Saturday, January 12, 2008

Writers' block

This particular agitation started even before the transport strike in France and since then its president has even got divorced and got himself a new spouse too; but this agitation ceases to end. Yes, I am talking about the strike being undertaken by the 12000 writers of Hollywood. Their demand is, as one of the placards suggested, “fair pay for downloads” and more residuals from every DVD sold. The DVDs sales in 2007 were $17.3 billion and the writers got a measly 0.3% of this brobdignagian number in addition to the $7.2 million loss, which they incur through the digital download and ad revenue. This is an appalling scenario considering the fact that unlike the Indian movie makers the American filmmakers do emphasise a lot on a cohesive storyline.

Hyphenated directors might be an emerging trend but stand-alone writers still continue to be the lifelines of this multi-billion dollar industry. It’s hard to envisage Martin Scorsese winning the best director award at the Academy Awards without William Monahan’s gripping screenplay. The high-heeled studios are still of the opinion that the writers’ job is done the moment the movie finds a worldwide release. But the home DVD market is scaling stratospheric heights considering the fact that the DVD of every major Hollywood film is out after just one week of its release. Paid downloads of the trailers is another huge market which is under constant tapping by the cash driver movie studios.

It’s not only the movies, which are facing the brunt, but even popular sitcoms like Ugly Betty, Desperate Housewives The Office and The Jay Leno Show are repeating their previous episodes due to lack of writers. Jay Adelson, the CEO of Digg has empathised with the strike: “Considering the cost of distribution has dropped for digital streams and downloads, it should mean greater margins for the studios who control the content. Therefore, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect some greater recognition for the content creator.” Already the Golden Globe awards ceremony turned out to be a farce and Oscars are facing the same future with even the actors coming out in support for the strike.

A rapprochement, hopefully in favour of the writers’ guild, is the call of the day. Maybe System of Down were insinuating towards the writers’ situation when the lyrics of one of their track reads as follows:

You were the biggest fish out here
You should've never gone to Hollywood
You should've never trusted Hollywood
You should've never gone to Hollywood

P.S: Belated happy new year to all- how haughty of me- my readers. I actually wanted to pull off a five point someone on my journalism school. Trust me, I planned it as a bare-it-all on my j-school but sloth overpowered my senses and the revelations will have to wait for a few more months. Please wait, I promise it to be full of sleaze and vacuity (on my batchmates front).


4months,3weeks and 2days: This movie won the prestigious Palme d'Or at Cannes film festival and it transcends the emotional appeal of even Vera Drake, which deals with a similar subject- abortion. Now, that should be reason enough to watch this- for once not absued- gut-wrenching film.

Cache: Minimalist cinema always has its charm and sadly the Americans have stopped believing in them. However, people like William Haneke continue to satiate a movie buff's hunger for nihilism at its authentic best.

The Oil Crash: If a commodity is called black gold but still in a country where Starbucks costs $50 per gallon and this "priceless commodity" costs just $3 per gallon; then a documentary is very much needed to sensitise the viewer about an impending disaster and making "Hubbert's peak" a part of the lexicon.

Please refrain, if you have not yet, from watching the movie Taare Zameen Par. This is one movie which is so pretentious that you start believing that Paris Hilton is indeed into charities. Aamir made a joke out of dyslexia and why the hell couldn't he have kept the boy entirely normal and made him defy the norms rather than afflict him with a disease and then make him draw a triptych. For once i wished, if only Aamir had made a frame-by-frame adaptation of 400 blows.