Sunday 24 June 2012

Are Films Still Relevant?

The Kids care about gaming. My generation hits up their blackberries before the opening credits end. My elders are watching cooking programmes. Who gives a shit anymore? We can't keep the industry going based on nostalgia, it needs to really have a reason. 

Tom Cruise and Adam Sandler used to be safe bets, but now they're flopping! Is it a wake up call? Of course not. The industry doesn't support artistic achievement. They're not looking for the next 'Annie Hall', they want the next 'Avatar.' And I'm not talking about the artistic merit of 'Avatar', I'm talking about the revenue. 

The best writers go to TV. When you ask people what movies they've seen recently, they mumble about there not being much out there at the moment. When you talk about TV, they DEMAND you buy their favourite DVD box-set immediately! 

The artists keep getting it wrong. At the top end of the industry, you're constantly made to appease studios and sponsors and lots of white men in suits. At the bottom end, everyone is busy promoting themselves on Twitter, but they forget to become GREAT, instead focusing on selling their product. And most of the time, the product sucks! 

But you can hardly blame them. It's capitalism. We make products and sell them. That's how society works, but it's not how art works. At least not at first. A great artist needs an incubation period. Unfortunately, it's 10 years, and who has time for that? 

You can hold out and be all about the integrity. About only following your muse. Problem is, your work SUCKS for years, nobody strikes greatness from the word go. Maybe you ignore the opportunity to sell out at first, because no, you're about the art. But eventually you realise; the bills won't pay themselves. You're never going to fix the leak in the kitchen if you keep making the passion projects. 

So what are your goals? You just want to earn enough to be a player in the Hollywood system? It makes sense, after all, you want to earn some money. But the product is terrible! Maybe we're wrong to bemoan how shit most movies are. After all, why should it be any different? They're products. Built on the assembly line. Is Aniston available? Good. Let's put her in a movie with that guy from that new comedy show. Perfect. Women will love that. We have an audience. It's money in the pot. 

The innovation is in technology. It's in apps and social networks and communication. And the excitement is in gaming. And the great writing is in TV. How many films have you loved in the past five years? Suddenly that two hours seems like a really long time. If the movies keep getting worse and worse, then soon there'll be no come back. 

The industry struggles on -- but where is the passion? Where is the art? 

Care to share?


  1. I would agree with pretty much all of this except "the great writing is in TV". TV shows will never reach a level of greatness like recent films such as Shame, I Saw the Devil, Departures etc. etc etc ect. ... to be honest I feel even the best of TV shows are poorly written.

    1. Fair enough, we all have different thoughts. I think some great writers are on TV! A lot of film people prefer TV -- i.e. Sorkin, and look at what Lena Dunham has achieved with 'Girls'. TV is where it's at!

  2. I don't know. For sure there's a lot of crap out there and it's depressing to see how they go for sequels and remakes and safe cards and how they're successful doing so. (We get what we deserve.)

    BUT on the other hand they still make a lot of movies that I love. Just to mention a few examples from the last few months: Take Shelter, Tyrannosaur, We Need to Talk about Kevin.

    There's a whole lot of good stuff made. It may not hit the top lists, but it's made and it's god an audience. People like me.

    1. That's true, things are getting more niche. In many ways that's good -- but will it sustain the cinema experience? That's a question for another blog topic perhaps!

  3. Great post. You managed to put into writing most of my thoughts of the last few years.

  4. All through the noughties I felt this way, it was an abomination of a decade for movies but things have improved drastically over the past couple of years. Here's my top ten of last year -

    1. Melancholia

    2. The Tree Of Life

    3. Blue Valentine

    4. Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes

    5. Moneyball

    6. Warrior

    7. We Need To Talk About Kevin

    8. Midnight In Paris

    9. Tucker & Dale Vs Evil

    10. The Troll Hunter

    Quality from top to bottom, easily the strongest year since the nineties. Many people moan about movies being bad yet when you ask them what movies they watch you realise they're just not making the effort to seek out films for themselves and are just watching whatever's advertised on their nearest bus shelter.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts -- I have mixed thoughts about those movies. I love your comment about 'just watching whatever's advertised on their nearest bus shelter', ha!

  5. I'd like to think the industry is getting more refined. There is a clear separation between blockbusters and quality cinema. International cinema is getting more of a look in. Game consoles are taking away people who watched films to pass the time - opposed to watching films for appreciating the arts. I hope...

    1. Hey Simon, I think you're right, definitely, things are splintering off. Small filmmakers can have their voice and create content for smaller audiences. But I think that's on a small scale -- and that model can succeed in home viewings, it doesn't need the cinema. So we'll see. People who watch films because they appreciate art is a very small, specialist audience.

    2. It's basically the 20 people who read this blog :P

  6. I don't think movies will ever lose their relevance (at least not soon) but I agree that quality is harder to find recently. Years ago, the best movies were also the ones that made
    the most money and won most awards. Now it's almost like they're three separate groups.

  7. Nice blog KITFR! As a wannabe writer, I constantly am torn between writing from the heart, and writing from the hip (where my wallet is kept!)

    I think there is a lot to be said for your thoughts on TV - I've certainly been leaning hard to both watch more TV series, and write a pilot....

    BUT - Film does keep reeling me back in - just in terms of my own ambition as having written and seen a 'real, ACTUAL, film' of mine made :)