Saturday, January 02, 2010

Adult Films

Watched Cabaret on New Year's Day.

A lot struck me about it: the editing is fantastic, the film trusts the audience to be intelligent, and there's a level of taste in the production that's very rarely seen today. (And by that I mean making the exact right choices: the right performance takes, the exact right timing, the right scale of the shots, the right pacing and a dozen other qualities often ignored in favor or effects.)

If this was made today, wouldn't there be a producer saying "can't we have Sally Bowles younger sister in it -- you know, to up the teen appeal?" And another trying to introduce a heroic U.S. soldier somewhere into the mix, played by Shia LaBeouf, stepping in and punching a Nazi.

There's a little throwaway bit in "A Clockwork Orange" (both the movie and the book) implying that the trend of pop music aiming younger and younger would continue into the future -- to the point that pop songs would be just a shade off from nursery rhymes.

I want to marry a lighthouse keeper
And keep him company.
I want to marry a lighthouse keeper
And live by the side of the sea.
I'll polish his lamp by the light of day
So ships at night can find their way.
I want to marry a lighthouse keeper
Won't that be okay!
The regression our culture has gone through in the last four decades has now made it difficult to imagine a director aiming so purely for adult tastes and expecting a corresponding level of engagement from an audience.

Obviously, it's not hard to find hard-edged films, or films that are not appropriate for young audiences. That's not what I'm on about.

Cinema is always an art that, at every stage of the production, thinks about its audience. That's a huge part of screenwriting, and a central concept in editing. So will we see a time again when films are made expecting a smart, adult audience?

No comments: