Do Movies Still Matter? September 06 2016, 0 Comments

We recently read an interesting article in Wired Magazine called, "Could This Be the Year Movies Stopped Mattering?". The premise: Movies today are more ephemeral than ever and with so many other ways to consume quality content do they really matter to popular culture anymore. 

It begins by reminding us of the recent sequel flop The Huntsman...

From the article:

Like so many high-pedigree films released this year, Huntsman was pushed out of the pop-cultural conversation quickly and fiercely. It was reduced to just another loud, expensive, desperate thingee hovering noisily and anxiously in the background of your digital life, hoping it could tear you away from Twitter or Snapchat or Spotify. And it ended up in an ambivalence-borne limbo, one that now includes several other recent oof-inducing films, including Warcraft, Ben-Hur, X-Men: Apocalypse, The BFG, and Zoolander 2.

So it got us thinking about our own current movie viewing habits or lack thereof as it turns out. We rarely go to the movies these days. Maybe two or three times a year. Now understand, no one here is a teenager - as a matter of fact we're parents ourselves of young kids - so not exactly the target demo of most Hollywood sequels these days. But even if we were there really are too many other great ways to be entertained, especially with streaming services like Netflix or Amazon. Not to mention HBO or Showtime (now with standalone apps, so cord-cutters are welcome).

This article isn't only about binge watching your favorite shows instead of sitting through another Marvel super hero movie though, it's also about the culture in general. 2016, people are less passionate about films than ever before. Movies are still making tons of money, obviously, and still inspire giddy fandemonium (both good and bad) among the faithful. But it’s hard to think of a year in which movies have felt quite as ephemeral, and so easy to ignore. It feels as though they’ve been pushed further on down our pop-culture hierarchy of needs. And this is disturbing news, whether you’re a studio head looking to make money, a balcony brat looking for a few communal cinematic thrills, or a sword-farter looking for an audience.

So is this only because there are so many other entertainment distractions (not only streaming services, but even music or social media, etc.)? Or is there another reason, too. Are the movie actually worse than they used to be? They sure think so...

Part of the problem with film culture in 2016, of course, is the films themselves. Despite the critical success of hits likeZootopia and The Jungle Book, or the superheroic hauls ofDeadpool and Captain America: Civil War, it’s hard to shake off (or rebut) the Worst. Year. Ever. grumblings that have been circulating among cinephiles all summer, thanks to movies like Suicide Squad and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice—two of the worstreviewed chart-toppers of the year—not to mention Independence Day: Resurgence, Alice Through the Looking Glass, and this spring’s Divergent: Allegiant. Contrast that line-up with that of 2015, when by late-summer we’d already had Ex Machina, Inside Out, Mad Max: Fury Road, Straight Outta Compton, Amy, and the dumb, fun Furious 7. (Ah, 2015! It’s been a long day without you, my friend!)

We hear this argument a lot that movies are worse than previous times. We're not so sure as that is a VERY subjective thing, however, we do know that Hollywood in recent years (maybe longer than that) has been consumed with the super hero genre and sequels to said super hero films. And from a financial perspective, rightly so.

Even the critically slammed Batman Vs. Superman has made close to $1 billion in returns. Heck, even the universally hated Suicide Squad has racked up at the box office. REALLY racked up. So can you blame Hollywood? It is a big business after all.

And by the way, those films weren't exactly ephemeral. They have stuck around the water cooler chats for some time, albeit maybe for the wrong reasons.

It wasn’t always like this. For the past couple of years, even as TV’s dominance loomed, there were still a few zeitgeist-igniting movies that all but broke into your living room, kicked you in the Roku, and demanded that you run to a theater: beyond the aforementioned Mad Max: Fury Roadand Straight Outta Compton, we had Boyhood. The Lego Movie. Inside Out. Gone Girl. Gravity. Guardians of the Galaxy. The MartianCreed.

Of course none of these were the zeitgeist that was American Sniper. That film had legs. It was around theaters forever and did amazingly well at the box office. Are there more films like this coming soon? We can only hope.

The next few months will see new films from such directors as Martin Scorsese (Silence), Ang Lee (Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk), Ava DuVernay (The 13th), Andrea Arnold (American Honey), Adam Wingard (Blair Witch), Mira Nair (Queen of Katwe), Antoine Fuqua (The Magnificent Seven), Steve James (Abacus: Small Enough to Jail), Kenneth Longergan (Manchester By the Sea), and Damien Chazelle (La La Land). There will also be a new Star Wars movie, a Tupac biopic, and even a Western with John Travolta and Ethan Hawke.

Clearly, film still has an impact—it’s just that, in 2016, that impact feels diffuse, and is certainly difficult to ascertain. Which is why we need one of those mass-audience, culture-shifting flicks more than ever: Not only do they bring us together, physically and emotionally, they supply us with images and ideas that trickle down and influence all art, even if takes years for that influence to be felt. Maybe, in the next few months, that kind of movie will arrive, and restore film back to its peak pop-culture powers. If so, it will give 2016 a cheer-worthy comeback story, one with big names, a killer third-act twist, and plenty of suspense. Who knows? Maybe they’ll even make an awesome TV series about it someday.

So what do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

And you can read the entire article here.

Just to throw it out there, our favorite movie this year was Stranger Things on Netflix. Oh wait. :)