Remember the good old days? When you’d go to a film, and the titles consisted of “Title” and “John Wayne”, and then they’d get right down to the action?
“Wait!” you cry, “That was never true.” Butt out – this is my nostalgia. The point is that films these days have gotten ridiculous. Not only do the titles take up half the film – with another 45% reserved for the credits – they’re ridiculous.
It used to be – in my imagined good old days – that a film was directed by one guy (it was always a guy), and it was his film, and that was it. These days, it’s an endless parade of names combined in ways that defy sense. It’s ‘a Spotlight film’. And ‘a Lamplight film’. And ‘a Gaslight film’. It’s a Steven Spielberg film, and a film by Robert Zemeckis, and ‘directed by Stevert Zmeckberg’. Usually all of the above at once, and that’s without getting into writers and actors. (Remember actors? They’re the people in the film you’re not seeing because you’ve fallen asleep by the time the titles are over.)
I’m told there are detailed guild rules governing all this stuff. They’re not immutable, though. Every now and then, a filmmaker remembers that people came to be entertained, and fits everything on one or two screens: ‘a Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis film directed by Stevert Zmeckberg as a SpotLampGaslight Twelve Matches film’. It still doesn’t make any sense, but at least it’s over with quickly.
Sadly, that wisdom is all too rare, and all too often the film combines endless titles with long, moody shots of gritty urban landscapes, to remind us all that light entertainment is all about embracing reality, and reality sucks.
When I was young and living in London,
theaters theatres would show featurettes before the movie. They were good, too – I still remember a Monty Python travelogue about gondolas, gondolas, and more fucking gondolas. We’d go early just to see them.
So here’s my idea – take those long, beautiful, depressing tracking shots with the long, repetitive, soporific titles, and make them into pre-film featurettes. The two – I’m being generous – people interested could watch them, and the rest of us could just show up in time for the introductory car crash.