Just some thoughts on the current state of films and a little on the state of film criticism as well.
I am not accepting mediocre or below mediocre movies like Terminator Genisys and Jurassic World. This era compared to the glory days of the 80's and early 90's, or hell even the the "renegade" era of the 70's looks like an old junkyard in comparison. Sure. You can find some good things at the junkyard but most of it is worthless trash. If you compare the last five years vs. one year from the 80's? There are more better movies from that one year than anything from the last few years. Especially in the horror genre. It Follows is one of the the most unique horror films in years and it had to scratch and claw to even get a theatrical release.
I am not asking for 100 percent original ideas. That is unrealistic. Films have been around far too long for that to be possible. But is new takes or spins on old ideas too much to ask? Is it too much to ask for mainstream studio films to be more like It Follows and independent films and take risks again, instead of reheating the same leftovers we already got a taste of many many times before? There are way too many sequels, reboots, and remakes out there and on horizon lately. And no idea is off limits nowadays. A post apocalyptic Zorro, a Trolls movie(Yeah, a movie about those Trolls dolls that barely no one remembers and not that many people even liked.) a Pez movie, and a movie about fucking Emoticons. Seriously. No joke. A studio has actually bought the rights to an Emoticon movie.
See what I am talking about folks? This is what happens when audience's either don't give a shit about the quality of films anymore or have no context when it comes to the past. Roll out that Angry Birds movie, or that Monster Trucks film ten years too late. Release that second Friday The 13th remake and have it take place in the 80's just to half assedly please the 80's horror crowd. Or how about release another prequel to Texas Chainsaw massacre that centers around Leatherface as a teenager. Get that second Nightmare On Elm Street remake green lit(Seriously. This is in the works. Another remake of NOES with a possible CGI Freddy. SMH), Might as well keep this chain of unoriginality going. Don't even bother creating new horror icons let's remake the old ones again and again. It's almost like films are becoming like pop music lately. Vapid, predictable, lazy, over polished, bland candy for the masses. And that's sad. Especially when I know films can be a lot better and try harder than that.
But it's not just audiences or the film ideas themselves. Oh no. It's studios too. I mean they are the ones that think a Jem movie that is nothing like the cult cartoon is something worth making. In all honestly they are the ones that green light these films. And the reason why is because lazy movies like Jurassic World and Furious 7 make billions now, so why even bother trying anything new? It doesn't help matters much either when genuinely unique films like Edge Of Tomorrow barely make money and films like Ouija make boatloads. Do we want original films? Or do we want more sequels? Because just going off the box office totals this year? We want more sequels. Almost 4 billion dollars worth from Universal Studios alone.
The excuses some of these new movies get are ridiculous. Jurassic World is a bad movie but it's a good summer blockbuster. What the fuck does that mean? A bad movie is a bad movie. Period. There are different varying levels of bad, but if something is bad? It's still bad. This it's bad but not really bad because of this or that bullshit is exactly that. A bunch of bullshit. And please for the love of god. If you like or hate a movie? Do it. Don't like a movie because all of the popular internet reviewers liked it, and don't hate a movie because they hated it either. Make up your own opinion. And do not say a movie sucks or it's great without even seeing it. I have actually seen some comments like this and that's just ridiculous. I personally feel that the quality of criticism has gotten worse too.
In my opinion? There are way too many "reviewers" only saying what the masses want to hear. It's almost like honesty when it comes to reviews is hard to find. If you don't like a popular movie? Just admit it. Don't let the idea of getting dislikes, petty insults, and useless death threats deter you from saying what you really feel about a movie.(Was The Dark Knight Rises really that great? I mean honestly? Or were so many reviewers afraid of internet trolls they told them what they wanted to hear?) I would rather a reviewer be honest than lie or take the middle ground in order to avoid controversy. It's a rare thing to hear anyone talk about the film's score, the editing, it's tone, it's atmosphere, the performances, it's special effects, or even it's story sometimes. The following quote from Birdman sums it up perfectly.
"Let's read your fuckin' review. "Lackluster..." That's just labels. Marginality... You kidding me? Sounds like you need penicillin to clear that up. That's a label. That's all labels. You just label everything. That's so fuckin' lazy... You just... You're a lazy fucker. You know what this is? You even know what that is? You don't, You know why? Because you can't see this thing if you don't have to label it. You mistake all those little noises in your head for true knowledge.
There's nothing here about technique! There's nothing in here about structure! There's nothing in here about intentions! It's just a bunch of crappy opinions, backed up by even crappier comparisons."
And I admit that I myself fall into this trap. And have done that many times. Because so many times it seems like "reviewing" in a way is just coming up with ways to label a film. To come up with labels to describe how bad or good a film is or isn't. Same goes for comparisons. A lot of my reviews and other people's reviews have comparisons in them to movies they feel are actually "good" to show what a particular film should aspire to be. But in the end all taste is subjective so the comparison would only work for a handful of people who share the same feelings. To anyone else? It would seem pointless to them, because they disagree. It makes you wonder why people even bother making reviews. I think about that sometimes, but then I remember how much fun I have making them and the group of people who actually do like to hear my thoughts and feelings on films and then I wipe those thoughts from my mind. But the thought is there.
Another issue I have with reviews lately is how short they are. Most of the popular internet reviewers whom so many people watch and go to for advice nowadays make reviews that are five minutes long. But if they feel like it? They might make it to the ten minute mark. Egads! I really don't care for this time limit crap. Mainly because it is almost impossible to go in depth on a film in five minutes or less. That's why I really appreciate reviewers like Oliver Harper. Who go against the grain of boring over saturated online reviews from channels like Jeremy Jahns, TheFlickPick, ChrisStuckmaan(Who in my opinion has the personality of a rock) and so on. A review to me is much deeper and more complicated than just bullet points of what was good and bad about a movie. Why was it good? Why was it bad? No time for that, we can't possibly fit that into five minutes or less. It's gotten so bad that people expect this type of review and are disappointed when you don't make a review in this format. To me personally? A review can be however long it wants to be. It is all subjective after all. But I personally prefer an in depth review because then I can truly understand the reviewers feelings and thoughts on the film and know why they feel that way. But that being said? I have no issue with those of you who happen to enjoy those channels or this type of movie reviewing. It just is not my cup of tea so to speak.
The quality of films has also gotten worse. To me personally there is no doubt that it has, but so many people from the current generation simply don't give a shit. Some of these people think the old movies the ones that were really imaginative and examples of classic entertainment are "cheesy' and bad because they are old. I have personally seen page after page of comments like this and heard people say this in person to my face. It's like they are ignorant and have no respect for elder cinema. Not everyone feels this way but it seems to me that the majority of the moviegoers do not have high standards anymore and let mediocre and piece of shit movies get a pass. I have no solution for this situation. That's what makes it so aggravating to hear about it and see it continue to happen. It's like yelling at a wall.
I get that whether or not a movie is good is subjective but how any person with a sense of context on the history of film can say this era is even close to being on par with eras of the past is beyond me. The best and brightest films nowadays are independent films. Studio films nowadays are hit and miss and more often than that? They miss the target entirely. Yes, there are some hits(I.E. Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Avengers AOU, Ant-Man etc. etc.) And notice how many are sequels or comic book movies? It's the same thing almost every year. More than half the films this year for me personally? Have been either disappointing, so so, forgettable or shit. I mean it's so bad now that direct to video quality films are getting theatrical releases(Agent 47: Hitman, Transporter Refueled, Etc. Etc.) If I can barely even put together a top ten for one year? That's not a good sign. Because I can list page after page of films I liked from one year in the 1980's or early 90's. I cannot do the same for this year. And next year looks even worse.
Is it just me? Or does it seem like the way I am thinking is a part of the minority? If that really is the case? That not only scares me, but it also makes me sad. Sad for the state of films and what it will be like ten years from now. As a man who loves film? Seeing the industry struggle so much and refuse to evolve is tough. For mainstream studio productions? The future doesn't look so bright.
So that's why I will put a lot of my faith and expectations into independent films. Independent films aren't perfect. They don't always fire on all cylinders, and sometimes crash and burn, but at least they make an effort to create something different and put interesting and unique spins on old ideas as well as try to create new ones. Instead of repackaging old stale concepts and ideas with shiny new effects and tripling the ticket price. And they aren't afraid of change either. And that's something mainstream production studios seem unable to do. Change. Evolve. Adapt. That's what film has done for decades. It has changed, and evolved with the times. Created new worlds, new ideas, spun off new webs off of old ideas and helped make them new again, it took chances, it went against the grain, not with it. It used to be something special. Something unique. Not something to be taken for granted.
This is quaint, short, film of a train arriving at the station was mind blowing back in 1896 when it first was shown to the masses. It was viewed as something one of a kind. This little clip is the embodiment of why we should not take film for granted and respect it and be glad that it is here and has evolved to the point where it is today.