Flight

What is it about a classic that makes everybody hate it?


I give Mr. Zemeckis the highest honor: for doing nothing at all: Best Director.
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Reported on 2nd of July, 2013

Mr. Quentin Tarantino has a theory. 

Flight

2 July 2013 @ Cineworld Brighton


$22.00 or, if one must be jejune, and one must... 
★ ★ ★ ★ ★

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TheLeonardLeonard Award Winner for Direction:
Mr. Robert Zemeckis for not screwing up Flight.

Well, I think he does, but in fact I’ve searched for this online, and with all the countless interviews he’s done, I can’t find it, so let’s just say that Mr. Peter Hyams has a theory.  Don’t watch my films.

Peter Hyams’ second theory would go that once you make a film that’s both popular and critically successful, you get the green light to do the film that reflects who you really are.  This had led to the films that I like the most, like Vertigo, Naked LunchMagnolia, Unbreakable, It’s a Wonderful Life, I Heart Huckabees and Lebowski.  It has also led to films like The Matrix Reloaded, which simply proved the Wachowski siblings weren’t really into narrative, but fantastic outfits and group sex.  Then they made Speed Racer and Cloud Atlas, which completely disprove everything I was about to say.  So like all good academics, let’s ignore anything that would contradict our theory and, like all good film critics, blame Mr. Tarantino for getting it wrong.

This theory has itself an side effect, or rather a consequence, namely that you have made your great film, but as a rule no one notices, and you will go back to whatever you made before, a bit bummed out, and chasing what you hate with what you hate.  This leads to terrible films like There Will Be Blood, The Fighter, Here Comes the Groom and, goddammit, there’s Speed Racer again.  Why can’t these theories be consistent?  It’s almost as if things happen at random and I’m trying to impose some sort of artificial order on them to feel better about myself.  Which I have a theory about.

If all, none, or some of this is true, I hope that Flight, the best film Mr. Zemeckis has made since Used Cars, will not lead to that terrible film for him (unless it’s Speed Racer, of course).  I like him in restraint mode, making choices for their own sake.  There’s a sense of maturity here, where the crash is shot from nearly entirely inside the cockpit, but not entirely.  I think a younger Zemeckis would have done a single take, or something similarly showy, but he’s pulled off that most difficult of scenes: a plane crash post-Alive and then post-The Grey.  It’s a gripping twenty minutes, and they echo through the rest of the film.

Mr. Washington saving the plane high as a kite embodies why drugs are fantastic.
Don't worry, I'm only saying that in case there might be children reading this. Adults: turn away!

As a director, his most important choice was the script, which, like Ted, gets that concepts work better as a high.  I have got to come up with a name for that.  Super size it?  Go big or go into turnaround?  The Inflatables?  That’s it.  The Inflatables.  This will, from now until all time refer to the idea that larger venues serve the story better as the exaggeration clarifies the themes.  Unless they’re superheros for some reason, which is only strange since The Inflatables sounds like the porn version of the Pixar film.  Remember porn versions?

Remember porn?

Back to the Concept, High (ooooh, that’s good too, but it only works for this film), Mr. John Gatins got what was missing in all those dreary twelve step movies.  Every one knows drunks are bad, which instantly sucks out the drama.   In the case of Flight, it’s perversely Hitchcockian, as we continue to root for the drunk.  We don’t want him to get caught, and this is why the concept works.  You aren’t a drunk because you think it’s stupid.  You’re a drunk because it’s fantastic, because you’re a goddamned hero, and can do whatever you want.  Mr. Washington saving the plane high as a kite embodies why drugs are fantastic.

Don’t worry, I’m only saying that in case there might be children reading this.  Adults: turn away!

Crap, it's been too long to remember what I ate.

Crap, it’s been too long to remember what I ate.

I’ve said enough about choice to fill an abortion pamphlet, so instead let’s focus briefly on the importance of detail, and not just Mr. Washington taking a nice hit of oxygen before take off.  In each of the mini-universes there’s a glimpse, of pilot unions, of porn directors ‘who are getting back to story’ and even, yes, pilots, when Mr. Washington casually says ‘I’ve got a good on-time rate.  Let’s push.’  The reliance on detail requires two things: research (time) which is hard, and confidence, not to fucking explain it to the audience with a second or third or fourth repetition of the line in a different context.

In this regard, let us praise, briefly, all the places it could have gone and didn’t.  There could have been a nice (read boring) little media borefest about What This Means, and there wasn’t.  There could have a bit of artificial tension with the lawyers feeling the slightest quandary at protecting him, and they don’t.  The choice is his, and this film gets it.  Given the material, he could have easily done a classic 12 hours earlier cop-out, or made whether or not his lead was high a ‘secret’, choice all possible in the editing room.  I don’t often single out the director, but here was yet another opportunity to screw it up, and Mr. Zemeckis did the best nothing I’ve seen in a while.  And since this is part of my award series, and I’ve given Ms. Jessica Chastian an Abrams for getting everything right, I give Mr. Zemeckis the highest honor: for doing nothing at all, the Leonard for Best Director.

And thanks to the back-handed praise of one lone blogger (they don’t have a word for what I am), Mr. Zemeckis never made bad movies again.

Or so the theory goes.

Profits!

The fact that you don’t have to hear the other side of ‘How am I a liar?…Yeah, but how does that make me a liar?’
$3.00
We know from the get-go that he’s high. Imagine if it was…a mystery!
$4.00
Mr. Washington doesn’t just do a great drunk, he does a great semi-drunk. It’s not unimpressive.
$3.00
The indelible cancer patient, who appears, and then is gone. Anyone else would have gone back.
$3.00
I said I wouldn’t talk about choices up there, but here…and then I didn’t say anything.
$10.00
Total Profits
$22.00

Losses!

Nope. Nothing. It’s swell.
$0.00
Total Losses
$0.00

$22.00

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