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I believe a revitalized cinema must first strip away the sleek “coolness” and visual sophistication that has infected Los Angeles and…through its amplification by Hollywood stars…the world. The demoralizing pretty people on the big screen these days no longer seem to exemplify beauty, but rather seem to be a sum of parts – cute face, talent, hot abs, nice ass, confidence. Whereas something truly beautiful inspires us to live a more realized life, the current crop of Hollywood stars, starlets and films somehow leaves you feeling badly about yourself, not measuring up, as if somehow the films themselves are sending powerful coded messages that its own creators and participants are more valuable than you, sitting in the audience. While this state of affairs may’ve always been true in terms of raw financial net worth of stars vs audience members, there were periods in movie history where we felt the people on screen were “one of us (only better).” Now, there is an unconscious sense that we’ll never be like the people in the movies…and they know it.
It is a tried-and-true cliche that Hollywood values “special effects” over story. Well, I believe not only that the cliche is true, but the mindset of “special effects” has taken over the casting process and our selection of cultural icons. The modern crop of stars embodies, in a sense, the ethos of this “special effects” mentality. The stars are dazzling, monumental in scale and proportion yet deceptive, flashy and empty of content deeper than a loud “Pop.” Whatever depth of feeling they do generate is almost a spectacle, rather than an organic part of their humanity. As assuredly as something was “missing” from the Old Testament God that rained vengeance on those that didn’t worship Him, something is missing from the stars/myths of modern cinema. What is missing?
A revitalized and satisfying movie experience requires a re-evaluation of the truly important moments in a human being’s life and the most crucial aspects to being alive. I believe the amazing technical and visual sophistication of Hollywood and its ever-increasing ability to dazzle audiences is not simply a product of genius, hard work and technological advances, although all three are to be given some credit. Hollywood’s mind-blowing visual show and piecemeal-perfect stars are also a compensation for something it lacks – the ability to deliver intimacy between its characters and with its audience.
As I ready this script and experience, I want to build a film that convinces the audience – above all else – that the people in the film are experiencing real intimacy with each other. By extension, the audience should be included in that sense of intimacy and made to feel the range of scary, giddy and life-affirming emotions that comes with finding a cinema that knows your own foibles and potential, a cinema that dares to be affectionate and inclusive of the audience’s nascent hopes. Right now, the dying breed of people who truly understand intimate relationships and find the courage to live them out need to rally and create projects that preserve a sense of intimacy in all art forms. Those people may not look as pretty as Hollywood stars (indeed they probably shouldn’t) and they may not inhabit spaces that look as pretty as Hollywood locations, but they will certainly be more beautiful. And that’s what a country mired in the hopelessness of a slow-going recovery really needs. Modern Hollywood slyly celebrates the dominance of the 1% (although they paradoxically are the biggest advocates for socialism), while an Intimacy Cinema celebrates those across the income spectrum that retain the courage to live as individuals deeply connecting against all odds with other individuals. They win freedom of the need for outer approval, even at great cost to their quality of life and esteem. And yet, what they win is something that the audience intuitively feels that it can attain, too.
If we succeed in breeding new types of Intimacy Cinema stars, I promise so many rehabs won’t be needed for their offspring.
Hunter Lee Hughes is a filmmaker and actor living and working in Los Angeles and the founder of Fatelink. His current feature film Guys Reading Poems is touring film festivals and this blog is dedicated to the process of making his second feature film, “Inside-Out, Outside-In.” If you enjoy the blog, please support our team by following us on Facebook, Twitter (@Fatelink) or Instagram (@Fatelink).