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March 1997, Week 4


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Aaron Palmer <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 23 Mar 1997 18:19:18 -0500
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Before this message, I had not yet felt compelled to respond to any of the
extremely interesting and informative messages posted here.  However, Mr.
Norton's recent comment about Jerry McGuire has finally driven me to try my
This past week, my wife and I put it upon ourselves to see all five best
picture nominees before Monday.  Although, I have yet to see The English
Patient (scheduled for later today), we, coincidentally, saw Jerry McGuire
last night, and I must take offense to Norton's inquisitive quote: "How did
THAT film get on the Academy Nominee list?????"  Maybe I can help.
In what the media, in their need to label everything, has called "The Year of
the Independents", I found Jerry McGuire, the only major Hollywood
studio-produced film nominated for best picture, to be both awe-inspiring and
very encouraging for the future of cinema.  This may sound like a strong
statement, but let me explain...
After a year in which a movie like Independence Day can break box office
records, any true film buff is bound to be concerned for the future of major
motion pictures.  We've already seen Hollywood's pitiful attempts at
coat-tail riding with things like the made-for-TV flop, Asteroid and the
upcoming Men In Black. The mere fact that all but one of the five films
nominated are independently produced is certainly, then, very encouraging.
 But what I find most encouraging and exciting this year is that the one
studio-production in the group is a film that not only carries a strong and
admirable message, but also beautifully conveys that message through director
Crowe's masterful use of the medium. The theme in Jerry McGuire-- sorting out
priorities of the heart in a competitive, sometimes heartless world-- is one
to which many people, if not all, can relate.  But through subtle visuals and
the deliberate use of sound, Crowe (who I've never been too impressed with
until now) lets the audience feel the inner struggle that plagues the lead
character throughout the film.  One small example follows a frenzied scene in
which McGuire is desperately trying to recover from getting fired and losing
his clients all in one day.  The sound drops out, and we hear nothing but his
heartbeat.  Tom Cruise's acting range in this film carries off this inner
struggle sufficiently on his own, but as the heartbeat slows, we can really fe
el the character fight to gain control of himself.  In fact, this made me
aware that my own heart was beating quickly, and allowed me to calm myself.
 Although this is a very small (and perhaps somewhat bad) example of my
point, it is this kind of scene that evokes audience participation and lets
us get swept into the story.  And it is surely this kind of creative use of
the medium that justifies film as one of the greatest art forms today.
To see Jerry McGuire represent the only "studio" film up for best picture, in
my opinion is one of the more exciting things the academy has done in a long
time.  Let's just hope that Hollywood gets the message.  With a Bachelor of
Fine Arts in Film and Television Production, I'm an aspiring filmmaker myself
and (although I'm rooting for Fargo) Jerry McGuire is a perfect example of
the kind of film I plan to make someday.
Thanks for listening,
Aaron Palmer
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