Thoughts on the "Death of Cinema"

Currently, there is a lot of talk going around about a few articles by some prominent film critics which kick around the idea of the "Death of Cinema." I haven't read all of these articles -- there are quite of a few of them -- but I have read film critic David Denby's article "Has Hollywood Murdered the Movies?" and it is this article that I would like to speak of. Contrary to the popular belief held by enraged bloggers everywhere, Denby does not actually think we are experiencing the "Death of Cinema." This would be clear to everyone who bothered to read it all the way through as he comes straight out and says so in the final paragraph: "So are American movies finished, a cultural irrelevance? Despite almost everything, I don’t think the game is up, not by any means."

What he is talking about, is the way that film making has changed and why he thinks this is ultimately a negative change. Denby discusses how movies have come to focus less on creating character driven stories that we care about and more about roller coaster ride of spectacle. He cites movies like The Dark Knight Rises and Transformers as films that are, admittedly, exhilarating to watch but based on essentially hollow emotions (a point with which I agree). We enjoy them in the theatres and leave abuzz, he notes, but within a few days they've slipped completely from our minds.

He goes on to say that while movies like this are not necessarily bad in themselves, their box office success have created a culture which encourages Hollywood studios to invest not in character driven plots, but in flashy spectacle. He adds that the global nature of the movie business where Hollywood films make much of their money abroad has only exacerbated this problem, pointing to Battleship which made nearly all of it's money in foreign countries despite being a critical flop and the American public being largely uninterested.

Denby acknowledges that great films are still being made today, praising this year's Beasts of the Southern Wild and last year's Tree of Life but points out that it's becoming increasingly difficult for many films like these to find funding -- Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master was only saved by the private funds on and heiress (Megan Ellison) -- causing a longer and longer period between their films:

"After making Capote, Bennett Miller was idle for six years before making Moneyball. Alexander Payne had to wait seven years (after Sideways) before making The Descendants. Alfonso Cuarón hasn’t brought out a movie since the brilliant Children of Men in 2006. Guillermo del Toro, the gifted man who made Pan’s Labyrinth, is also having trouble getting money for his projects."

I could go on, but really you should all just read the article. If you like Film and Film Criticism it's absolutely worth a read.