Don’t get me wrong — in the strict sense, these are not bad things. It’s not that I long for the days where there were old movies you had to comb the TV Guide every week looking for, or when the hopes of a promising-sounding indie making its way to our Midwestern city lay entirely on the whim of two or three local programmers. But there was a sense of urgency to cinephilia that’s not there anymore — yet that remains with the big, Hunger Games-style blockbuster conversation pieces. That urgency is the result of their marketing budgets and peer pressure-scented cultural cache — see it right away, it’s what everyone is seeing this weekend! Damsels in Distress? A Separation? Jiro Dreams of Sushi? Eh, I’ll Netflix it.
Sure, some of this is about age; the movies I mentioned are all geared towards an older audience, and as moviegoers get older, they get less and less likely to bother with the inflated ticket prices, flickering phone screens, and non-stop chatter that now seem par for the course when braving the multiplex. Or maybe that’s just me. As media, I’m lucky enough to see some (but not all) of the new movies in advance, at press screenings. The ones I don’t, I tend to wait to rent or stream from Netflix; some, we just buy from Amazon, the $20 or so for the DVD or Blu-ray roughly comparable to what we’d have spent on a pair of tickets. (Frankly, the story on the drop in brick-and-mortar DVD rentals was less dramatic than I’d thought; I’m not sure I know anyone who still goes to a Blockbuster.) I’ll probably see Hunger Games within the next couple of weeks, as a semi-responsible film writer; I’ll also recognize that by plunking down my twelve bucks for that instead of some foreign obscurity, I’m contributing to the problem. And, for whatever it’s worth, I’ll feel bad about it.
What about you? How do you see movies these days — and why?