Sunday, December 11, 2016

Just a little off the edges

I watched Scarface (1983) for the first time this weekend.  It is an iconic film, one that I knew I was expected to have experienced, but I have enormous gaps in my pop culture education.  Watching the movie was a mixed bag.

I enjoyed the acting and I felt like the actors brought me into the world they inhabited.  I believed them.

It is good to now know where "Say hello to my little friend" and "First you get the money, then you get the power, then you get the women" came from.  I knew those phrases, but now I have seen their origin which helps when people reference them.

Old movies are *slow* though.  This is the thing that really got me - scenes just went on for a long time, far longer than was necessary to convey the message that the scene was there for.  I am sure people will tell me that it is about mood or something, but honestly it just felt like 40% of the movie could have been cut without losing anything.

That lack of proper trimming is the key to my dislike.  I subscribe to the theory that something is done when there is nothing left to remove.  I talked about Downton Abbey quite some time ago and one of the things I most admired about the writing there was how much they could cram into tiny amounts of time.  If an encounter was going to go predictably, they simply didn't show it.  Instead they would have a character toss away a single line to indicate how things had played out.  Scarface is like many older movies in that it didn't try to do that, or at least it wasn't done with enough vigour.

I suspect people will talk about how my generation wants everything instantly and has no patience, but mostly it is just that I want to be engaged all the time.  If I am going to put my time into a movie I want that movie to grab me from start to finish.  If it is going to drag and have overlong scenes whose point is already made then I would rather be killing monsters on the internet, thank you very much.  I don't want to just pass time, I want the story to leap out of the screen and not let me go.  I have shit to do that will entertain me actively so if I am going to try out passive entertainment it had better be a ride.

I don't regret watching Scarface.  It gives me references I would otherwise miss, and gave me some extra insight into the way film has changed over time.  But it wasn't all I was hoping it would be.  It too often was just chilling, doing nothing really interesting, letting time pass.

And that isn't so much my thing, when it comes to movies.

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree with you with respect to old movies.

    I suspect there might be an argument that button-mashing to kill virtual monsters is as much "pass the time" as watching a slow scene. But I don't think I can make it convincingly.