A long decade has been concluded without consensus on what we should have called (“teens”?), Nor on what has been gained or lost in the big film debates over the last 10 years. Steven Spielberg warned of a colossal evolutionary crisis in theatrical distribution, in which film business becomes dependent every year on three or four big “pioneering” films that then fall and leave us the film equivalent of 2008 or even 1929. And the ones that all bet for superhero movies that Spielberg warned about going west. Well, it hasn’t happened yet.
This created a new hero / villain: Marvel Studies, which experienced an overwhelming explosion of box office popularity, blessed by cinema chains to secure certain outbreaks, but increasingly loathed by cinephiles for the stupidity of movies. In his widely shared New York Times article, Martin Scorsese expanded his personal view that superhero films are merely celebrated driving through a theme park without the individual art and humanity of a real film.
However, Scorsese created his own controversy by taking his new movie on Netflix. Two of the best films of the year, Scorsese’s Irishman and Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story, are Netflix products that are released for a short time in cinemas and then absorbed on the site to attract new subscribers and satisfy existing ones.
And it’s not just Netflix. One of the best films of this year – and decades – was Beanpole, the great young Russian director Kantemir Balagov; she had a handful of big screen shows at the London Film Festival and then went straight to the Mubi stream. It’s a terrible shame, even though streaming websites offer newer and younger filmmakers access and hospitality on a large scale. (And for independent works of art that only exist briefly in cinemas, this is nothing new.)
Regarding superhero films (Gen-Z western), there is no doubt that many studio leaders are fascinated by their bankruptcy and are less likely to embark on other genres of film. However, I have written about tendencies that are more worrying: high frame rates and ‘motion smoothing’ on new TVs that can make movies clearer, but flatter and more offensive, such as daytime TV. In the UK, their height in the UK is stable at 170 meters each year, which is helped by investing in the cinema experience – although the novelty of delivering food to your location is certainly a step away.
In this decade, Hollywood has awakened or has been hardly awakened to issues of diversity and social justice through the social media #OscarsSoWhite and #MeToo movements. Voting membership in the Academy has also changed to bring the younger generation, women and colored people. Harvey Weinstein may be about to entertain an agreement in civil courts to outrage many, but Roman Polanski faced a renewed dissatisfaction with his reputation. His new film, “Officer” and “Spy,” though he was favorably received at the Film Festival, had no performance.
Excellent work … Honor Swinton Byrne and Tom Burke in The Souvenir Joanna Hogg. Photo: BBC Films / Allstar
The question of diversity (so long disputed by men of a certain age who wish to congratulate themselves on the courage to reject “quotas”) is far from being answered, but in Britain there are new voices with fascinating and brilliant films. Outstanding works by female British filmmakers like Carol Morley, Joanna Hogg, Clio Barnard and Rungano Nyoni – and elsewhere, great directors like Kelly Reichardt, Anna Biller, Lucrecia Martel, Chloe Zhao and Debra Granik.
As far as cinematography is concerned, some commentators have found that it is too tied up in male privileges. But great – even historical – work came from Jessica Hausner, Mie Hansen-Løve and Martel, as well as from established silver backs like Quentin Tarantino, Yorgos Lanthimos and Paul Thomas Anderson, whose latest film, Phantom Thread, was a challenge to the curtain. for this extraordinary talent for acting, Daniel Day-Lewis. From Asia Hirokazu Korea, Jia Zhangke and Bong Joon-ho continued to produce dazzling works. But if there is a great author whose stock market is a bear market, it must be Abdellatif Kechiche, whose multi-part epic sexuality, Mektoub My Love, is increasingly hitting.
Perhaps there are too many documentary filmmakers currently chasing too few truly powerful subjects
Brexit is another big problem this decade – and it is remarkable how it has not been resolved in the UK films (though the new Last Christmas novel, despite all its clumsiness, mentions the word B and tries to dramatize its accompanying problems). Manufacturers, such as Eric Fellner and Jeremy Thomas, within the sector, are railing against the pitiful division it is opening, particularly as regards the free movement of persons and equipment across the Channel. Brexit stress film with a bureaucratic nightmare.
After the end of the decade, I am optimistic about many of the questions I have written on the occasion of the semester, in particular the way digital technology has allowed young filmmakers to do their work and raise money for new work through sites such as Indiegogo and Kickstarter. I am less fortunate about the state of documentary film. Five years ago we were in the midst of a “surge”; I now see documentary films that feel easy, sometimes almost negligible, and often hide in postmodern self-referrals about chaotic difficulties with documentation. Perhaps there are too many documentary filmmakers currently chasing too few truly powerful subjects.
Britain has suffered austerity measures over the last 10 years, so it’s exceptional how documentary films don’t reflect it. It is up to eighty-year-old veteran Ken Loach (in collaboration with screenwriter Paul Laverty) to address this issue directly and simply with Me, Daniel Blake and We apologize for having missed you.
Perhaps another question is the nature of the criticism itself. Critics complain about social media – it’s tedious and selfish – especially because social media has done so much to incite and revive criticism – but there was more harassment, more abuse in adolescence. Along with a handful of other critics, I didn’t like the Joker, a new myth movie about the origin for Batman’s Big Villain, starring Joaquin Phoenix. But regardless of the problems of this film, it is incomparably more interesting and intelligent than his online trolls and hate bomb fans, although I have been spared the misogy which the writers have experienced in this matter.
Particularly, as people are still threatened by a disagreement, an aggressive neurosis that is probably amplified by the bizarre consensual machine Rotten Tomatoes and its senseless pseudo-scientific evaluations that paralyze the idea of the analysis being considered. Individual critical voices are counted; even more, they are individual talented films.