Friday, February 06, 2009

Do Terminators dream of electric Oscars?

Quote of the day: “Respect yourself and others will respect you.” ~Confucius

2nd Quote of the day: “I don’t believe in transcending the genre. I believe in the genre.” ~Joss Whedon

Song of the day: Fake It by Seether

State of mind: Thinking of Saturday a day early.

Date: Feb. 6th, 2009

I think the entire internet has heard the audio clip of Christian Bale loosing his mind on a crew member while filming the latest movie installment in the Terminator series. Really, it’s a doozey. A total hum dinger of a tantrum. (And if you were watching the BBC, you got to hear the un-edited version! Oops.) Is this definitive proof that he’s a colossal ass hat? Maybe. I don’t know. I do know I wouldn’t appreciate being treated the way that Director of Photography was, but guess what? I work in an office that does have a lot of yelling going on. I’m sure that is true in a lot of offices. Why would the red faced screaming boss be such a heavily relied upon cliché if it weren’t true? I’ll wager that a good number of people out there in the “real world” have also had experiences with someone that lost their temper, or been that person themselves. Does that make it ok? No. It just means it’s not just “spoiled” Hollywood actors. Basic truth of life: sometimes people (even good ones) suck.

Here is a short version order of events: The clip was released online by TMZ. Reaction (mostly online): ‘What a douche. What a schmuck. Spoiled brat actor! No wonder he beat up his mom.’ (He didn’t, BTW.) The Hollywood reaction. Hmmm, some what neutral. The lack of outrage is telling actually. Eventually some context was revealed. (Because when you have such a juicy clip, why bother with the circumstances surrounding it. Right TMZ?) The gist of it: He was tired, it was a long day, the DP walked into his frame before and had already been told not to but did it again anyhow, and it was an emotionally charged scene. Reaction to the context: “It’s not like its [insert universally praised film title here. Ex: Citizen Cane.] It’s just Terminator!”

Wait. What? Just?

And there-in is my issue with the whole situation.

From Jay Leno to online comments by supposed genre fans in response to the claim that the incident happened during a heavy emotional scene, I am most annoyed by that particular witty repartee. Should that be how all the cast and crew look at it when working on the film? Well, who gives a damn if Idon’t give it my all, it’s just Terminator. Do people really think no work actually takes place on genre films? Regardless of the story, there is still acting that needs to be done. Take out the robots, replace them with Nazis and put them on Normandy Beach. Suddenly it’s Saving Private Ryan, (which won both Academy Awards and a Saturn Award). Why is the emotional story of a man fighting for the future of mankind so easily dismissed because of who the enemy is? Basically, that one off retort is saying it would have been ok if Tom Hanks had gone off on some crew member during the filming of Private Ryan but Christian Bale shouldn't have because he wasn’t doing a worthy enough film.

For years genre fans have complained about the lack of respect any sci-fi or fantasy film receives. Yes, Lord of the Rings won an enormous amount of Oscars, but not a single one for acting. Does that mean the cast, while standing in their award winning costumes and being directed by the award winning director were phoning it in just because it was a story about hobbits and wizards? Hmm, I think not. Viggo Mortensen was reportedly so deep into his character that Peter Jackson called him Aragorn during conversations off camera and Viggo never noticed. There was no way The Academy could ignore the scope of that film trilogy, but it doesn’t mean they truly appreciated it either. They acknowledge the costumes, set design, music, even the job Peter Jackson had directing all three films but who was it that gave any of the actors an award for their work? The Academy for Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Horror Films. Star Wars was nominated for best film, but even George Lucas was quoted as saying, “It’s not science fiction.” The space ships, light sabers, swords, & elvish cloaks are just set dressing. But in both LOTR and Star Wars, the stories are classic Good vs. Evil. And more recently, the buzz about Heath Ledger being nominated isn’t only because of his tragic death, but because he is being acknowledged for his work in a movie based on a comic book character. There is always a qualifier. Always a reason why a movie that genre fans love is given accolades despite the genre, never because of it.

Here’s the thing about genre stories, something I should think isn't really a secret: They all have heroes. They all have conflict. They all are about people. Whether those people are fighting robots, battling demons, or are in deep space exploring the universe, it always comes down to character. And those characters, having human reactions to whatever situation they are in, are played by actors who (hopefully) give it their all in order to bring that character to life for us to watch, love, hate, or root for.

If anyone wants to give Christian Bale crap for behaving so obnoxiously, go ahead. But at least give respect to the work he was doing. If sci-fi fans won’t appreciate the effort everyone puts in on the films then why in the hell should anyone else give respect to the finished product?

Show quote of the day:

“That sounds like something out of science fiction.”
“We live on a space ship, dear.”


LL said...

You're paying homage to Dick? I didn't know you had that in you... ;)

And anyone that whines about Ledger getting the nom because of his death needs to answer me this question... Can you name one actor in any role that did a better job than he did with the Joker?

Case closed.

NYPinTA said...

No argument from me.

Stellar said...

You're paying homage to Dick? I didn't know you had that in you... ;)

You didn't know she had what in her?

Christian Bale is at the top tier of actors. A little better than Robert Downey Jr, not quite as good as Daniel Day Lewis... He's in Leo DiCaprio company. So I give him a little leeway to be a douche bag.

It's still strange to me that Sci-Fi has this weird place in cinema. 2001 seems to be the exception to this. Sci-Fi seems to only get respect from Hollywood on the quality of people associated with it, not the quality of the work itself.

E.g., Dark City, Donnie Darko, Sunshine, etc. Fairly muted casts/directors, great movies = under the radar; or in the case of DD = cult.

As for Heath Ledger... I thought nobody could beat Jack Nicholson. And I wasn't the only person who thought that. That movie was awesome when it came out. Heath Ledger buried Nicholson. He peaked. He died. He did one other movie after Batman (before death), but nobody's going to pay attention to it. He died the perfect Joker. And one of the Olsen twins killed him. That's how things go sometimes. Kinda like the Crocodile Hunter and the stingray.

Word Verification: thopa

Isn't that a drunken Greek celebratory yelp? I think I remember it from the beginning of The Deer Hunter.

John said...

The same thing happened on the set of Troll 2.

trinamick said...

I thought Bale sounded like a bit of a jackass. But then I recalled my former boss at the steakhouse. He threw way bigger tantrums, stayed mad for hours instead of minutes, and never would he look sexy in a rubber suit. Bale suddenly didn't seem like such a jerk.