Welcome to the first installment of a new HitFix feature, The Weekend Rant. Each week, different staffers will voice their opinions on various current pop culture happenings. This week, we look at the backlash against “Gravity’s” screenplay, the media’s concern for Miley Cyrus, and the HFPA’s odd classification of “Before Midnight.” Be sure to let us know what has you ranting (or raving) this week in the comments section.
It’s screenwriting, not dialogue
Since “Gravity” became a bona fide phenomenon, it was inevitable that dissenters would become more vocal in the past week. And while the film is by no means beyond reproach, one specific, recurring criticism is beginning to irritate me: that the film uses its visual wonders to patch over a “terrible” original screenplay. Certainly, the film isn’t a triumph of literate wordcraft — it’s spare by necessity, immersing the audience in experience and sensation rather than articulating it for them — but that’s not to say it isn’t tightly, even artfully constructed. Is the backstory of Bullock’s character rather on-the-nose? Yes, but it’s a feeling-driven piece. Is the arc familiar? Yes, it’s a hero’s journey steeped in the tradition of Joseph Campbell. It’s bluntly elemental, but it works. “Gravity” isn’t captivating audiences in spite of its screenplay, but because Alfonso Cuaron knows how to tell a story: the film’s visual storytelling is masterful, yes, but it’s working in conjuction with a script smart enough to let it lead. With even the terse, efficiently constructed “Captain Phillips” getting accused in some quarters of thinness in the writing department, it frustrates me that even some top critics continue to confuse effective screenwriting with nifty dialogue.
HFPA dubs “Before Midnight” a comedy
In just the latest example of the HFPA’s counter-intuitive classification system, Richard Linklater’s marriage-in-crisis threequel “Before Midnight” will be competing in the Comedy/Musical category at next year’s Golden Globes, while Woody Allen’s “Blue Jasmine” has been pegged as a drama. Not only do the classifications make zero sense – if anything, the positions should be reversed – pigeonholing a film like “Midnight” (an emotionally-wrenching drama) into the Comedy/Musical category only further crowds out actual comedies, which are typically all but ignored come awards season. Which begs the question: when critically-acclaimed, mostly straight-ahead laffers like “This Is the End,” “The Way, Way Back” and “The World’s End are routinely pushed out of a category that’s supposed to represent them, why even bother having the category at all?
Please stop policing Miley Cyrus
What do you think of our rants this week? Share your thoughts below.