Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Helen Mirren concerned that the rise of streaming services mean people don't see films in theaters as they used to, which in terms of art-religion could be saying people don't go to church these days like they used to

 
Dame Helen Mirren has said the rise of watching films on streaming services at home is "devastating" for people who want to make films for the big screen.
 
"It's devastating for people like my husband, film directors, because they want their movies to be watched in a cinema with a group of people," the actress told Total Film magazine.
 
Dame Helen, 72, is married to Taylor Hackford, director of 2004 biopic Ray.
 
She said the "communal" experience of cinema is in danger of dying out.
 
"An audience, a movie, and you're all in it together," she said. "You're frightened, you laugh, you cry all together. So it's a communal thing. And that's beginning to disappear."
  
The Oscar winner's comments continue a debate about services like Netflix, which has bought films like Annihilation and Mudbound for its own subscribers.
 
Its business model generally bypasses cinemas - a fact that has unsettled many in the film industry.
 
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Of course, as noted in the title, if we replaced watching films with going to church to hear a sermon or participate in the sacraments the concern about a lack of go-there-in-person piety could translate. 
 
Not that I'm trying to be only sarcastic in making this observation.  That there are fewer and fewer apparent bonding rituals to further social cohesion across groups might really be an issue.  Conversely, intra-group bonding seems to be consolidating and calcifying in some strata of society to levels that could be considered dangerously isolationist or, to put it in less esoteric terms, patently racist, ethnocentric and so on.  Whether everyone going to see movies necessarily "fixes" the problem seems hard to establish.  I personally don't mind at all if Black Panther beats the box office take of Titanic. If directors like James Cameron or Ridley Scott at some point lose their magic touch at the box office I can't say I'll feel too badly for them. 
 
There's apparently some kind of showdown taking place between Cannes Film Festival and Netflix. 
 
 
 
The ongoing publicity battle between one of cinema’s hoariest institutions (the Cannes Film Festival) and its loudest new “disruptor” (Netflix) is a standoff where it’s tough to really sympathize with either side. Last year, after some internal uproar over the presence of Netflix’s Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) at Cannes, the festival announced it would require all competition titles to receive theatrical distribution in France going forward. This year, the Cannes director, Thierry Fremaux, stuck to that edict. In response, Netflix pulled all its movies from the 2018 festival—even the out-of-competition premieres unaffected by the rule change.
 
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But sometimes I find myself asking what the cumulative carbon footprint for a movie is.  What if there had never been a film industry?  What if there had not been mass production of stuff like film?  Would our ecological situation be better or worse.  Yes, I'm floating a hypothetical of an entire art form not existing as a question to consider regarding the long-term ecological health of the planet and the human race.  Art forms rise and fall over time.  Opera is not what it once was.  The novel hasn't gone out of style but how widespread is poetry?  By poetry I mean the stuff college professors wouldn't be ashamed to hear their students or relatives reciting. 
 
One of the ideas I've considered over the last twenty years is whether or not the decline of the music industry as often touted within said industry is not so much an end of th industry as the downward turn of what was maybe a century long bubble.  Maybe Picketty addressed something like that in that book of his, which I haven't read, but the possibility that the whole of post-industrial Western civilization can be thought of as a kidn of bubble is an idea I've been mulling over for a while.  Film isn't dying off as such, but it could be that there's a ... so to speak, market correction? 
 
The symphony may be less prominent an art form than it was a couple of centuries ago, back before there was television or movies, but the symphony still exists.  New symphonies seven get composed and premiered, right?  Just not at the level we read about in history books.  Perhaps film is approaching a comparable peak, rather, perhaps film is on a decline that is not something to freak out about but to regard as a natural stabilizing or fading out dynamic after a century.  If we compare things to the symphony there was probably an explosion of activity and a tapering off of the number of symphonies that were actively engaged by the public.
 
Considering the narratives established about what symphonies did and didn't matter there's that element, too, it could be there's a lot of activity but if it's not of the sort that grown ups who take themselves seriously regard as really being art it doesn't count. 
 
So if last year's My Little Pony: The Movie beat Aronofksy's mother! by a hoof at the global box office does that mean the former is going to get discussed like it's art?  Nope.  I haven't seen either movie and, frankly, I'd probably be more likely to watch the adventures of Twlight Sparkle.  I liked the homage to parlor mysteries with a goofy hardboiled noir vibe MLP had for "Rarity Investigates".   The whole Inception homage with Princess Luna as a kind of benevolent Freddie Kreuger was funny.  But ... cartoons equals kid stuff even in our era.  On that note ... .  

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