Keeping things fresh. . .

I’m a movie buff.  I see a new movie each weekend, which means I see at least 52 movies a year.   And yes, I still sometimes see movies on HBO or Showtime that I missed in the theater.   That’s a lot of celluloid, I’m here to tell you.   And unfortunately, the movies this year have been. . . pffft. . .meh. . . mediocre.

I’m a sucker for a great trailer and always arrive in plenty of time for the previews of coming attractions.  Cowboys and Aliens had me at the title.  Cowboys– all guts and grit and that sexy boot-wearing stride.  And Aliens– drooling, big-fanged, malevolent aliens to fight!  And Daniel Craig on top?  I was in anticipation heaven. 

Then I saw the movie.  Meh.  Pffft.   Fun in some ways, but only memorable as one of the bigger disappointments of the summer.  sigh.  What’s wrong with me that I couldn’t be enthralled by the sight of Daniel Craig in chaps???  

It’s the story, stupid!

Yep, the something missing happened to be in the heart of the story itself.  I so wanted to love the movie– as I do so many others– and I just didn’t.  It’s always the same problem: I couldn’t get involved with the characters and didn’t really care much about their plight.  Even when their plight was big, expensive CGI aliens threatening the world. Very similar to the problem I had with the movie Super 8, which actually had more character development and plot and missed by– ooooh– that much.

I started to think back to the movies I’ve seen this summer and couldn’t recall many.  Yikes.  Either it was a truly lackluster summer season or I’m into early Alzheimers. . . neither an especially appealing explanation.   Maybe I’m just expecting too much of a movie these days.  I’m a storyteller myself and I know how hard it is to get it all right.  I should probably cut them some slack.  But I find that hard to do.  Either I like it or I don’t.

Thor— I saw Thor.  Great beefcake and I love Natalie Portman playing sweet and smart.  And the Conan remake. . . more great beefcake and wonderful action.  The latest installment of Pirates of the Carribean. . . not beefcake exactly, but Johnny, and that’s just as good.   Green Lantern. . . more beefcake.  Hmmm.  Seeing a pattern here.  Lots to look at, not a lot to thrill the heart.   Am I just jaded?  Are my expectations too high?  Unrealistic?  That’s always been my feeling about movie critics– they see too much and over time get jaded and can’t enjoy anything that’s not a little “bent” or bizarre.  Horrors!

Then I started to wonder if that happens to people with our books, especially the avid romance readers.  They read so many historicals, intrigues, or contemporaries that they get a little jaded and unless is story is a knockout, they’re not content.  Are we breeding discontent in the ranks? 

I’ve talked to a number of readers over the years who quit reading romance for a while, then returned to it later.  Maybe readers get their fill of a certain genre or a kind of story and then try something else for a while to get perspective back or just whet their appetite for reading.  I confess, that’s happened to me.  I read so much that I stopped reading for a while.   And when I came back to it, the writers had changed, the writing was better, and I enjoyed the stories again.

Then I caught a film industry spokesman on the radio bemoaning the flat ticket sales this summer and worrying about the future of movie making.  Hmmm.   Apparently, it wasn’t just me.  Maybe the movie buffet this summer just wasn’t as appealing or rich or just plain fun as it has been in summers past. 

What do you think?  Do you think we get jaded after watching or reading too much?  Is there such a thing as too much reading???  (Heaven forfend!)  When you get bored do you stop reading or just switch to another kind of book for a while?  Do you think the romance “formula” of happy endings limits storylines and lends itself to repetition?   Are publishers partly to blame for insisting best-selling writers write “more of the same?”  Are blogs all getting to be the same these days?

Are you still reading this?

C’mon, talk to me.

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20 Responses to Keeping things fresh. . .

  1. TrishJ says:

    great post!! I guess i do sometimes get tired of reading the same old same old. BUt I tend to mix up my reading; some suspense, some contemporary, some westerns. I think reading is different from watching movies though. When i am reading a book I become transported into the book and my imagination takes off and I become a part of that world. With a movie, I feel more disconnected — like I am watching rather than participating. I probably dont watch more than 5 movies a year, but i read more than 3 books a week!

    • bkrahn007 says:

      Excellent point, Trish. We put more of ourselved into reading than we do into just “viewing.” So we can read more stories and still enjoy the thrill of the conflict and resolution without it feeling stale. And you know I’m with you– these days I mix it up reading-wise. contemporary, suspense, thrillers, historical romance, historical fiction, urban fantasy, straight paranormal, kinky paranormal– whatever that is. I can have a good time almost anywhere with a good book.

  2. kylie brant says:

    Betina, I think I just have high expectations for books and movies. I have a low threshhold for boredom. I know what I like and it’s great to be pleasantly surprised by one I didn’t expect to enjoy but too often I’m not and then I’m mad I wasted the time.

    I do find I don’t have the attention span to read as much anymore. Or maybe it’s a time thing. There’s always so much to do….

    Looking forward to the latest Pirates movie, though!

    • april says:

      I try to have low expectations with movies. It’s helped me so far – except I got drawn into the hype with Crazy, Sexy, Love. So, I thought that movie didn’t live up to it all.

      I’m pretty positive the Hunger Games is going to completely disappoint me, but I can’t help but be excited.

      I should also mention that I only see movies that are kind of silly comedies so I just need a laugh. I rarely see action movies or dramas in the theater. Not sure why. So, my bar is always set fairly low.

      • bkrahn007 says:

        April I hear you. I like comedies, too– mostly of the romantic variety. I like to laugh or at least grin during a movie. Interestingly, some of the darker movies have started importing a little humor to humanize their characters. I love that.

        And maybe the trick really is to have low expectations. . . and be pleasantly surprised! The Hunger Games– I’m not sure what to think about that one. I’ll see it, but I haven’t read the book and its sequels. I find the premise quite interesting, though.

    • bkrahn007 says:

      Kylie, I think we’ve educated our readers to expect morea nd more from us as writers. I know i expect more from writers than i used to. It amazes me what some *ahem* male writers get away with in other genres. In romance, we’d never get away with some of the absurd behavior in thrillers. Like a heroine who has been starved and mistreated in a slave camp and has a broken arm and is sun-parched and dehydrated. . . and when the hero rescues her, they make mad passionate love the minute they’re alone. Hello! She’s sick and weak and in pain and she looks like hell. . . why would she want him to jump her bones right then and there?

  3. michelehauf says:

    I haven’t been in a theater in many months, and I’m ashamed to admit that. I just haven’t had time, and nothing has really screamed out ‘see me!’. Last night I broke my dry spell by watching a flick on NetFlix. I was looking for anything not my norm, and landed on a quiet little thriller called Wrecked, staring Adrian Brody. Basically he’s a guy who comes too in a crashed car, can’t remember who he is, and has to survive over four days. It was intriguing, and the ending was not what I’d expected. Whew!

    And books. I do tend to get in a rut, and lately have been reading a lot of non-fiction, which is my usual way to ‘clear my palate’. I have to recommend THE ORCHARD by our own Theresa Weir (who used to blog with us as Anne Frasier). It’s a memoir of her marriage in the 70s and living on an apple orchard amidst the farming community. Very good. I cried for ten minutes after I’d finished to book!

    • bkrahn007 says:

      Wow, Michele, I’m going to have to pick up that Theresa’s book. Thanks for the heads-up. I’ve been in a thriller rut lately. . . am switching to more paranormals. Got to keep it fresh.

  4. loisgreiman says:

    I really liked Crazy Stupid Love…couldn’t help it…I thought it was touching.

    • bkrahn007 says:

      I saw it and like it a lot, too, Lois. There’s just something about Steve Carell. And I LOVE Ryan Gosling. He has such a good/bad face, and I adore Emma Stone, who also starred in The Help. Which was also a great movie– even if you’d read the book before hand. Very human and involving and fun and wrenching– all the stuff you could want in a movie.

      Hey, that was a book that was recommended to me by the Pool Boy, who read it first and loved it. Being Georgia born and raised, he could really relate. We both had tears in our eyes at the end of the movie.

  5. MaryC says:

    With so many different genres to choose from, I can’t imagine being bored by reading.

    I don’t go to see movies very often – the last was a prescreening of Friends With Benefits which I enjoyed.

    • bkrahn007 says:

      Right, Mary. Think variety– the spice of life. With so many really good books out there, you’d think Hollywood would find a want to turn more of them into good movies.

  6. Great post, Betina! Generally we’ll see any movie that boasts of cowboys in the title. UNLESS the title also contains a word like aliens.
    Publishers seem determined to fulfill their own prophesies. If they believe in more of the same, they put out lots more of the same, and more of the same sells. Yes, readers are like movie goers who don’t want aliens mixed with their cowboys, but that doesn’t mean those reader want more of the same old, same old. I love a well-crafted Western with great characters and fresh story. I loved “Wild Wild West” the TV show. Hated the movie version, even though I love Will Smith. The movie was ridiculous, and the writing had a lot to do with it. You can’s substitute special effects for good writing.

  7. You know what? Last night I watched “Mrs. Winterbourne” with my 7- and 9-year-old granddaughters. They started predicting what was going to happen early on–“She’s gonna fall in love with him.” Okay, that one was easy, but they saw a lot more coming, too. Did they want to turn the channel or play their latest favorite, Monopoly? No way. They were along for the ride with sympathetic characters. And they didn’t even realize the heroine was played by a thinner Ricki Lake, whom they adore in “Hairspray,” which they’ve watched and danced along with over and over again. They were into a tried-and-true storyline that’s well-written and carried off well by solid acting.

    • bkrahn007 says:

      Interesting, Kathy. You’re introducing them to the classics. And yes, sometimes we go back for a second or third helping because it’s so satisfying. Kids teach us that lesson, in savoring their favorite stories again and again. Hmmm. More to think about.

  8. Christie Ridgway says:

    Shoot, my comment was eaten.

    To repeat myself, I think there’s still a lot of variety within the romance genre if you’re a reader who likes to read in more than one slice of the pie. If you like historicals and contemps and romantic suspense, say, there’s plenty of different stories to keep things interesting.

    As for the movie studios, I don’t think they’re making movies for romance aficionados. Maybe they should.

    • bkrahn007 says:

      Absolutely, Christie. We romance fiction lovers are a huge market. If somebody could get the plottin/writing/characterization flow right in a movie, we’d make him/her rich!

  9. Kristina Mathews says:

    I find it very hard to find a good movie. I think the last movie I enjoyed was Harry Potter. What I find lacking in most movies is the story. Or if there is an intersting story, I can’t sypathise with the characters or there is no chemistry between them.

    It’s a good thing there are so many good books to read.

    • bkrahn007 says:

      Hurrah for reading! Hang in there Kristina. You have a lot of company.

      And I think what Trish said at the beginning is the key– in reading a book, we bring a lot of our own images and fantasies and feelings to the experience. That makes it a more active process and more meaningful to us. Readers’ imaginations are a writer’s best friend.

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