Friday, November 15, 2013

Six Degrees of Sweden

I don’t know where the Swedes get off with their movie rating system.  That wheel was invented a long while ago right here in the US of A. 

That’s right, Sven, we have the Motion Picture Association of America to protect and advise us.  So what if they’re a trade organization that works for the studios in Hollywood?

They let us know if our movies contain sex or bad words, or bad words about sex.  Or of course, violins.  Sex and violins.  That’s it, mostly.

What??  Oh!  Violence.  Got it!  The MPAA is on the lookout for sex and violence.

Pretty sure that covers any legitimate concern an insightful film goer might have prior to shelling out the $37.50 per person required to sit in the multi-plex and be safely entertained. 

Relax.  Thanks to the MPAA you run no risk of being blind-sided by an untoward bit of slang, errant body part, or stray bullet.

Thank God. 

And, like you, I of course have my own system for evaluating movies after I have seen them.

OK.  Maybe proximity of cast members to Kevin Bacon is not the strongest movie rating system.

But hey – that’s not the only reason I like “Mars Attacks!” (Rated PG-13 for sci-fi fantasy violence and brief sexuality).

Come on!  You’ve gotta love a Tim Burton concoction chock full of camp. 

“Mars Attacks!” also just happens to have a cast of dozens.  This gives the astute Six Degrees aficionado links to a cross-section of the playlists of notable actors including, among others, Michael J. Fox, Pierce Bronsan, Lucas Haas, Paul Winfield, Rod Steiger, Annette Bening, Glenn Close, Natalie Portman, Sarah Jessica Parker, and – this is key – Jack Nicholson.

If you can get to Jack Nicholson, you can get to Kevin Bacon. 

So “Mars Attacks!” is not only a fun movie.  It also delivers the critical bonus of easy access for the Six Degrees.

That’s an important way to rate a movie.

It has given me a great appreciation for ensemble casts.  And an ensemble that includes Kevin Bacon, e.g.  “Mystic River” or “JFK.”  Jackpot!

I like a good love story too.  Not a sappy one, though I did watch “The Notebook” and cry like an idiot.  But I don’t think I’ll watch it again.  It lacked key elements.

I prefer a funny love story with a supernatural edge to it, like “Ghost.”  Well worth a second and third viewing since 1990. 

“Ghost” is funny with Whoopi Goldberg’s Oscar-winning performance as a phony psychic who unwittingly becomes a real one; it has drama and tension based on betrayal and murder; and it has that incredibly sexy yet sexless Righteous Brothers’ “Unchained Melody” fully-clothed potter’s wheel love scene between Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore. 

All that and a poignant, bitter-sweet ending when Swayze makes his final choice. 

You really can’t get a love story much better than that! 

All the elements of my love story rating system are in place.  AND, you can get to Kevin Bacon in one step – via Demi Moore in “A Few Good Men.”  KB is the defense attorney for Jack Nicholson.  You’re welcome.

That’s a pretty good list of movies to see and/or see again; but none of them would pass the Swedish Bechdel Test.

Yes, brand new from Sweden…well, actually developed in 1985 by United States author Alison Bechdel, and put to use by Swedish theater operators, the Bechdel system is simple:  To pass the test with an A rating a movie must have three elements:  At least two women – who talk to each other – about something other than a man.

None of the movies already mentioned would pass.

In addition I’ve just seen some pretty great 2013 releases that won’t pass the Bechdel test either:  “Gravity,” “Captain Phillips” and “The Butler” for example.  So there is more than one way to rate a movie.

Conversely, if you’re looking for a movie with at least two men who talk to each other about something other than a woman, well, see all of the above.  In fact, see just about any movie produced in Hollywood.  Many of which are excellent. 

But Bechdel is interesting, isn’t it?  Gives you a new slant on things. 

Just sayin’.