I found myself at the cinema last night with two contrasting observations. This past week saw the release of films from which altering circumstances fall from. The first cab off the rank was Fifty Shades Darker, the follow up to the diabolical and somewhat abysmal Fifty Shades of Grey. Now, unless you have been living under a rock for the past half decade or so, you will not only know about the film franchise, perhaps because it has been shoved down our throats but because there is a series of equally and utterly terrible books written about kinky sex and bondage. The books have somehow become international best sellers and the franchise has taken massive money at the box office despite being panned by critics.
On the other side of the, erm, fence is in fact, Fences, a most beautiful adaptation of August Wilson’s 1983 play starring two time academy award winner, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis. Fences was also directed by Washington and both lead actors give stirring performances as the story of a Pittsburgh man, set in mid century America comes to battle the demons of being a talented yet black baseball player who came along before coloured men were allowed to play the sport professionally. His resentment and anger towards a society operated by white people see him throw his anger and frustration in the direction of his loving family.
Fences is a powerful yet stunning example of modern cinema tearing at your emotions and leaving you asking many questions about the society we live in and where we came from. Fifty Shades Darker however, simply put, is complete dross. Wooden acting, no plot, no depth and zero substance.
What struck me about last night came when leaving the cinema. You see, both Fences and Fifty Shades ended at the same time so both cinemas emptied at the same time. Around 15 people had seen Denzel Washington win possibly his second academy award following his portrayal of Troy Maxson. The crowd departing the scene of the crime in the adjacent and much larger cinema had witnessed everything that is wrong with modern cinema, Fifty Shades Darker. There would have been well over 150 pouring out of that screening. Think about it. That’s 150 people brainwashed by large corporations and a franchise chain thinking a film as dire as Fifty Shades can actually warrant oneself parting with hard earned cash.
Like it’s predecessor, Fifty Shades Darker has been torn apart by film critics whilst Fences has been lauded as one of the best releases of the year. So why does a film like Fences fail to attract the same level of interest on a Friday night as a dire production like Fifty Shades Darker? Simply put, it’s all part of the building up of our robotic and brainwashed society. For the best part, we are told what to think, when to be outraged, when to laugh, when to cry and sadly, our society can’t even see a film at the cinema based purely on merit. It’s part of people wanting to fit in and belong. People wanting to be seen as doing what everyone else is doing. After all, who wants to stand out from the crowd right?
The sad reality is this. Astonishing films like Fences will continue to attract much smaller crowds than absurd cinematic cash ins driven by the likes of Fifty Shades because our modern society, more than ever, don’t want to be challenged. They want everything to be simple, easy and most of all, they crave to belong, to fit in and be part of the crowd. Why you would want that from life I have no idea?
Fifty Shades Darker? Fifty Shades of Utter Shite more like it! Don’t fit in this weekend, stand out from the crowd and open your mind. If you miss out on seeing Fences, your are missing one of the most culturally significant films of our generation.