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Main » 2022 » April » 3 » A Final Farewell From FilmsFilmsFilms
7:15 PM
A Final Farewell From FilmsFilmsFilms

In 2012 FilmsFilmsFilms was launched as an easy to read advert free website designed to recommend good movies for film fans to watch. There would be no political bias, no paid-for promotional push, no social axe to grind; we’d simply put forward the ten best films from a particular genre for readers to watch or add to their collection.

A lot has changed in the movie industry in the past ten years, and a lot has changed at FilmsFilmsFilms in the past decade to. Sadly, due to competing writing priorities FilmsFilmsFilms will be posting its last article today. It has been a fun decade sharing movie thoughts and shining a light on films which deserve highlighting.

Even more sadly, we leave the movie world in a precarious position. Cinemas were not in a great place in early 2020, with home streaming services starting to bite in to theatre’s share of movie fans money. And then COVID came along. Having to shut their doors on-and-off for a two year period did cinema no favours at all. However, there was one advantage to being forced to press pause on your business, the chance to have a rethink about how your business runs.

I’ve been saying for a long time now that to help themselves cinemas need to update their offering. Ticket prices are expensive, but what cinemas offer and how they are run hasn’t changed for decades. I’d love to see a wider variety of films offered, including a lot more legacy showings where classic movies many of us didn’t get a chance to see on the big screen get a re-release. I’d like to see screenings better policed so that talkers, phone users and other undesirables are dealt with rather than left to ruin a screening for decent patrons. I’d like to see headphone jacks introduced to armrests so that we can plug in and not have to worry about noisy patrons. I’d like to see a cheap ticket and snack policy introduced for those who aren’t so well off so they don’t miss out on the joy of the big screen; the next Spielberg might be amongst them.

Did cinema chains use the enforced COVID closures to revise their business and entice viewers back to theatres? Nope. When doors finally reopened post pandemic the cinema experience was exactly the same as it had been in 2019.  Having had two years of watching films at home on a decent TV, with cheap snacks, toilet breaks went you want, and no annoying members of the public, many people didn’t see the point of going back to theatres. The industry responded in kind, launching new films on cable TV and streaming services at the same time as releasing them to cinemas. Box office numbers remain low for all but the biggest blockbusters.

And still cinema chains do nothing. I don’t know what monumental event they think might be around the corner which will entice people back to theatres, but whatever it is it won’t be an event of their making.  I’ve been to the cinema once since the pandemic ended, to see Spiderman: No Way Home (2021) on its day of release in order to avoid spoilers.  On the one hand, I’ve really missed it; there’s nothing like the fun of seeing a great film in a cinema with a respectful and responsive crowd. But on the other I’m running out of reasons to support an industry so steadfast in its lack of dynamic thinking, so unwilling to change.

The films themselves haven’t helped much. Whilst the pandemic certainly had an impact on film production, those movies that have come out in the last two years haven’t been that memorable, for the most part. I’m struggling to think of a movie in the last two years that would earn a spot on a countdown of the top one hundred films of all time. Case in point, this year’s Best Picture winner Coda (2021) received middling reviews from nearly every outlet. Empire Magazine awarded it a very average  3/5, normally a reliable barometer of a films overall quality. Even though the Academy have a reputation for occasionally lauding average films, none of the other nominees this year were what you would call all-time-greats.

Standards seem to be slipping elsewhere to. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been a victim of its own success; Avengers: Endgame (2019) was such a perfect culmination of the Marvel films to date, every MCU release since has paled in comparison (No Way Home being the exception but mostly due to its casting surprises). DC are still fumbling all of their film franchises which aren’t Batman. The slasher film has been trying to make a comeback, but all three of its big releases (Halloween (2018), Halloween Kills (2021), Scream (2022)) have been awful. Star Wars, after the disappointment of Rise of Skywalker (2019), has scampered back to the small screen. Lord of the Rings has done likewise, its forging of the rings prequel heading to Amazon rather than theatres.

Jurassic Park, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, and The Fast and the Furious keep releasing entries of diminishing quality while studios remain reluctant to take a risk on anything that isn’t an already-established property; rehashes, reboots, reimagingings, and remakes abound.  James Bond has called it quits altogether, while Indiana Jones has fallen under the auspices of Kathleen Kennedy who looks to be saddling the aging archaeologist with a young female sidekick just so Hollywood can once again show how useless white men are now.

And speaking of Hollywood, therein lies the biggest problem, as was shown in all its eye-rolling embarrassment at this week’s Academy Awards. The greatest movie speech over the past few years wasn’t from a film; it came from Ricky Gervais during his opening monologue at his last appearance at the Golden Globes in January 2020. Sadly, most of Hollywood failed to take his words on board as Gervais bluntly pointed out why the paying public have fallen out of love with them. As YouTube movie reviewer The Critical Drinker said this week in his exacting summation of current Hollywood, social media has ruined the notion of the film star and highlighted further the ridiculous bubble large swathes of Hollywood live in. Familiarity has bred contempt.

Before social media, the Oscars were an enticing peak at our favourite film stars away from the scripted happenings of the film set. Now though Twitter, Instagram and the like allows movie stars to pester us day after day with peaks at their look-how-well-I’m-doing lifestyles, or post guilt trip adverts for their latest cause celebre. It’s a noble thing to highlight a worthy cause, but lecturing us ‘plebs’ on how we need to try harder with the environment, politics, whatever, is presumptuous and condescending. The assumption that we don’t already care about these causes is infuriating, as is the lack of any understanding that we have a lot less time to dedicate to these causes after a 50 hour work week at a hospital or on a shop floor.

The real kicker is that Hollywood is in no position to preach to anyone. How so many of them assumed that having a bit of fame and money made them experts on whatever subject they choose to spout about is baffling. More than that though, Hollywood needs to get its own house in order before it starts telling us what we should and shouldn’t be doing.

There has been some talk that Hollywood has cleaned up its act finally, but the Oscar ceremony on Sunday showed yet again that this isn’t the case. At a time when Ukraine is getting a violent kicking from a neighbouring leader who has seemingly lost his grip on reality, Hollywood mega A-lister Will Smith decided that the right response to a slightly groan-inducing joke from comedian Chris Rock was to smack him across the face and throw obscenities at him. And this after Smith initially laughed at the joke. We're left to assume he clocked his previously unfaithful wife looking less amused. The hard work of all the nominees and winners on the night was instantly pissed away; no one was talking about their success after the ceremony finished.

How tone deaf do you need to be to see that dishing out violence on the Oscar stage when the planet is close to a third world war and pictures of dead Ukrainians litter the nightly news is not a smart move? Isn’t Hollywood meant to be holier than though? You’d think so from the amount of espousing and social advocating that happens on the Oscar stage year after year. It’s the ultimate confirmation that Hollywood and large numbers of its inhabitants live in their own bubble where the rest of the world means little, except for the box office money they want us to keep handing over.

After slapping the Oscar host, Smith then refused to leave the ceremony, soaked up a standing ovation from a room full of equally deluded and sycophantic individuals, then danced the night away without a care in the world. He acted as if there were no consequences, and tellingly to date there hasn’t been. It’s obviously nowhere near as bad as what Harvey Weinstein got away with (or Polanski, Spacey, Gibson, Cosby, take your pick from an ever growing list) but the mentality behind the actions is the same; I’m famous and therefore special, so I can get away with whatever I want. You’d expect more from someone operating in their workplace on such a monstrous salary. My annual wage would probably pay Smith for a two or three minutes of his acting time, if that, and if I even motioned to slap a colleague across the face I’d be fired on the spot. And quite right to. Smith says he’s still a “work in progress”; whilst you’re never too old to learn, as a 53 year old fully entrenched in the Hollywood lifestyle I’d argue that boat has now sailed.

As many observed, if it wasn’t for this embarrassing moment most people wouldn’t have even known the Oscars were happening. People were already turning away from Hollywood and its bubble of self-congratulatory, law breaking weirdness. Some have said ‘The Slappening’ might actually help bring viewers back to future award ceremonies, but I think the opposite is true. Sunday’s event just confirmed to people why they don’t like a lot of modern-day movie stars, and the Oscars will continue its decline to irrelevance. Most of us have had just about enough of Hollywood, even us movie fans.

It of course has to be said that not all of those working in movies are cut from this same annoying cloth. There are those who just get on with the job they are paid to do (act and entertain) whilst taking care of any chosen philanthropy without the need for advertisement or fanfare, and all the while behaving the same way us ‘mere mortals’ do. The problem is they now seem to be in the minority. And for a film fan, if you no longer like the people making and starring in the movies being offered to you, chances are you’re not likely to spend your weekly slither of free time and cash going to a cinema to see them on screen.

But let’s not leave things on a negative note. Thankfully there are still decent people out there making good films. If the way we consume them has changed, so be it; you could do a lot worse than your sofa and your own television. My fourteen year old self would have marvelled at the high-def 55 inch TV I watch my movies on these days. And with the likes of Amazon and Netflix offering an ever rotating line-up of movies for a good price there’s great value to be had to. The days of going to multiplexes to watch Hollywood megastars on thirty foot screens might be fading away but the days of watching movies and getting lost in ninety minutes of moving images, of being transported to other worlds and different times, will go on. And that is mostly definitely something worth celebrating.

The FilmsFilmsFilms website will remain for as long as the domain charges remain reasonable, so for those looking for a filmic read or movie recommendation feel free to stop by and pay the site a visit from time to time.

"The road goes ever on and on, down from the door where it began ..."

 

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