The other day I stumbled across an old issue of GQ and read, “The Day the Movies Died” by Mark Harris.
It’s a very honest critique of movies today — and why many of them suck:
It has always been disheartening when good movies flop; it gives endless comfort to those who would rather not have to try to make them and can happily take cover behind a shield labeled “The people have spoken.” But it’s really bad news when the industry essentially rejects a success, when a movie that should have spawned two dozen taste-based gambles on passion projects is instead greeted as an unanswerable anomaly. That kind of thinking is why Hollywood studio filmmaking, as 2010 came to its end, was at an all-time low—by which I don’t mean that there are fewer really good movies than ever before (last year had its share, and so will 2011) but that it has never been harder for an intelligent, moderately budgeted, original movie aimed at adults to get onto movie screens nationwide.
Here’s the brutal — if not entirely depressing — reality of films in today’s theaters, according to Harris:
With that in mind, let’s look ahead to what’s on the menu for this year: four adaptations of comic books. One prequel to an adaptation of a comic book. One sequel to a sequel to a movie based on a toy. One sequel to a sequel to a sequel to a movie based on an amusement-park ride. One prequel to a remake. Two sequels to cartoons. One sequel to a comedy. An adaptation of a children’s book. An adaptation of a Saturday-morning cartoon. One sequel with a 4 in the title. Two sequels with a 5 in the title. One sequel that, if it were inclined to use numbers, would have to have a 7 1/2 in the title.
It made me think about the movies I’ve liked over the years — and how many of them didn’t rake in the kind of box-office bucks, say, the sequel to a cartoon or an adaptation of a comic book. Movies like “Sneakers,” “Inception,” even “Babe” never got the kind of revenue love as critically un-acclaimed films like “XXX” and even “Hangover 2” (which, in my opinion, was grossly overrated.)
So do you know some movies that are worth seeing that didn’t get the kind of attention they should have? Share here. I’m updating my Netflix account.
I agree that the selection of movies today leave much to be desired. I am a huge comic book fan (Comic-con just a month away, lol) but the real genuine acting and performance that draws out the depth and emotion in the viewer are lacking in the comic-book genre.
The Stieg Larsson movies were well done, even if it didn’t exceed the books (they rarely do). It seems to me that the movies that have the most appeal are foreign films. They rarely have the “fluff and flair” (read:cgi) of it’s American counterparts but they do contain a lot of raw human emotion. The Japanese fim “Departures” is probably my favorite movie. A wonderful tale of a man struggling with career decisions. Sound familiar Cat? 🙂
Although I am not a big fan of Rob Reiner’s politics I do enjoy some of his movies. This past weekend, “Flipped” showed up in our mailbox via Netflix. I was pleasantly surprised by this coming of age movie set in the early 60s (think Wonder Years.) The story could have been presented in a cornball fashion but Reiner directed the piece with thoughtful sophistication. This was a great Father’s Day movie to watch with my kids. My only sadness is that it bombed at the box office. This should have been a classic.
The Amish see more movies than I do these days.
Always enjoy checking out your blog in the morning… very thoughtful post, as usual.
Some great movies (in my personal opinion) that are underrated or generally ignored:
– Meet Joe Black (it’s also what I think is the first movie that used IZ’s song)
– Picture Bride
– Shindler’s List
– Bottle Shock
– Searching for Bobby Fischer
– Shawshank Redemption
– Good Will Hunting
– Finding Forrester
@jaydee: I agree; there are some great foreign films. I know that even US studios have begun to recognize them, since there have been some American adaptations. Unfortunately, the adaptations never quite live up to the original (as should be expected, since it fits best within the original cultural context).
A couple foreign movies you might enjoy:
– My Sassy Girl (Korean)
– Shall We Dance (Japanese)
Still trying to find the original Hachi movie in Japanese (with subtitles). I enjoyed the American adaptation, but I’m sure the Japanese one will be even better.
I agree, the Japanese version of, “Shall We Dance” was so much better than the American version.
Ang Lee’s, “Eat, Drink, Man, Woman” was a cinematic marvel and should not be missed.
Endurance is the only true measure of movie quality. That a movie can be enjoyed, studied and celebrated decades after its’ intial release, by different generations of movie goers. Bad movies have been with us since the Silent Era. Sequels and prequels have always been there. It’s just that the good movies survive, and folks forget about the bad pictures.
And people trashing the state of movies is another constant. Mark Harris’ article isn’t anything new.
In Dec 1974 both high powered movie critics, Roger Ebert and Vincent Canby wrote articles stating the movies of the 70s, so far, ARE THE WORST IN MOVIE HISTORY !!!!! . Now, everyone calls the movies of the 70’s the second best decade of movies since the 1930’s. Go figure.
The missus & I seen a movie from Netflix, though think it might only be on dvd, Welcome Back Mr. McDonald. Had us in tears, it was sooo funny. Creative, insightful & a peek into Japanese conformity with its human cost in keeping everyone around you “happy”. You don’t have to have connections to Japan, but it doesn’t hurt when you keep in mind that Ronald McDonald becomes Donald McDonald.
The following have really been enjoyable for me, some are recent a few are a little older:
2010: Pyaar Impossible starring Priyanka Chopra. Loved it. Love Priyanka.
2009: New York starring John Abraham, Katrina Kaif and Neil Nitin Mukesh, It is about the aftermath of September 2001. Brilliant film.
2009: Rocket Singh Salesman of the Year starring Ranbir Kapoor. A fun yet serious movie
2008: Ip Man starring Donnie Yen
1991: Raise the Red Lantern starring Gong Li. Fell in love with Gong Li, phenomenal actress.
There are a lot more I like but this is a good start.
Picture Bride is a definite favorite, anyone watch Kayo’s final short film, *”Fishbowl”? And yes, wasn’t happy with the US remake of “Shall We Dance?”.
Saving Face (Alice Wu)
American Pastime (Desmond Nakano)
9500 Liberty (Annabel Park, Eric Byler)
The Way Home (Jeong-hyang Lee)
The Hidden Fortress (Akira Kurosawa). If you’re a Star Wars fan, this is a requirement.
Over the Rainbow (Ahn Jin-woo)
Il Mare (Lee Hyun-seung)
Mindy (Ai Lene Chor) narrative short. You can view it here: https://vimeo.com/6619025
*Eternal Gaze (Sam Chen), animation short
*Amazonia (Sam Chen), animation short
Hmm… slight Asian film/director bias?
Across the Universe (Julie Taymor)
Mad Hot Ballroom (Marilyn Agrelo), documentary
*Disclosure: Know/knew the filmmaker, connected with the film.
its time for everyone to re-watch (or watch 4 the first time) the Cheech and Chong movies. without getting too deep, its time to laugh again.
A quick list of underratd movies:
The Hammer — Indie boxing movie starring comedian and former amateur boxer Adam Carolla. A funny take on the boxing movie formula of blue-collar underdog + love interest = champion. Surprisingly good.
Outside Providence — Great coming-of-age story about a lonely kid who goes to a prep school. Part comedy, part tragedy, and features a stunningly good performance by Alec Baldwin as the kid’s dad.
Team America: World Police — the guys behind south park did a satirical movie about everything associated with terrorism and politics in mid-2000s, from Bush to the Iraq War to Michael Moore. And they did it with marionettes carrying M-16s. Lunatic genius.
WHOO HOO! Thanks for all the suggestions! I have a whole list of movies to add to my Netflix!
here’s a movie u might like: “the Wanderers”
darn, i forgot a great book!–> ” A Tree Grows in Brooklyn”. oops, and i’m in the wrong article too. *sigh*
Off the top of my head I’d say “Jackie Brown”. This Quentin Tarantino movie came on the heels of Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction and I remember at the time me and quite a few others who became fans of Tarantino through those films thought it was just OK. It’s slower paced and nowhere near as over the top as those two films. But I’ve grown to like this film very much now that I’m at the age where I can relate to some of the dialogue better. The scenes where Jackie Brown (Pam Grier) and Max Cherry (Robert Forster) talk about getting older hits home now, unfortunately. 😛 Anyway that’s my pick!
I liked “The 13th Warrior” with Antonio Banderas; “A Knight’s Tale” with Heath Ledger; and “The Last Samurai” with Tom Cruise.
Science of Sleep
Run Lola Run
Science of Sleep
Lost in Translation
I stumbled across this site because I’m a huge fan of the movie Sneakers. Anyways, a few other movies I really like that I think are underrated are the movies Ronin, Devil’s Advocate and Enemy of the state.
I’ll have to check out some of the ones that others have posted before me!