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Ben Kingsley Nails the Modern Movie Malaise


Oscar-winner Ben Kingsley’s script radar is far from perfect. If it was, would he have signed on to appear in “The Love Guru,””BloodRayne” or “A Sound of Thunder?”

But Kingsley is dead on when he describes how Hollywood has lost its way.

Ben KingsleyThe actor, out on the promotional circuit to talk up his latest film, “Hugo,” told an interviewer at The Huffington Post what he really fears about the changing face of Hollywood – and the movies the industry cranks out.

I think the frustration or the anxiety is being reflected by the industry itself. This year, we have “My Week With Marilyn,” we have “The Artist,” and “Hugo.” They’re all exploring the narrative tradition of film, and once that narrative tradition has faded or broken or snapped, we’re going to be hard-pressed to repair it. So our anxiety in the business is, how do we ensure that we carry on making character-driven, narrative films? That’s our job as storytellers, and if we deviate from them and go to a film that is basically a string of sensationalist effects, the thread will snap and we’ll find that people will stop going to the cinema, because people always look for the story. However disguised or sugared-over it is, they look for the story, and once the story is not there anymore, I think we’ve had it.

Even some jaded film critics, like yours truly, can be part of the problem. I gave a conditional rave to “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” because its action sequences maxed out the pleasure center in my noggin. But the story itself was far from clear-eyed, and none of the characters were so compelling I wanted to spend another two hours with them.

But in today’s cinema marketplace, “Ghost Protocol” stood out as quality entertainment. Would I have felt the same 20 years ago? What about the film’s audience?

Ticket buyers are getting used to these high-concept, high-adrenaline features, the kind where the story is often relegated to the backdrop, assuming it’s given top priority at any stage in the developmental process.

Kingsley may be a tad too eager to work these days given a few of his less than insightful project choices. But he’s absolutely right about how movies are too often letting audiences down, and how this slippery slope could lead to a serious disconnect between audience and movie product.


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