Have you ever seen a movie that’s somewhat “off the grid” or otherwise not heavily promoted, and told a friend that they should see it? Having never heard of the movie, what’s one of the first things they ask?
Answer: “Who’s in it?”
Now, at this point, if my quick mental catalog search doesn’t pull up any superstars, I’m hesitant to respond. Unless it’s one of my die hard film fan friends, I can’t just peddle the hard working, yet under-appreciated people in the acting realm. Do I dare assume they know who, say, Guy Pearce is?
Or do I go the route of the promoter, and say, “Nobody you’d know, but they’re all really great, and the movie’s just soooo gooood!” Or do I try to link Guy Pearce in their minds? “You know that guy that was in L.A. Confidential? … No, the other one…. No, not Danny De Vito!” Or do I just tell them a basic truth?
The cast in any movie should be of little value. The true heart of any memorable must-see movie will almost always spring from two sources: the script, and the director. To also have an awesome cast member will certainly help, but for every heralded A-List celebrity there are perhaps a few dozen emerging talents that, properly directed in a kick-ass story, will help create un film.
This sad worship of celebrity is probably the reason why Zoe Saldana (Avatar, etc.) …
… was not cast as Cleopatra in the upcoming remake, the bean-counters instead going with the oh-so-Egyptian-looking Angelina Jolie. Whatever puts asses in the seats, nuh?
There’s no denying, we love our modern gods and goddesses, our celebrities. But they do prove to be fallible, from time to time. From Romulus and Remus to Tom and Tiger, our fictional friends eventually fail. Even then, they tend to garner even more mythological status.
Actually, when someone recommends a movie to me, the first thing I want to know is who directed it. But what I usually get is Who’s In It. That is a fair and accurate gauge of the statistical probability that a movie will be worth seeing, but it tells me nothing about the quality of the movie. Pretty much every A-list actor has starred in a piece of sh*t movie here and there. Even the great Gene Hackman departed acting with a stinker.
Hmm, doesn’t it seem strange that the grocery stores all feature our demi-god celebrities as witness to the altar of commerce? Here we spill our desires on to a conveyor belt towards its pre-destined purpose- a purchase- while Rachel Ray and Sandra Bullock look on in maternal warmth. And there’s Robert Pattinson and Brad Pitt standing as witnesses to the trivial, yet profound act of admitting I can’t hunt for or grow my own food, and so I tithe to the corporate paradigm.
I think I’ll grab a copy of People while I’m here.
(Photos from the top: Miramax; Unknown, researching; 20th Century Fox)