I don’t want to sound bitter but as I get older, I’m beginning to really get depressed about cinematic expression. When I was younger, I was really optimistic because in the 1980’s, it seemed like we can do some sort of secondary job, as far as the 70’s were concerned. Kind of like a star radiating so much heat that a distant planet would reflect some of the glow. It’s not exactly the same. The brilliance is definitely not equal, but enough of the light gets reflected that you think it looks good enough.
While there was the hope in the 1980’s that there would be at least some good movies that would reflect some of the glory of the 1970’s. If you’re a serious film fan, it’s really very hard to find a decade that measured up to the awesomeness of 1970’s cinema. All decades don’t even come close. Whether we’re talking about storytelling or cinematographic expression, films made in the 80’s. 90’s the tween and the aughts don’t even come close. What happened?
We all have our suspicion and the consensus, of course, is Hollywood money. You have to remember that the Godfather, the best movie ever made, was a lark. It didn’t have a budget, Marlon Brando almost didn’t star in it because the Hollywood bigwigs were basically strong armed into funding the movie were dead set against casting Brando because he had a reputation as a troublemaker in Hollywood.
All these random decisions just basically fell into place to create an amazing movie. That really highlighted 1970’s. If you look at Serpico Dog Day Afternoon, Apocalypse Now, Deliverance, The Deer Hunter, it really would almost be impossible to find a decade that would mirror such greatness and a lot of it is due to the fact that now, Hollywood movies are supposed to make money.
The commercial instinct has taken center stage to such a degree that it has sucked the oxygen out of the creative process. It’s no surprise that starting in the 1980’s, movies went downhill. We’re talking about Marvel comics universe franchises and Disney character movies. The focus now is really just pure and simple entertainment.
Forget about telling stories about the human condition. Forget about emotional and spiritual explorations. It’s really all about superficial entertainment value. Talk about a very expensive trade off. It’s like eating your arm to stay alive.
Unfortunately, that’s what passes for quality moviemaking nowadays. The focus is on slick packaging and smooth filmmaking processes. Not much else. Story doesn’t really matter. I know this sounds quite a big claim. But it is true. You only need to look at the current industry’s heavy focus on franchies. It is as if they have let their decision making about scripts be dictated by what worked in the past. That’s the end of their analysis. End of story. Sad.
What’s worse, is this type of thinking is seeping into Cannes. More and more films are being submitted with an eye toward being picked up by Hollywood. This is the big danger true blue art film fans should guard against.