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Saturday, May 14, 2011

"Lack of originality is ruining the movies"

This essay by Roger Ebert in the latest issue of Newsweek is so interesting but also so depressing.  Here are some key paragraphs:

This is more evidence, not really needed, that a majority of modern big-studio releases are marketing decisions yoked however reluctantly to creative ideas somewhere farther down the food chain. The majors in general make good films either (1) for Oscar season or (2) purely by accident. Weekend releases between May and September might better be covered by marketing specialists than film critics.

According to Brandon Gray of Box Office Mojo, who ran his own numbers, 2011 will see a record 27 sequels. [Including 5 fourth sequels such as Scream 4, and a record-setting 5 fifth sequels such as Fast Five.]

. . . Some studio divisions have been forthright about their decision to stop making grown-up movies at all, focusing on superhero comic-book franchises, 3-D animation, and raunch romps. It doesn't really take a movie person to approve such films.

Complicating the situation is the increasing reliance by Hollywood on foreign markets, which are thought to be impatient with dialogue and hungry for action. That results in an irony: while European nations, for example, produce excellent films that play here in art theaters, we are represented over there by American films suggesting we are a nation of violent or moronic fanboys. I see nearly as many films about grown-ups from France alone as from mainline Hollywood studios. Our tradition of quality cinema is being abandoned.

. . . Paul Shrader: "The quality of theatrically released films has been dropping so precipitously in recent years that the Academy Awards are no longer a fair gauge of audiovisual entertainment. Several decades ago audiences could expect a film such as The Social Network every week; now we are lucky to have one or two a year. Add to this the fact serious dramas have more or less migrated to ["long form"]television [meaning mini-series on HBO, etc], and it's clear that the Oscars have become progressively less relevant."



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