Films are shit

Billy Brentford is our self appointed film critic. He hates films and never goes to the cinema, so his insights about 'the movies' will be invaluable.

Billy Brentford is our self appointed film critic. He hates films and never goes to the cinema, so his insights about 'the movies' will be invaluable.

nathalie portman collage by Tytti Roto

Natalie Portman collage by Tytti Roto

Films are shit. What a waste of a night out.

It’s still a relatively new way to tell a story and entertain-for-money. Music is tens of thousands of years old, aural storytelling not far off, books and theatre go back hundreds of years – cinema is a baby by comparison. It steals from the old-boys of art, constructing an elaborate lie which merely pokes at the truth.

There is a dark box in my home town in England, as there is in many towns and cities around the world where we sit gormlessly in front of these flickering images, massive faces, computer images, loud bangs – not to mention the adverts (it’s the only adverts we see these days with on-demand TV). Before we’ve even sat down we’re getting royally ripped-off for popcorn and sugary-drinks that we wouldn’t allow our kids at home.

Our lives are dull, we don’t need to fight bears, so we seek a vicarious thrill with no consequences. A night out at the pictures is a night out for the unimaginative: ideal, of course for “dates”, an early-evening headbutt-free sit down in a big chair that both parties can discuss afterwards as a false, ersatz joint-experience, to discover each other’s mores. Plus a quick grope in the back row in the dark. I dread to think how many erections are being fondled whilst I’m being manipulated to tears by Natalie Portman pretending to be upset.

Our lives are dull, we don’t need to fight bears, so we seek a vicarious thrill with no consequences. A night out at the pictures is a night out for the unimaginative

“Bio-pics” are particularly pointless, read a book. “Based on a true story” gives a film a bit of cache apparently – surely the point is to invent a story isn’t it? And, due to the need to make a buck, first and foremost, the genre is totally running out of ideas. “Re-boots”; “re-imagining” urgh!! Most of the time ideas don’t come from writers anyway, but from venture capitalists raising dough for the “project”, pompously credited on quad posters as the “producer”. I don’t credit the turds coming out of my arse to my colon, so why do movie-makers and cinemas think it’s of interest crediting Natalie Portman as “Executive Producer” because she slung a few bob and got shares in a film she’s in? Why would anyone spend a pizza’s worth of cash because an advert on the tube puts the camera person’s qualification in capital letters? No other advert does this for other forms of mass-distraction, for theatre or albums or TV shows, possibly because no-one gives a shit.

If an ideas-person does come up with a concept, their drafts or scripts will simply prove they have some fingers and can use spell-check, and will be – at best – given a job as a dialogue writer: the words and actions made huge by cameras and computers are just random words, at the level of an eight-year old, bashed into a white laptop in a coffee shop in New York. The “writer” is basically there to fill in the holes for the bean-counters and think of clever catchphrases for Arnie.

Then there’s the veneration, almost canonisation, of “Directors”, which Hollywood use as some bizarre anthromorph of product loyalty, even though they didn’t come up with any of the ideas or have ever heard of the Edwardian lady that Natalie Portman is pretending to be. The Halloween franchise wasn’t thought up by a genius called John Carpenter who had a dream about a man in a creepy mask. Instead, a couple of ne’re-do-wells grabbed his arm and told him it’d be a money-spinner to make (just one) film about a psychopath stalking babysitters. What LOLZ!

Then there’s the veneration, almost canonisation, of “Directors”, which Hollywood use as some bizarre anthromorph of product loyalty, even though they didn’t come up with any of the ideas or have ever heard of the Edwardian lady that Natalie Portman is pretending to be.

Video games and CGI have further sucked any chance of films criticising bourgeois society (the only chance they have of ever being considered art, as art must be a hammer, not a mirror, comrades). American values of family and striving are spread around the globe this way. They all go biff, bang and, furthermore, pow because they weren’t made for you with all your brain and everything, but for the international box office (not that audiences outside the US are dumb – the movies made locally, for them, are no doubt just as deep and thoughtful as any Natalie Portman vehicle) ergo a movie that appeals equally to American, Japanese, Korean, German and Mexican teenagers, so you need to simplify the plot down to things they understand equally. Anything dealing with say, the subtle hardships of of a parking attendant played by Natalie Portman from Shitkicker, Alabama is going to be totally lost on a 15-year-old from Toulouse. But no matter your age, religious beliefs or race everyone knows they have to run the fuck away from a spaceship. Especially one with big guns and giant fucking robots and that. Also, they don’t need any fancy dialogue to emote about zombies and rayguns.

But no matter your age, religious beliefs or race everyone knows they have to run the fuck away from a spaceship. Especially one with big guns and giant fucking robots and that.

Films are responsible for countless deaths from cancer. The endless smoking by sophisticated characters during Hollywood’s golden era encouraged millions to take up the habit which would kill them – all because tobacco giants were ploughing capital into the movies, in return for having their coffin nails on screen as much as possible.

Essentially, Humphrey Bogart killed my Grandfather. I miss my Grandfather. So fuck off, films.

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