Although I know precious little about acting, directing or producing movie films, I can't help day-dreaming about how I would run things in Hollywood if I became a movie czar like the Weinsteins, Steven Spielberg and other moguls. Here's what will happen if and when I seize power in the film industry.
• AUDIO LEVELS AND ON-SCREEN CAPTIONS. In earlier columns I've belly-ached about my not being able to easily hear the dialogue spoken in many movies. But I'll say it again: directors should keep in mind that millions of movie fans (a) do not lip read, and (b) are in the upper-level age ranges, where hearing begins to fade. I'm in that category, and I need all the help I can get. I hate it when actors mumble their lines, or when the director allows ambient sound effects or background music to interfere with the clear enunciation of the spoken words. When I'm czar, I will require that 75 percent of all films come equipped with captioning, especially if the films are produced in England or other nations where clipped speech is sometimes the accepted standard.
• REDUCED OBSCENITY. I love the freedom-of-speech amendment as much as most people, but I'm really tired of hearing the F-word and other previously-banned expressions in today's movies. The dramatic or humorous shock value of dirty words has long passed. If anything, the trend has reversed, to the point where I'm astounded and pleased when I view a film in which no nasty language occurs. When I become czar of Hollywood, I'll give big bonuses to scriptwriters and directors who produce high quality films that do not contain cesspool dialogue. Do I sound like a blue-nose throwback to some outmoded culture? If so, I plead guilty.
• FEWER RAIN SCENES. Next time you’re watching a movie in which rain is drenching the actors, ask yourself “How does the use of rainfall advance the plot or otherwise improve this film?” I've asked that question for years, and the answer has often been “In no way.” But I could be wrong. Maybe movie fans with sensibilities superior to my own can sense the dramatic subtleties of rainfall. What I sense is a director who asks himself/herself, “How can I make this film less boring? Oh, I know! I'll make it rain. Whoopee!”
• FEWER TOILET SCENES. You’ve probably noticed, during the last decade or two, how many movie scenes have taken place in public restrooms, usually men’s rooms. I'm not referring to gay men hustling one another. I'm talking about principal characters in the film exchanging significant information as they stand before the urinals – after, of course, checking the stalls to make sure no outsiders are eavesdropping. “Shall I shoot the governor as he gets out of his limousine, Charlie?” “No, Rocco, better wait until he's holding the press conference.” Charlie and Rocco then zip up, wash their hands (or maybe not) and exit the men’s room. What a cinematic achievement, not to have staged that scene in any of the dozens of other available settings.
• EXPLOSIONS. When I become czar, I plan to levy a $5 million fine on any film company that allows more than one horrific explosion in the story line. I'd guess that today half the films released to the public contain at least four scenes in which bombs or gasoline containers light up the sky, sending truck parts and body parts soaring into the atmosphere. As with rain scenes, a director’s simple (and unimaginative) solution to excess boredom in a film is often simply to set off a megaton blast. I feel the same way about car chases, especially the ones that miraculously fail to kill or seriously injure pedestrians who get in the way of the escaping culprits. Car chases do occur in real life, but they seldom resemble the movie versions. Would movie audiences really miss them? Why don't we try to find out?
• GUNS AND VIOLENCE. Every month (or so it seems) another bent-brain walks into a school with a knife or gun in his hands and wreaks havoc. Even more often, cowardly drive-by shootings bring terror to entire neighborhoods. On main streets and college campuses throughout our land, robbers and rapists ply their monstrous trades. Where do these people get their motivation to commit such crimes? One major source: TV and movies. Cop shows, flesh-eating zombies, and war films. “But that’s what the viewing public wants, isn’t it?” Maybe so, to some degree. What bothers me is that so much movie violence is just like the rain scenes – it’s unnecessary and extraneous.
When I buy up most of Hollywood's production companies that will change. I'll try to roll back the clock to the days when, instead of promiscuous savagery and oceans of gore, even the killings and other rough stuff had limitations.
Bob Driver is a former columnist for the Clearwater Sun. His email address is