Does Hollywood need to worry?

An earthquake off the coast of Taiwan in December of 2006 left much of Asia without access to most of the Internet. The damaged cables took nearly two months to repair and left millions of people looking for new ways to gather information and while away their time at work.

Being stuck behind the severed cables I brought in the first new year in a long time without Internet access. So when thinking of my favourite things of the past year, such as movies and music, I couldn’t turn to the net for more info. A few months have passed and thinking back on it, something unusual happened in 2006.

When trying to come up with a list of my three favourite movies of the year I realized that not a single Hollywood movie made my list. But this year my choice of top films weren’t even foreign films or indie flicks. The three films I watched in 2006 that left the longest lasting impact on me were movies I watched on YouTube. As you can still find all these movies online I will only briefly recap them here.

  1. Bus Uncle
    This 6 minute movie caught on video phone by a Hong Kong bus passenger gets my vote as one of the greatest films of all time. Now granted, you need to have a fairly deep understanding of Asian culture and the concept of face to enjoy this film. But more than any other film I have seen, this captures the true essence of someone trying to “save face.” The lines are hilarious, and it has a great dramatic structure, climax, and ending that couldn’t have been scripted better. It’s a truly great life story that makes me smile every time I go to Hong Kong, because no writer could ever come up with something this real and human. I love it.
  2. Michael Richards Racist Tirade
    Just like Bus Uncle, this video captures a moment of real life better than anything a writer could dream up. Coming on the heels of Mel Gibson’s racist tirade, shooting off the mouth became the topical thing for 2006. I can see that Michael was trying to be funny, up to a point anyway. Perhaps if he had a great one-liner he would have gotten away with this. But the words failed him. This is another movie I react to every time I see it. There is a woman in the audience that says “Oh, my God!” And when you hear that, you feel as if you have just witnessed the end of a man’s career in that moment. It’s a sad video to watch, but many of the truly great comedies are the ones that hurt when you laugh. A screenwriter can learn from the humanity and counterpoints of this film.
  3. Pauly Shore Gets Punched
    I know that this movie was probably staged. But it’s a great parody. This film has found a timely subject  (comedians and their big mouths) and exploited it fully. It is funny and dramatic at the same time. It also shows Pauly can act. It is a fine film for rounding out my three favourites from last year.

Online movies and videos have arrived in a big way. Does any of this mean that Hollywood needs to worry? Perhaps not just yet. But I would have to say that 2006 saw a sea of change for entertainment. I consider myself rather traditional when it comes to movies. I prefer the classics. Thanks to the above films I now turn first to the Internet for my kicks and movie entertainment. Thanks to Bus Uncle and those wily comedians, one day I may find myself saying goodbye to DVDs and the cinema.  And I will remember 2006 as the year my tastes in movies changed for good.