american film. It even takes place in hollywood – or not far from it.
- It’s a film that can only be imagined as a film – not a tv sketch, not a novel, not a theatrical stunt.
- I can watch the film over and over again. I could watch it on tv for 24 hours without interruption. I never get bored with it. It is a film like one of those children’s books, where the little ones say: "read it to me again", although you have just read it to them again for the umpteenth time. Of course, it is also the moment when geena davis says goodbye to the "alien" jim carrey with the words: "i think you are the one i will miss the least."
earth girls are easy
Compared to this film, all so-called serious and weighty hollywood productions burst like soap bubbles, and not even the super-important "citizen kane" or one of those unspeakable cult movies with james dean can be watched afterwards without immediately bursting into hysterical cackling. It is geena davis’ shining role, her "claim to fame", the high point of her film career. (and that, although she was not bad in "the pirate’s bride" and in "thelma and louise" either!)
As for the best hollywood movie, the absolute number one goes to "coneheads" (1993). This is also a science fiction comedy. Well, already. Another. The americans themselves find the film "unfunny", because the word "satire" means rather little to them and the word irony is quite unknown to them.
Of course dan ackroyd, who plays the main role here, is a canadian, so you could almost say he’s half british. That explains a lot. Sacha baron cohen’s "borat" (2006) beckons from the future, so to speak. But the film has a number of plus points for itself. First of all, it contains the best music video ever made. (to paul simon’s "kodachrome", total duration just over two minutes.)
He also inspired frank zappa to write the song "coneheads", which was also a nice touch. Next, it contains almost prophetic statements about american immigration policy today. And it is exactly what film should be: it depicts a world that does not exist outside of this film, because it cannot exist any other way. "Coneheads" (one thinks of "the roundheads and the pointedheads") is almost brechtian even in its fractured mediation of reality, and even where the mask is "flawed" – the alienation effect is intentional. The film conveys itself as "made", it destroys its own illusion of "reality".
Well, i do not want to exaggerate. There are, of course, many other american films of almost equal quality. America has always been and will always be the number one film country in the world, and american films will always impress us.
But it’s unlikely to be the hollywood productions, and not the oscar-bedecked ones either. Certainly, the oscar is an important marketing tool. But for the artistic quality of the american film it is completely irrelevant. Coppola? Rough pratentiose junk films. Spielberg? Small pratentious junk films, then coarser ones. "Schindler’s list" (1993) has never been anything but sour kitsch for me. But where are the directors today, like once otto preminger, people from the second row, who made one classy film after another?? Robert altmann was one of the last of this kind, and his films, seen from the point of view of the oscars, naturally all came away empty-handed.
Mike nichols ( elaine may) were to be mentioned. Woody allen may consider himself (even ironically, as in his obituary of bergman) an ingmar bergman of american cinema; i consider him more of a third-rate filmmaker, who nevertheless occasionally hits the mark with third-rate actors (painful: sean penn as wannabe django reinhardt in "sweet and lowdown," 1999).
But even in america there are directors who are actually terrible, see john waters, whose films finally find an international audience, as with werner herzog. Of course, in america there has never really been auteur cinema, where you know after one or two minutes that you are watching a polanski or luc besson. Hitchcock was probably the only name that possessed "star" qualities in america, even as a director. "Star" in america could only ever be an actor or actress. They were the ones who put the highlights on the industrially produced cinematic works with the same stories and the same roles.
Today one looks in vain for the radiance of such film heroes. The nostalgic look back, accordingly, never ceases, still and again, to fred astaire and ginger rogers, to humphrey bogart, lana turner, robert mitchum, marilyn monroe. Where, asks the film lover, is there still a bette davis, the "lady without a close-up", who supposedly "did not need" such a thing?
Well: it still exists, the star appearance. For example in "der pferdeflusterer" (1998). For half an hour, city theater hulks sam neill and kristin scott thomas moo away, and nothing happens. Finally robert redford comes and listens into the phone for two minutes. Don’t even say "moo" or "mah". But now the light goes on in the film. Nevertheless, all this is only a muder reflection of the real star shining, only a cosmic background radiation.
Today there is really only one real star, and that is julia roberts. I will watch any movie with julia roberts, just as i watch or have watched any movie with juliet binoche. But the difference from before is this: i still wouldn’t run to the movies because of julia roberts. The cinema experience, even the beautiful, rare, somehow old-fashioned (summer cinema in the viennese augarten, silent films with real piano and gelatin stitch) (nostalgia in the belaria cinema with a film tear and a weak bladder in the next seat) has lost its charm for me.
Silentium. Picture: senator
But not only the cinema, also the star has become superfluous. I buy the "brenner" movies on dvd, surely also because josef hader is so cool, but mainly because the movies (based on the novels by wolf haas) are so cool. In the case of "silentium" (2004), i am disturbed by the automatically superimposed german language aids, but i see a film that violates more hollywood taboos than there are in hollywood at all. It pleases me to imagine that there is a film that offers more than hollywood can think of. "Angst", a black psychopath comedy from austria in 1983, puts every horror flick from hollywood to shame.
Nevertheless, so-called film critics in the animation media, full of praise, report that the main actor, erwin leder, has also been rewarded with a small hollywood role. And finally, i read that michael haneke, perhaps the most important austrian filmmaker at the moment ("the piano player", 2001), has now also attracted attention in america.
Reason? The gruesome suicide scene in "cache" (2004) has finally touched some nerve of an american cineaste. Violence. Blood. The entrance ticket to the american kill culture. But it is completely beside the point which praise what laurels america is handing out. World cinema emancipates itself from hollywood. What film can and may show today takes place literally on another planet. And this is true even for america itself. The parallel to broadway is obvious. There is no more relevant theater to see there. The really interesting american film today no longer comes from hollywood, it is made somewhere "off screen". And you don’t see him in the cinema anymore.