Too often the characters have way too much free time to devote to the plot. Don’t they have jobs? Dirty laundry, dirty dishes, tax reports, dentist appointments? When do they eat, shit, shave, shower? I’m not against condensing for the sake of the pace of the story. I just don’t like total absence of every-day realism. A movie that incorporates some of these things, like shopping, working, peeing, is Imagine Me & You, which – as you probably know – I adore (also for other reasons).
Most movies rely on some sort of antagonist: the evil genius, the pretty rival, the big bad corporations that are all about money and don’t care about the heart/town/puppies. Disguised antagonists include family, society, love, diseases, and nature. They’re driving the plot and pretty much essential to any movie. Improper development of the dark side drives me crazy; point in case: The Devil Wears Prada. Clear-cut antagonists can be helpful, fun, and good (the Darth Vader paradox). Yet easy moral judgment is often a matter of one-dimensional characters (Bill Pullman) or dubious morality. The latter comes into play when a big firm wants to exploit whatever the hero holds dear; yet the hero gives his money to banks that finance such firms; or he keeps eating the hamburger made of cattle that was fed with the soy that was grown cheaper on slash-and-burn rainforest soil than on his grandma’s farm he seeks to sustain. Again, I’m not against supervillains in movies (Lucy Diamond!) – I just wish there would be more stories like Lights, Camera, Amalee, which feature “real-life” antagonists. Gone Baby Gone is different example of subverting antagonist expectations, which leaves you agitated for quite a long time after the movie’s over. My Name is Earl deserves an Honorary mention, because (a) it’s main theme is making the world a better place (b) it was the initial inspiration for this post (before it turned into this verbouse rant).
Movies are way too pretty. Beautiful people don’t suffice to turn movies into good movies. Sure, I like to watch movies like Closer which are all about beautiful people’s problems. But I also love Clerks, because you get an immediate sense of reality. You can see the shop, you can hear the rustling of the movements and the street noise. That’s so much more convincing than the CGI cities and the ADR kissing noises in Attack of the Clones.