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Highway to the danger zone
February 20, 2011 5:22 AM   Subscribe

So here's what's on tap two summers from now: an adaptation of a comic book. A reboot of an adaptation of a comic book. A sequel to a sequel to an adaptation of a comic book. A sequel to a reboot of an adaptation of a TV show. A sequel to a sequel to a reboot of an adaptation of a comic book. A sequel to a cartoon. A sequel to a sequel to a cartoon. A sequel to a sequel to a sequel to a cartoon. A sequel to a sequel to a sequel to a sequel to a movie based on a young-adult novel. And soon after: Stretch Armstrong. How did Hollywood get here? There's no overarching theory, no readily identifiable villain, no single moment to which the current combination of caution, despair, and underachievement that defines studio thinking can be traced. But let's pick one anyway: Top Gun.

The Day the Movies Died. (via)
posted by Horace Rumpole (146 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
I'm not really sure I understand the problem with comic book/book adaptations. Obviously simulacrum remakes are kind of annoying, but why should it be taken as a given that 'Hollywood' writers are somehow better then novelists or comic book writers?
posted by delmoi at 5:29 AM on February 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


Two of last years best flops were comicbook movies. But mostly in hollywood a comic is just a hook to hang something dull and lifeless and Iron Man 2 like on. Something risk free.

But if you really want to delve into why movies suck you want to read this.
posted by Artw at 5:35 AM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


We will know the end times are upon us when they announce a Lego Star Wars movie.
posted by fleetmouse at 5:37 AM on February 20, 2011 [12 favorites]


Obviously simulacrum remakes are kind of annoying, but why should it be taken as a given that 'Hollywood' writers are somehow better then novelists or comic book writers?

I agree with you, but most people operate on the assumption that comic books are kid stuff, and therefore beneath them.
posted by Fleebnork at 5:38 AM on February 20, 2011


Obviously simulacrum remakes are kind of annoying, but why should it be taken as a given that 'Hollywood' writers are somehow better then novelists or comic book writers?

I don't think Harris has a problem with adaptations so much as he has a problem with virtually every movie coming out of major studios being an adaptation, sequel or something else with a franchise safety net beneath it. This line about the unlikely production of Inception is the money quote: "Movies that need to be exceptional to succeed are bad business."
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 5:42 AM on February 20, 2011 [9 favorites]


I don't see this as a bad thing. I'm probably part of the problem but as much as I love 'real' movies I also love that every single comic book is being adapted. I saw Ghost Rider and Catwoman on TV and actually enjoyed them. They're not great films, but real money was spent to give me a Ghost Rider who looks like the one from the comics. How cool is that? I was watching Smallville tonight and, as horrible as it is, they were making Legion of Superheros jokes in prime time!

Inception was okay but the most fun movie of the year was Scott Pilgrilm. Would that have happened in a more 'mature' film making climate?

Besides, this has always been going on. Aussie TV runs very old movies late at night and for every Casablanca or The thing From Another World you get a million bad dramas, comedies starring people who weren't funny and films about whatever the latest dance craze was. Same with the Sunday afternoon Westerns. For every Rio Bravo there's a piece of uninspired crap. Hell audiences in the 30s got several hours of boring Batman sequels. I bet they'd prefer Green Lantern to that

It's not that i prefer modern movies. My favorite actor is Robert Mitchum. But I'm sick of articles attacking movies before they come out. I bet before Hellboy was released they were mocking 'the stupid comic book movie from the director of Mimic'.

I saw the original trailer for Night of the Hunter. It was mostly about how faithfully it adapted the book it was based on
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:44 AM on February 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


So here's what's on tap two summers from now:

Another Metafilter thread about how awful Hollywood is.

Yes, on a website in the 21st century, in a medium that is overflowing with stories, let alone movies, people will still be spending their time bitching about Hollywood movies. Look, if it's such crap, then don't go. Or don't go see Transformers 3 or whatever. There's usually several other movies at the theatre. Baring them, rent a DVD or get a Netflix streaming account. There is zero reason a person should be worrying this subject when there's so many unwatched movies just to be had and hell, it's even legal!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 5:47 AM on February 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Frankly, a lot of comic books are kid stuff. They present a manichean world in black and white where there are heroes and villains. Where most problems can be solved by defeating an evil person/entity. Where the hero can disregard all laws of his society in order to defeat a greater villain.
posted by Omon Ra at 5:48 AM on February 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


Right now, we can argue that any system that allows David Fincher to plumb the invention of Facebook and the Coen brothers to visit the old West that lets us spend the holidays gorging on new work by Darren Aronofsky and David O. Russell, has got to mean that American filmmaking is in reasonably good health.


Movie based on a website. Remake
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:48 AM on February 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


Frankly, a lot of comic books are kid stuff. They present a manichean world in black and white where there are heroes and villains. Where most problems can be solved by defeating an evil person/entity. Where the hero can disregard all laws of his society in order to defeat a greater villain.

Wow, thanks for noticing that! If only the comic book authors themselves would notice it. Then perhaps they'd write deconstructions of that mindset and those deconstructions would be adapted both as 'serious' superhero films and as well done superhero films for kids! It would be even better if the highest grossing superhero film in recent memory dealt with that in detail, both in the movie itself and the closing voiceover.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:51 AM on February 20, 2011 [14 favorites]


Look, if it's such crap, then don't go.

Yes. This is what happens. I used love going to the movies and I don't go anymore. I'n cities that are not New York or Los Angeles or London, the only movies you can see are animated fantasy for kids sold to adults. The problem is not that they are making a lot superhero movies or bad movies (if they want to make them fine) the problem is that one kind of film is dominating and squeezing out all other films out of movie screens.
posted by Omon Ra at 5:51 AM on February 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


I know it's fun to throw out doom and gloom, and to look down on comic book films, but what about the absolute embarrassment of riches at director? The Coens, del Toro, Fincher, Aronofsky, Bird, Jonze, and Nolan, let alone the absurd number of consumate directors still making movies, like Coppola, like Eastwood, and hell, even Affleck is stepping up, though supposedly Soderbergh is quitting.

These directors, and several others, they make (with rare exception) excellent films. Yes, there is a lot of crap out there, but there always was, and there always will be. Lovecraft in Brooklyn is right to point out how many shit movies there were in the past. There will be shit movies in future (Avatar 2 and 3, I'm looking at you), but there will also be stunning works of imagination and wonder.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:51 AM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


There are numerous good movies running around like Ink, Let the Right One In, Inception, District 9, Law Abiding Citizen, etc., even a nice adaptation of A Shadow Over Innsmouth. Just don't head down the Frito-Lay isle when you want gourmet.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:52 AM on February 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


We will know the end times are upon us when they announce a Lego Star Wars movie.

I would totally go see that, and I've been to two movies in the last two years.
posted by mbd1mbd1 at 5:54 AM on February 20, 2011 [11 favorites]


Hollywood makes movies that will make money.

Where is the surprise here?

And, if we want wanted content in media not based on corporate greed we have had NPR/PBS.
posted by tomswift at 5:54 AM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not really sure I understand the problem with comic book/book adaptations. Obviously simulacrum remakes are kind of annoying, but why should it be taken as a given that 'Hollywood' writers are somehow better then novelists or comic book writers?
posted by delmoi at 8:29 AM on February 20 [2 favorites +] [!]


Why don't you just read the article? The author doesn't have a problem with comic book/book adaptations per se. As he says on page three:

"We can all acknowledge that the world of American movies is an infinitely richer place because of Pixar and that the very best comic-book movies, from Iron Man to The Dark Knight, are pretty terrific, but the degree to which children's genres have colonized the entire movie industry goes beyond overkill."

Its not that comic book adaptations are bad, its that they are generally representative of the fact that Hollywood is zeroed in on the under-25 male demographic, and thus terrified of anything that is not already a "brand" in some way. So even the Hollywood writers who want to make slightly more highbrow fare are being frozen out by films that are "pre-sold," because they piggyback on a comic book, young adult novel, toy, or theme park ride that under-25 males are already familiar with.
posted by googly at 5:56 AM on February 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


Right, Batman, Lovecraft. And the movie ends how? by defeating the villain right? Sure, Batman is more nuanced than say Transformers or Ironman, but it's the rare exception.

I don't think movies are dying. Brilliant movies are still being made. But they don't reach the cinema.

And as nice as my tv is, my favorite film experiences have all been at a theater, watching a film with strangers.
posted by Omon Ra at 5:57 AM on February 20, 2011


I don't think Harris has a problem with adaptations so much as he has a problem with virtually every movie coming out of major studios being an adaptation, sequel or something else with a franchise safety net beneath it. This line about the unlikely production of Inception is the money quote: "Movies that need to be exceptional to succeed are bad business."

I don't think it's totally dire -- I mean, my Netflix queue is full of amazing movies, many from the US, and none of which are based on comic books -- but there is truth to this. Mainstream Hollywood has become really risk averse and is intensively targeting demographics that are very much not not my own. It's disappointing in some ways, but as long as there are other distribution networks (eg Netflix, art house theaters in big cities, etc) for people like me to see other kinds of movies, I'm not going to complain too loudly.

And those crappy comic book adaptations make a lot of people happy, which isn't a bad thing. Not everyone wants to see a movie like Antichrist every weekend; mostly people want happy and fun escapism, or perhaps something that is slightly "dark" in that fun and mainstream kind of way. Those are great things, and that predates Top Gun by many, many decades.
posted by Forktine at 5:57 AM on February 20, 2011


The author is simply wrong, wrong, wrong. He clearly wrote the lead on the way to the ballpark.

Of the ten 2011 Best Picture nominees, only one is a sequel, and a sequel to an original story to boot. About half are adaptations (None are comic books) including one remake that he praises. Black Swan, The Kids Are All Right ... Dude, just shut up.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:59 AM on February 20, 2011


most people operate on the assumption that comic books are kid stuff, and therefore beneath them.

Most people are douchebags. Kid stuff is awesome.
posted by NoraReed at 5:59 AM on February 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


He is talking about a certain type of movie and claiming this represents all movies. Summer(-ish) popcorn movies suck, yes. They are, almost without exception, stupid property-driven gamble-less crap. You'll get no argument from me. In fact, they're so bad that when one comes along that is even moderately better than normal, such as The Dark Knight or Inception, people demand it be given a Fields Medal for Movies because it's so amazingly incredible and everyone involved should be awarded special Triple-Oscars for bringing this eighth wonder of the world to life.

The blame for this does not rest on the shoulders of Hollywood or critics but on the audiences that reward brainless bar-lowering and in fact boast about it. How many people say, every Monday, things like, "it was just dumb popcorn fun" or "not every movie has to be Citizen Kane" or "it was better than I thought it would be" or other lines that rationalize why they paid go go see crap they knew damn well in advance was crap? How many people proudly declare that they want to see these things on opening weekends, without reading any reviews, so that critics who don't know anything won't spoil the magical wonders therein?

Why on Earth should anyone be working to craft beautiful intricate aces when the Three of Crap will take the trick? It's a business, and if your market is willing to eat swill, you'd be a fool to waste time and money on even a nice casserole, much less filet mignon?
posted by Legomancer at 6:00 AM on February 20, 2011 [13 favorites]


This guys seems like a whiner, complaining that people won't drop MILLIONS of dollars to produce ART, with a capital A, R and T. The fact is that people are just going to the movies less often then they used too, because of high quality televisions. Sophisticated people are watching Mad Men and The Wire instead of going to the cineplex and people are only going out to see Stuff For Kids You Can See As A Family Outing and Stuff You're Familiar With in 3D.

Oh well. Times Change. Get over it, grampa.

posted by delmoi at 6:07 AM on February 20, 2011


Inception was okay but the most fun movie of the year was Scott Pilgrilm. Would that have happened in a more 'mature' film making climate?

I love Scott Pilgrim, too, but the problem is, Scott Pilgrim IS the new "mature." As far as I can tell, the main consensus is that the movie failed to make money because it was just...um...not...stupid...enough. This, of course, is a criticism of the audience as much or more than it is a criticism of what's coming out of Hollywood now.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:12 AM on February 20, 2011 [7 favorites]


And those crappy comic book adaptations make a lot of people happy, which isn't a bad thing. Not everyone wants to see a movie like Antichrist every weekend

That's kind of the extreme end of the spectrum isn't it? I don't think the argument is for art movies vs popcorn movies. The argument is for adult entertainment (dramas, smart comedies) vs juvenile movies (good vs evil conflicts, scatological jokes).
posted by Omon Ra at 6:15 AM on February 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


I am getting really sick of seeing "ADD-addled" used as short hand for "stupid people with shitty taste."
posted by TrialByMedia at 6:16 AM on February 20, 2011 [17 favorites]


I thought it was the hipster backlash that killed SP.

What do I know though, I thought Machete was the best movie of the year.
posted by rosswald at 6:16 AM on February 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Right, Batman, Lovecraft. And the movie ends how? by defeating the villain right? Sure, Batman is more nuanced than say Transformers or Ironman, but it's the rare exception.

with what happened to Rachel and Harvey could you say he 'won'? By being on the run? Hell Iron Man has some pretty weird attitudes to the military industrial complex. "Batman, Lovecraft" is a nice combination, though. Best version IMHO is an unpublished story that imagines Plastic Man in Lovecraftian terms

anyway, movies aren't the art form of the 21st century. Video games are. I wish I could convince myself that True Grit was a more satisfying Western than Red Dead Redemption, but I can't. Cheesy popcorn movies can't compete with video games on thrills. I don't watch many movies anymore and its partly because very few action movies can compete with wading in there in Halo/Devil May Cry/whatever and doing it yourself.
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:17 AM on February 20, 2011


They present a manichean world in black and white where there are heroes and villains. Where most problems can be solved by defeating an evil person/entity. Where the hero can disregard all laws of his society in order to defeat a greater villain.

Do we really need to turn this into another LOLXTIANS post?
posted by fleetmouse at 6:20 AM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


You're right, Lovecraft. On Batman, I concede the point.
posted by Omon Ra at 6:21 AM on February 20, 2011


I love Scott Pilgrim, too, but the problem is, Scott Pilgrim IS the new "mature." As far as I can tell, the main consensus is that the movie failed to make money because it was just...um...not...stupid...enough.

i thought it was partly hipster backlash. My friends and I love it because we either are hipsters or spend all our time around hipsters. Part of it was also that the same people thought Speed Racer was 'too confusing' (it wasn't) didn't go.

And I hate how Inception is held up as such an amazing movie. The metaphysics and sci-fi was boring and the action was dull, dull, dull. Either give me a smart sci-fi movie or give me insane dream combat with weapons coming out of nowhere and gravity switching (they got that bit) and people morphing into strange forms....

Look, I'm not arguing everything has to be stupid. But this kind of story has always been with us. Adapt Beowulf or The Odyssey and you get... summer blockbusters
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:22 AM on February 20, 2011


What do I know though, I thought Machete was the best movie of the year.

On that, I think, we are all agreed.
posted by Artw at 6:22 AM on February 20, 2011


anyway, movies aren't the art form of the 21st century. Video games are.

This is a little like saying, "Rock is dead, it's all about mime and street theater now." These forms have things in common, but one can't replace the other, because they do different things. I'm kind of hoping this doesn't turn into a conversation about video games -- again -- because it's a derail and, frankly, less interesting, at least to me.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:22 AM on February 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


What do I know though, I thought Machete was the best movie of the year.

If I were confident that the death of the American cinema would look more like the glorious weekend in which I saw first Machete and then Piranha 3D, I would not worry.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:27 AM on February 20, 2011


What do I know though, I thought Machete was the best movie of the year.

Hollywood needs to make more films starring Danny Trejo.

Just sayin'.
posted by bwg at 6:29 AM on February 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


The trend towards 'mindless popcorn flicks' started with Star Wars, not Top Gun.
posted by empath at 6:32 AM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is a little like saying, "Rock is dead, it's all about mime and street theater now." These forms have things in common, but one can't replace the other, because they do different things.

Depends on the movie. Maybe games will end up killing dumb action movies and leave only dramas and comedies. It's not happening now, but an action movie tries to do with a video game does effortlessly. Meanwhile, maybe 1% of games have story and dialogue approaching a medicore movie

and Artw, i wish Machete had lived up to its potential. it had way too many characters and not enough pure action
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:33 AM on February 20, 2011


What do I know though, I thought Machete was the best movie of the year.

Irony is the enemy.
posted by rain at 6:33 AM on February 20, 2011


Jaws and Indiana Jones usually get a mention. All rightly regarded as classics now, of course - though I'm not sure that negates any arguments about the horrors they've spawned.
posted by Artw at 6:35 AM on February 20, 2011


Honestly, this is just Sturgeon's Law in action. Every year has it's terrible movies, its mediocre movies, and it's excellent movies. The fact that a bunch of bad movies have been coming out recently isn't necessarily evidence that the quality of Hollywood filmmaking in general is falling off.

And even if it is, so what? Cameras and computers have never been this easy to come by. There are a lot of talented folks out there who out there just making stuff and putting it on the internet. To me, that's kind of thrilling; the less that storytellers have to rely on multimillion dollar budgets, the better stories will be, because they don't have to compromise to meet the demands of the studios the author finds to be so timid and artless.

There will be a lot of crappy independent movies put out there, but 90% of everything is crap. It's the 10% that's going to be interesting.
posted by JDHarper at 6:35 AM on February 20, 2011


What do I know though, I thought Machete was the best movie of the year.

It was.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 6:41 AM on February 20, 2011


How odd. I just read a virtually identical piece in today's (UK, paywalled) Sunday Times culture section. Perhaps the piece I read was a "remake" of this one.
posted by rhymer at 6:42 AM on February 20, 2011


JDHarper, I'd argue that movies are no worse (and might be even better) than what they were in the seventies. I can download almost anything from any part of the world. But it was nice and sort of healthy for the general culture to get a whiff of something that wasn't just pure escapism once in a while, in a public place.
posted by Omon Ra at 6:44 AM on February 20, 2011


I've felt, in recent years, like Hollywood and I have fallen into parallel realities. When I look at the slate of releases, I don't see merely bad movies; I see things that I can't even comprehend are movies at all. A second Alvin and the Chipmunks? A third Big Momma's House? These aren't movies; they're cheap and obvious punchlines to tired old jokes about intellectual bankruptcy. I think the first time I felt this way was when I saw a bus poster that proclaimed "Tim Allen is... Joe Somebody." I said, "That's not a real movie. That's a fake poster for a fake movie that you'd see in a real movie."

Either I'm getting old, or the machine overminds that control our illusory existence just aren't even trying anymore.
posted by Faint of Butt at 6:45 AM on February 20, 2011 [41 favorites]


Snob is snobby.
posted by callmejay at 6:46 AM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't know how this article got written without talking about cable. There's a reason why a lot of creative types (actors and directors) are working on shows for HBO and Showtime and AMC and so on when the same people wouldn't have touched TV in the 80s and 90s. The marketing constraints are simpler, which is to say things have time to find an audience. If it doesn't catch on the first week, people can watch it the second week, which gives them the time to do something a smidge more interesting along with the gratuitous T&A and/or violence.

This is where the market for old folks (over 30) has gone: it's just left the movies completely.
posted by immlass at 6:52 AM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


(Oh, and I love gratuitiously dumb and violent comic book movies, adored Inception even as I acknowledge its flaws, and admit the cable series I like are pretty cheesy for the most part. But my Netflix queue keeps filling up with cable series, because they're slightly more sophisticated cheese.)
posted by immlass at 6:54 AM on February 20, 2011


I don't know how this article got written without talking about cable.

This article was not written without talking about cable, but there are four not immediately obvious pages of this article.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 6:54 AM on February 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've felt, in recent years, like Hollywood and I have fallen into parallel realities.

its very late here, so they're showing very old movies. what cinematic classic is on ABC (our PBS)? why it's the beloved 'Ladies Day' from 1943. Plot: 'A star baseball player has trouble on the mound as he is distracted by thoughts of his new wife. The other players' wives plan to kidnap her'.

there's always crap. there was a series of Blondie movies. 2 hour films with titles like 'Twist around the World'. etc
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:55 AM on February 20, 2011


I just ask that I play myself in the Metafilter movie.
posted by The Whelk at 6:59 AM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


This article was not written without talking about cable, but there are four not immediately obvious pages of this article.

Then Reader failed me, possibly because my router went down in the middle of reading the article.
posted by immlass at 7:04 AM on February 20, 2011


This article at least made me feel young and loved. At least Hollywood marketers want me!
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:05 AM on February 20, 2011


and Artw, i wish Machete had lived up to its potential. it had way too many characters and not enough pure action

Come on. The whole point of Machete was to emulate a 70s B movie. Back then you couldn't do 2hrs of action because you didn't have the budget. You had to do character development. Starwars is the same way. It's mostly about building tension and a few action scenes. If you do pure action, you end up with Transformers where there's nothing but action on the screen and the audience gets bored. Machete was great.
posted by delmoi at 7:05 AM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sturgeon's Law is in full force. There are so, so, so, so many horrible old movies out there. Terrible franchises. Awful family films. Awful horror movies. Drab dramas. Hopeless independent movies with no discernible audience or point. Herman's Hermits Go To Space type movies.

It is harder than ever to fund and distribute independent movies with budgets above what is strictly necessary for mumblecore. There need to be better financial structures in place to help fund these projects. The lack of a non-Hollywood film industry in America is a crime against American culture. How will the next David Lynch or Coen Bros. launch him/herself? I'm reminded of David Cronenberg's remarks about how grateful he was for the Canadian state funding of his films. There's no way someone that original and bizarre would have survived on his own in Hollywood.

Myself, I don't weep for the "movies for adults" so much as I weep for future cult movies. Entertainment doesn't have to be garbage - as a matter of fact, it's often better and more interesting than "art." As an American, it's sad for me to see how much better many foreign films are at combining original visions with an unabashed desire to create exciting, entertaining movies - check the trailer for I See The Devil. What American trailer looks like that, like a combination of a good-guy-versus-bad-guy revenge movie and something completely slick and different?
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:09 AM on February 20, 2011


Lovecraft in Brooklyn:

"there's always crap."

Yes. In the 1980s, the role of comic book films was played by cheesy action films starring very large men. In the 1970s, it was played by disaster films. In the 1950s, it was played by historical epics. Etc and so on and so forth.

In the 1980s Pauline Kael released a book called The State of the Art, the primary kvetch of which was that technology and spectacle was crowding out storytelling and grown-up themes, and of course she wasn't the first to kvetch about that, either.

It's not to say that the writer is not correct that Hollywood is over-reliant on sequels, remakes and such. I would agree. It is to say really none of this is new. The 1954 version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea is a remake of the 1916 version. The 1931 version of Frankenstein is a remake of the 1910 version. Hollywood has always been in the business of spectacle and sequel, because it's good commerce to blow people's minds, and then blow them again in more or less the same fashion a year or so later.
posted by jscalzi at 7:13 AM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


The whole point of Machete was to emulate a 70s B movie.

Which makes it an odd choice as counterexample to an argument that Hollywood is recycling too much.
posted by Joe Beese at 7:15 AM on February 20, 2011


I saw three movies yesterday. One was great and fun (Cedar Rapids), one was dumb and fun (the Grease Sing-Along), and one was stupid, not at all fun, and horribly made (Unknown). The one that was packed to the edges of the theater and turning people away was the one that was stupid, not fun, and horribly made. It was really frustrating, I have to admit.

I agree that if you consider watching on your computer to be the equivalent of watching in a theater (which some people do, but I don't), then this is far less of a problem, because yes, you can theoretically watch whatever you want on your laptop. But if you're talking about what's in theaters that are available to a lot of people, I have to say that I think he has a point. And as he says, pointing to the ten Best Picture nominees is very misleading; what are you supposed to watch the other eleven months of the year?

He's really not a snob, I don't think -- he talks about how great The Dark Knight and Iron Man are. I think what he's arguing is that one kind of movie that one segment of the audience wants to see is increasingly crowding out all the other kinds of movies that anyone else might want to see, and it kind of looks that way to me, too. (And I've written about how much I loved Scott Pilgrim, so I have nothing against comic book movies or movies about young dudes.)

I think he touches on a lot of things here, from the horrible public behavior that's keeping people out of theaters to the dominance of marketers in deciding what can be made, and I think focusing solely on half of what he says about comic book movies is a little unfair.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 7:16 AM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


This article at least made me feel young and loved.

Enjoy it while it lasts, you little trophy wife, you; at the rate things are headed, I predict that before long the new "old" will begin somewhere around a person's seventeenth birthday.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:19 AM on February 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


Herman's Hermits Go To Space type movies

i want to see this

but yeah I think the fact that i so enthuastically disagreed after reading the first page of the article proves this guy's point. i'm happy with the way things are because Hollywood is directed at me (though it's my last year in the demographic). and oddly enough even i barely go to movies

one point not being made is that the big spectacle movies are often the only ones worth seeing in the theatre. it's not that i prefer Pirhana 3D or Iron Man to The Social Network. it's that i won't lose much by seeing The Social Network on my TV. seeing Iron Man or Pirhana on a laptop just misses the pint
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 7:23 AM on February 20, 2011


Excellent article, thank you for this!
posted by Enigmark at 7:26 AM on February 20, 2011


It's that i won't lose much by seeing The Social Network on my TV

Lovecraft, that's because a lot of movies are shot for tv viewing. It's a fault of the director. I watched Polanski's Repulsion and Rosemary's Baby on the American Cinematheque a few weeks ago and they seemed designed for a huge screen even though they are somewhat human-scaled stories.
posted by Omon Ra at 7:29 AM on February 20, 2011


If there isn't going to be state funding for feature films, then there needs to be a new business model for making money off of modestly-budgeted films. As it stands, they are almost all gambles. It is difficult to earn even five million dollars back. For every miracle like Winter's Bone, there are dozens upon dozens of feature films dying like a fish on a dock.

I'm not big on mumblecore as a movement (although I did love Harmony and Me), but one reason why it flourishes is the fact that those are the movies you can make on a true microbudget, outside of Evil Dead-type movies made by very devoted genre fans who are willing to stay up making the damn thing for two weeks straight and with no real pay. There are exceptions like Brick, but they are exceptions.

Problems like how to rejuvenate independent filmmaking as a business idea (or even as a charity idea) are the sort of thing that make me go crazy (or at least crazier than I already am).

Herman's Hermits Go To Space type movies

i want to see this


Enjoy.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:32 AM on February 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


Having just seen Enter The Void (no spoilers; epilepsy warning), I do not feel disheartened about the potential for making unusual movies outside the mainstream Hollywood system.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:41 AM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Lovecraft, that's because a lot of movies are shot for tv viewing. It's a fault of the director.

Maybe so, but it's not a fault of David Fincher's on The Social Network. Here's much more about the way the movie was filmed than most normal people could ever care about. Suffice it to say, The Social Network was filmed 2.40:1 (!), which is a big picture compared to a TV show, and bigger than most letterboxed TV shows. It seems like a movie you can watch on your TV/laptop/telephone and not lose much because there are no 'splosions, but actually what you're probably missing is a lot of crisp detail of real world things, as opposed to the cartooning that comprises most SFX anymore, and which could quite honestly be rescaled to fit your smaller screening device much, much more easily.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 7:42 AM on February 20, 2011


Having just seen Enter The Void (no spoilers; epilepsy warning), I do not feel disheartened about the potential for making unusual movies outside the mainstream Hollywood system.

I really want to see Enter the Void, but it's not an American movie, nor is it the best example of people being fully able to make great, weird movies. It's a French movie that took over a decade to find the funding for, with Irreversible made in the interim when no one would touch Enter the Void. (Don't ask me why Irreversible was easier to fund than Enter the Void!)

All this for an exciting, original movie by a known provocateur with a budget below $20 million.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:48 AM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I just checked for a movie to go see today. I observe that the #3 grosser for this weekend is an animated comedy starring garden gnomes based on Romeo & Juliet.

A comedy based on Romeo & Juliet.

An animated comedy.

starring garden gnomes.

Seriously people, if this were the fake movie on a poster in the background of a real movie I would call foul for ruining the suspension of disbelief.
posted by localroger at 7:51 AM on February 20, 2011 [14 favorites]


I remember reading another article recently how next year will be a record year for non-original properties, remakes, sequals etc comign out of Hollywood and being depressed then. I can only see it getting worse... with the death of the intelligent film apart from a few Oscar baiters that get pushed out by the studios to try and prove they are still in the business of making something approaching art. The Town isn't a bad film as crime dramas go... but if this is supposed to be the high water mark for it's like... well it just don't compare with say something like Heat or The French Connection

We've got the same utterly risk averse culture in UK television now... where you used to get intelligent dramas it's all mush now. At least there's HBO imports (and Rupert Murdoch seems to be buying up those)
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:55 AM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


A comedy based on Romeo & Juliet.

An animated comedy.

starring garden gnomes.


Hey it's got a sound track by Elton John! And SPOILER they changed the totally downer ending... ka-ching!
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 7:56 AM on February 20, 2011


kittens, I wasn't really talking about aspect ratios. It might be something way too subjective to prove, but I felt Zodiac was a lot more "film-like" than The Social Network. Visually the former just felt bigger, more expansive than the latter, and they were both shot in the same ratio. It's not a question of intimate dramas vs action films. To my eye a lot of modern films look a bit weightless, as if they were made by people who have only seen images on tv.

Having said that, I think Fincher is probably one of the most gifted visual directors working today, so that's not really his problem.
posted by Omon Ra at 7:57 AM on February 20, 2011


Not to derail, but I'd love to have a movie marquis font like the jpeg image a the top of the article.
posted by Obscure Reference at 7:58 AM on February 20, 2011


A comedy based on Romeo & Juliet.

An animated comedy.

starring garden gnomes.

Released in 2,994 screens.
posted by Omon Ra at 8:00 AM on February 20, 2011


Most people are douchebags. Kid stuff is awesome.

Your profile says "22". Demographically speaking you are right in the middle of the largest baby boom ever, even bigger than the famous "baby boomers". So it's no wonder Hollywood is cranking out "kids stuff" that people of your age think it "awesome", that's where the market is, and they will continue to do so until your generation grows up and wants something a little more adult-life. For those poor old people like myself, we lament our kids stuff culture.
posted by stbalbach at 8:06 AM on February 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


How odd. I just read a virtually identical piece in today's (UK, paywalled) Sunday Times culture section. Perhaps the piece I read was a "remake" of this one.

It's a popular type of article.

Around about this time last year I was looking at the year ahead and making the same kinds of complaiints - 2009 had been a pretty strong year, especially as it seemed seemed like semi-intelligent science fiction might be coming back, and there didn't seem to be much in 2010 to match it.

Looking back on 2010 now, well, it wasn't all that horrible, but it wasn't great. Probably the most worrying aspects is that outside of the Oscar set (largely far away and invisible at the beginning of the year)the movies I did like and which showed some wit and intelligence mostly flopped horribly. Scott Pilgrim will be used as an argument for betting on bland for years to come. And then you have neat moviesd like Splice which were solid but barely made a blip, and which TBH was arketed so horribly that not even I bothered with it at the cinema.

I'm tempted to say that Inception was the only movie of summer that made and money without being total garbage - though there is a big exception in that in the form of 3D movies aimed at kids. Good ones. That aren't necesssarily Pixar. Despicable Me and How To Train Your Dragon were really quite good.

As for the Oscar movies - we've had better years, but there are some good ones in there. I'm very glad for the inclusion of Winters Bone, because though I'd argue it falls down about halfway through and fails to deliver it's still a very likable movie. The Social Network I'd actually say was excellent, and True Grits continues this weird art housey thing the Coen brothers have been doing lately of adapting movies by taking what is on the page and putting it on the screen.

All in all I'd say it was a pretty flat year, with the summer being a wasteland, but some highlights I really wouldn't have predicted in January. 2011 is looking to be the same, though all the franchise big guns that were absent in 2010 are going to be back in their largey insipid glory.
posted by Artw at 8:09 AM on February 20, 2011


Yeah, I was pretty suprised at The Town getting oscar buzz too. Makes me suspect that proper crime dramas might be going the way of the Wetsern - a speciality taste trotted out at oscar season.
posted by Artw at 8:11 AM on February 20, 2011


The rot set in with Star Wars.
posted by Paul Slade at 8:13 AM on February 20, 2011


starring garden gnomes.

Released in 2,994 screens.


And I even forgot to mention that it's showing in 3D, so your kids can have a totally immersive asexual comedic retelling of one of western lit's greatest romantic tragedies. With garden gnomes.

Did I mention the garden gnomes? I mean, how the hell did this get pitched? I can't even imagine how this project got started except as a cruel joke that got out of hand.
posted by localroger at 8:14 AM on February 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was at the Metropolitan Museum the other day, and there were paintings of foodstuffs, decorative plants, trees and landscapes, and people riding horses. All over the place.
posted by StickyCarpet at 8:15 AM on February 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Actually, though I say I'm looking at 2011 and seeing nothing I am quite looking forwards to the reboot of an adaptation of a comic book.
posted by Artw at 8:17 AM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


So here's what's on tap two summers from now: ...

He forgot to mention all the inevitable porn takeoffs.
posted by jonmc at 8:18 AM on February 20, 2011


A lot of the commenters are correct that there's a lot of good movies being made today. But what the article points out is that these movies are only made now once the director is famous and has a lot of friends in high places. The Social Network was David Fincher's child; Black Swan was Darren Aronofsky's, True Grit is the Coen Brothers, The King's Speech was Harvey Weinstein angling for another Oscar. Hell, the article even points out that most people in Hollywood consideredInception a bribe to Christopher Nolan so that he'll make more Dark Knight movies.

The days when George Lucas can show up fresh out of film school and make American Graffiti, or Coppola goes into the jungles with way too much money and emerges with Apocalypse Now, or Warren Beatty convinces the studio to make Bonnie and Clyde are over. If you're lucky and slowly spend fifteen years of your life building up enough industry cred, people might be willing to make your creative and original movie. But these are exceptions; if Mr. Nobody has a good idea for a movie, they're going to laugh him out of the studio.

Original ideas are basically relying on the patronage system, waiting for already-famous Hollywood figures to give them a home. So good movies aren't going to go away entirely, but (I think we can already see) a majority of movies released being mediocre bores that have been focus-grouped to death to appeal to 18-year old males. People act all surprised that The King's Speech has made $100 million bucks - how could it not, when it's one of the few movies marketed towards adults that's currently in wide release? Think Grandma's going to see The Green Hornet? No Strings Attached? It's a vicious circle - Hollywood makes most movies to appeal to young males, and in return it's mostly young males that go to the movies.
posted by kingoftonga86 at 8:19 AM on February 20, 2011 [17 favorites]


Presumably Hollywood writes should be better at writing films than comic book or novel writers, because they should be writing to the strengths of the medium. But we know that's not true so whatever.

More importantly you can't blame the viewers for enjoying themselves whilst watching crap. Crap is still crap whether you enjoyed it or not. Are you trying to tell me, to justify a change in Hollywood's business practices a majority of film goers should abstain from a certain level of film. That they should reverse engineer and indirectly support the marketing & business decisions that justified the creation of these films to begin with? No! We should blame exactly the people who made the decision to green light these films.

Not to mention the huge problems with actually logistically encouraging a demographic to not go see films because they are not up to snuff. To blame the viewer is to accept that nothing can be done.
posted by Submiqent at 8:19 AM on February 20, 2011


The thing about Star Wars... and though it's bits of Kurosawa, Republic serials and Dam Busters and other bits and bobs stitched onto The Hero's Journey, it and Empire look like utter stone cold classics compared to what it spawned... the fact it made as much money as it did from its toys meant the quality of the film itself became a secondary thing
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:22 AM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Summary of the article:

Shredded Wheat is good for you but the most popular cereal is Honey Nut Cheerios.
posted by storybored at 8:22 AM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


..and the best is Apple Jacks.
posted by jonmc at 8:25 AM on February 20, 2011


I've watch a Lego Star Wars (short) movie, and it was hilarious.

Also, the world was blind to the Brilliance of Scott Pilgrim, and I'm not just saying that because I hang out where it was filmed. Inception was very good too.
posted by jb at 8:28 AM on February 20, 2011


you can't blame the viewers for enjoying themselves whilst watching crap

I feel this is sort of like saying "you can't blame people who get fat by only eating donuts". You're as much responsible of what you put in your head as what you put in your body.
posted by Omon Ra at 8:28 AM on February 20, 2011


More importantly you can't blame the viewers for enjoying themselves whilst watching crap. Crap is still crap whether you enjoyed it or not. Are you trying to tell me, to justify a change in Hollywood's business practices a majority of film goers should abstain from a certain level of film. That they should reverse engineer and indirectly support the marketing & business decisions that justified the creation of these films to begin with? No! We should blame exactly the people who made the decision to green light these films.

This is 100% wrong. As I said, Hollywood is a business, and if the viewers will happily reward bare-minimum effort, then why should anyone waste time or money doing anything else? If by-the-numbers bullshit gets boffo opening weekends, why the hell would you risk millions on anything but?

Until the moviegoing public stops giving its cash to formulaic, safe, least-common-denominator crap, Hollywood has no incentive to up its game. Inception may have made almost $300 million, but Transformers 2 made $460 million, which is an extra True Grit on top.

There is no reason anyone HAS to go see whatever the latest "blockbuster" is that Hollywood's excreted this weekend. To absolve the viewers one must come up with something forcing them to choose only these movies as an option. Cause and effect: Hollywood makes these movies because viewers will pay to see them. Viewers pay to see them because...?
posted by Legomancer at 8:31 AM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was at the Metropolitan Museum the other day, and there were paintings of foodstuffs, decorative plants, trees and landscapes, and people riding horses. All over the place.

I mean, one guy does one showy - and foreign- optic trick an suddenly it's all OH IT'S LIKE ANOTHER ROOM! OH MAN CHRIST IS COMING RIGHT AT YOU. Then no one wants the good stuff anymore, the proper stuff, no no no it's got to be big flashy beans of light and corridors heading out and oh look iIve put in TWO vanishing points aren't I just the cleverest little shit ever? Art is fucking DEAD I tell you.
posted by The Whelk at 8:31 AM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


The King's Speech was Harvey Weinstein angling for another Oscar

As far as I know Weinstein only got on board after it was made for US distribution (and even he, idiotically, thinks it's a 'family' film rather than just ancient (ie over 25) people going to see it as it's well if not utter genius at least an adult drama in all senses of the word.

And it struggled to be made here in the UK - the budget was a pittance.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 8:33 AM on February 20, 2011


I don't know if I blame the viewer as such.... I blame the model of the viewer that the marketers built up, which casuses only certain kinds of movies to be made and as a result of feedback from that there's only certain kinds of viewers... I keep on coming back to the marketing article, because really I'm just repeating my previouscomment here:

It's a rather depressing article. I can't even get it up to hate on the guy properly, Bill Hicks style, because he's just telling the facts of his horrific job as he knows them. This is the bit that really got me:
Marketers segment the audience in a variety of ways, but the most common form of partition is the four quadrants: men under twenty-five; older men; women under twenty-five; older women. A studio rarely makes a film that it doesn’t expect will succeed with at least two quadrants, and a film’s budget is usually directly related to the number of quadrants it is anticipated to reach. The most expensive tent-pole movies, such as the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, are aimed at all four quadrants.

The collective wisdom is that young males like explosions, blood, cars flying through the air, pratfalls, poop jokes, “you’re so gay” banter, and sex—but not romance. Young women like friendship, pop music, fashion, sarcasm, sensitive boys who think with their hearts, and romance—but not sex (though they like to hear the naughty girl telling her friends about it). They go to horror films as much as young men, but they hate gore; you lure them by having the ingénue take her time walking down the dark hall.

Older women like feel-good films and Nicholas Sparks-style weepies: they are the core audience for stories of doomed love and triumphs of the human spirit. They enjoy seeing an older woman having her pick of men; they hate seeing a child in danger. Particularly once they reach thirty, these women are the most “review-sensitive”: a chorus of critical praise for a movie aimed at older women can increase the opening weekend’s gross by five million dollars. In other words, older women are discriminating, which is why so few films are made for them.

Older men like darker films, classic genres such as Westerns and war movies, men protecting their homes, and men behaving like idiots. Older men are easy to please, particularly if a film stars Clint Eastwood and is about guys just like them, but they’re hard to motivate. “Guys only get off their couches twice a year, to go to ‘Wild Hogs’ or ‘3:10 to Yuma,’ ” the marketing consultant Terry Press says. “If all you have is older males, it’s time to take a pill.”
So basically if you want a story that's not bridging 2 of those, or solidly placed in one of the first two, fuck you. Want intelligent Thrillers that are not crossbred with Oscar-bait issues movies or edited to fuck chase scenes, fuck you. Never going to be made. Decent SF that’s actually got a brain? Fuck off, not going to be made, not by these guys anyhow. Maybe by some highbrow indie losers. There’s entire kinds of film you could have made n the 70s that just couldn’t exist now.

posted by Artw at 8:34 AM on February 20, 2011 [10 favorites]


This is the part I find most depressing:

Let me posit something: That's bad. We can all acknowledge that the world of American movies is an infinitely richer place because of Pixar and that the very best comic-book movies, from Iron Man to The Dark Knight, are pretty terrific, but the degree to which children's genres have colonized the entire movie industry goes beyond overkill. More often than not, these collectively infantilizing movies are breeding an audience—not to mention a generation of future filmmakers and studio executives—who will grow up believing that movies aimed at adults should be considered a peculiar and antique art. Like books. Or plays.
posted by Omon Ra at 8:38 AM on February 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


movies aimed at adults should be considered a peculiar and antique art. Like books. Or plays.

"Oscar" movies! It's already it's own special genre with it;s own special time of year!
posted by Artw at 8:40 AM on February 20, 2011


That's bad. We can all acknowledge that the world of American movies is an infinitely richer place because of Pixar and that the very best comic-book movies, from Iron Man to The Dark Knight, are pretty terrific, but the degree to which children's genres have colonized the entire movie industry goes beyond overkill.

Kreider: Spielberg makes excellent Children's movies, but after Spielberg every movie had to be a children's movie.
posted by The Whelk at 8:42 AM on February 20, 2011


A trip to the multiplex means paying for parking, a babysitter, and overpriced unhealthy food in order to be trapped in a room with people who refuse to pay for a babysitter, as well as psychos, talkers, line repeaters, texters, cell-phone users, and bedbugs. We can see the movie later, and "later" is pretty soon—on a customized home-theater system or, forget that, just a nice big wide-screen TV, via Netflix, or Amazon streaming, or on-demand, or iPad.

Bingo!
posted by Splunge at 8:58 AM on February 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


Belatedly, True Grit wasn't a remake. It was a new movie based on the same source material.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:04 AM on February 20, 2011


And the mid-list novel is dead. Not to mention the Church of England.

Of my friends, of whom I do not have stupid amounts and none of whom are in the movie business, three are making movies. (Actually, two have made movies, past tense. One is finished. One is finished bar some rather irksome business with the soundtrack.) None of these movies is a kid's movie.

I've never had three friends making movies before. They're doing it with love, blagged kit, their own friends, guerilla locations, time stolen on work Macs, credit cards and all that sort of Pi business. They're not doing it with Hollywood. I don't think they even want to do it with Hollywood.

This doesn't seem to be a bad thing.

(It's odd that TV seems to have got a bit bored with kids programming, these days, at the same time that it's all Hollywood can think about. However, do look out for Rastamouse. That's wa g'wan. Irie!)
posted by Devonian at 9:04 AM on February 20, 2011


I feel this is sort of like saying "you can't blame people who get fat by only eating donuts". You're as much responsible of what you put in your head as what you put in your body.

Yeah and what if the doughnut sellers sold doughnuts with the highest quality ingredients. Would we still be getting so fat? How can I possibly know what's perfectly inside a doughnut before eating it. Does a seller have literally no social responsibility to not harm the system? If doughnuts were made of better quality surely people would get fat less quickly and be able to consume more doughnuts or encourage people to pay a premium for a higher quality doughnut.

There is no reason anyone HAS to go see whatever the latest "blockbuster" is that Hollywood's excreted this weekend.

And sure people go buy crappy doughnuts all the time. But why does that transfer the blame to the buyer? Why is it his fault that he felt like a doughnut? It's as equally valid to blame the seller for not being responsible with his product's quality as it is to blame the buyer for consuming it... The buyer has far less power, he has less information and no control over the end product. But he is to blame because he was a devil enough to feel like buying a crappy doughnut.

More importantly this social pressure has to be applied on the seller for there to be a regular, open conversation about the quality of a doughnut. Boycotting is the rioting equivalent of disagreeing with your local corporation and still won't work for the same reason revolution doesn't. People at the end of the day are happy with crappy doughnuts as long as the rest of the system works well enough for them. I can't possibly convince enough people to boycott Transformers because it's crappy, everybody will go see it for the $450 mil special effects and enjoy it. And since there is no blame applied to Studio Exec B about the green lighting of Transformers there will be literally no change and no discussion there of. And you know that. Why do you believe boycotting works?
posted by Submiqent at 9:05 AM on February 20, 2011


Heh. A mefi cinema thread just isn't complete without an over-the-top description of what hellish unendurable warzones cinemas are.
posted by Artw at 9:05 AM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


Look, if it's such crap, then don't go.

I don't.

The fact that 2012 will have 27 sequels in theaters tells me everything I wnt to know about the health of the film industry and the desirability of the upcoming slate of major-studio releases. Not to say that there also won't be some original gems released, but do we really need 27 more sequels?

The guy's right: I'm to blame if I don't go to the cinema to see movies that I like. After all, if everyone else does the same thing, the movie we all like doesn't get seen. But ..... as for the "Top Gun" hook in this article, it doesn't work for me. Bad shitty movies were being made before "Top Gun." They were being made after "Top Gun." And they were hits, then and now. He kind of drops that hook after spending two paragraphs on it. It has no point. So today's studio execs were in their 20s when "Top Gun" came out? So what? What does that have to do with anything? I don't see any other movies with homoerotic volleyball scenes being greenlighted by studio execs who recall the one in "Top Gun" and are saying, "Shit, let's recycle that!"

The article doesn't have much of one either, other than, "Yeah, we all suck because we're not watching good movies enough." Huh? This is a revelation? And hasn't GQ been just as responsible as any pretty much any other mainline media outlet for elevating the type of movie that this guy is excoriating? I mean, three months ago, GQ ran a fluff piece headlined, "Is Tony Scott (secretly) one of our most important directors?" -- complete with a big photo of Tom Cruise's face floating in a cloudbank.
posted by blucevalo at 9:14 AM on February 20, 2011


Movies are going the way of books and plays, for better and for worse. Of course, the nice thing about movies is that they can be downloaded/streamed quickly and only take 90-120 minutes to consume, as opposed to books that can take days/weeks/months to read and plays that really ought to be seen live. The bad thing is that movies - even small ones - are almost always massive team efforts costing thousands, if not millions of dollars.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:16 AM on February 20, 2011


But why does that transfer the blame to the buyer?

I guess they are both at fault to different degrees. But I would switch the analogy to eating at McDonalds. When you enter McDonalds you know it's not very healthy food even If you buy the salad. As a rule fast food isn't good for you, generally. When you go see Transformers it's the same thing. As a customer you should know to a reasonable degree what you're getting beforehand.

I don't think boycotting works, but I do think education works. I do think that the system has found a way of saying "everything bad is good for you". Anything hard or complex is elitist and anybody who likes highbrow culture is a snob.
posted by Omon Ra at 9:16 AM on February 20, 2011


1939 is often cited as one of the greatest years in movie history. These ten movies were nominated for Best Picture: Dark Victory (based on a flop play), Gone With the Wind (based on Pulitzer Prize-winning novel; won Best Picture), Goodbye, Mr. Chips (based on a book based on a newspaper short story), Love Affair (original script), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (based on an unpublished story), Ninotchka (original script), Of Mice and Men (based on a novella by a Nobel Prize-winning author), Stagecoach (based on a short story), The Wizard of Oz (based on a kids' book), and Wuthering Heights (based on a classic novel). Most of the movies were new to Hollywood, but The Wizard of Oz is the third movie based on the book. A couple of classics, a couple of melodramas, and the Best Picture winner is not the best picture.

Four of those movies--Gone With the Wind (#1), The Wizard of Oz (#2), Mr. Smith Goes to Washington (#5), and Goodbye, Mr. Chips (#10)--are among the top 12 top-grossing movies that year. Rounding out the top 12 are Ninotchka (based on a short story), Dodge City (original script), Jesse James (original script "notorious for its historical inaccuracy"), The Old Maid (based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning play), The Women (based a play), The Story of Vernon and Irene Castle (original script), Another Thin Man (third movie in a six-movie series), and The Little Princess (based on a novel).

It'd be tempting to say the source material was better--Pulitzer Prize-winning novel! Nobel Prize-winning author! Pulitzer Prize-winning play!--but I don't think it's correct. Gone With the Wind is ahistorical whitewashing. The Old Maid, like a lot of the movies on both lists, sounds like crappy melodrama. Two ordinary Westerns out-sold the classic Stagecoach. A striking difference between 1939 and today is that most of the 1939 movies targeted adults, but they still made a lot of crap and people ate it up.
posted by kirkaracha at 9:16 AM on February 20, 2011 [6 favorites]


I was just disappointed that Four Lions didn't get it's due at the end of the year. I've never seen a movie that I laughed so hard at but that has stuck with me emotionally for so long. A truly fantastic movie.
posted by cyphill at 9:16 AM on February 20, 2011 [4 favorites]


I absolutely love the article ArtW links to.

You've got a whole industry based on whoring itself to its audience, but you still need a sub-industry that can absorb a third (!) of your movie's budget to lie about your movie so as to make it even more whore-like. Great piece.

Re: the GQ piece, this is the most important bit, to me:
With the advent of the Reagan years, a more bottom-line-oriented cadre of would-be studio players was born, with an MBA as the new Hollywood calling card.
I also believe this trend pervades all of the culture/society/economy. My Mom used to work at Chevron Canada, and over the course of her career she watched all the head honchos at that company go from being geologists when she started to being accountants or MBAs.

One other thing is that I think the Top Gun, High Concept era in Hollywood was (and I'm saying this seriously) cocaine fuelled.
posted by Trochanter at 9:17 AM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hah! I love this article. It reminds me of a debate I have periodically with a buddy of mine. Nearly all of my favorite movies were made before 1980, and he pretty much only likes movies that were made in 1980. Thing is, he's a smart guy who has actually written screenplays; he just has vastly a different idea about what makes a good movie.

Ultimately, I see his point -- the "MTV generation" of filmmakers have a completely different idea of pacing. However, I see it as favoring smoothness over emotional depth. I can see its appeal, but I prefer the pre-1980 method of storytelling, which to me seems closer to a theatrical sensibility.

I expect him to show up in this thread in 5.... 4..... 3..... 2.....
posted by Afroblanco at 9:20 AM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


To be fair, the money people in Hollywood have always pushed for churning out mindless chum in order to appeal to the lowest common denominator and maximize revenues. Our special problem today is that they've gotten very, very good at it.
posted by steambadger at 9:24 AM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


In summary: today's movies are just as good or bad as yesterday's were or weren't and it's nobody's fault, especially the people who pay to see them, and nothing can be done but everything's fine.
posted by Legomancer at 9:24 AM on February 20, 2011


My wish would be that smaller theaters would spring up to show the other more distinct movies, sort of the equivalent of indy bookstores. There's this great little place in LA called The Cinefamily. The place is intimate, the popcorn is good, the audience is respectful and looks like made up of people who really wanted to go to a movie; the atmosphere is social, communal, the vive is great and you feel like you're sharing an experience with like minded strangers. It's a great place, but I guess that's not scalable or viable for places other than LA.
posted by Omon Ra at 9:26 AM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Having just seen Enter The Void (no spoilers; epilepsy warning), I do not feel disheartened about the potential for making unusual movies outside the mainstream Hollywood system.

I just want to ad that i couldn't have hated that movie more. It hit all the annoyances i have, bad pacing, acting, perspective, writing, etc. But, i am very glad it was made. I'm of the opinion that the more 'types' of movies we have is better than more and more of the same. That diversity is better than quantity. Scott Pilgrim was one of my favorites because i previously loved the books (and am not a hipster) and the movie did things in ways i really haven't seen before in a new world.

I also love 80s movies and am sorely disappointed in the teen romp comedies now that all have the male protagonist be of the type where they are generally rude but then treat the girl they like as a virgin on a pedestal, all of them. Basically preaching to the "wait until marriage" crowd, no matter how raunchy the rest of the movie pretends to be, but really isn't.

I have less a problem with adaptions of books/comics/etc into movies than i do with reboots/sequels, as the later seem just more of the same, but slightly different enough, while the former is seeing something in a new way. It's the difference between say Scott Pilgrim and Let Me In. At least to me.
posted by usagizero at 9:31 AM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


True Grits continues this weird art housey thing the Coen brothers have been doing lately of adapting movies by taking what is on the page and putting it on the screen.

Todd Alcott has been posting a (terrific, as usual) multi-part analysis of True Grit lately, and points out quite a few key aspects and scenes that aren't in the book.
posted by rory at 9:33 AM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


What do we expect from the country who's top artistic feat is currently Glee?
posted by Threeway Handshake at 9:47 AM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Todd Alcott has been posting a (terrific, as usual) multi-part analysis of True Grit lately, and points out quite a few key aspects and scenes that aren't in the book.

That looks like a great series of articles, and I'll have to read them more in depth, but the changes mentioned seem pretty minor to me compared with the filleting and restructuring most works get. That he's even able to do a scene by scene comparison is pretty telling.
posted by Artw at 10:30 AM on February 20, 2011


(In "Cthulu") even a nice adaptation of A Shadow Over Innsmouth.

Warning: graphic gay sex scene. Roll for SAN loss.

rosswald: What do I know though, I thought Machete was the best movie of the year.

We enjoyed it too, probably more because of its flaws than despite them. It was enjoyable because of its ridiculousness. And at least Danny Trejo got a starring role in something!

As for the article, I haven't had the chance to read much of it yet, but I'm going to go against the general trend in this thread and agree with the founding assertion. It might not be EVERY movie out there but it's a damn lot of them, and the problem does seem a lot worse now than formerly with other kinds of lame movie-making. It has driven me away from seeing movies in theaters, and that's the truth. (NOTE: I am not related to the Harris who wrote the article.)
posted by JHarris at 10:50 AM on February 20, 2011


1939 is often cited as one of the greatest years in movie history. These ten movies were nominated for Best Picture:

A list of nominees for Best Picture have very little to do with what movies were the best movies of the year. I can pull out that list for any year since 1927 and point out a ton of crap.
posted by blucevalo at 10:51 AM on February 20, 2011


Needs more Sherlock.
posted by clavdivs at 11:11 AM on February 20, 2011


Best Picture nominations aside, 1939 has long been hailed as a landmark year in film.

Here is a small sampling of the list of films that came out that year:

The Adventures of Sherlock Homes (Basil Rathbone)
At The Circus (Marx Brothers)
Dark Victory
Gone With The Wind
Goodbye Mr. Chips
Gunga Din
The Hunchback Of Notre Dame
Intermezzo
The Little Princess
Mr. Smith Goes To Washington
Ninotchka
Stagecoach
The Wizard Of Oz
The Women

And those are just the ones that I see in this list and go "oh, wow, great film". There are a lot of others in that list which are admired for a variety of reasons.

Of course, that year also saw the release of sequels, series movies, and retreads. It's been a staple of Hollywood for generations. It's just the lack of anything truly original which is remarkable these days.
posted by hippybear at 11:17 AM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's not about whether the movies are good or bad, for you people who can't seem to comprehend four whole pages of text. It's about the studio's motivations and thoughts in making them, and right now, studios are incredibly risk-averse. And they somehow equate being risk-averse to churning out only movies which are derivatives of movies that have already succeeded.

The point is not that crap is being made, but that it is not original. Crap or not, at least movies of yesteryear were made for adults who wanted to see a new story, not a sequel to a bad movie that barely earned out.
posted by TypographicalError at 11:57 AM on February 20, 2011 [2 favorites]



A trip to the multiplex means paying for parking, a babysitter, and overpriced unhealthy food in order to be trapped in a room with people who refuse to pay for a babysitter, as well as psychos, talkers, line repeaters, texters, cell-phone users, and bedbugs. We can see the movie later, and "later" is pretty soon—on a customized home-theater system or, forget that, just a nice big wide-screen TV, via Netflix, or Amazon streaming, or on-demand, or iPad.


And most importantly, no beer,
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:07 PM on February 20, 2011 [3 favorites]


So, so we have movie execs in their 40's to blame for a studio culture that loves stupid, mindless, sequels.

Which is why in the 90's we most certainly did not have a dozen Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elmstreet, TMNT, Halloween, or Hellraiser movies. We even had half a dozen Batman movies. Oh! And remember those atrocious Look Who's Talking and Home Alone sequels?

I have a feeling the problem of making shit movies goes back a bit further than studio execs who were in their 20's at the time.

As for good movies a dozen come out every year. So many come out that I have the luxury of thinking that Black Swan is awful instead of feeling like it is a drink of water in a cinematic desert.
posted by munchingzombie at 1:43 PM on February 20, 2011


I feel that even if mainstream culture does get worse, it's not going to lead to there being less high-quality art out there. Great new artists may not be able to get high budgets or make high profits any more, but they will continue producing great work. And they're able to distribute it more easily than ever.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 2:06 PM on February 20, 2011


Before I went to sleep last night, I checked what was on TV. There was a Saint movie where he meets a jewel thief who's his identical double and part 3 of a Green Hornet serial. Both from the 40s. I wonder if critics were complaining about the dumbing down of media when they came out?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 2:41 PM on February 20, 2011


And they're able to distribute it more easily than ever.

Hmmm I wonder about that. I have this weird perception that the more access to stuff we have the less the good stuff is seen/read/heard.
posted by Omon Ra at 2:42 PM on February 20, 2011


I wonder if critics were complaining about the dumbing down of media when they came out?

Critics did worry about tv in the 50s and early 60s, but it was also a question of pop culture not having the veneer of respectability that it has today.

The New Yorker of the 30s would have never had a reference to The Green Hornet, for example; now it wastes a full page on it. The review was a negative one, but still, that was a page that could have gone to reviewing something more worthwhile. Pop culture did not inundate all media like it does today.
posted by Omon Ra at 2:46 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


Whether or not you liked the article, Mark Harris is the author of Pictures at a Revolution, one of the best books on Hollywood to come out in the last twenty years. I highly recommend it.

The fact is that people are just going to the movies less often then they used too, because of high quality televisions.

I don't think this is completely true. I used to see hundreds (literally) of movies every year in the theatre. If I see 10 a year now it's an exceptional year. This doesn't have anything to do with the quality of my television (I don't own one), but with the glut of crap that gets released combined with the low quality of the theatre experience--idiots talking, taking cell phone calls, horrible adverts, etc etc.

Recently, I went to see Chinatown in the theatre for the first time. I took the day off work to go see it so essentially it cost me about $200 to go see the movie. It was worth every penny.

As I sat down I thought to myself (and I went by myself), "Probably every person in this theatre has seen this movie at least once before". It was packed. I've probably seen the film 50 times in my life and it's easily one of my favourite films. I've read dozens of interviews on the film (with the screenwriter, the actors, the production designer, the editor, the director, etc.). But I'd never seen it on the big screen. It played at the Toronto International Film Festival's brand new year-round theatre. Gorgeous new print; luxury theatre.

The movie started and instantly it was like watching it for the first time. I cannot remember the last time I had a theatre experience like it. The audience was quiet and respectful; you could hear everything you were meant to hear and nothing you weren't.

SPOILERS

Chinatown does not have a lot of violence in it, at least not compared to contemporary films or television shows. But goddamn if you could not feel the audience react to every punch or gunshot in the film. When Jake is being beaten in the orange groves; when Jake is giving it to Mulvihill; when Jake gets his nose cut; when Evelyn gets what isn't coming to her... palpable. I was crying by the end of the film. As Joe Mantell speaks the film's final words you could hear a collective exhale from the audience.

In the lobby, I ran into a friend; I was high on what I'd just seen--just hovering at how wonderful filmic storytelling could be. My friend looked absolutely crestfallen. I asked her what was the matter and she said, "I just saw Chinatown. Ugh." "What do you mean, 'Ugh'? It was glorious!"

But she couldn't talk to me on that level. Turns out, she had never seen it before. She was miserable because of the plight of the heroine. She was so in the picture she couldn't get out of it. "Those... hands!" She was referring to Huston's final gesture over his offspring's face.

I couldn't talk to her anymore. I knew exactly what she meant and I didn't want my enthusiasm to sour her own experience. I wished her a good night and walked away.

I know it's cliche to say, "They don't make movies like that anymore," but they don't. And we're all worse off for it.
posted by dobbs at 3:29 PM on February 20, 2011 [5 favorites]


Lovecraft In Brooklyn: "Before I went to sleep last night, I checked what was on TV. There was a Saint movie where he meets a jewel thief who's his identical double and part 3 of a Green Hornet serial. Both from the 40s. I wonder if critics were complaining about the dumbing down of media when they came out"

Good point about The Green Hornet. I remember watching it in B/W as a kid. I thought it was the coolest show imaginable at the time. Now I can't watch a whole episode without being bored to tears.

Goodbye to another cherished childhood memory. GRAR ::sigh::
posted by Splunge at 3:31 PM on February 20, 2011


Will second the Chinatown love. One of the most atmospheric movies ever. Whenever it comes up I recommend that people read Robert Towne's screenplay. He says it was in large part an homage to the Los Angeles of his youth. Polanski captures the sepia toned melancholy of it.


1 FULL SCREEN PHOTOGRAPH

grainy but unmistakably a man and woman making love. Photograph shakes. SOUND of a man MOANING in anguish. The photograph is dropped, REVEALING ANOTHER, MORE compromising one. Then another, and another. More moans.

CURLY'S VOICE (crying out) Oh, no.

2 INT. GITTES' OFFICE

CURLY drops the photos on Gittes' desk. Curly towers over GITTES and sweats heavily through his workman's clothes, his breathing progressively more labored. A drop plunks on Gittes' shiny desk top.

Gittes notes it. A fan whiffs overhead. Gittes glances up at it. He looks cool and brisk in a white linen suit despite the heat. Never taking his eyes off Curly, he lights a cigarette using a lighter with a "nail" on his desk.

Curly, with another anguished sob, turns and rams his fist into the wall, kicking the wastebasket as he does. He starts to sob again, slides along the wall where his fist has left a noticeable dent and its impact has sent the signed photos of several movie stars askew.

Curly slides on into the blinds and sinks to his knees. He is weeping heavily now, and is in such pain that he actually bites into the blinds.

Gittes doesn't move from his chair.

GITTES
All right, enough is enough -- you can't eat the Venetian blinds, Curly. I just had 'em installed on Wednesday.

Curly responds slowly, rising to his feet, crying. Gittes reaches into his desk and pulls out a shot glass, quickly selects a cheaper bottle of bourbon from several fifths of more expensive whiskeys.

3 Gittes pours a large shot. He shoves the glass across his desk toward Curly.

GITTES
-- Down the hatch.

Curly stares dumbly at it. Then picks it up, and drains it. He sinks back into the chair opposite Gittes, begins to cry quietly.

CURLY
(drinking, relaxing a little)
She's just no good.

GITTES
What can I tell you, Kid? You're right. When you're right, you're right, and you're right.

posted by Trochanter at 3:54 PM on February 20, 2011


If you like watching classic movies in a theater I can't recommend the TCM Film Festival enough. Last year I had the pleasure of watching Monkey Business, 2001 (in 70 mm), Sweet Smell of Success, In a Lonely Place, Wild River, Top Hat, Playtime (in 70 mm), North by Northwest, Singin in the Rain, The Adventures of Robin Hood, Bride of Frankenstein, Cleopatra (in 70 mm) and Metropolis. All in the span of 4 days. The audiences and atmosphere couldn't have been nicer. I don't remember a single cell phone going off or a single screen being turned on in any screening.
posted by Omon Ra at 4:09 PM on February 20, 2011


A trip to the multiplex means paying for parking, a babysitter, and overpriced unhealthy food in order to be trapped in a room with people who refuse to pay for a babysitter, as well as psychos, talkers, line repeaters, texters, cell-phone users, and bedbugs. We can see the movie later, and "later" is pretty soon—on a customized home-theater system or, forget that, just a nice big wide-screen TV, via Netflix, or Amazon streaming, or on-demand, or iPad.

This is why I never go to the movies any more unless it's a festival or the Alamo Drafthouse. The food is decent, they serve me beer (or cider!), there are no kids in R-rated flicks at 10 at night, and they THROW OUT people who talk too much or text or otherwise annoy their patrons. If date night at the movies is kind of a hassle, it needs to at least be worthwhile, and the Drafthouse is.
posted by immlass at 4:26 PM on February 20, 2011


There's an abandonded theatre off St. Chrstophe street in Montreal that, when I have a billion million dollars, I am buying and restoring and turning it into a kind of Alamo Drafthouse.

It's across the street from a posh gay bathhouse, I could make bank on Bette Davis Night.


If I somehow find a lot of money ..A LOT, then I'm buying The Metro and treating it like my living room
posted by The Whelk at 4:32 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I've said this before, but I wouldn't be so INCREDIBLY ANNOYED by this trend if it didn't inexplicably pass over the one franchise (Halo) that I'd actually like to see made into a halfway decent adaptation. In a world where everything from Battleship to PONG is headed for the silver screen, Hollywood can't find a way to wring money out of an epic science-fiction story with an established universe, millions of fans, and backing from Peter Jackson? Or maybe things are just so bad now that even a video game is considered too complex for the studios to touch.
posted by Rhaomi at 4:50 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I know it's cliche to say, "They don't make movies like that anymore," but they don't. And we're all worse off for it.

I'm also a big admirer of Chinatown. But to be fair, they've almost never made movies like that. With the possible exception of Rosemary's Baby, Polanski never hit this mark again -- and as much as I love Rosemary's Baby, I would argue that it is no Chinatown. If Robert Towne wrote another screenplay as good, I'm unaware of it. I think that Nicholson was in at least one other movie as good or better -- The Shining -- but this is a man who has been in I don't know how many movies over a fifty-year period.

I say all of this only to say that we should be wary of cherrypicking favorite movies and using them as evidence that the art was as a whole at one point in much better shape than now. I think we'll remember 2010 as the year of The Social Network and Black Swan and Toy Story 3 and Inception and Winter's Bone...that's a pretty fucking good year, right? What we won't remember 2010 as is the year of The Bounty Hunter and Marmaduke and Jonah Hex and I Spit on Your Grave and Burlesque, but it was the year of those, too. While I think Hollywood is in huge trouble creatively, let us not sugarcoat the past all that much. We have always had good films and bad ones.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:29 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


For the studios, a good new idea has become just too scary a road to travel.

A few years ago, looking through an issue of I think Theatre Magazine from the mid-1920s, I came across an editorial bemoaning the terrible lack of creativity in Hollywood and its obvious strategy of relying heavily on low-risk adaptations of proven Broadway moneymakers and runaway smash novels instead of taking chances on original stories.

The mid-1920s. I still kick myself for not xeroxing that thing and hanging it on the wall.
posted by mediareport at 5:34 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


At the same time: Stretch fucking Armstrong.

It's not exactly The Great Gatsby, is it?
posted by Artw at 5:37 PM on February 20, 2011


Good point about The Green Hornet. I remember watching it in B/W as a kid.

So... the Grey Hornet then?
posted by NoraReed at 5:43 PM on February 20, 2011


If you're in Sydney and you want to see classic/old movies on the big screen check out the Chauvel Cinema or the Mu Meson Archives
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 5:50 PM on February 20, 2011


Anyone else think it's weird that Harris bemoans Hollywood's "bland assembly-line ethos" but then claims the films most hurt by that ethos are "your run-of-the-mill hey-what's-playing-tonight movie—the kind of film about which you should be able to say, 'That was nothing special, but it was okay'"?

"Nothing special, but it was okay" is the kind of film he wants us to really care about here? I'm having trouble. And the praise for HBO as the last haven of respect and fairness for quality rang a little hollow. Cancelling Carnivale, John from Cincinnati, Rome & Deadwood is hardly a ticket to the Land of Respect for Quality.
posted by mediareport at 6:09 PM on February 20, 2011


MeFi Project: "The good cinema guide", a wiki about worthwhile movie theaters around the world. Judged on the quality of the audiences, the quality of the projection, the variety of movies and the theater's ambiance.
posted by Omon Ra at 6:13 PM on February 20, 2011


Lovecraft In Brooklyn: "Before I went to sleep last night, I checked what was on TV. There was a Saint movie where he meets a jewel thief who's his identical double and part 3 of a Green Hornet serial. Both from the 40s. I wonder if critics were complaining about the dumbing down of media when they came out?"

Right but those were cheap quickies designed for matinees, not big tent-pole blockbusters that you bet the summer's revenue on. The point here is that there's been a complete inversion of the economics of movie production. Back in the forties and up through the seventies, most of the big expensive blockbuster movies were prestige pictures and action movies were cheap and fast afterthoughts. The movies that won Oscars were often big budget box office champs too. Now the big expensive movies are mostly dumb action fodder that would have been part of a matinee double-feature fifty years ago and the Oscar bait ones are usually lower budget indi-flix.
posted by octothorpe at 7:41 PM on February 20, 2011


Back in the forties and up through the seventies, most of the big expensive blockbuster movies were prestige pictures and action movies were cheap and fast afterthoughts.

The way I like to think of it is that B pictures have become A pictures and A pictures have become B pictures. At least from a marketing/box office perspective.
posted by dobbs at 7:50 PM on February 20, 2011


Inception was a remake of a Donald Duck comic book.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:07 PM on February 20, 2011


NoraReed: "Good point about The Green Hornet. I remember watching it in B/W as a kid.

So... the Grey Hornet then
"

Ish. Grey-ISH. Right now, I'm the grey hornet. I sting people with my dull wit and recall when I would strike fear... into... um...

Did you want lemon or venom in your tea, lady?
posted by Splunge at 9:14 PM on February 20, 2011


At the same time: Stretch fucking Armstrong.

It's not exactly The Great Gatsby, is it?


Baz Luhrmann will shoot a new 3D version of The Great Gatsby in Sydney later this year.
posted by MarchHare at 11:10 PM on February 20, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm not a fan myself, but if a 12 year old child gets a kick out of the transformers movies or harry potter, who am I to complain? It's a big world out there and if you spend your time worrying or complaining that mainstream tastes are not always the most "high brow" or don't match yours, you're going to be miserable far too often.

That said, they're really making a Magic 8 Ball movie? Horrifying, but I can't wait for the trailer for that -- "THIS SUMMER, ALL SIGNS POINT TO YES!"
posted by modernnomad at 1:41 AM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


What's bad is not that 12 year olds are watching and obsessing about Transformers and Harry Potter, it's that 30+ year olds are, to the exclusion of everything else. What's bad is that the whole culture is geared towards 12 year olds. And the thing about adult entertainment (I'm talking Broadcast News here, not necessarily an art movie like Antichrist) is that at least it fosters somewhat complex arguments and discussions and thoughts. Is it any wonder that politicians argue like children? That Bush could say "you're either with us, or against us" and be reelected? The whole culture is geared towards slothful thought. Of course, in ages past, people kveched about the level of culture, but at least there was a general aspiration towards the high brow. It was seen as a good thing, generally, now it's just considered elitist.
posted by Omon Ra at 5:29 AM on February 21, 2011


All is forgiven if Terry Gilliam directs Transmetropolitan.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:15 PM on February 21, 2011 [1 favorite]


All is forgiven if Terry Gilliam directs Transmetropolitan.

I don't know what Transmetropolitan is, but I'll watch it if it's directed by Terry Gilliam.
posted by jb at 1:25 PM on February 22, 2011


Came to this a bit late, but...

Inception was okay but the most fun movie of the year was Scott Pilgrilm. Would that have happened in a more 'mature' film making climate?


I'd say yes, actually. The thing about Scott Pilgrim isn't that it wouldn't have been made in a more mature - or at least, a more experimental and risk-friendly - world, but that in that world it would have been far more successful. Not a provable hypothesis, of course, but I don't think the problem with Scott Pilgrim was that it didn't take enough risks...
posted by DNye at 11:21 AM on March 4, 2011


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