Are Movies now terrible...or is it me?
Let me answer the question up front: it is me. I intended on writing an article on how lousy movies are these days; how unoriginal, to many remakes, to many sequels yada yada. But who benefits from someone spouting off about how great things were in the good old days? So I decided to take a step back and apply some critical thinking in this area. Nothing in this piece will change your movie preferences, as mine have not changed. The point is just to look at current movies in a different light.
Did you see The Joker?
As I was sitting in my Media Ethics class, yet another discussion of superhero movies came up among the students. The average age of the class is probably around 21, and the majority clearly enjoy seeing these type of movies. They know the characters, are interested in them, are familiar with the storylines and clearly have a good theatrical experience. I on the other hand do not like these sorts of movies and have no interest in the characters. However, when I was younger I had similar thoughts with the Clint Eastwood character in the various Dirty Harry movies. I could not wait until Magnum Force or The Gauntlet showed up in theaters. So I can sort of see their fascination with superhero movies.
What is an original movie?
So we need to define then what is an original movie? Was it based on a book? Then no. Based on real world events? Nope. Remake of a previous movie? Definitely not. Sequel to a movie with same characters? No. What does that leave then? Pretty much an original screenplay written on a blank piece of paper with original thoughts. Doubt that happens very much these days. Does that mean lack of originality should be held against a movie? Not at all. The Godfather (1972) was based on a book and is considered one of the best movies of all time. Oh Brother Where Art Thou (2000) was a clever and excellent movie based on Homer's Oddysey. Godfather Part II (1974) was a sequel and also one of the best movies ever made. 3:10 to Yuma (2007) was a remake of a 1957 movie with Glenn Ford. It was outstanding. If Rififi (1955) and Asphalt Jungle (1950) are the classic "heist gone bad movies", are more recent incarnations "ripoffs"? I don't think so. I loved Heist (2001) with Gene Hackman. So lack of originality does not necessarily make something a bad movie.
Thank you Mr. Tarantino
Movies are collaborative works of art. Some people go to art gallery's and some go to movies, or both. So what gets me to the theater anymore? Not much really. Blame Netflix for that, but that is a different topic. What gets me to a movie are either directors or actors I appreciate or stories and characters that sound interesting. What causes me to think a movie is great is thoroughly enjoying the experience, savoring it after I leave the theater, and a desire to see it again. That has not happened much recently for a variety of reasons. However, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019) was an exception. It is a fantastic movie, directed by someone who really knows their craft. I am sure there were many other recent movies that would fall in this category if I had taken the time to go see them. But that gets back to a movie grabbing me enough to go see it in the first place.
Thats All Folks
As I said before, I doubt anything here will change anyone's movie viewing preferences. I don't like romantic comedies, but ironically, those are probably some of the most original movies made using the criteria above. There are good and bad original movies, sequels, remakes etc. The difficulty these days is sorting them out.