Home Forums Movies Peter Bart-MikeFleming debate the sorry state of movies

Peter Bart-MikeFleming debate the sorry state of movies

CREATE A NEW TOPIC
CREATE A NEW POLL
Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 16 total)
Created
4 years ago
Last Reply
4 years ago
15
replies
1106
views
4
users
Scottferguson
7
Words Count
5
babypook
2
  • Nessie
    Member
    Joined:
    Oct 28th, 2012
    Topics:
    Posts:
    #153648

    Very interesting discussion on Deadline about what they consider to be the sorry state of feature films. They mention a lot of planned films (which all sound awful to them, popcorn stuff) and how TV is taking over for prestige projects.

    Bart & Fleming: Are Feature Films Losing Their Prestige Mojo To Television?
    By  and  | Monday May 12, 20147

    Peter Bart and Mike Fleming Jr. worked together for two decades at Daily Variety. In this occasional column, two old friends get together and grind their axes on the movie business.

    Fleming: Working on the Deadline/Awardsline Emmy issues prompted me to binge my way through cable series like True Detective and House Of Cards. It really got me depressed about the movie business.

    Bart: Why?

    Fleming: Because those series and 10 more like them are better than anything I see on a movie screen. For the 25 years I’ve covered it, film has always been the sexiest, most prestigious part of the business. Sure, TV packages drove the bottom line, but agencies and studios were measured by the feature stars and directors in their stables. TV, particularly pay and basic cable, has gradually overtaken movies and become the trendsetting cool place to work. Why leave the house for the theater when so many movies regurgitate past success, especially at studios? Look at the projects put in development last week. Revamps of Power Rangers, The Flintstones, Private Benjamin. Uninspiring. The most successful major studio right now, Disney, has a success formula based on recycling old movies like Star Wars and Indiana Jones, sequelizing Marvel superheroes, and refashioning fairy tales. The definition of excellence in studio summer movies these days is putting a smart spin on an old concept, as happened on Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes. The Amazing Spider-Man 2 came just a decade after the lastSpider-Man 2 and cost so much that studio higher-ups will hang on tenterhooks until the global gross exceeds $750 million, when it might turn some profit. Next up, another Godzilla, only 16 years after the last reboot.  Add to that an antiquated delivery system that hasn’t changed since the 1980s, and movies seem at a low creative ebb, compared to pay and basic cable outlets soaring with boldness and creativity.

    Bart: Summer is always the best time of year for the studios, Mike, but the worst time for audiences — grown-up audiences, that is. My problem with superhero movies is that I liked them better when they were comic books. But the gurus have been predicting the decline of movies for generations. David O. Selznick gave us Gone With The Wind but in 1948 he wrote one of his famously grumpy memos stating, “I’ve stopped making films because the motion picture business is taking such a terrible beating from television.” He was right at the time, Mike, but film goers found their zeal again in the 1970s. So stay tuned for award season when the indies ramp up again and the filmmakers become the superheroes.

    Fleming: Well, Peter, you were certainly part of that ’70s renaissance. But now, it feels like the ecosystem has been damaged. The creative vision on the big films comes from executives who give creativity-stifling one-step screenwriter deals, with emphasis on reaching four quadrant audiences. Producers have been marginalized. Should the authorship of a picture belong to the studio exec? By contrast, some of the best series are generated by feature writers who couldn’t get hired after studios turned away from smart mid-budget dramas in favor of no-budget genre and high-priced tent poles. I remember Tony Gilroy telling me a couple years ago that movies like his superb Michael Clayton would go extinct, but there should be no funeral because all those writers who made them were flocking to TV and wait and see what happens. Man, was he right. Will the next generation growing up in this creative blight be inspired by mediocrity to dream about having the authority to reboot The Hangover? Today’s studio decision-makers got into the business because of those ’70s movies, and look how that ambition has been marginalized by economic pressure. Studio movies like Gravityare anomalies, and so many of the ones that do get made are funded by high net worth individuals or as you say, are the domain of the indies. What would you and your pals have had to do today to get make movies like Harold And Maude, Midnight Cowboy, French Connection, Love Story, Chinatown or Nashville?

    Bart: From the standpoint of the studios, here’s the real reason the ’70s were exciting. When I moved to Paramount, the message was clear: All rules are off. None of the policies of the past were working. The studio system was broken. Let’s start over. That’s what enticed me into the game. It was a great message. The ’70s were a great time to be alive in the movie business but the era also has been romanticized of late. A key reason so many innovative  films were made was that costs were so low. Even The Godfather cost $7 million, which was considered pricey. A studio slate consisted of 25 movies and there were no committees to “model” prospective grosses or ponder ancillaries. Studio executives often greenlit movies because they looked forward to seeing them — how’s that for a radical concept? I truly looked forward to seeing Harold And Maude. But then a filmmaker like Dennis Hopper, fresh from Easy Rider, would deliver The Last Movie, and you knew it was aptly titled. The ups and downs were radical.

    Fleming: Movies also seem hobbled compared to TV because of an inability to compromise with theater owners to close the gap between theatrical and DVD/VOD release. Think of it. The Sunday night that billions watched Matthew McConaughey win Best Actor Oscar, the second to last episode of True Detective aired on HBO. If you missed True Detective because you were watching the Oscars, you could watch it on demand immediately after, or whenever you wanted to. TV makes it so easy. Kevin Spacey, who tested the feature multi-platform feature release model on Margin Call and then the groundbreaking Netflix series House Of Cards, told me recently that his mantra has become, if you give the people what they want when they want it, they won’t steal it. Why can’t exhibitors and studios get together and stop fighting the inevitable?

    Bart: I think you’re right to favor compressed windows but the policy I distrust is compressed schedules. Each year the studios make fewer but more expensive movies. Paramount’s quarterly reports boast about cutbacks as though it was intent on becoming The Incredible Missing Studio. Hollywood was a happier place when everyone was working and a Spider-Man sequel didn’t have to gross $750 million worldwide to break even.

    Fleming: Sounds like you are telling me to enjoy this TV golden age and wait for the feature crowd to get back their spines. It’s hard, because the ledger sheet of studio movies worth getting excited right now is about as short as the reservation book at the Beverly Hills Hotel Polo Lounge.

    Bart: Yes. And since you are binge-viewing, Mike, add Silicon Valley to your list. It’s downright savage. And remember this about HBO and its cable rivals: They are always desperate to sign movie stars. Witness Julia Roberts inNormal Heart. Or Michael Douglas and Matt Damon in Behind The Candelabra. And the biggest prize for TV’s creative stars is still to make a movie — witness Matt Weiner. It’s still the one credential that’s most coveted. 

    Reply
    babypook
    Participant
    Joined:
    Nov 4th, 2010
    Topics:
    Posts:
    #153650

    They make some very good points, but I’m left wondering what kind of movie THEY can make together. Perhaps they can throw their hats into the ring and shoot for an Emmy.

    jmho

    ReplyCopy URL
    Logan
    Participant
    Joined:
    Oct 11th, 2011
    Topics:
    Posts:
    #153651

    I’ve lived during most of the years post this seemingly amazing 70s period (which I question) but if I can find 12 movies a year that I really like (one per month), then that’s a fairly successful year for me.

    ReplyCopy URL
    Scottferguson
    Participant
    Joined:
    Sep 26th, 2011
    Topics:
    Posts:
    #153652

    Peter Bart, of course, has made movies. He was head of production

    He was head of production at Paramount from the late 1960s to early 1970s.

    One of the many films he oversaw was The Godfather.

    Next question? 

    ReplyCopy URL
    babypook
    Participant
    Joined:
    Nov 4th, 2010
    Topics:
    Posts:
    #153653

    Let’s have him throw some more money into films. I’ll bet, with that history, he wa$ happy he did.  Tough job.

    ReplyCopy URL
    Scottferguson
    Participant
    Joined:
    Sep 26th, 2011
    Topics:
    Posts:
    #153654

    The industry isn’t interested in older people with past successes.

    To the larger question – the art of film has been in decline since the late 1960s. The peak decade was the 1950s. Each successive decade has been worse than the previous since, although this decade shows signs of a plateau to some extent. Most of the great films that will ever be made have been made already. 

    ReplyCopy URL
    Words Count
    Member
    Joined:
    Sep 26th, 2013
    Topics:
    Posts:
    #153655

    The industry isn’t interested in older people with past successes.

    To the larger question – the art of film has been in decline since the late 1960s. The peak decade was the 1950s. Each successive decade has been worse than the previous since, although this decade shows signs of a plateau to some extent. [b]Most of the great films that will ever be made have been made already.[/b]

    That’s a defeatist attitude. Why don’t you put a gun in your mouth because you’ll never do anything greater than already significant historical persons?

    ReplyCopy URL
    Scottferguson
    Participant
    Joined:
    Sep 26th, 2011
    Topics:
    Posts:
    #153656

    It’s not defeatist. It’s reality. There are still plenty of great films from the past I have to catch up with, and there will still be good ones made. I get huge pleasure out of reseeing older movies. And lots of things to engage one’s life beyond just movies, for me at least.
    Please take your suggestions of suicide elsewhere. It’s pretty contemptible. I suspect when you rethink what you wrote you’ll realize how bad that sounds. 

    ReplyCopy URL
    Words Count
    Member
    Joined:
    Sep 26th, 2013
    Topics:
    Posts:
    #153657

    It’s not defeatist. It’s reality. There are still plenty of great films from the past I have to catch up with, and there will still be good ones made.
    Please take your suggestions of suicide elsewhere. It’s pretty contemptible. I suspect when you rethink what you wrote you’ll realize how bad that sounds. 

    I refuse to go along with the idea that the best has already occurred. The Piano Teacher was made in the last decade. And that’s superior to any title you can name from the 1950s.

    ReplyCopy URL
    Scottferguson
    Participant
    Joined:
    Sep 26th, 2011
    Topics:
    Posts:
    #153658

    I like Piano Teacher OK, but I could name 500 movies from the 1950s that are better –

    Maybe 10 of Hitchcocks, 8 of John Ford’s, Rio Bravo, Douglas Sirk’s best, Vincente Minnelli’s best, the start of the new wave, Wild Strawberries, Tokyo Story and  many other Ozu films, Sansho the Bailiff and many other Mizoguchi films, some Kurosawas, Others will have other suggestions.

    I suspect even Michael Haneke with his healthy ego would disagree with you.

    I envy you your future discovery of films from the 1950s.  

    ReplyCopy URL
    Words Count
    Member
    Joined:
    Sep 26th, 2013
    Topics:
    Posts:
    #153659

    I like Piano Teacher OK, but I could name 500 movies from the 1950s that are better –

    Maybe 10 of Hitchcocks, 8 of John Ford’s, Rio Bravo, Douglas Sirk’s best, Vincente Minnelli’s best, the start of the new wave, Wild Strawberries, Tokyo Story and  many other Ozu films, Sansho the Bailiff and many other Mizoguchi films, some Kurosawas, Others will have other suggestions.

    I suspect even Michael Haneke with his healthy ego would disagree with you.

    I envy you your future discovery of films from the 1950s.

    My preference for the best movies about the human condition are contemporary foreign language titles. There are very few cerebral films made in English.

    ReplyCopy URL
    Scottferguson
    Participant
    Joined:
    Sep 26th, 2011
    Topics:
    Posts:
    #153660

    For me, no country has created as many masterpieces as America (mainly between 1915-1967). Not sure what you mean as “cerebral,” but if you mean intelligent, thoughtful, incisive, that would for me include most of these. Hitchcock is “cerebral,” although American film has traditional been less self-consciously so that some international, For me, language has nothing to do with it.

    If you like cerebral, I’d recommend Bresson, including the 1950s (Diary of a Country Priest, A Man Escaped, Pickpocket). Or the Japanese masters of that decade. Or Rossellini and early Antonioni. Cerebral has been around for many decades in film. 

    ReplyCopy URL
    Words Count
    Member
    Joined:
    Sep 26th, 2013
    Topics:
    Posts:
    #153661

    For me, no country has created as many masterpieces as America (mainly between 1915-1967). Not sure what you mean as “cerebral,” but if you mean intelligent, thoughtful, incisive, that would for me include most of these. Hitchcock is “cerebral,” although American film has traditional been less self-consciously so that some international, For me, language has nothing to do with it.

    If you like cerebral, I’d recommend Bresson, including the 1950s (Diary of a Country Priest, A Man Escaped, Pickpocket). Or the Japanese masters of that decade. Or Rossellini and early Antonioni. Cerebral has been around for many decades in film. 

    Cerebral to me. Is mental stimulation. Long after the movie ends. The film’s ideas and content still linger in a thoughtful and provocative way.

    Barton Fink, Adaptation, Fur: An Imaginary Portrait of Diane Arbus, Brazil — maybe you’d classify these English language titles as something other than cerebral. 

    ReplyCopy URL
    Scottferguson
    Participant
    Joined:
    Sep 26th, 2011
    Topics:
    Posts:
    #153662

    We agree with the definition. For me, American films from 1915-1967 have at their best stimulted me mentally long after they end, with their ideas and content lingering in a thoughtful and provocative way. I get that you don’t agree. It might be that you might after you see more of the greatest. Here’s a random 5 from the 50s – Douglas Sirk’s Written on the Wind, Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, Charles Laughton’s Night of the Hunter, John Ford’s The Searchers, Nicholas Ray’s Bigger Than Life. Profound, intellectually deep works of art. 

    Mainly, I’d avoid Oscar movies from the 1950s. They are mostly mediocre or worse. 

    ReplyCopy URL
    Words Count
    Member
    Joined:
    Sep 26th, 2013
    Topics:
    Posts:
    #153663

    We agree with the definition. For me, American films from 1915-1967 have at their best stimulted me mentally long after they end, with their ideas and content lingering in a thoughtful and provocative way. I get that you don’t agree. It might be that you might after you see more of the greatest. Here’s a random 5 from the 50s – Douglas Sirk’s Written on the Wind, Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo, Charles Laughton’s Night of the Hunter, John Ford’s The Searchers, Nicholas Ray’s Bigger Than Life. Profound, intellectually deep works of art. 

    Mainly, I’d avoid Oscar movies from the 1950s. They are mostly mediocre or worse.

    I’ll make the effort this week to watch one of the titles you recommended above. And you know my earlier remark was not about me wanting you to commit suicide. But to not sell yourself short on what contemporary life and its art has to offer. Regardless of the medium. Great movies happen all the time. We just have to make the effort to seek them out.

    ReplyCopy URL
Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 16 total)
Reply To: Peter Bart-MikeFleming debate the sorry state of movies

You can use BBCodes to format your content.
Your account can't use Advanced BBCodes, they will be stripped before saving.

Similar Topics
Chris B... - Jan 19, 2018
Movies
Andrew D - Jan 19, 2018
Movies