Sunday, February 18, 2007


I watched Hollywoodland the other night. And I was left feeling more than a little unsatisfied. It was no fault of the actors, they all had fine performances. And the colors and aesthetics of the movie made it quite pleasing on the eye. But it just didn't go anywhere. It was pretty much the most anticlimactic movie I've ever seen. I guess there kinda was a partial climax, but it was smack dab in the middle of the movie, not closer to the end. Which left me with the feeling that I was still waiting for the real climax... and then the credits rolled.

I understand that it's a historical movie, and the George Reeves mystery is unsolved. I'm comfortable with that. I can deal with a lot of grey in my movies. But while storytellers should feel free to mess with my head as much as they please, they really shouldn't mess with the pacing.

In music, pretty much everything fits in to one of a couple standard time signatures. That provides the frame, and then the musician can paint whatever they want inside that. Breaking outside of the standard timing can sometimes be interesting, but usually just results in something you can't tap your foot to. Movies are the same way: they should follow the standard narrative structure. I'm not saying that every movie should have a happy ending. I'm saying that they should have, you know... an ending.

If I can feel mysteriously satisfied at the end of the hugely unresolved Fellowship of the Ring, you can manage to make an unsolved murder satisfying. You can flip pretty much every other standard on its head (case and point: Memento). In fact, please do. But that whole notion of "building up to something" - keep that.

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