Where has all the mystery gone?


After reading that, my memory was cast back to a personal rant I made a year ago perhaps, in which I voiced my intentions to more firmly focus on European cinema, and further abroad, since that’s where most of the original content springs forth these days – and where Hollywood seems to quench their creative thirst (e.g. the remake of ‘Oldboy’ a case in point). The integrity of the art form remains intact in the lands without tinsel, or at least (minus the influence of major studios) attempts to stay true to it. Actors who lend their time to small Indie films on the side recognise this as they too seek more than just the pay check. Even Robert Downey Jr. stated in an interview the two edged sword of the success of his Marvel character Tony Stark (despite his deep gratitude for the role).


“An actor is at most a poet and at least an entertainer.” Marlon Brando

The decay of the industry has not diminished the talent – that is most definitely still there, it’s just that the artists and visionaries are forced to swim through this diluted and over-greased money making machine to deliver what they want to deliver. Money may keep the wheels moving, but amid the top brass, the essence has been lost. [/column] This is why many top actors have started their own studios to reclaim some of that lost fervour for the ideal – though sadly this too has some drawbacks, with the movie star status tainting the scruples of the true actor (referring to one example of Brad Pitt and his ‘Plan B Productions’ – which still only serves the want of its head – his part in bringing ’12 Years a Slave’ to screen the recent exception). Although this method is nothing new – even Charlie Chaplin saw the need to start his own firm (albeit co-founding United Artists to share the responsibility and accountability). The problem arises in that famous actors and film stars are usually not best suited to running a Studio with major Corporation inclinations and potential. It highlights the different language and view of the mediums in question – the contrast in art and business; a relationship that has struggled to coexist for as long as they’ve existed.

Whenever I arrive on a real location, I have to move around and work out what the best angles are going to be. When I was moving around with the lens, I discovered things that the naked eye would not have.” Pedro Almodovar

jean-luc godard

What then can we hope for?

- “Some day I’ll make a film that critics will like. When I have money to waste.” Francois Truffaut

With the quality on offer it is clear that some studios have recognized the advantage and integrity of treating audiences with respect, beyond fandoms, to deliver product that will stand for years to come… At some point, amidst the giant corporation takeovers and rebooted franchises, someone will see the light again because the current path and model is not sustainable. The vast majority of works are adapted from existing material – novels, books, short-stories which at least illustrates the industry’s inherent reliance on the timeless medium as the source for good storytelling. The writers’ strike a few years back only highlighted how far the executives had strayed, pinpointing where they placed their value, and the little regard/respect for the those in the engine room of the industry. These sorts of events are the building blocks of change, or revolution.
You do need money to distribute, but to make a good film, all you need are the basics; like a good script (Michael Mann said that), solid actors to bring the story to life … no CGI or 3D – just think of the immediacy of a stage play, well, films are those plays, just with a global audience.
Change is happening, if very slowly, but the sooner the real talent learn how to play the game and manipulate it to their benefit, without harm to anyone, so that they can wrestle a space to exercise their own vision… well, the benefit will be ours to cherish, to reclaim what once was, if only for a short while – a new adventure bathed in rich visual splendor with a vague nostalgic taste. To paraphrase a quote in a recent film “true beauty does not show off, it happens” – beauty is unveiled, but perhaps that veil has fallen… so whether or not we pick it up again, however tattered it may be, we must realize; sometimes it is not what is being unveiled, but simply the manner in which it is being flaunted.

- “The film of tomorrow will not be directed by civil servants of the camera, but by artists for whom shooting a film constitutes a wonderful and thrilling adventure.” Francois Truffaut – Director

  • Filmmaker

    You know, Steven, I once wrote a personal piece about this, called The Real Gag. I quote “The appeal of WWE Smackdown as opposed to The Young and the Restless is the death of imagination”. I quote you here: “the dirt behind the velvet curtain”. It’s all the same. We are revealing too much…

    • http://stevenbenjamin.weebly.com/ Steven Benjamin

      Thanks for sharing. It does seem like cinema, as with all art forms, is going through a self rediscovery phase, trying to reestablish what its actually about… Although many (Tarantino) believe its just dying a slow death, having lost its sense of self.