Readers attack Hollywood cliches

Barry Koltnow
The Orange County Register (MCT)

He is an unlikely candidate for movie hero.

To the casual observer, he seems to lack the peculiar inner strength and physical skills of a movie hero. His teammates/co-workers/fellow squad members mock him, and deny him respect.

But he perseveres; beating the odds and proving his detractors wrong. He emerges a tough, gritty, sweaty movie hero.

And we all know what's coming.

The one guy who was hardest on him; the guy who mercilessly teased, taunted and tortured him for nearly two hours on the big screen, steps forward and claps once dramatically. A couple of seconds pass, and he claps again. He begins a slow, rhythmic clapping that means our hero has been accepted. Others follow suit until everyone is slow-clapping for our hero.

Carrying him on their shoulders is optional.

I would like to thank reader Ethel Metrosky for reminding us of this Hollywood cliche that needs to be retired. We demand originality in our films, and these tired bits have got to go.

Last week, I listed my own pet peeves, and invited readers to submit theirs.

You may not know this but the second greatest moment in a columnist's life (the announcement of an "open bar" tops the list) is learning that his readers are smart. There is nothing worse than writing for dumb readers. They don't get anything. You have to spell everything out for them.

But the readers of this column are way smarter than the columnist, and I appreciate that.

By the way, I introduced last week's column with a tired movie scene in which a person is sitting with two friends while trashing a fourth person, who walks up behind the speaker. As the two friends try to warn him, the speaker says: "He's right behind me, isn't he?"

The first time I remember seeing that scene was in the 1991 comedy "City Slickers," but a reader named Brian said he remembers the scene from an episode of the old "Hogan's Heroes" TV series. If that's true, I stand corrected. Perhaps Billy Crystal isn't as clever as we think.

And Terry from Whittier suggested that the worst current offender is "NCIS," the top-rated show on television. Although he loves the show, Terry said they use that bit all the time. On the big screen, you can see it in the new romantic comedy "When in Rome."

Here are some other suggestions from my brilliant readers in Orange County, Calif., who believe it's time for Hollywood to think more creatively, and to stop using these cliches:

— The expression "24/7," stupid blue-collar fathers, kids who are much smarter than their parents, picturing suburban life as soul-less and materialistic and, finally, tart-tongued British judges on TV reality competitions. (Ray from LaPalma)

— A small group of friends are dishing on one of the people in the group when that person says "You know I'm right here?" (Maggie)

— The slow-motion bullet, not to mention the slow-motion lit-match or lit cigarette being tossed into a puddle of gasoline, all of which can be seen in Quentin Tarantino's "Inglorious Basterds" (Scott from Lake Forest)

— Suitcases that obviously are empty swinging to and fro in people's hands. (Eva)

— In horror movies, when the lone survivor of a maniac's attack runs back into the house where his/her friends were killed and runs upstairs and hides in a room where the maniac has no problem finding them. And, in crime dramas, there is too much romance. The investigator falls in love with the victim's sister, or one victim's family member falls for another victim's family member or one investigator romantically pursues another investigator on the same case. "Stop romancing and start solving the crime" (Kristy from Cypress)

— "How about the pretty woman who is being stalked by a killer and decides what she really needs is a shower? We watch her lovely figure through the frosted glass of the shower door for a few minutes and then she is standing at the sink in a towel. She wipes the steam from the bathroom mirror and surprise! Guess who's standing behind her?" (Susan from Huntington Beach)

— "I hate historical inaccuracies in movies, and made-up or composite characters." (Joanne from Huntington Beach)

— The expression "Am I bad?" and the word "absolutely." (Lynn from Capistrano Beach)

— "I have nothing against the song itself, but I'd like to see an end to the overuse of "Amazing Grace" in funeral scenes." (the aforementioned Ethel)

— TV commercials and new programs that run at warp-speed, presumably to appear hip. "Every TV station is doing it, and it seems to be getting faster as each day passes. It's as though it's a race to see which entity can run something so fast that, eventually, no one will be able to discern exactly what it is." (Bill from Newport Beach)

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.