Sunday, February 22, 2009


Remember the days when you couldn't wait for Oscar night; when it was tough to pick the best movie?

I remember going to see 90% of the films nominated for Best Picture, and lamenting it when I missed even one of them. Yes, those were the days of "As Good As It Gets," "Julia," "The English Patient," "Terms of Endearment," "Shakespeare In Love," "Schindler's List," and "Road to Perdition."

"Slumdog Millionaire?"

Though I haven't seen her in either "The Reader," or "Revolution Road," it might be worth watching tonight's ceremony for Kate Winslet as she's one of my all-time favorites from "Room With A View," and I'm a Mickey Rourke fan from way back. Sean Penn was magnificent in "Milk," a wonderfully directed, and authentic, film, but I miss how my heart would beat electric at the mere mention of Oscars.

But, none of the movies honored tonight makes me want to run to the movies like "North by Northwest," or "Rain Man." And, the movie that will, no doubt, walk away with the Oscar for best picture would not have been possible without the blood, sweat, and tears of those who pioneered the independent film movement.

Now, I can barely find a DVD worth renting at Hollywood Video, but the odds of finding a DVD to my liking are astronomically greater than the probability of finding one in a theatre that won't disappoint.

Earlier this week, I rented "Gonzo," a wonderful documentary about the life and times of journalist Hunter Thompson. Remember when it was in the theatres? Johnny Depp does the narration, and he's brilliant, as always. The film featured a former president, Jimmy Carter, and presidential candidate, George McGovern, both of whom were friends with Thompson.

I think the film lasted, oh, something like a week, and then went right to DVD. John Cusack's "War" was right next to "Gonzo" on the shelf.

When I showed my screenplay to a friend, his response to it was simply, "I like happy endings." Guess that explains the "Slumdog Millionaire" phenomenon. Guess that rules out "A Brilliant Mind" or, for that matter, "Terms of Endearment."

As the character played by Jack Nicholson, in "A Few Good Men," says: "You can't take the truth." Indeed, we can't which may explain why more people were interested in reading the tabloids than about the break-in at the Watergate Hotel, as the documentary "Gonzo" asserts.

"We want to be entertained," another friend once said. "Nobody goes to the movies to be bummed out." Guess nobody thinks of movies as an artform, or a window into a perverse world.

Whoooops--- big thumbs up to "Mary Poppins," big thumbs down for "Schindler's List," and "Platoon." Better save "Platoon" and "Apocalypse Now" for the real live battlefield. Nobody wants the ravages of war, and an eyewitness view of an internment camp, to interfere with their popcorn.

We want happy endings---everywhere but in real life.