The age of LeBeouf

Shia LeBeouf and the fate of movies: the horror!

Shia LeBeouf and the fate of movies: the horror!

Are American movies worse than ever?

You might argue that the films of the 1890s, when any 10-second shot that didn’t set the studio on fire instantly became a cinematic masterpiece, was a less-inspired period. Fred Ott’s Sneeze? More like Fred Ott’s Snooze. But yes, The Hangover did have a sex offender pretending to jack off an infant. Advantage: modern era.

Even if Hollywood has always met a lowest-common-denominator-crap quota, I can’t think of a time when films have been more inane, juvenile, factory-processed and flat-out unwatchable. Today’s movies are test-marketed, conceived and created for small children; they used to be made for teenagers, so the regression is clear already. How far away are we from a 3-D movie entirely about dangling keys?

I don’t say all this as someone who takes the past, present and future of cinema lightly, but as someone who decided at a young age to spend his life watching and writing about films, no matter the economic infeasibility or concomitant snack butt. So that’s a lot of wasted hours if these flicks don’t start getting better.

So if nothing else, consider this a plea for sanity: Shia LeBeouf is only 23, and he’s just begun his worldwide Desecration of Things Daniel Barnes Loves Tour. He’s already ruined Indiana Jones, the Jimmy Stewart role in Rear Window (Disturbia) and Megan Fox slathered in oil (Transformers). I can only assume his upcoming roles will include Vito Corleone, Travis Bickle and Charles Foster Kane, just to twist the knife.

Of course, cinema’s scope can’t be explored in one 300-word column, so each week I’ll be looking at new releases and reissues, the local and international, and the sublime and crap-lousy.

And there will probably be a lot more stuff about Shia LeBeouf.