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.