I was listening to Radio West, an affiliate of NPR the other day (mostly so I could start a sentence with that line. I’m getting smart.) and Doug Fabrizio was interviewing a movie critic from the New Yorker, David Denby, that argued that the quality of movies has been degraded to a “corporate practice”. I did not listen to the entire interview, which is called ‘Do the Movies Have a Future?’ But a lot of what Denby said resonated with me in.
I love movies. I love the event of going to the movies. There is something special and magical about a theatre, no matter its condition (unless the sound system goes out). I like the anticipation of what is to be viewed, felt, and heard. I like the preparing my critics mind. I like each and every preview. And I love when movies suck me in and I do not realize who or what is around me, when I am in the world of the movie. I love it so much, I go to movies alone sometimes. It is my drug, my fix; Where anything is possible.
However, Denby points out that major movies have become more of a marketing campaign. Think of the last major blockbuster and the marketing that went into the movie beforehand. I thought of Skyfall. They had that Heineken commercial on for months (and still do) to promote the movie. Then within the movie, there is so much product placement it becomes overwhelming.
The “mega” movies are funded by a few conglomerates, who have the capital to inundate the masses with waves of commercials and advertising, shaping and brain washing them to watch the same storyline over and over and over and over. It isn’t that the owners of these conglomerates are evil or want to ruin art, but at the end of the day it is a business, an investment. This business model, despite its substantial profits and sequels, is resulting in a drowning of talent, art, and entertainment.
Movies do not often challenge the mind or make someone think. Our culture wants to gobble up the easy and likable story, then move on to the next one. There is not any intimacy between viewer and story. We are captured up in a storyline. To me, a good movie should be similar to a good book, where you are captivated beyond the end of actual consumption of the story. Obviously, I like the movies that are simply there to entertain and make me laugh, but sometimes I want a movie that makes me uncomfortable or inspires me.
The ‘so what’ I get out of Denby’s thoughts is that we should be more critical and picky when it comes to watching movies. It is not like I am saying ‘ban the big films.’ I am saying we, as a society, are being taught how to not think critically and we should. We should be able to criticize and analyze a movie. The movie culture is a discussion culture. Movies are powerful. They can communicate so much so quickly. Demand more of yourself……
But gosh, I do love the Twilight series.