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Has cinema reached it zenith?


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#1 Greg Traw

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Posted 16 July 2008 - 08:01 PM

I've been beginning to question this as the great filmmakers from the 1960's and 1970's could never exert the amount of funding, power and control over their films in today's industry. Would they even be allowed to make films? -- And I stress the word "allowed." :(
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#2 georg lamshöft

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Posted 17 July 2008 - 06:55 AM

The studio-system is dead and so is "New Hollywood"...

But I think both "philosophies" have their successors, on one side the big blockbusters, created by "professionals" (combining last years' success-story A with favorite actor B and oscar-winner C, then mix it) to make as much money as possible, it's a business and the movie is a product that has to be sold!

But there are also those who "trick" the system, making succesful but not very innovative movies that won't hurt anybody to get enough money/reputation to realize projects they want to do as artists! Clooney, Pitt, Spielberg, Scorsese&DiCaprio play this game pretty well!? And I think this is the place were some of the best movies are made -today!

Don't forget that "artificial blockbusters", created like a product, weren't invented in the 90s but decades ago... Of course we love the classics, but even in the 70s most movies were bad...

Today's Disney is now Pixar, Hitchcock is now Nolan, Bogart is Clooney... And in a few decades we will go into the cinema with our grandchildren and will say: Wall-E, that was a REAL movie! ;-)

Maybe it's my age, but I can tell some "Hollywood"-masterpieces created within the last decade and 90% of my all-time-favorites were made within the last two decades:

American Beauty, Memento, Juno, Silence of the lambs, Fight Club, Leon the professional, Terminator 2, Requiem for dream...

Of course I have highest respect for Hitchcock and Co for "inventing basic rules" that influenced all new movies, but they were perfectionized decades later...

Do you think a backward-story like Memento would have worked in the 70s? Were the audiences/society ready for Juno?

I think we can be lucky when 2-3 movies a year stand the test of time as masterpieces, was it ever different? Of course I hate this "artificial" stuff, romantic comedies for 50M€(20M€ for actors, 25M€ for marketing?) or the fourth sequel of a comic-book... but that's not what people will rememberin 50 years when they think of the movies of our time...

Edited by georg lamshöft, 17 July 2008 - 06:56 AM.

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#3 Giles Sherwood

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Posted 17 July 2008 - 12:46 PM

Do you think a backward-story like Memento would have worked in the 70s?


Heck yeah, dude. Pick practically any of Godard's or Resnais' movies and you'll find an editing structure that's way more obtuse than Memento.
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#4 Serge Teulon

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Posted 17 July 2008 - 01:06 PM

Those past big blockbusters were achieved in conditions that most ppl these days would not be able to deal with...we are spoilt in how easy it is to make a movie.
I believe that the reason why yours, and also my, favourite movies were made in the last 20 years, is because we relate to it and it is written with a higher state of consciousness. Which, arguably, we have in comparison to then.
I don't believe that cinema has reached its zenith, I think we are in a moment of anticipation with change. The movie industry is about to be revolutionized in a big way....some say it has started. And I believe it has, but only will the new chapter in movie making begin when the top of the food chain embraces fully what is, in effect, still in its embryonic stages.

Fantasia, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and...I can't remember any others right now....are revered as great pieces of film work.
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#5 Saul Rodgar

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Posted 17 July 2008 - 01:11 PM

Heck yeah, dude. Pick practically any of Godard's or Resnais' movies and you'll find an editing structure that's way more obtuse than Memento.


Right. Thing is, Memento has a gloss of self-smartness that probably would have turned off the heavies and their fans. It is Goddard-lite (i.e. for the Hollywood masses) where things finally make sense at the end, whereas Goddard and Resnais leave you wondering long after the credits rolled.

I remember seeing Je vous salue, Marie at a local college movie theater. But the projectionist goofed and put the reels in 1,4,2,3 order, so half way through the movie the credits rolled. It made almost as much sense as it would have had he put them in the correct order.
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#6 Jim Keller

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Posted 17 July 2008 - 03:39 PM

Hollywood has always been cyclical. Independents make movies, and audiences respond to them. Conglomerates come up with a formula responding to what audiences want, forcing the indies to be absorbed or die. Conglomerates rake in gobs and gobs of money, but eventually lose all sense of what will appeal to an audience. Indies come out of nowhere and make movies that audiences respond to. Cycle begins all over again.

Right now the studios are doing a great job of appealing to the masses. But it won't last. It never does. Creativity will return.
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#7 Greg Traw

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Posted 18 July 2008 - 04:44 AM

Let's not fool ourselves...

Hollywood execs are not businessmen and to think they're in the industry to simply make money you're dead wrong.

Orson Welles and Francis Ford Coppola have both expressed -- more like complained -- that the film industry is not a legitimate business. And that it's really a contest of power and egos amongst a select group of people "hiding behind the curtain."
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#8 Giovanni Speranza

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Posted 19 July 2008 - 06:40 PM

The cinema was ALWAYS at it's zenith.
Maybe you should say: is it dead?
Or you could say: after IMAX HD is there some room for improvement?
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#9 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 06:33 PM

The cinema was ALWAYS at it's zenith.
Maybe you should say: is it dead?
Or you could say: after IMAX HD is there some room for improvement?


For me, it reached it's zenith in 1968...
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#10 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 09:03 PM

Bill, if that has to do with a certain Kubrick film, then I couldn't agree more! :)

Honestly, though, does art move in such a way, or is it just that as we get older we loose touch with what is "current?"

This is of course making the assumption that film is art.
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#11 K Borowski

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Posted 23 July 2008 - 10:30 PM

Bill, if that has to do with a certain Kubrick film, then I couldn't agree more! :)

Honestly, though, does art move in such a way, or is it just that as we get older we loose touch with what is "current?"

This is of course making the assumption that film is art.


I don't think appreciation of great movies has to do with age. Who is to say that someone couldn't make a modern-day movie with the same impact of 2001? I think Kubrick is timeless. Unfortunately, I also doubt there will ever be a director quite like him.

Unfortunately the trend towards action movies today isn't coupled with the desire to make them intelligent too. Our own David Mullen has said time and time again how many movies today are specifically targeted towards teenagers, which is a shame because I think you can make an intelligent action movie and give it good production values and an intelligent story. Yet these films seem to be fewer and fewer in amongst the mix of action films churned out these days.

And we still have epic movies made nowadays. Look at the string of Gibson epics (some good, some bad, some so-so). Howabout Gladiator?

I think that the passage of time seems to downplay all of the bad movies made, and up-play all of the greats. After all, there were plenty of shi tty movies made in 1968 along-side 2001. 2001 wasn't even as much of a commercial success as they wanted. It only became famous later. Not as much so, but in some ways it has the same luke-warm response as The Thin Red Line did, but due to the trend of re-releases of that time (before VCRs), it was more successful in rerelease. NB I am not saying that The Thin Red Line is as good as 2001, it's an imperfect analogy at best.

I think there is also a greater degree of commercialism in film production today, i.e. bankrolling a movie that is knowingly bad and playing it up with 10s of millions in advertising to get people to see it. This has always been done, but I feel that it is done moreso. The way Hollywood promotes movies nowadays is disappointingly catered to the lowest-common denominator.

I can kick myself because I was so disenchanted by the trailer for "Minority Report" that I never saw it in theatres, the trailer made it look like such a lame action movie. Having watched it over a dozen times now, I feel that it is a modern-day masterpiece of a movie, but it was clearly targeted to teenagers in the trailer, which probably turned a great deal of people off to it.

Now, in terms of a zenith, or a plateau, I don't think so. I hope not. I'd like to think that cinema is actually regearing to make the movies big again, with the latest Batman movie, although time will only tell if big movies are going to make a comeback, and we will see a shift back towards high-art films and witty storytelling from the current gross-out teen comedies and mindless street-racer action films. Sure, there is a place for these films, but I think they are currently getting way to large a piece of the pie. Studios need to make films that are smart and exciting, not hash them into two separate categories.
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#12 Bill DiPietra

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 04:36 PM

Bill, if that has to do with a certain Kubrick film, then I couldn't agree more! :)


It certainly does! ;)

In truth, I would love nothing more than to see a modern-day Kubrick emerge and resurrect the cinema as art. I suppose some part of me still thinks there is someone out there who will be able to do this, but the way that the media tends to invoke the word "genius" at the most transparent of concepts in today's films will do a good job of preventing this from ever happening (at least in America.)

This also goes back to my argument about how young/independent filmmakers have no true concept of film history. How can you create a truly orginal piece of work if you have not seen who has come before you? So many film students just don't get that you NEED to study the theories of the masters before you can even think of becoming one. Scorsese was a great idol for me to grasp when I first became a film studuent, simply because he still considers himself a film student. He was a great place to start because I was able to jump off to the filmmakers HE idolized, which encompassed so very many.

There are very few films that I consider noteworthy these days. I think the most recent one for me was the nine-year old "The Insider," simply due to the basic human concepts it dealt with. That is why so many films from the 60s and before have always, and still do, appeal to me.

As for Kubrick, the man was a genius in so many ways, as well as the greatest American filmmaker of the 20th century. Unfortunately, I don't think we will see his kind ever again.

Just my opinion.
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#13 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 04:41 PM

Well said Bill.

When I was in filmschool I was compared to Kubrick. . . which was interesting. . . and just basically people blowing smoke up my ass.

I do believe, though that there will come another filmmaker to rival Kubrick and surpass him as well as many others. It just takes time. Don't forget, while many of the post greats are no longer as great, they are still around and on the top of the game. IN time new people will come who were effected by the whole corpus before hand, and truly create something noteworthy. There are some now who I really enjoy, though recently I find myself liking individual films as opposed to individual filmmakers.


I'm surprised up there in NY there aren't more autuers around. Not much down here in Phila along those lines.
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#14 K Borowski

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 05:14 PM

When I was in filmschool I was compared to Kubrick. . . which was interesting. . . and just basically people blowing smoke up my ass.


In what way Adrian, in terms of great cinematography, or in terms of being a stubborn son-of-a-bitch that drove everyone crazy? ;)
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#15 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 24 July 2008 - 05:24 PM

Probably both!


they were referencing cinematography though, because for a film, I did a 5 minute WW2 short on a 1 chip minidv camera without any speaking. . .and people were confused by it . . . much like kubrick? I dunno. It was a professor who called it "Kubrickian."
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#16 Dan Diaconu M

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Posted 25 July 2008 - 01:17 AM

How can you create a truly orginal piece of work if you have not seen who has come before you?

Ask Chaplin. (Michelangelo, Leonardo, etc)
Plato didn't read Kant :lol: (and the list goes on)
When one doesn't "know" and hasn't "seen" other sources of inspiration, then (if one is inspired) becomes a creator.
One can either create or just imitate. Crowds follow inspired originals I guess. ;)
My (tax deductible) 2c.
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#17 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 25 July 2008 - 06:57 AM

Michelangelo like many painters often were students of other painters or copied works on their own from other painters.

http://en.wikipedia....ki/Michelangelo


It's very hard to have any original. . .that's what the whole post modern movement was about.
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#18 Chris Keth

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Posted 25 July 2008 - 02:00 PM

Michelangelo like many painters often were students of other painters or copied works on their own from other painters.

http://en.wikipedia....ki/Michelangelo


It's very hard to have any original. . .that's what the whole post modern movement was about.


The standard method of learning in Michaelangelo's time was to copy, stroke for stroke if possible, the works of those considered great. It's still one of the things that most art students do at one time or another.
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#19 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 25 July 2008 - 04:06 PM

I know some film students who would cry "foul," at such a notion. . .
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#20 Dan Diaconu M

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Posted 26 July 2008 - 07:45 AM

I envy your enthusiasm Adrian (and Chris) and wish you both good luck in your career.

PS. Took me a long time to respond (or not) and make the above my 5th (or 27th) post.
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