' ' Cinema Romantico: Ignoring the Hype

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Ignoring the Hype

"Titanic". "The Patriot". "Kill Bill Volume 1". "Gangs of New York". Since the advent of my movie snobbery these are the four films I have anticipated more than any others. "Titanic" because I saw the preview four months out and had never before been so blown away by a trailer. "The Patriot" because I'm a bit of a Revolutionary War buff and for us fans of the colonial uprising cinematic pickins are slim (ever seen "Revolution" with Al Pacino? For the love of God, don't) and this was only 4 years post-"Braveheart" and so I had implicit trust in Mel Gibson. "Kill Bill Volume 1" because ever since I'd seen "Pulp Fiction" and Mia Wallace I'd dreamt of a Tarantino film with Uma in the lead. "Gangs of New York" because it was Daniel Day Lewis's first film in 5 years, and with Scorsese, no less, and the first preview I saw where Leonardo DiCaprio introduces himself as "Amsterdam" and Day Lewis replies "I'm New York" made me go so ballistic I nearly stabbed myself in the heart.

Yet, despite the fact I'd hyped these movies in my head to mammoth proportions it did not impair my judgement when watching them. Not in any way, shape, or form. Believe it or don't, but it's true. My melodramatic eagerness did not factor into "Titanic" and "Kill Bill Volume 1" being awesome or "The Patriot" being atrocious or "Gangs of New York" being pretty good but not great. The films were already made, man. What had been done had been done long before opening night.

Perhaps I should back up.

"The Dark Knight", Christopher Nolan's follow-up to his brilliant "Batman Begins", hits theaters tomorrow and, as you may or may not know, the buzz is deafening. It's supposed to be more extraordinary than the original and talk abounds of a posthumous Oscar for Heath Ledger's turn as The Joker. The question than becomes this: Has it been built up too much?

Frankly, I don't think anything can be built up too much. I build up Nebraska's Football season in my head for 8 months each and every year and each and every year it never fails to disappoint (even if they go, say, 5-7 and give up 62 points to vile Colorado). I built up my first Springsteen concert for 15 years and, lo and behold, my solar system-sized expectations were exceeded.

I'm certainly very excited to see "The Dark Knight" but I doubt my anticipatory level is equal to that of many other people. However, I can't imagine their aniticipatory level is beyond mine for the quartet of films already mentioned. And that's why I'm here today to make a plea to all those about to plunk down their hard-earned money this weekend to watch the Caped Crusader.

When you settle into your seat locate the switch in your brain labeled Self Aware. Turn it off. You can do it. I do it all the time. I did it before the four films mentioned. Don't think about the movie you're about to see as you wait for it. Ignore what you've heard and what you've read. Don't think "I'm about to see a masterpiece" and don't think "This movie better show me how good it is". No, merely be glad you're there and you're going to see this movie you've been waiting for since Gary Oldman as Detective Gordon flipped over that playing card at the end of the first one to reveal the identity of you-know-who.

Base the movie on the movie itself and nothing else. Nothing anyone's said prior your viewing can affect the film's quality in your eyes. If you like it, you'll like it. If you don't, you won't. Yes, it's really that simple.

Let yourself go and let the movie be what it is and not what anyone else has said it is.

I wish you luck.


Wretched Genius said...

To this day, I have never seen The Godfather, Casablanca or Citizen Kane, and I probably never will. Why? Because all I have been hearing for my entire life is that they are the greatest movies ever made. I'm sure they are great, but if I watch them, I'll rip them to shreds. There is no way they will ever measure up to the mammoth hype they've been given. With The Dark Knight, I am trying to keep my expectations on par with the first film, and no higher. Because I don't think it's unreasonable to want a sequel to at least equal its predecessor (even though it rarely happens).

Rory Larry said...

I thought the same as you Brad and then I saw Casablanca and Citizen Kane. Greatest movies ever made, perhaps not, but undeniably great movies, no question. In fact so much in Kane is so amazing that I was absolutely floored. The story, the acting, the cinematography hell I even knew the twist and I was still impressed. Godfather could be more problematic, I haven't seen it in some time.

Nick Prigge said...

Even if you don't get into the story of "Citizen Kane", which is a definite possibility, it's impressive to watch just for the technical aspects. "The Godfather", I fear, was tainted for me simply because I saw "Goodfellas" first and that's how I've always thought of mob movies.

But I truly believe "Casablanca" can sway anyone.