People who complain about there not being any creativity in Hollywood aren't wrong, exactly. As the 2016 summer movie season comes to a close, look back at the last few months and you'll find remakes that were unnecessary, adaptations that no one asked for and sequels that nobody wanted. It's not just bad movies swept up in the lack of original ideas wave: 8 of the top 10 highest grossing films of the year so far fall into that remake/adaptation/sequel category; the other two are movies about talking animals.
So no, those film fans hoping for more original stories aren't wrong. They are, however, misguided.
Cinema is more than just what shows at your local multiplex. Right now, you're living in what has to be the golden age for movie nerds. With Amazon you can order almost anything not out of print on DVD and have it delivered do your door in less than a week. Netflix has you covered for a lot when it comes to streaming movies of all budgets/eras/languages, with other smaller services being available for some of the more niche content out there. A lot of stuff you probably want to watch that could be dubbed as obscure is up on YouTube if you're willing to spend some time searching. Simply put, you have to go out of your way to try and not have something interesting to watch.
Now, if you want creativity, well, cinema history is rich with films that are so oddball it's hard to believe someone funded their creation. But they exist, and you can watch them and wonder why you ever worried about Hollywood in the first place. Honorable Mentions:Valerie and Her Week of Wonders is like watching a movie based on someone else's half-remembered dream; you might not understand it but you might be able to find meaning in it. Having seen it multiple times, I understand what some people think it's supposed to be, but honestly it just feels like I've watched a completely confusing, but engaging film every time. Upstream Color is a movie that might have no subtext or meaning; sometimes the story of a thief, a plant that allows people to be hypnotized easily, psychic connections between humans and pigs and love is just a movie about all of those things. But it's beautifully shot and occasionally poignant in ways that describing it might not suggest. 5. Head
That someone made a Monkees movie is completely believable. While not at their peak popularity at the time of the film's release, they were still the Monkees and still had value. But what if I told you someone made a movie starring the Monkees and didn't bother to advertise that they were in the movie. That they put together a screenplay that was psychedelic, subversive and a complete mockery of everything that made the Monkees what they were. That's what Head is, almost like a Monkees movie from a completely different universe, completely self-aware about what they were and not afraid to ruffle some feathers... or at least it would have had more people actually seen it. 4. Rubber
So a movie about a tire that gains self-awareness and rolls around making people's heads explode is weird, but I can buy it as a concept that's not so weird that no one would produce it. What earns Rubber a spot on this list is that the killer tire is only part of the film; the other part is a meta-narrative about an audience watching a killer tire go about his business and commenting on it. You watch an audience watch a killer tire. Why? No reason.
3. Escape From Tomorrow
You can film a movie most anywhere these days thanks to improvements in camera technology, but Randy Moore shot a movie in places he would never have gotten permission to shoot his Lynchian horror fantasy flick: the Disney parks. Without getting caught, he and his crew managed to shoot a film right under Disney's nose, featuring much of the iconography associated with the company. Is it the best movie in the world? No, but it's more watching than many an indie horror flick I've sat through. But the audacity to shoot it the way they did is inspiring, even if it doesn't have the biting satire many seemed to hope for. 2. Hausu
There is a language of cinema. If you watch movies, you understand it even if you don't know the terminology to describe it. Nobuhiko Obayashi understands the language of cinema, but Hausu is the film that proves you don't have to play by the rules to make a movie that is entertaining on its own terms. The film has a little bit of everything: characters named after their trope, impossible flashbacks and special effects that are both cheesy and fantastic, to name just some of the weirdness on display. Also, a piano eats someone. There is nothing like Hausu, and you can experience it yourself on the big screen over at the Vintage Park Alamo Drafthouse on Friday night. 1. Enter The Void
Enter the Void is a long movie. Enter the Void is not a shy movie. It has what is maybe the most aggressive opening credits reel in film history. It will assault your senses and the camera isn't going to cut away from the things that make you uncomfortable. That's because the camera can't cut away: you watch the film the same way that the lead actor experiences the movie, from his perspective, with all the drug use, sex and horror that comes with it. Take Lady in the Lake and inject it with hallucinogens and a couple of decades worth of film evolution and you're still not in the ballpark of what Enter the Void offers. It's also the only movie I've ever seen that runs so long that getting bored in the second act is part of the point of the film.
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Cory Garcia is a Contributing Editor for the Houston Press. He once won an award for his writing, but he doesn't like to brag about it. If you're reading this sentence, odds are good it's because he wrote a concert review you don't like or he wanted to talk pro wrestling.