This week has seen movies come under attack by two sides. One side by China attacking Quentin Tarantino’s film, Once Upon A Time in Hollywood.
The other attack comes from the most revered talent Hollywood has ever seen. You can call it old school vs. new school, or even chalk it up to a generation gap. Either way, Hollywood is currently being tried by outside forces and by inside forces.
Martin Scorsese doubled down on his stand on Marvel and DC films, claiming they are nothing more then “Theme Park” movies. Even after getting rebutted from top notch directors in the field like James Gunn and Josh Whedon, Marty doesn’t budge. This week however, he got some support, and this support is from the big guns of Hollywood. Actually, it’s one big gun, but it’s arguably the biggest gun of them all.
Francis Ford Coppola, being interviewed by France 24, backed up Marty by saying not only are these DC and Marvel films not cinema, but they are “despicable”. Yes, our dearest Francis threw his hat in the ring, and is backing his old pal against the rise of the new Hollywood.
The impeccable director of The Godfather, and Apocalypse Now received the Prix Lumiere on Friday, and when interviewed by the French media, Francis took the opportunity to speak up and back his old friend, and perchance, his old Hollywood.
“I don’t know that anyone gets anything out of seeing the same move over and over again” Francis said, insinuating that all these films are basically the same, which I tend to agree with. However, all the same or not, they have been making bank time and time again for over ten years.
“We expect to learn something from cinema, some knowledge, some enlightenment, some inspiration. Martin was kind of right when he said it’s not cinema. He didn’t say it’s despicable, which I just say it is” says Francis, while talking to the French media.
So we have the young generation, led by Josh Whedon and James Gunn making hundreds of millions of dollars churning out superhero movie after superhero movie – soon to be on all streaming services, especially Disney+, and on the other hand we have their idols saying it’s complete crap and nothing but a commercial for theme parks.
I admit, the quality, the depth, the emotion, the inspiration, is severely lacking with this new brand of theme park movie. They make a ton of money, the kids gets interested, they get families to the theme parks and they are advancing film technology, so they are not all bad. Maybe it’s just not the old men’s cup of tea.
The one voice yet to be heard from is the Emperor himself, Steven Spielberg. Whatever Steven says, you know Lucas is gonna back up – so Steven is kind of stuck in the middle, since Lucasfilm is part of that whole theme park movie business now. How can Steve possibly go against the Star Wars founder George Lucas whose property is now Disney’s? The best move Steven could do now is probably just stay quiet and continue to cash his enormous checks and get his ass kissed by both sides.
Now let’s deal with the outside forces. China has come into the Hollywood consciousness in a few ways recently. First they wiped out all evidence of the show South Park from their country. The internet, streaming, pictures, articles, television, all of it is banned from even mentioning South Park. Did Trey Parker and Matt Stone apologize for offending the red country? Nope, actually they didn’t even flinch. Actually, they made it a big part of their story this year. It seems South Park offended Beijing by saying in the show that Hollywood censors things to appease China, and they didn’t like that, so they banned the show. Trey and Matt could be losing a ton of money, but then they have a ton of money, so they really didn’t care much.
Speaking of life imitating art – China banned Quentin Tarantino’s film Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. Quentin was looking forward to a proper release of his film in the communist country, probably netting the film another 30 or 40 million.
The film was scheduled and cleared for an Oct 25th release in China, but a week prior to that, it was put on hold, indefinitely. One of the biggest reasons, we think, has to do with the portrayal of Bruce Lee. It is said that Lee’s daughter, Shannon Lee, made a personal appeal to China’s National Film Administration asking that it demand changes to her father’s portrayal in the pic. Friends and family of Bruce Lee say the film doesn’t resemble the real life man and is instead just a caricature.
Whatever the reason, China demanded Tarantino recut the movie in order to be released in their country. Tarantino hates tinkering of any kind of his films and has final cut rights in his contract, and has refused to touch it for China.
China has been making a lot of requests from Hollywood recently, one of them being the Oscar winning pic, Bohemian Rhapsody, which had to remove any and all mention of Freddie Mercury’s sexual orientation.
So China bans a cartoon, South Park, and a Tarantino film, and the old Hollywood guard are calling the new blockbusters, “not cinema” and despicable. Hollywood is definitely under attack and the question is will it break or just bend? Will they appease China and the idols of old, or will the money win out, and continue to make films that put kids in the seats and families on the rides? On the one side we have the young generation not caring about the money and staying true to their voices, and the other half are cashing the checks and silencing their integrities and doing the bidding of the big corporations and theme parks. Will one side die out? Will they both continue to co-exist? Either way, Hollywood will carry on, hopefully celebrating both movies for roller coasters and artistic voices.