It’s funny how the topics for this blog pop into my head. Sometimes I already have an idea floating around, but other times my mind is a blank, so I just randomly start looking around on the internet for something that speaks to me and an idea will snap into my head. For this article, it was a headline for the 2021 Oscar winners, and I couldn’t help but laugh inside. Not just for the ridiculous way that the event has been politicized, but also because we live in an era where profit trumps creativity.
I can’t remember the last new movie that truly spoke to me. Sure, there have been movies that were entertaining to watch, but frankly I can barely remember any of the individual moments from any of the Avengers or Transformers or the later Fast and Furious movies. I’ve watched a lot of movies over the course of my life, and there have been really great movies that have stuck with me through the years, as well as really bad movies that were forgotten by the end of the credits. What’s sad about today is that most of the movies we see now as “blockbusters” are at best mediocre.
What bothers me about this isn’t that there are lukewarm movies being made, but that there just don’t seem to be as many instant classics as there used to be. I remember back in the nineties that there were dozens of movies that captivated us and we knew they would stand the test of time. Amazing crime movies like Pulp Fiction or Casino or Goodfellas. Great westerns like Tombstone or Dances With Wolves or Maverick. Gripping suspense movies like The Green Mile or Apollo 13 or The Hunt for Red October. Heart tugging stories like Good Will Hunting or A Few Good Men or Glory. Memorable comedies like My Cousin Vinny or Office Space or Home Alone.
Perhaps the younger crowd will simply look at this list and say it’s because I’m older and just don’t understand the newer generation of movie making. I suppose they could argue that, but I simply can’t think of very many movies from the turn of the century that I look back on and remember anything meaningful from them. Don’t get me wrong…there have been many movies that were worth watching. They killed time and were at least entertaining. But I miss the days when I finished watching a movie and walked away feeling like I invested in a story.
There have been a few movies from the last twenty years that stood out to me. Most recently I watched Last Flag Flying, which had everything I miss from the movies I grew up with. Of course, all of the actors are from that era anyway, so I don’t know if that really counts. Training Day was really good, but again Denzel Washington was big before the 2000s. Gladiator is pretty much the same. As I look back on the most memorable movies after the year 2000, the only ones that stand out to me are those which had actors who got their start back when movies were still good.
Maybe this is all part of the generational black hole I’ve noticed across the board on everything. It feels like the 1990s had the last really good generation in most things. Yes, there are a lot of great people doing great things today, but it just feels like they were far more common back then. I remember so many actors from that time, but I would struggle to name ten great actors who surfaced in the last twenty years. It’s kind of sad.
As I reflect on this, I wonder if this is part of that same problem that most of the last couple of generations has: entitlement. No one has really had to go through anything or work on their craft to ensure their skill is a cut above the rest. Producers seem to be looking for beautiful faces rather than soulful actors. Franchises are based around a concept rather than a story; sexy bodies rather than deep, rich characters. There is no desire in the movie industry for more than just profit.
I mourn the loss of creativity in our movie and television industry. There used to be a time when a production couldn’t get off the ground if the story wasn’t absolutely perfect; when writers struggled to get noticed because the quality of the storylines were difficult to outshine. Today, we get stuck with brain-dead comedies and cookie-cutter romance movies and iteration after iteration of the same action movie. Are they entertaining? Sure, but ultimately they are just for killing a couple of hours. Is that really what we want?
What do you think about the movie industry today? Do you get any value from what you watch, or is that time long past? Is there any hope for the future of our entertainment industry, or is it all spent? There used to be a time I got excited to watch a movie, but these days it’s difficult to risk wasting two hours of my life on lackluster stories. I yearn for a time when the people with great, meaningful stories are placed front and center again, and the profit hungry franchises become a mistake we remember never to repeat again.
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