Matt Briggs emailed me a link to this very interesting article in the New York Post on why movies are so dreadful: ‘Everything that’s wrong with Hollywood — We have only ourselves (and directors, actors, China) to blame‘.
Of course, I don’t accept the premise that movies are, indeed, dreadful. The article talks a little about some movies which it thinks would be good but which haven’t been made, but nothing much about movies which are good and have been made. Yes, good smart movies are still being made. That some of them incorporate quality action stuff and special effects (eg. The Dark Knight, Inception, Star Trek) doesn’t mean that they aren’t excellent. Those effects and action elements finish off the movie, not try to replace what is missing.
Others do largely without that stuff and are great too (eg. The Fighter, The Prestige) (and, yes, I do list a lot of Christopher Nolan stuff, unapologetically).
Of course, ‘good’, here, is entirely my judgement. Ultimately, which I regard as good is that from which I derive enjoyment. If a movie gives pleasure to a hundred million people for a couple of hours, why should I be down on it just because it isn’t to my taste? Well, because I don’t like it of course.
The ideal critical environment would, in my view, be lots and lots of critics with a wide range of tastes so that readers could find one or more with whom their tastes largely align, and therefore a reasonably reliable guide to their movie choices.
Finally, I’ve mentioned it before, but for look inside what sometimes appears to be an amazingly petty movie-making industry, I recommend Terry Rossio’s 1995 essay on the creation of the movie abomination, The Puppet Masters.