Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Top 25, or, How Dumb Have We Become

This is not meant as a pejorative, or if it is, it's meant in humor, but what the heck has happened to us as a community of filmmakers? What do we value, or what are we hoping to create?

Here's where I'm coming from: on Real Time with Bill Maher last week, he made an interesting point, and one that no one on the panel wanted to talk about (including director Kathryn Bigelow) - the all-time champions in top-grossing movies (adjusted for inflation, that is) are adult-themed films, with a few blockbusters thrown in for good measure. They include Gone With The Wind (still number one!), The Sound of Music, Doctor Zhivago, and so on. Yes, Star Wars is in there, as is Avatar, but when you consider that Gone With The Wind was released in only a few theaters at a time, and played for an entire year at most locations, that's pretty darned impressive. Of the top-25 films of all time, unadjusted for inflation, all but one or two have a wizard, an alien, a robot, or a superhero in them. Titanic is one without any of the above, and yet still manages to take a true event and add an a-historical, poorly-written romance novel over a plethora of potentially more interesting true stories. But I digress.

Yes, the potential audience plays a part in what we create. The times, also, play a large part of what we go and spend money on. Theater tickets are more heinously expensive than ever. And, in some ways, it's wonderful that Marvel is having such a great run for their money. Nerds have generally had to settle for what are often the cheesiest versions of their childhood heroes (anyone remember the direct-to-video classic, Dollman, featuring Tim Thomerson?). But at the same time, all these movies with blockbuster costs are causing many other movies to end up relegated to the streaming market, or direct-to--dvd. Great, so-called "small" movies have to fight for eyeballs, fight for box-office. Movies like "Selma" get relegated to the TL;DR pile, practically before they're released. "Too serious" is a major flaw...?

Personally, I'm really happy that Takashi Miike is remaking old classic samurai films, and may create new original samurai classics - he certainly knows that genre really, really well. And David Simon's efforts on HBO are always welcome, since he treats me as if I have an attention span, and the ability to remember things.

You know, like an adult.

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