the film snob

A cyberspace journal about my experiences as an NYU film school grad student, reviews of current and classic films, film and TV news, and the rants and raves of an admitted (and unapologetic) film snob.

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Esse Quam Videri -- To be, rather than to appear

Monday, September 18, 2006

"National Treasure, I watched Indiana Jones, I knew Indiana Jones, Indiana Jones was a friend of mine. National Treasure, you are no Indiana Jones."

As a rule, I try to stay as far away from Jerry Bruckheimer movies as possible. I've learned that he and I don't exactly see eye to eye on things. A few notable exceptions are Black Hawk Down and the first Pirates of the Caribbean.

So when National Treasure came out, I couldn't have been less interested. As my DVD library is currently boxed up and waiting for the movers to deliver it to my NYC doorstep, I've been bumming films off my fellow NYU students.

The other day I found myself with a copy of National Treasure in my hands.

"Wait a sec..."

"Take it. It's fun. I promise. You'll like it."


I liked it alright, I guess. For about 90 minutes. And that's what Bruckheimer's films do--entertain for approximetly two hours and then fade utterly from the memory. Cinematic Chinese food. They have no gravity. No staying power. Nothing at all that would make me want to come back to them time after time, convinced there is more to mine there.

So I have to laugh when I read Paul Fischer of "Dark Horizons" quoted on the back of the DVD saying, "National Treasure is the Indiana Jones of the New Millennium."

Excuse me?!

The Indiana Jones films thrill me whenever I sit down to view them. They are possessed of the sort of iconic imagery and power, larger-than-life characters, and spectacular situations which keep me coming back; keeps them in my mind's eye long after I turn off the TV; keeps them classics decades after they debuted. National Treasure is at best a footnote, a cinematic speed-bump.

Why am I getting so worked up over this?

If you'll excuse me, I have to go speak to a fellow NYU film student about his taste in movies.


Anonymous nate said...

I got the impression that National Treasure was more interested in being an American-history style Da Vinci code. You know, capitalizing on the craze before that latter movie even came out.

11:07 AM  
Blogger Brandon Fibbs said...

Bruckheimer capitalizing on fads to make low art!? Bite your tongue blasphemer!

11:11 AM  
Anonymous nate said...

I had the idea for an American-History style Da Vinci code, utilizing our legends and folklore and larger than life characters, and including everything from sunken ships from the slave trade to Civil War battlefields, long before I heard about this movie. That's a fact Jack.

11:24 AM  
Anonymous nate said...

And the 20th century is not excluded of course. There could be hidden messages encoded within Frank Ghehry architecture, and Andy Warhol's "Marilyn", and maybe something to do with baseball, perhaps the statues in the outfield of Yankee stadium, or something buried beneath the pitcher's mound at Fenway, or the quad at Harvard. The real reason Joe Dimaggio hit for 56 straight games. Oh, I have all sorts of ideas. This country was made for a story like that.

11:31 AM  
Blogger Brandon Fibbs said...

Hold that thought--there are still a lot of stories out there to tell. Seriously.

I know what you mean about coming up with ideas for films or books only to discover someone else beat you to it.

My screenplay for class this semester was going to be about a young, 30-something, newly-minted professor in NYC who begins to have the sort of serious midlife crisis generally reserved for men several decades older than he when he discovers that his new bride is pregnant. There was more to it of course, and I was excited to begin it, until I began reading reviews of "The Last Kiss" this weekend and realized it's the same film. Damn you Zach and Haggis!

11:38 AM  
Blogger Robin said...

"the Indiana Jones of...."

Ha. When was the last (hell, when was the first) time you heard someone make a passing reference to National Treasure the way we all do to any of the Indy movies? Last week, I said to a couple people "yeah, like in the first Indiana Jones" in reference to something, and they knew what I meant.

How many of these came out of National Treasure:

"Snakes; it had to be snakes."

See. You all knew. Some films make it into the national consciousness. Some are popcorn or even cotton candy...melting before you can even finish it.

Brandon, you're right on the money with Bruckheimer. I consider his stuff the "mind candy" to see when there's nothing else, or your brain is just fried and you need an escape.

Right alongside the Regency Romances (for the uninitiated, substitute "Harlequin") I read 3 or 4 times a year.

1:12 PM  
Blogger Grinth said...

Did you ever chat with Robert about this movie? Last spring I believe he was thinking about writing an article on how National Treasure was probably one of the most slick, subversive pieces of right-wing propaganda to come out of Hollywood in a long time.

All the more devious, in his mind, because most people wouldn't even consciously realize it.

1:58 PM  
Anonymous nate said...

Yes, but I subconciously realized it.

4:44 PM  
Anonymous neal said...

For the record, I never claimed it was a good movie. I was very up front about the fact that it was not high-class cinema at all, and that I was drawn to it as mindless movie watching and because I'm a sucker for conspiracy theory.

Plus, it was in a pile with The Lady Eve, The Red Shoes, and the first season of The Wire. So back off, punk!

11:35 PM  
Anonymous nate said...

The Wire rawks.

6:42 AM  
Blogger Warren Epstein said...

National Treasure was such a Da Vinci Code ripoff... I was thinking about Indiana Jones recently when I heard people raving about the latest Pirates movie. Indiana Jones was pure escapism, too... but so much more fun.
Yet Pirates is on track to become the highest-grossing film of all time.
BTW, glad to hear you're loving New York and school and found an apartment.

9:08 AM  

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