Most of the time its the way this small creation is handled that moves a movie from mediocre to at least good. I watched a thing called "The Great World Of Sound".
Its a bout this scam. The scam relies on exploiting peoples dreams. Not much original there. In the 30'2 WC Fields explained, "You can't cheat an honest man, so never smarten up a sucker or wise up a chump."
This scam is a bit nastier than most. These two guys, a white one who is as exciting as mayonnaise and a chunky black guy who is desperate for money and has a natural enthusiasm for everything he sees.
They get jobs as record producers. But the real job is to go into medium sized cities and listen to people play their music and then, no matter what their opinion, to sign them to a record contract, a contract that tests their commitment to their music by demanding that they contribute financially.
Their big selling point is that they're asking the musicians for only 30% of the total expenses. They use a cruel line, I'm asking you, in dollars in cents, how much you believe in yourself. How much do you want that dream."
They salesmen justify signing worthless talent to themselves with some scattered logic, "Not everyone who graduates from college is going to win the Noble Prize, but you need to build classrooms and hire professors so the kids who aren't going to do anything with their lives, they're paying all that money so that the kid who can go out and strike gold gets his fair chance."
The film is set in North Carolina and the south, so I thought that there'd be some great scenes of unknown local talent sounding good mixed in with some clunkers for humorous effect. All the music is pretty poor. Including the music written for the soundtrack.
The acting is all pretty good and for a while the movie bounces from boring to amusing. The biggest thing is that I kept hoping to hear something decent instead of sound bites of mediocrity. No performer ever knocked me out or even impressed me. They were all strictly amateurs.
The black guy had a lot of energy and carried it along and it was semi-educational watching him rope in the chumps and get them to hand over their hard earned cash. That wasn't enough to make this seem like a horrendous time waster. I went and fed the dogs and played with them while this was on and knew I hadn't missed anything.
Then it came to a moment.
It was awesome. The set up was predictable. The two guys are both getting sick of being scammers. They're not crooks and they feel their being used. The black guy figures that's just life. He wants the money to feed his kids. The white guy has an artistic girlfriend but no real commitment to her.
They audition a girl, rather plain but with a bit of talent. Not great but better than anything else we've heard in the movie.
The white guy refuses to sign the girl. His partner is shocked and keeps trying to get her money. They start to fall out.
Later that evening they find out that they have no money and no tickets back home. When they call their boss they get some weird scammy flim flam excuse so the result is that they are stranded 900 miles from home, no money, no hope.
They split up.
Unable to reach anyone, the white guy gets desperate. He goes to contact the girl singer he turned away. She works in a bar. They have a few drinks get to talking and she ends up taking him to her home.
There's a rather boring failed seduction attempt, interestingly by her, not him - he's remaining true to his girlfriend.
Then next comes a magic moment. The scene jumps to the girl at an ATM. She's taking out all her money to buy the record contract.
The devastating effect is watching this guy who seemed to be fighting to take a stand, to believe in something, something human inside people, and he sells all of that because he's afraid to sleep in the cold and walk or hitch hike home.
He takes this nice girls money and becomes the thing he was fighting against. That's powerful stuff, watching a man become his definition of evil. It was powerful enough to accept the preceding 90 minutes of doldrums as a set up for this moment.
One of the greatest parts of this moment is that you can imagine (its not explicitly or implicitly stated) that the girl knew it was a scam and was giving him the money almost out of embarrassment for her failed seduction.
If the movie had moved from that one point instead of taking it as the real conclusion of the film there could have been something magical.
As it is the movie dwindles on a bit more and seems to have the message that all people including you and me are just crap.
I reject the message but I loved that little 30 seconds that was lost in the dreary "Great World Of Sound".
It was like that one moment in a bad pop tune, a tune you hate but that one moment gets locked in your head and reappears at just the tight moment.
I've finally updated the Movie Catalog. Its a bit over 2750 movies deep now. Usual disclaimer, I'm not selling any of them. I'm always open to trades.
I love stats. Most people do. I can say that because if people didn't love stats there'd be no baseball fans which means no baseball. What a dreary world it would be then.
The top five genres are (in order of quantity, not preference)
- Drama - 315 titles
- Comedy - 303 (this surprised me)
- Crime - 265
- Science Fiction - 248
- Kung Fu - 221
The Directors list really astonished me.
- Chang Cheh - 28
- Roger Corman - 20
- Takashi Miike - 19
- Clint Eastwood - 15 (!)
- Johnny To - 13
- Don Siegal - 12 (There are a number of Seigal films I'm still looking for)
- Chia-Liang Liu - 12 (I'm pretty complete here)
- Anthony Mann - 10
- Hark Tsiu - 10
- Sammo Hung - 10
The Stars are very strange
- Clint Eastwood - 28 (I never knew I was such a fan)
- Jet Li - 18
- Robert De Niro - 17
- James Stewart - 17
- Jackie Chan - 16 (a lot of disappointing films here)
- John Wayne - 15
- Lung Ti - 15 (an actual fave actor of mine)
- Bela Lugosi - 15
- Sammo Hung - 15
I like to look at lists . . . The numbers must say something. But I can't figure out what. Maybe that some of my favorite actors and directors haven't made enough films . . .
Its still my plan to, eventually, do the whole catalog up as a web app. As it is some people can't figure out that pressing the little buttons on the right of each listing will increase the size of the poster and/or reveal all the film details.
Super Bowl Weekend is nearly here. The undeclared National Holiday.
This is still the quietest Super Bowl ever. There seems to be more ink about Roger Clemens and steroids than the big game. (Roger, I feel like that Ring Lardner kid - "Say it ain't so Joe." I still presume innocence. I'm like that. I truly hope he is innocent. He's one of my fave ball players. He enriched the game and made it special. I hope he did it with talent alone.)