By Tom Macy
September 8, 2009
Summer. Bah. Who needs it? High electric bills, a lack of lightweight jackets, and bad, bad movies.
As with every year, the months of May and September are when Hollywood reminds us why people compare the movie industry to ambiguous evil empires and its studio heads to Darth Vader – or am I the only one who does that?
Sure, we go see all the movies - but just so we can shake our fists at the screen when a character inexplicably gives an expository speech out of nowhere about a convoluted plot that no one cares about. I feel for you, John Tuturro. And yeah, we give them our money - but only to pad the box office total that, upon seeing, we will slap our foreheads in disbelief that so many people paid for such garbage. And round and round goes the vicious cycle.
Now that Labor Day has come and gone and the summer is officially over, we must put the season behind us. As painful as it may be, it's time move on from tentpole withdrawal. How, you ask? By doing some good ol' fashioned hating. Here are five things we had to endure over the past four months that made them totally lame. These are five reasons to say good riddance to the summer movie season.
5) Michael Mann doesn't need professional sound
This is a nerdy, nit-picky choice. If the movie had been halfway decent, I might be willing to forgive a $100 million film released on the July 4th weekend in 3,300+ theatres having the sound of an intro to filmmaking assignment. But since Public Enemies was an overlong, hollow, posturing-fest with lifeless characters, I'm not going to be able to give Mann a pass.
After the first few lines mumbled by Johnny Depp caused me to strain my ears, I initially figured Regal Cinemas had employed an inept teenage projectionist just so they could pay him minimum wage. But as the film wore on and the dialogue ranged from distinguishable and muffled to what I can only describe as being submerged underwater, I realized my rage towards corporate evil was misplaced. For reasons I cannot begin to comprehend, Michael Mann seemed to think that bad sound was good idea. Maybe he thought it would go with the bad lighting. He's the auteur.
Here's the thing. Unlike the his dimly lit digital grain-fest wherein not being able to see the image clearly enhances the viewing experience – used effectively in Collateral, but less so in Public Enemies - not being able to hear what's happening is just annoying.
With the camera, directors have a lot of leeway with audiences. You can do just about whatever you want and people are willing to give it a chance. But with sound, not so much. Don't get me wrong. I love it when filmmakers take chances and experiment with new techniques, but in this case, I just want to remind Mr. Mann of a universal truth in filmmaking. Things sound like what they sound like, and when they don't sound like what they sound like, they sound bad.