Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Movie Quality is Awful These Days

I'm not sure if movies are getting worse, or if my attention span is getting worse.

I used to be a huge movie fan.  I went to the movies all the time, and when I lived in L.A. I used to go and see practically every independent movie that was released.  Through those years of viewing movies, there were always movies that stood out to me, that I thought:  "I have to own this."  Thus, I ended up with a pretty big VHS and DVD collection.  (First DVD I ever bought?  Fight Club.  Love that movie.  In fact, I bought a DVD player solely so I could view all the extras and commentary.)  There were always movies I wanted to own so I could watch them over and over again.  I can't tell you how many times I've watched Reservoir Dogs, American History X, Chasing Amy, Clerks, Magnolia, Pulp Fiction, Goodfellas, and many others. 

I don't go to the movies at all anymore.  I just wait for them to show up on cable or On Demand, or I stream them online through Netflix.  While I miss the experience of being at the movies, it's hard to justify the ticket prices these days for a movie that might be garbage.  I buy stuff for $5 on demand and get disappointed regularly.  Hell, I get disappointed by movies on cable on a regular basis.  So, why should I pay $10 or more to go see it in a theater, because if I pay that I'll be a hundred times more pissed off.  Also, I watch a lot of movies on cable that I would never, ever even dream of paying $10 to see in a theater.  For example, I watched Julia & Julia and I actually quite liked it.  Not enough to buy the DVD, but it was entertaining.  I also watched Everybody's Okay recently, and quite liked it, and cried at the end, but not enough to buy it on DVD.  (And seriously, what a terrible movie title, equivalent to It's Complicated, which is currently sitting on my DVR.  Who comes up with this shit?)

Maybe I'm just out of it, but the quality of movies these days is just awful.  I watched Inglorious Basterds, and it was fine, but come on Quentin Tarantino.  (I say this as a person who thinks Reservoir Dogs is one of the best movies ever made.)  I feel like every movie I see is just "fine" or "entertaining" but nothing special.  I mean, that's the bottom line expectation for a movie:  that it be entertaining for a couple of hours.  So, when a movie meets that expectation, it isn't that impressive.  Where are the really good movies, the ones you want to watch over and over again? 

I haven't bought a movie on DVD in probably two years.  I've seen no movie that makes me want to own it or find out more about it through commentary or extras.  I watch Sundance Channel and IFC, but nothing is anything special.  So seriously, what the hell is going on?  We get remakes and special effects these days.  I miss dialogue and story.  Tell me a story; don't give me ten minutes of a chase where I know the hero is going to come out of it alive.  Don't show me a fifteen minute fight scene.  What a waste of time.  It doesn't move the story forward, and I just get bored.  Special effects and CG don't impress me.  And for God's sakes, don't replace John Candy and Steve Martin with Robert Downy Jr. and Zach Galifianakis and tell me it's a new movie.  (I haven't seen Due Date, but the ads make it look like Planes, Trains, and Automobiles to me.)   What really impresses me is good storytelling and writing.  And right now, I'm struggling to think of a recent movie that I've watched where I thought both were there -- enough for me to want to own it.  I mean, come on.  Are there any decent writers left in Hollywood, or are they just not able to get their foot in the door?  I say let them in!       


  1. I read an article a few months back talking about how all the crap movies we are getting now are the result of a lot of stuff getting greenlighted before the writers' strike just so there would still be movies. I don't know how true that is (and I don't have the article to back me up), but it made a lot of sense, especially considering all the formulaic romantic comedies that have been released in the last few years.

  2. That does make a lot of sense, actually, given the lead time to make a movie. Well, going forward there's no excuse, right? Maybe we've just gone through a slump.