WhyDo So Many Movies Suck Lately?

Jim Warren had lunch with a couple of film-makers and left with the answer:

How can these guys expect to make great movies if they’re basically unfamiliar
with what has come before? And it’s not really their fault, either; they’re both
bright and talented young men. They’re victims of a society that does not reward
substance. We’re immersed in a culture that puts a premium on novelty rather
than on creativity, one that places a higher value on the breadth of trivia than
it does on the depth of knowledge, one that prefers spectacle over vision, and
videogame hand-eye coordination over book-perusing eye-brain comprehension.

5 thoughts on “WhyDo So Many Movies Suck Lately?”

  1. I’m so wary of generalizations like this. There are dozens of great independent films and studio films made every year. Many of the indy filmmakers are passionate artists and extremely film literate. Unfortunately, people don’t necessarily get to see their work because of their film’s limited release. Some of these indy filmmakers, Christopher Nolan for instance, go on to make big studio films and do a terrific job. He went from FOLLOWING to MEMENTO, which was original and utterly compelling. There are many other examples every year. I’d wager that, relatively speaking, the percentage of movies that suck lately, is the same as that of books that suck lately. But I’m not a doom-and-gloomer.
    Also, anyone who has ever played a stellar videogame knows that the gaming experience can be uniquely engaging. It’s way too simplistic to use videogames as part of the scapegoating process for why most films suck lately.
    As Cameron Crowe wrote, the answer to every question is: money. Money is the reason most films suck lately. What else explains DUECE BIGELOW? Greed has taken over as the number one priority in the film business. Box Office rules. This greed is killing the film business, and the studio execs seem somewhat oblivious to it. Decades ago, art was a priority in the studio system. Films like CHINATOWN and THE CONVERSTION would never be made today. Every period has a golden age and a hard fall. Businesses evolve. The film business is dying a slow death, and studio execs seem to be somewhat oblivious. It’s hubris. There are eerie comparisons to be made with the book publishing business.

  2. A co-worker is a recent film studies grad. Someone gave her a DVD of “Breathless” and she asked me if I knew anything about it. Jean-Paul Belmondo, Jean-Luc Godard, neither rang a bell.
    I’m going to blame some of it on easy availability of DVD and video. Back in the days when to see older films you had to go to a repertory theater to see them. You had the taste of the scheduler guiding you. And if he/she had any taste, you were exposed to films you never would have known about as the second half of double features or in well-programmed series.
    But how do you graduate in film studies from a respected school without knowing about Godard?

  3. I think there’s a tendency to employ selective memory whenever we think about how movies/books/art “used to be”. Plenty of crap got made in the past. We tend to remember only the good movies, and that skews our perception of how good the past really was. Count the number of really great movies over the past fifty years, then average it out. You’ll probably find that there were one to three standouts in a given year, but the rest were pretty forgettable. I may be wrong, but I suspect that a lot more movies used to get released as well. If you average the good movies out over the total number of movies made, the past might look pretty grim.
    Maybe we’re in a valley right now in terms of movie quality, but it isn’t reasonable to point at “Deuce Bigelow 2” as proof that there are no good movies being made anymore. I keep remember “The Long, Long Trailer”, starring Lucille Ball. What a stinker.
    Today we have stupid action flicks with millions of dollars worth of explosions; back then they had cheesy Edgar Allen Poe ripoffs and bad gangster movies. I’m pretty sure the studios wanted to turn a profit back then, too, so you can’t blame what’s wrong today on the pursuit of the dollar.
    There are a lot of really good movies being made today. The modern “Moulin Rouge” is probably better than many of the musicals from the film mills of the past, for example.

  4. It’s funny. When I thought of MEMENTO, I thought of MONSTER, then THE STATION AGENT, then the new film NORTH COUNTRY. The list could go on and on. For every Michael Bay, there is a Chris Nolan. You’re right, there are great films made all the time. I do think the film industry has a miopic view of its future, though.


Leave a Comment