So I wasn't going to write this. I thought I had no need to. I mean really, what's the point of explaining to people why they should like good things? Why bad movies are really getting out of hand? Over the last few months however, more and more it's been sinking in that people... Don't really "get" movies anymore, and those that do, those magnificent few that are really hardcore devoted to the magic of movies as an art form, are going extinct, which is so perplexing to me.
I'm getting ahead of myself. This all started when over a year ago I went to see the movie Moonlight in town on a whim after an appointment I had. I'd time to kill before I got my bus and had been hearing rave reviews about it, but knew literally nothing about the movie walking in. I still to this day haven't felt so emotionally gutted by the sheer beauty of a film, from the acting to the cinematography to the damn score, every single piece of Moonlight comes together in a way that made me cry in a theatre and truly fall in love with the cinema all over again. I got my bus home and don't really talk about Moonlight all that much with people, and this is my point. I don't talk about Moonlight with people because no one really cares. No one cares because people don't watch movies anymore for the art, they watch them to switch their brains off and look at superheroes fight each other, or to see the next romcom, or to watch another terrible sequel to a beloved childhood property.
People don't want to be challenged anymore. In this age of instant satisfaction with the internet and oversaturation of media, it's never really been easier to find whatever you want as soon as you think of it with instant gratification. This instantaneous faster paced nature is affecting the medium in the sense that people can;t handle suspense anymore. There's a good reason a movie like It appealed to so many last year, and it's because it was, for the most part, a well made adaption, but also knew it's target audience needed a jump scare every five minutes too, so happily obliged. I'm not shitting on It, just... Imagine that movie without the needless the jump scares, and it becomes a much more complex and scary movie about a bunch of kids fighting their inner fears., instead of the same film but BOO HERE IS A CLOWN MONSTER TO! inserted in needlessly.
Moonlight switched something back on in me. The next movie I went to see was a Marvel movie, Captain America: Civil War maybe, I don't remember. What I do remember is walking out of the cinema and feeling so utterly dissatisfied, not entirely with the movie, but with myself for falling for this shtick again. For falling for the corporate, put together by a committee 6/10 movie that people watch and hail as a masterpiece just for being passable. Look at Wonder Woman, a movie that's solid enough but in no way a masterpiece, especially for most of, and almost all of, the first and third act. Wonder Woman is such a strange case study to me because... It's really only a passable movie. But because it's a passable DC Comics movie with a female lead and a female director it instantly jumps on to most peoples top 10 lists for 2017. I'm not even shaming the fact that it's so female led as a movie, I just don't think that should influence your opinion of the art in question. Ghostbusters 2016 is another perfect example of that logic, with a mass uproar before the movie even released about people not being happy with the trailer that came out, which led in turn to people everywhere defending a fucking movie about women hunting ghosts making queef jokes as if it was some sort of political issue. The only positive to that whole situation was, no one went to see Ghostbusters 2016 because it was as bad as everyone assumed it was, so everyone forgot about the idiocy of the feminist agenda because it didn't matter. Ultimately all those people were really doing was falling for the marketing teams strategy of turning a bad movie into a hot issue, which.... Is so disgusting to me.
I began writing this because of an article I came across on Facebook called "Netflix's Bright is the movie we all want that Hollywood won't make anymore". I watched Bright the week it came out, part because I'm always intrigued by whatever Max Landis writes after watching his "Wrestling Isn't Wrestling" video years ago. but also because the concept of the movie sounded just weird enough for me to be on board with. What I watched was a burning orphanage on top of a burning kitten sanctuary of a movie. I couldn't stand the damn movie for a whole host of reasons I won't get into, but for some reason I'm in the minority. Bright did well enough that Netflix ordered a sequel. Bright has tapped into the same market that thought that Suicide Squad was a good movie, which is a large enough market to keep pumping out these awful, dreadful movies.
But it was the comments on the thread that really got to me. From people saying a movie like Bright is "truly fantastic" and to "ignore the critics", all the way to people straight up calling out people who don't like the movie as being "pretentious assholes". The reason this got to me as much as it did isn't because Bright is a piece of dog shit wrapped in cat shit wrapped in more dog shit, because it is, it's because the majority are defending it. The majority of people are genuinely defending a movie that cost 90 million dollars to make and felt like it had half that budget for a most of the run time. They're defending a bad movie, not in the way that people defend The Room, but actually defending this "movie" as if it's good, but only if you switch your brain off.
Movies should be an art, but people aren't understanding the art anymore. It's the reason why the general public won't go see Blade Runner 2049 in the cinema, but a Jumanji sequel is resting at 500 million dollars at the time of writing this. Why does a movie like Jumanji do so well though? The "Brain Shutoff Theory" is my idea. People don't like to be challenged by art anymore, so when they go to the cinema they want to switch off their brains. I have no direct problem with the people who do this, it's the fact that so many people do it that drives me insane. Why don't people want to be faced with harsh realities or truths when it comes to watching a horror movie, like It Comes At Night, but will rush out to see the fourth Insidious movie? Is it to do with my Brain Shutoff theory, where people are so sick of facing reality that they need the escape? If it is, is this holding back the medium in some sense?
These movies are fake. These movies have no real heart behind them. Yes, there are people working on these movies for a paycheck, and in some rare cases because they've a genuine passion, in which case their participation in the movie always shines through. But you just have to sit through the end credits of a Disney movie these days to see the farm of graphic designers they have to make Iron Man fighting Hulk look as amazing as it did from a technical perspective. How is a sole creator supposed to be make their mark anymore when the blockbusters are all thousands of people working on passable movies. But I can already hear the argument of "but look at Guardians of the Galaxy! Look at Thor: Ragnarok! They have their creators mark all over them!". Yes, they do, but only because they played by the rules. For every James Gunn making their Marvel movies by stepping in line, there's an Edgar Wright or Lord and Miller walking off set in the middle of production because they weren't allowed to make the movie they intended. Hollywood is killing creativity.
Moonlight was such an important movie to me because it reawoke something in me that I didn't know had left me. Call Me By Your Name, Blade Runner 2049, Get Out even, these are just some of the movies that I seen last year in the cinema that made me believe again. That made me fall in love again. That made me so angry at Hollywood for not encouraging more movies like these to be made. For not making the average movie goer stop and appreciate the medium, instead of pandering to the people who gave a Jumanji sequel 500 million dollars.
Good movies matter because they challenge your world views, or make you laugh whilst making you think, or force you to use the smallest amount of your brain that you don't even realise you're not using until suddenly it starts working again. Until suddenly you start to see the beauty in things again, or question your beliefs, or try to make yourself a better person.
Good movies matter because if people keep being pandered to, the bar will only go lower on what can be deemed as passable.
Good movies matter.
Don't Let Art Die.