Friday, February 10, 2006

The Evolution of Movies

Okay, if you are either from Kansas or you don't believe in Evolution, click on another site. This entry will infuriate you, and you will comment in such a way as to create illogical arguments or just piss me off. Frankly, life is too short to get pissed off all of the time. So you will be adding to the quality of my and your life if you leave now.

A few weeks ago, a good friend of mine was talking about movies. He said something to the effect of "in general, movies are not as good as they used to be." Now, he is a show tunes guy to boot, so his opinion probably is swayed by this as well.

Now, I don't know when movies started out; let's say that for the past 50 years, the technology was good enough so that the movies "looked good." And I am using 50 years because I am going to do math – and I like simple. I know that Snow White was made in 1937, or somewhere near there, so the real date may be more like 70 years or so.

Okay, I have changed my mind. Let's say 70 years – but I want to talk about movies from 70 to 20 years ago. A fifty year period. So for those years in question, let's say you had 4 wonderful movies per year – not hard to do. You have one "must see" movie each quarter of the year. If this small amount of movies were tallied, we would have 200 must see movies for that timeframe. Well, there are only so many hours in a day – week, year – and most of us want to see more current movies anyway (they tend to have more exposed body parts). And speaking of more exposed body parts – have you ever noticed that the only time you have full frontal nudity for men is in art flicks (or porn). I love artsy movies, too. Oh, la la.

Where was I going wit full frontal nudity? Oh, I don't know.

The point I was trying to make before I started thinking of penises is that over time, the only (or most of) movies that seem to survive are really good or really interesting movies. It doesn't mean that the 1950s had better movies (think Elvis movies, please). It is just really bad movies are hopefully forgotten (unless they are really bad – e.g., Istar). It is not that individual movies are evolving (or having sex with each other), but that less than interesting/important movies simply are forgotten.

Yeah, I know what you are thinking – artsy movies. Why do they like showing penises. Well, because that's how they can say, "this is art because little kiddies can't see this." Well, if you are in Europe, they can see it on most beaches. But you get my drift.

And the next question you may have is "what are your favorite frontal nudity movies?" Well, they are usually in Italian or French with subtitles. The one that I remember that was not an artistic film was "Basic Instinct." But I don't know if the legs crossing scene was real. I mean Sharon Stone is a skank, but I think it is the director that makes the final decision. So this could be a fake frontal nudity shot, which is not real good anyway. I guess I can't name any films because the frontal nudity acts as a frontal lobotomy. In a pleasant sort of way.

Oh, and the Kansas thing deals with the Kansas State School Board touting evolution as a grown-up fairy tale. I think that those on the school board need to let their hair down and watch some artsy films.


mal said...

I take exception that movies are not as good as they used to be. EXCUSE ME??? With production costs being what they are, we have fewer of them for sure, but I believe the average quality is MUCH better. They are no longer feeding the "B" movie factories to crank out dross.

I love Casablanca, but do you think if it was released as new today it would get anything but panned?

Leesa said...

mallory: I am not talking about average movies. Average movies don't stand the test of time and are forgotten. Here are some bad movies from last year:

Alone in the Dark (Lions Gate Films)
"On the short list of Worst Movies Ever Made." - Walter Chaw, Film Freak Central
"Makes Plan 9 from Outer Space look like 2001: A Space Odyssey." - Frank Ochieng, The World Journal
"A film so mind-blowingly horrible that it teeters on the edge of cinematic immortality." - Peter Hartlaub, San Francisco Chronicle
"Saying Uwe Boll's Alone in the Dark is better than his 2003 American debut House of the Dead - possibly the worst horror film of the past decade - is akin to praising syphilis for not being HIV." - Nick Schager, Slant magazine

Bewitched (Sony/Columbia Pictures)
"There is not a movie here. Just scenes in search of one." - Roger Ebert
"A travesty of monumental proportions." - James Berardinelli, Reel Views
"Bewitched is a disaster. I wouldn’t sit through it again at gunpoint." - Rex Reed

Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo (Sony/Columbia Pictures)
"Vile and laughless." - Lou Lumenick, New York Post
"It manages the seemingly impossible of being even worse than the last Deuce Bigalow movie." - Steve Rhodes, Internet Reviews
"So shockingly incompetent on every level that I’m still amazed it ever got released. I have yet to meet someone who actually wants to see this movie, but when I do, I will weep for that person." - David Cornelius, Hollywood Bitchslap

Dirty Love (First Look Pictures)
"A sorry spectacle." - Todd McCarthy, Variety
"Excruciatingly inept." - Mark Holcomb, Village Voice
"Jenny McCarthy humiliates herself." - Kyle Smith, New York Post

Son of the Mask (New Line Cinema)
"A truly numbing experience." - Brian Lowry, Variety
"An irredeemable mess." - Dana Stevens, New York Times

Mike said...

Got tickets?

Actually i think it's hard to compare movies from different time periods due to technological advances.

My biggest problem with most movies is if I read the book first I'm generally disappointed in the movie.

thebillofbrothers said...

Not to oversimplify but...

I think the perceived evolution of movies may be a result of how we relate to movies. It's much harder to relate to a movie made fifty years ago than a movie that came from a mind & imagination that lives in the current time.

It's not a 50yr old movie but I saw Easy Rider for the first time a few weeks ago - what a stinker. It was a complete waste of time for me but I'm sure if I grew up in that time I would love the film.

Byron said...

excellent thoughts...Movies will always be movies and the magic will be that of an era and last eternal



Ddot the King said...

Sup Leesa! I'm sorry I have been neglecting you.

I think movies are better. I mean as good as the original Star Wars was if you compare it to the last one to come out then it's trash. The more technology the better movies will be. I'm sure it's harder to come up with original stories but I think on a whole movies are better.

Prata said...

I certainly agree that moves have gotten better technology, but that doesn't make a necessarily better movie. Case in point, "The Road Home" (with Zhang Ziyi) or Casablanca, or Star Wars (original not prequels) Those are all wonderful movies. I personally am not a fan of Casablanca but I do think it's a good movie (wonderful even). Tron is another one that is just excellent. The reason isn't with the technology, because even today people think these movies are excellent.

The prequel Star Wars movies were garbage. Yes, the technology gets better and makes for more realistic effects; however, that doesn't make the movie better, it just makes it easier on the eyes. One recent movie that was very good AND had very good technology was "A.I." (Artificial Intelligence). Another good one was Unbreakable, and even "The Sixth Sense". Technology didn't make these movies good, although in the case of "A.I." it did make all the difference for the believability of the various scenes as they were shot (shot in another fashion with lesser technology would have made them just as believable but different).

Movies have evolved, but they have certainly not gotten better. What makes a movie memorable is largely quotes and the actors'/actresses' reactions to situations. "Look good" is not a bad thing, but if the movie (as in recent releases) relies solely on this, then the technology is really hampering the art of movie making.

My list of favorites, The Last Samurai, The Road Home, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Legend of Zu, AKA Musa, House of Flying Daggers, The One, Pulp Fiction, Memoirs of a Geisha (although I hate that they tainted the geiko culture), Ronin.

With the exception of The One and House of Flying Daggers, these movies had relatively dated techniques to do special effects and they were _excellent_ movies. Largely, I believe Leesa is correct though. It's just that many movies that have been made recently have not been overly interesting, writers are getting younger and lack nuance. Case in point, me.

Prata said...

Oh and to your last paragraph.

Sorry for length, you may have to c/p it.

Girl Next Door said...

UGGGGGJHHHHHH! My response got eaten!

In a nutshell.

- Most movies have a redeaming quality but lack a good character dev., plot, story line or production quality. You need all of them

- Most commercial movies have nudity for nudity sake to bring in viewers. There's no point to the nudity.

- We have to ask ourselves, "What's the line between art and porn?"

And the quote I started with, "Movies are the paperbacks of theater."


Grant said...

I think movies are getting slightly better (not counting f/x - technology has definitely improved) because some directors and writers have learned what works and what doesn't for that medium. Every year has had its good movies (Arsenic and Old Lace, Harvey, Fight Club) and bad (Robot Monster, War of the Worlds remake). As to the nudity, they need different categories for male and female exposure. I always feel cheated when I'm promised nudity only to see some guy's butt.

KyuBall said...

(Insert shameless plug) I actually just blogged about this, in a 'round about way, last night.

Hollywood is running out of ideas. There are more movies being made today then ever in our history. B-movies found a new life with the Straight to Video market, so our theaters aren't jammed with them, but any hack with a few $thousand can churn out drivel and have it distributed to the local Blockbuster.

It's becoming harder and harder to produce memoriable movies that aren't rehashes.

Before you label me as a movie snob, let me back up and state that I love mindless entertainment...give me a movie with naked chicks firing guns and ninjas cutting people in half and I'm ok. I'm just saying that originality is starting to suffer.

Edtime Stories said...

I think gnd is right for the most part. Movies are the paperbacks. The other thing is that Hollywood never takes too many chances with quality, they what sizzle. That is how Brokeback can get made, it was the sizzle that brought people into the theatre, the same with the Passion of the Christ.

What has happened is that we as a public seem to want simply movies that feel comfortable. I am stunned when I see something like Big Mama2 when I can't understand how a pitch meeting for such a movie was made.

Deep down we will get better quality films if we take the time to find those independent films in our neighborhood art house. there are good ones without penises. I can think of things like The Secret Life of Altarboys, or the Merchant of Venice in the last few years. Even Capote and Sideways were great pics that weren't big budget. I am droning on so I will stop. Loved the post, thanks for creating passion Leesa.

mal said...

*L* Leesa, I see your point! I saw two of those stinkers....YEEECH

Leesa said...

mike: when does your blogmoon go to video? Will we have to go behind the curtain for it?

bill: I feel the same way about American Graffiti.

byron: thanks, sweetie.

ddot: wow, you posted a comment. Long time. One series of movies that may not have been made without the improving technology: The Lord of the Rings.

prata: good thoughts. And you were the first to discuss Kansas. Thanks.

GND: Funny that movies are paperbacks, and the more I think about it, you are right!

grant: sometimes we change though, and directors have to follow our changes.

kueball: I swear I didn't see your blog before I wrote mine. But I did read yours.

ed: I think for Big Mama2, they showed a graph with cost and revenue, and it looked really good!

Leesa said...

mallory: not saying you are wrong either, dear. With the secondary video market, sometimes stinkers make money too.

Bruce said...

Dust in the Wind is my favorite song by Kansas...

Shannon said...

I agree movies are just not what they use to be!! I loved the Marilyn Monroe movies.. and so on.. I am a sucker for the love stories and so forth.

Sorry I wasn't here yesterday.. I was out and I know you don't blog on the weekends but I just wanted to say HI!! Have a great weekend!!

~Deb said...

Nothing like a timeless black and white movie. The thing that make me question those movies though- are the way they used to talk. I still love watching my old movies---and for 'present time' movies, I prefer independent films mostly.

Bruce said...

OK, to be serious here for a second, I think the main problem with movies today is the lack of originality. The glut of TV-based films in the last few years is evidence of that, as is the proliferation of sequels. It's akin to using yesterday's coffee grounds to brew a pot today.
~Deb makes a good point about indie films. Some of the best, and unheralded, movies I've seen in the last 10-12 years have been indies.

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Amber said...

I'm a few days late in commenting. But here I am anyway. I agree that on the whole, movies are not as good as they used to be. Of all the movies that are released every day, there aren't many that will be able to stand the test of time. Yes, picture and sound and effects have improved, but quality of story has not. There are definitely good movies now, but there are at least two bad ones for every good one. I could go on about this for a while. Don't even get me started on the way movies butcher awesome books...

Joe said...

I couldn't have said it better than ~deb, so I won't try.

Favorite bad movie: Illegal in Blue.

Sample dialogue: "My late husband used to tell me that I should be declared illegal in blue. He said that I looked so good when I wore blue that I was dangerous. I could get a man to do anything."