Thursday, April 4, 2013

we aren't ready for old movies

i had the pleasure of seeing Steven Spielberg's dinosaur-eating-Jeff Goldblum classic Jurassic Park in 3D on Tuesday night (and don't doubt it, JP is a masterpiece, the kind of action blended with pathos and pure cinematic joy we just don't see in these days of computer graphics). on one hand, i'm glad that the re-emergence of 3D is giving these old movies a chance to be seen on the big screen by lifelong fans and a whole new generation of snot-nosed brats. it's great and it's nice to think that somewhere in the million dollar confines of the Hollywood System, some relic of a film lover is actually using 3D to their benefit. 

that said, i don't think the general film watching public is ready for a return to the recent classics.

a few thoughts:

1. we aren't a culture that holds the movie theater in high esteem anymore. almost person I know (aside from myself and few other hold-over hipsters still trying to cling to the past) have 50-inch flat-screen televisions, occasionally rent a flick off onDemand but spend most of their screen-time invested in the lives of Honey Boo Boo and her ilk. Movie theaters are hassles - they're expensive, they involve removing our asses from couches, if the movie you've just paid half a week's wages for isn't good, your only option is to sit and stare not pop off the couch and play on your computer. the halycon days of holding the theater up as a place of cultural relevance are long, long dead. 

2. not to say that movies aren't still making dollars. the mouth-breathers of the world (and the 5 percent of truly respectful film-lovers who still make the weekly pilgrimage) still want to throw down 30 dollars on snacks and a ticket and watch Kristen Stewart punch the heads off vampires. which is fine, great even, but the problem exists when the general public ends up settling down in the hallowed halls of cinema still thinking they're at home, on their couch, hanging out with their flat-top wearing boyf. then it's chit-chat and iphone talking and all the other horrible ticks we as a culture continue to develop.

3. old films (and by old, I mean 15 or 20 years and beyond), in the eye of popular, modern culture aren't films to be held on a pedestal anymore, old films are seen as jokes. little windows in to outdated parts of culture. every time a cellphone of surprising proportion or some outdated computer program streamed across the screen, every one in the theater took a break from chatting with their date our updating their FB profile, to chuckle. the 90s, so funny! it didn't feel like for a moment that anyone in that theater was their to revel in just how good a film JP was or just influential and amazing a director Steven Spielberg used to be, they just wanted to see how old dinosaurs look funny.

4. point 2 + point 3 = eeeeeeeeek. now we have stupid people attending great old movies for the wrong reasons. and stupid people + wrong reasons = a horrible viewing experience. those deft film fans who brave the masses to see an old picture on the big screen are going to have a rude awakening when instead of respectful film lovers, there's an audience of slow-blinking dimwits laughing every time someone says something about the internet. it's embarrassing and makes it seem that maybe we as a culture aren't ready for old films in chain theaters. and honestly, we probably never wil.

5. this is good and this is bad. keeping revival screenings relegated to actual churches of theater like The Castro or The New Beverly promises a certain amount of respect, the kind of viewing experience we can only hope for. that said, relegating them to these fine art spaces, keeps them out of the hands and pea-pod minds of a public that desperately needs to see that there's something better out there. 

just a thought.


criterion counsel: still waiting on my next one. my new partner and i are recording our first podcast this weekend though ... 

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