I see fewer movies than ever in theaters. I’ve come to regard it as showing greater respect for a film to go through the hassle and expense of seeing it at a theater as opposed to seeing it on satellite or DVD.
It’s not that I don’t enjoy seeing films in theaters, I do, I just feel that too often I’m just encouraging McDonald’s to increase the amount of cereal in their “burgers” if I keep buying them at all or at full price.
In the old days, there was a more unified audience for films. Today, audiences are fractured into single-serving demographic packages.
Tyler Perry serves one demographic, Twilight movies serve another demographic, there are the “old guy buddy movies”, the “chick flicks”, Judd Apatow “nerds-get-hot-girls” bro-medies, etc.
Studios are run by corporate execs just as American Pork and Sausage Inc. is. And they both like assembly lines and product that tastes familiar and consistent.
Where are the great films?
There are good films that somehow get made despite the corporate and star obstacle course but great films…not so much anymore.
It shouldn’t be surprising that films that appeal to the lowest common denominator and are the least intellectual and emotionally challenging are the most popular and make the most money.
The biggest moneymaker to date this year? Transformers 2, the Sarah Palin of movies. Flashy, superficial and wholly empty headed.
In fact, this summer, you had a choice between which movie based on a children’s toy you could choose to see (“Hmm…I did like playing with my Transformers but G.I. Joe’s Kung Fu Grip was cool!).
So, what shall it be this holiday season, movies based on toys, comic books, video games, pop culture books, old tv shows or older and better done movies?
The indie filmmaking community is now the only oasis for truly original and inspired storytelling and they’ve been hammered badly by the economy (scarce equity available now) and the changing film distribution business.
The corporate thinking of better technology being better for business has been smothering the humanity in filmmaking. There are now films, including the top grossing film of the year, which are only made to display animated computer graphics. Storytelling and humans just get in the way of using digital cartoons to cynically separate moviegoers from the money in their wallets.
I do like some movies that are mindless fun however, like desserts, on occasion. A diet of all desserts can make one addicted to and crave only sweet, empty calories.
From my perspective, that’s what most entertainment has been distilled down to in this era of corporate owned media (news for that matter as well), what used to be a sumptuous meal is now just the insubstantial instant gratification and lure of Double Stuff Oreos for the main course at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The Internet age has raised the hopes of indie filmmakers that somehow it could result in creating an alternative path to making and distributing their films that doesn’t go through the narrow-minded corporate powers that be.
Until or unless this ever happens in a meaningful way, and like me, you want to support indie filmmaking, see them, rent them, go to film festivals and get the word out to friends if you see a really good one.
Now, as a reminder of the way things were and the way they are, here’s a select list of films from the last golden age of film, the 1970’s, when filmmakers had a lot more freedom to make films they were passionate about making.
Compare this list to this year’s crop of films…and please note how many of the following films were not inspired by Hasbro:
1. The Godfather – (1972)
2. The Godfather part II – (1974)
3. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – (1975)
4. Apocalypse Now – (1979)
5. Chinatown – (1974)
6. A Clockwork Orange – (1971)
7. Star Wars – (1977)
8. Jaws – (1975)
9. Taxi Driver – (1976)
10. The Deer Hunter – (1978)
11. Annie Hall – (1977)
12. Network – (1976)
13. Rocky – (1976)
14. Patton – (1970)
15. Heaven Can Wait – (1978)
16. M*A*S*H – (1970)
17. The Exorcist – (1973)
18. American Graffiti – (1973)
19. The French Connection – (1971)
20. Mean Streets – (1973)
21. Midnight Express – (1978)
22. Blazing Saddles – (1974)
23. Being There – (1979)
24. Monty Python and the Holy Grail – (1974)
25. Lenny – (1974)
26. Serpico – (1973)
27. The Man Who Would Be King – (1975)
28. Deliverance – (1972)
29. Barry Lyndon – (1975)
30. National Lampoon’s Animal House – (1978)
31. Alien – (1979)
32. The Candidate – (1972)
33. Dog Day Afternoon – (1975)
34. Five Easy Pieces – (1970)
35. The Last Picture Show – (1971)
36. Nashville – (1975)
37. All That Jazz – (1979)
38. Bound for Glory – (1976)
39. Saturday Night Fever – (1977)
40. Manhattan – (1979)
41. All the President’s Men – (1976)
42. Dirty Harry – (1971)
43. Cabaret – (1972)
44. Bananas – (1971)
45. Carrie – (1976)
46. Day for Night – (1973)
47. Amarcord – (1973)
48. Sleeper – (1973)
49. Shampoo – (1975)
50. The Last Detail – (1973)