Is Cinema Getting Worse Or Am I Getting Too Critical

Recently I’ve experienced a great deal of disappointment when it comes to cinema. At the start of the summer I was disappointed by The Great Gatsby, then I was disappointed by Scary Movie V (given that my expectations were super low, it was an achievement), then I was disappointed by Iron Man 3, followed by The Wolverine and most recently Kick-Ass 2. Originally I just thought that cinema was getting worse, but I realised it’s not cinema but the media as a whole. As long as something makes money, the business just don’t give a shit if it’s good. Why would they? You make schlock and people pay for it. You make a fantastic film and nobody even notices. Because your general cinema goer just wants to sit there and drool into their popcorn, as the leggy brunette playing the lead, bends over a car and turns to the camera – one for the wank bank. You think I’m being too general here? Well I’m not. I go to the cinema at least once a week and time after time I see the same slack jawed yokels giggling away at every poop and fart joke. If I take a trip away from the multiplex and to the nearest artsy cinema I’m greeted with about six people watching a fantastically well made film with their attention firmly centred on the medium at hand – no rustling of wrappers, no tweeting during the film and no talking. You want to know which film makes the most money? It’s the one the yokels went to watch, the one where the robots punched each other in poorly directed scenes. At the end of the day, can you blame the studio?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not writing this as an attack on the cinema proles. No, I envy them. Let’s look at this as a 1984 metaphor (you know because I started with the whole prole thing). Your average cinema goer is the prole living in the London slum. Sure they don’t have the greatest quality of life, but they are free. Then there are people like myself. We work for The Outer Party. We believe ourselves better than the proles, even though we are more trapped. Basically we just know too much. Some of us become institutionalised. We see only the brilliance of our situation. Others envy the freedom of the proles. Let me put all this into context. I’ve studied the art of filmmaking both academically and as a hobbyist. The knowledge I have gathered makes me point out errors and faults with every film I see. On top of that it often gives me this false sense of superiority over your average movie goer because I “get” art house and indie cinema. But really all I want to be is a prole. All’s I want to do is walk into Grown Ups 2 and laugh uncontrollably at the poorly written and childish humour. But I can’t. I’ve taken the red pill and I can now see the Matrix. Basically I’m not in Kansas any more.

Once you see how the magic is done, there really is no going back. It’s like finding out that Father Christmas isn’t real, or that card tricks are just that – tricks – or when you discover that there is no Tooth Fairy. Once you know it’s all over. Once you find out that Santa isn’t real you feel better than the misguided fools who still believe. Then down the line you really wish that you were just like them. Your jaded adult view of the world has left you broken and scared. You don’t see the good anymore, all you can see is wasted opportunity and forgotten youth. Am I getting outside the realms of cinema here? Maybe, but it’s all relative. My first major disappointment was related to cinema. When I was 8 I went to see Star Wars Episode 1 in the pictures. Bam! Thats where it all started. I wanted to know how a film could be so boring. From there on I started to question stuff. Of course it was only later on when I truly realised to what extent, and the reasons why, the film sucked. By that point I’d payed to see two more woeful films and I was more disillusioned than ever. (As a side note I also payed to see Phantom Menace in 3D, but that was mostly for the pure sadistic thrill.) Am I saying Star Wars ruined my life? No, but i’m certainly saying that Star Wars ruined cinema for me. It made me question the magic. Star Wars was like that douche (look away if you don’t want films ruined for effect) who ruins Fight Club by telling you it was all in his head, that Christian Bale has a twin in The Prestige, or that Soylent Green is people. I’m done with spoiling wildly spoilt films for effect now, so you can all look back.

In the end I’m often not blown away by many movies for multiple reasons. Firstly; most movies suck and are made for the lowest common denominator. Secondly; I’m jaded, overly critical and a bit pretentious. And finally; because nobody really cares anymore. People are making money off crap, and that’s all they care about. Filmmaking isn’t the art it once was, It’s just a tool of the corporations and capitalism as a whole. And you know what? I’m as dragged in as those mindless people with their popcorn and supersized Pepsi. If I wasn’t I wouldn’t have bothered writing this.

by Matthew Husselbury
@Messiah_MPH

(edited by Ian Dutton)

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7 comments

  1. “I was disappointed by The Great Gatsby, then I was disappointed by Scary Movie V (given that my expectations were super low, it was an achievement), then I was disappointed by Iron Man 3, followed by The Wolverine and most recently Kick-Ass 2.”

    Wow, what a fucking wide range of movies you’ve seen. You’re totally correct to make such a generalization about “cinema” from these five films.

    If you pay to see trash you’re gonna get trash. You have no one to blame but yourself.

  2. May I take advantage of an expert like you? What are some movies you like?

    1. This year I’ve rather enjoyed; mud, the conjuring, from up on poppy hill and the worlds end. Among others.

  3. I’ve become increasingly more selective over the films I go to see at the cinema. Frankly the films released this summer have ranged from average/mediocre to utter crap. But you can tell the crap ones from a mile off by the trailers. A friend had asked me to see After Earth and the Lone Ranger. Each time I told him no, I’m not wasting my time or money. M. Night Shyamalan is toxic, I’m not going to waste my time on any new film he is attached too, and I wasn’t prepared to sit through Johnny Depp do a half arse Captain Jack Sparrow regurgitation.

    I totally understand your jaded and critical stance. It afflicts me too. I just can’t work out whether cinema is getting worse or our perception of older films is filtered by rose tinted glasses. I think it might be the latter, because there have always been crap films. But we forget about that and just remember the great ones.

    However there is a clear blandness with newer films, everything is a bit too safe, family friendly. All challenging adult themes have disappeared. I hate the term that Danny Boyle has coined, but it is the pixarification of movies to reach a broad target audience. I’m losing hope in watching great new films at the cinema, but it’s ok, there are some fantastic TV dramas that are being made at the moment.

    In summary, it may have always been crap. Just be more selective over what you watch.

  4. its alright, terry gilliam is making the zero theorem

  5. check out the Place Beyond the Pines… best movie of the year in my opinion

    1. Man I loved that film. Well 2/3 of it anyway. Wasn’t keen on the bit with the kids.

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