In the mood for movies


If someone asks me what the secret of my long and happy marriage is, the main one will be the Bafta screenings that my husband receives every year. As a member of the voting lobby, he receives a huge batch of films each December, which he must include in the nominations for the film awards.

Who cares about the short days, the cold nights and the exhausted manners in the middle of winter, when you have a movie for a year to enjoy?

Many complain about the fate of cinema: how the pandemic almost killed him. Netflix and the relentless march of streaming television have marked a tectonic shift in interest as boxing sets have replaced our appetite for movies. Blockbuster dramas that were supposed to be big hits, like Ridley Scott’s The last duel, have suffered disgraceful humiliation. It is reported that even Bond has struggled to reach balance and the only film that has made huge profits this winter is the one with attached nets.

Speaking to the Hollywood Reporter, film producer Peter Chernin uttered a familiar refrain. “The industry is shrinking creatively,” he said. “People are becoming more conservative and less risky.” Scott, now 84, who had two films released last year (Gucci’s house as well as The last duel) accused the millennials “who were brought up on these fucking cell phones” of avoiding his recent job.

I think they are wrong. But this is not about the joys of cinema. Or whether one has a better experience by stomping to the local ampoule and sitting in an expensive stall. It’s about whether the film still has a purpose as a medium and what it can offer when good television seems to be doing so well. With the exception of the Marvel franchise, a hippopotamus so gigantic that it can’t be compared to anything, the films that are now gaining popularity are the antithesis of Scott’s dramatic coups of all stars.

The most exciting films this season are not short stories starring famous actors, but dream poems built around mood. of Paul Thomas Anderson Licorice pizza, for example, tells a funny story about adolescence in the 70s of last century in California, twinned with a great soundtrack, with relatively unknown directors. For the most part, nothing really happens; it’s just a pleasant experience to be in a nostalgic thermal landscape where Anderson is in charge. He also performed surprisingly well and was well received by younger audiences: on his first weekend, according to Variety, 72% of the audience was between 18 and 34 years old.

of Jane Campion The power of the dog is just as extensive, with the main star being the Otago Peninsula in New Zealand, where the director is filming. The plot is slow and often without events, but the great pleasure in it, anyway, for me was that in 125 minutes I was immersed in the world of Campion.

In the same way Paolo Sorentino, whose The hand of God is an autobiographical dream that represents Naples from the eighties while the World Cup is being played in Mexico. The universe that Sorentino created is so rich that I don’t care that it didn’t have a huge plot. That interested me more Belfast it was so boring (and the absurd assumption that Protestants could dance on waking), but probably Kenneth Branagh’s film also falls into the same category of ambient drama, set within a highly curated view.

All of these directors drew from smaller, more intimate stories as the basis for films that herald, I hope, a new era for the author. Far from the tyranny of Marvel or television studios, filmmakers will become more introspective and self-expressive when inventing new approaches to their work.

Which is not to say that movies are getting more and more arrogant. The more successful ones simply reflect our desires. As French writer and director Nicolas Saada points out to me this week: “Television takes advantage of our worries and anxieties – it steals our energy and time. Cinema still allows us to just feel things, to experience them without explanations or intense storytelling. ”

Efe Cacarello, a film lover and founder of the Mubi Film Center, is confident of the film’s future: “Most TV viewers are looking for comfort: worlds they can return to on a regular basis. Great cinema is exciting with exactly the opposite characteristics: we are captivated by the unexpected, which is why the films of great directors resonate so strongly – in their hands we discover something new for the world and probably for ourselves.

Others are more skeptical about the future. “There have been so few good one-off films lately,” said Pavel Pavlikowski, director of Cold War and And yes, for which he won an Oscar in 2015. “Personally, I avoid TV series because they are addictive and do not give any kind of experience,” he continued. “Watching a great movie is like falling asleep. However, as a director who grew up in cinema, I am worried – I would not want to go the way of opera. “

Why bother going to the movies when there are a series of eight portions that you can drink for three nights? All the familiar food that dominated the award seasons can now be found on Netflix, Apple TV or elsewhere.

Even the traditional biographical film has lost its luster. Where once actors could stick plastic noses and win Oscars, the distribution of long documentaries or podcasts now offers viewers richer, brighter documentary truths. Nor am I likely to rush to watch an epic with a sword and sandals when I can watch again Game of Thrones.

But I still crave a movie moment, now more than ever. And whether I’m in a seat or on the couch, I still want the same feeling: to see the world, even if only for 90 minutes, through a different set of eyes.

Send Joe an email to jo.ellison@ft.com

I follow @ftweekend on Twitter to learn about our latest stories first





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