Thursday, September 28, 2006


Rob and I were discussing movies at the bar the other day, and we came to the conclusion that there are no must-see actors anymore. As it stands today, there isn't a single actor that, if he or she has a new movie coming out, everyone has to go see. In the 70s, you had Warren Beatty, Dustin Hoffman, in the 80s, you had Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino and Meryl Streep; in the 90s, Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. But in the 21st century, who is the biggest box office draw? We couldn't even come up with a Top 5 without someone disagreeing about one of the choices. Denzel Washington? Yeah, maybe. Jude Law? Meh. Charlize Theron? Not really. Russell Crowe? Hardly. Ashton Kutcher? Sadly, he's as good a choice as any. I don't have anything else to say, except, uhm . . . I like to shop.

Along those lines, Paul Schrader (Taxi Driver screenwriter) wrote a great article (the intro to which is free) in Film Comment about how movies are no longer what they used to be.

Motion pictures were the dominant art for the 20th century. Movies were the center of social mores, fashion and design, politics—in short, at the center of culture—and, in so being, dictated the terms of their dominance to the other art forms: literature, theater, and painting were all redefined by their relationship to cinema. Movies have owned the 20th century.

It will not be so in the 21st century. Cultural and technological forces are at work that will change the concept of "movies" as we have known them. I don’t know if there will be a dominant art form in this century, and I’m not sure what form audiovisual media will take, but I am certain movies will never regain the prominence they enjoyed in the last century.

So I'm not the only one who thinks this way, movies actually mean less than they used to (of course, it could also be that I'm getting more cynical as I age). As for the 21st century, I wouldn't count out interactive video games as being the next dominant "art form".

"And the Best Game of the Year Oscar goes to . . . MADDEN NFL 2021!"

Paul Schrader "Canon Fodder" [Film Comment]

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