For a blog where I spend half the time bitching about stuff I don’t like, I do try to avoid careless internet asshatery and needless contrarian bullshit, and instead focus on some kind of minuate, or larger theoretical argument. Let’s be honest, often the internet descends into “I HATE YOU’RE YOUR FAVORITE THING!!!!!!!! RARRRRRRRRR! U R GAY!!!!”. I try to avoid that. But… Occasionally I indulge in my more base tendancies. So for this week:
Here’s a list of 5 people I would punch if I saw them.
#2, Brett Ratner
Reasons: Make no mistake. I want Brett Ratner’s job. He is a filmmaker. A successful filmmaker at that, complete with confidence and assured technical skill. He is adaptive and can make different kinds of movies with different kinds of tones. It is all highly enviable. What his films lack, however, is the great intangible that pretty much anyone can notice: passion.
Does a filmmaker have to be passionate? Technically no. This is a business after all, but we’re talking about position that THRIVES on passion. Passion of a filmmaker is primarily what imbues the movie with life. Sure it’s an intangible, but it’s easy to look at any film and tell if the filmmaker cared (even/especially in failures).
While it may be intangible on the screen, Ratner’s utter lack of passion is PAINFULLY tangible in interviews. I will not get into his womanizing, his shrewdness, his boasting, his callousness, his misogyny, his partying, his celebrity hookups, or his infidelities. I mean fuck, with passion, these banal qualities could even be the things that make him endearing. Isn’t that what made Bob Fosse endearing?
The simple truth is I have never seen a filmmaker speak with such utter disregard for the subjects he’s presenting in his films. He barely makes allusions to transparency. The subjects are all unimportant to the positioning of his own self-image. He wants to be a big filmmaker. He wants to set records. He wants the glory and accolade, but he CLEARLY doesn’t relate to any of actual things. If he does? It’s not coming through in the slightest. It almost seems as if filmmaking is merely a means to end for him. For those with passion, it can often be end of means.
The Rush hour movies don’t bother me. They’re a nice, though neutered return to buddy cop movies, which honestly doesn’t hold a special place in anyone’s heart. Plus I like Jackie Chan. What is more bothersome, however, is his persistent forays into beloved properties. The lesser offender was his entry into The Hannibal series (already slightly undermined by “Hannibal”) with a remake of an already great film Manhunter (his was “Red Dragon”). It came off as a simple mime and copy of Silence of the Lambs, completely missing the atmospheric intensity and deliberate focus of that film. It was hollow emulation complete with perennial scenes seemingly recopied. It wasn’t directly contrary or offensive in initialization, but its complete lack of effectiveness, however, was offensive. Audiences, often subconsciously, took notice. After Red Dragon, one of the greatest screen villains of all time was merely a caricature of himself.
The greater offender was X-Men 3. Ignoring my love of the franchise and Bryan Singer reaching the pinnacle of an effective blockbuster with X2, X-Men 3 was completely vacant entry. What makes it worse is that instead of it being an “ignorable” tumble in the hay adventure, it was intended to be a crescendo. Characters are killed, but done so haphazardly. Other major characters are killed with the inclination toward emotional resonance, but the lack of logical reasons to do render the effect meaningless. What’s worse is the central conceit of the film (“curing” mutants of their powers) is completely and utterly turned on it’s head with the last frame of the film. In some ways I love it, because it allows for a “do-over” in some regard. It also renders the process of sitting there for 2 hours completely useless.
Ratner was talking once of actually making a Hugh Heffner biopic. I wanted him to do it oh so desperately because it seemed like the one instance where you could evoke a kind of passion from him; THAT is a subject matter akin to his own nature. But nothing came of it… because supposedly he got another chance to ingrain his lack of passion into another beloved franchise. Specifically by me. Seriously, god help him if he tackles Conan next. He’s reportedly signed on… but… I love those movies. They’re awful… but there’s a kind of weird, glorious passion there.
The worst part is I’d go see it with a sense of hope.
Judgement: In the end, simply a waste of talent.
Result: Okay… this is where I get honest and have to acknowledge part of the reason he’s on this list. I once saw Brett Ratner in real life… and I didn’t punch him. I regret it of course, but there were inherent difficulties. One, he was talking to all my bosses and that would have just been uncouth. Two, it is not-surprisingly difficult to work up the courage to just go up and punch a dude in the face, completely unprovoked. I wish I was walking by and he just said something to justify it like “Hey fuckstick!” But no… he just makes deeply impersonal movies about otherwise deeply personal/beloved subjects. That’s not the greatest reason to punch someone in reality.
But he sure of fuck deserves it.
Look at this asshole: