Monday, April 03, 2006

Hollywood Babylon

"Erotic thrillers lose steam at the box office", according to a headline in the news today. Directors of bad, cheesy movies like Paul Verhoeven blame this squarely in the evangelical craziness that is sweeping America. That may be the case, but it doesn't help that a movie like Basic Instinct gets trashed by every critic in America. It also doesn't help that Sharon Stone, as good as she looks, makes a complete ass of herself everywhere she goes. I venture to guess that people don't want to pay $10 bucks to see something embarrassing.
People are stupid. It's is a known fact. But they are selectively stupid. They are stupid enough to go see the completely unnecessary and misbegotten sequel to The Pink Panther, or for that matter all the other unnecessary and misbegotten Steve Martin vehicles, but not stupid enough to see Basic Instinct II. Why? Because if you've seen the beaver shot once, why do you need to see it again 15 years later?
In the years between the two (Basic Instinct) films, a string of high-profile flops, including MGM's "Body of Evidence," United Artists' "Showgirls" and Paramount Pictures' "Jade," have all contributed to the cooling off of the erotic thriller, a genre that had once sizzled at the box office.

Excuse me, but all the abovementioned movies are terrible pieces of crap. Had they been any good, perhaps they'd done well. And if I remember correctly, in 2002, as the article I'm quoting points out, Adrian Lyne, fine purveyor of prurient schlock, made Unfaithful with Diane Lane, Richard Gere and Olivier Martinez, which garnered Lane with a Best Actress Oscar nomination (if she won, I don't remember) and did quite well at the box office. Why? Because it was not bad.

However, according to Verhoeven, it's all Bush's fault:

"Anything that is erotic has been banned in the United States," said the Dutch native. "Look at the people at the top (of the government). We are living under a government that is constantly hammering out Christian values. And Christianity and sex have never been good friends."
Apparently, Verhoeven is a master of understatement when he speaks as well.
Nicholas Meyer, who was an uncredited writer on 1987's seminal sex-fueled cautionary tale "Fatal Attraction," agrees, noting that the genre's downfall coincides with the ascent of the conservative political movement."We're in a big puritanical mode," he said. "Now, it's like the McCarthy era, except it's not 'Are you a communist?' but 'Have you ever put sex in a movie?"

Isn't it a wee bit out of proportion to compare the dearth of good sleazy movies with the McCarthy witch hunt which destroyed the lives of many decent people?
For writers like Meyer, whose credits also include "The Human Stain," (A TOOTHLESS ADAPTATION OF PHILLIP ROTH'S BOOK) "Sommersby" (THE AWFUL AMERICAN REMAKE OF "THE RETURN OF MARTIN GUERRE") and three "Star Trek" films, (I REST MY CASE) the erotic genre has become a tough sell for studios increasingly leery of adult-themed material.

As writers find studios less receptive to the genre, fewer are attempting to craft the next "Body Heat" or "Sea of Love."

Well, that is precisely the problem. Body Heat and Sea of Love were good movies.
Another Hollywood big shot blames it on the internet:
For producer JC Spink, the genre's demise has little to do with politics, scripts or willing talent and everything to do with the Internet, which became ubiquitous in American homes around the same time studio executives were suffering through such debacles as "Body of Evidence," "Showgirls" and "Jade."

"Why pay $10 to see something at the movies that you can see for free on the Internet?" Spink asked. "I think the genre is suffering because sex is more pervasive in our society now than it was 10 years ago, from Vanity Fair ads to reality TV. I mean, there's porn stars on reality TV."

True, but comparing even the worst Hollywood movie with plotless internet porn is like comparing The Brothers Karamazov with Chicken Soup for the Sex Addict's Soul.
Do the cynical bastards who work in Hollywood ever take a good look at the dreck they make and say: "yikes! this is bad shit we're making. No wonder the movies are dying, Bush, Jesus Christ, the Evangelical movement and internet porn notwithstanding"?

Still, Verhoeven said he would be game to direct a studio erotic thriller again if the right script comes along.

"If there would be a script written that had the quality of 'Basic Instinct,' or if Joe Eszterhas would be willing to dig himself into some new material and he would present it to me or a studio, then I would be highly interested," said Verhoeven.
We should be so lucky.

No comments:

Post a Comment