Do the Movies Still Matter?

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Do the movies still matter? What was the last good film you saw in theaters?

The New York Times' A.O. Scott recently too a look back the just-concluded summer movie season and asked whether the movies still mattered:

Will any of the movies surfacing this fall provoke the kind of conversation that television series routinely do, breaking beyond niches into something larger? This bad summer movie season, in what seems to be one of the best television years ever, reinforces a suspicion that has been brewing for some time. Television, a business with its own troubles, is nonetheless able to inspire loyal devotion among viewers, to sustain virtual water-cooler rehashes on dozens of Web sites and to hold a fun-house mirror up to reality as movies rarely do. [full story]

What do you think? Do the movies still matter?

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Meserine: Part One was the last good film I saw in a theater, can't remember the last good one before that. But sure they still matter. Nothing like going to a movie on opening night. When EVERYONE is talking about a movie that first weekend there is a special feeling of community - which is also why TV creates so much excitement. When a tv show is good you get that feeling for months and months, you miss it over the summer. But when a movie is great you just get that high once. Also, unless you make it a point to go to festivals and series the pickings are pretty slim. Forget it if your only window is the multiplex. I saw a great Korean film called Mother on netflix recently... on my TV. Unless you work for a movie company, I don't think there is a point in quibbling about whether you saw it on TV or the theater.

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Thanks Eigen!

Your comment about Netflix reminded me of this bit I read recently on the New Yorker's website about procrastination:

A similar phenomenon is at work in an experiment run by a group including the economist George Loewenstein, in which people were asked to pick one movie to watch that night and one to watch at a later date. Not surprisingly, for the movie they wanted to watch immediately, people tended to pick lowbrow comedies and blockbusters, but when asked what movie they wanted to watch later they were more likely to pick serious, important films. The problem, of course, is that when the time comes to watch the serious movie, another frothy one will often seem more appealing. This is why Netflix queues are filled with movies that never get watched: our responsible selves put “Hotel Rwanda” and “The Seventh Seal” in our queue, but when the time comes we end up in front of a rerun of “The Hangover.” [Read more

It seems to me that unless you are a genuine cinephile, the way movies are delivered means that they increasingly fall into two categories - hard labor (make time in a busy schedule to go see the "good" movie you are supposed to like)
and shame (make time in a busy schedule see the guilty pleasure / crap), with the occasional third option for those of us still in the dating game. In contrast television gets slotted into our daily lives more seamlessly - over dinner, sitting on the couch, taking a sick day etc.

I was fortunate to have gotten a chance to work as a film reviewer once upon a time, and there was many a week where I went to screenings of two, three movies a day Monday through Friday. I wasn't paying for them so there was no pain associated with seeing a bad movie, instead there was excitement. Now I see far fewer films because I don't feel like spending the money on an increasingly losing gamble. Any film that seems probable but iffy to me I tend wait until I can watch it at home, so my theater time has become much more political - directors I feel I need to support, films I know people in my circle will be talking about, etc. So the movies still matter to me, just my way of seeing them has shifted.