When I realized that caffeine could be attributed to at least a few of the several headaches I get on a monthly basis, I gave it up. I've been off caffeine for over 15 years now. In addition to it helping with the headaches, I learned early on in the process how good it felt to just deny something to yourself. To echo one of the legends of self-reliance, denial helps one live deliberately. It's been so long since I had a caffeinated beverage that I take it for granted now, but I was thinking about it today when reading Matthew Jeppsen's post at FresHDV in which he quotes a recent interview with Ridley Scott.
I think movies are getting dumber, actually. Where it used to be 50/50, now it's 3% good, 97% stupid. [The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford] is one of those rarities that does get made, thank God, and has serious characterisation and serious things to say. Altogether it's a wonderful, dramatic and historic piece. But it's becoming more and more difficult to get films like this made.
I've sometimes found Ridley Scott's work to be an example of (admittedly great) style over substance, but am I ever in agreement here.
In an effort to quantify the dumbness, what follows is a list of the top 20 grossing movies of 2007 to-date, in order. Films in bold are not sequels or based on previously existing franchises (i.e., a comic book or television series).
Spider-Man 3 - sequel (#3) / comic book franchise Shrek the Third - sequel (#3) Transformers - based on TV show Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End - sequel (#3) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - sequel / book franchise The Bourne Ultimatum - sequel (#3) / based on book franchise 300 Ratatouille The Simpsons Movie - based on 17 year-old TV series Wild Hogs Knocked Up Live Free or Die Hard - sequel (#4) Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer - sequel (#2) / based on comic book franchise Rush Hour 3 - sequel (#3) Blades of Glory I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry Ocean's Thirteen - second sequel to a remake Ghost Rider - debatable: based on comic book franchise.... Hairspray - based on broadway show, which was based on movie Superbad
Out of 20 films, seven or eight are "original", if you can call Wild Hogs and Blades of Glory "original." [Addendum: Adaptations of non-franchise literature, etc. count as original works. See discussion in comments below.]
If that doesn't get you down, look at the all-time top grossing movies in the USA, where you'll see that 13 of the 20 were released in the last seven years. Of those 13, two (The Passion of the Christ and Finding Nemo) aren't sequels, remakes, or based on pre-existing franchises.
Shutting myself in a dark room isn't going to make the headache that is this list of movies go away, but I am going to give up watching any new sequels and remakes. Even if some of these movies are ok, I'm sick of the practice in general principle. Why encourage Hollywood to do it any longer? Like caffeine, I'm going cold turkey, giving this stuff up in toto.
Sure, I might miss something like Cronenberg's The Fly or Sirk's Imitation of Life (two of my favorite remakes), but something tells me the withdrawal period will last shorter than when I gave up caffeine.
UPDATE 9/23/07: Alert reader AJ Broadbent has sent word of even more dissenting opinions. Click here for the full story!!