Helluloid in the Sky!

Given my obsession with 'helluloid,' my term for truly awful cinema, I am well aware of the need for bad movies. It is, after all, the bad movies that make the good movies good. Unfortunately, in between the deliriously spectacular failures and the sublime successes, there are the just plain dull. For reasons I cannot begin to unravel, these masterpieces of bland, 'dulluloid' if you prefer, all have their premiere at 30,000 feet.

Who in their right mind approved funding for a movie starring Renee Zellwegger and Harry Connick, Jr.? Two stars who are well past their use-by date; if they were once milk, they're on the way to becoming very expensive cheese. Also, does anybody really believe that wrestler John Cena has anywhere near enough charm and charisma to be the next Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson? These are the questions that I am pondering as I fly home from Cairns. Are the people who choose the movies for Qantas, members of the most heinous video library in existence? Or just one that doesn't have a "get it first or get it free" policy? In the Qantas magazine, the movies aren't really advertised as being 'new release' but some flights have an 'advance screening' of some turgid drama starring Joaquin Phoenix & Gwyneth Paltrow which I saw on David & Margaret this week.

12 Rounds, the movie starring a wrestler and that girl from that movie where that other wrestler polices a town with a piece of wood (isn't she having a stellar career), was financed by the wrestling company and directed by the guy behind such cinematic splendour as "freddy krueger 4" and "die hard 2." (Renny Harlin, once married to Geena Davis and responsible for her dreadful action films The Long Kiss Goodnight and Cutthroat Island, as well as the Stallone Cliffhanger nonsense).

I couldn't really stomach much of squinty-bint Renee romancing Harry. The fact that two of my favourite character actors, the always delightful J.K. Simmons (OZ, Juno, Burn After Reading, Spider-man) and adorable Frances Conroy (the mum from Six Feet Under), numbered among the cast couldn't sway me. Not even the fact that Harry was sporting a beard that made him look like Jack from Lost, which pushed a couple of my more base buttons, made me care. From afar, while I listened to The Veronicas' sublime pop album Hook Me Up, I could tell that the budget of the whole film, which looked suspiciously Canadian, was less than that of the budget allocated to Zellwegger's immaculate blonde bob, the ends of which were so straight they may have been trimmed using a protractor and stencil.

Talking about these dreadful films to Corinne, who has so many frequent flyer miles she may qualify for free space travel, she suggested there may be a scale for ignominius movie debuts - straight to dvd, straight to cable, and at the bottom of the rung, straight to Qantas.

Given that competing airline Virgin Blue have a raft of Foxtel channels to choose from for about $5 and Qantas' own budget service, Jetstar, will rent you a video thingy with a choice of movies, for about twice that - why does the so-called 'premium' airline insist on showing such unmitigated drivel? We live in a media-savvy age where movie hype is unrelenting, months ahead of release - if you haven't heard of the in-flight movie you're about to be subjected to, chances are it's because it opened and closed in the USA in the same 24 hour period some months earlier.

If Qantas can't get hold of a decent new release, why not admit defeat and plunder the back catalogue. Given the choice of an uninspiring and unwatchable new-release, and a classic, wouldn't you prefer the latter? Imagine if they polled the plane, asking the chicken-or-beef question; something you've never heard of with Renee Zellwegger and Harry Connick, Jr. or Pretty Woman? Some action nonsense with a wrestler you aren't familiar with or The Departed? Some films you can see seventeen times, and some you shouldn't have to put up with ever.