Cinebeats was recently mentioned (along with fellow bloggers Forward to Yesterday and Self-Styled Siren) in a piece by Danny Leigh for The UK Gaurdian titled The View: Why we love being stuck in the past.
In Leigh’s extremely thoughtful and well-written piece he discusses how the DVD age has made it much easier for film enthusiasts to loose themselves in the many forgotten pleasures of the past and in turn, forsake modern cinema. As much as I’m deeply flattered to have Cinebeats mentioned in Leigh’s piece, the ideas that he explores in his article are somewhat problematic for someone like myself who isn’t afraid or ashamed to call herself a “cinephile.”
While it’s true that I only make it in to theaters two or three times a year to see a new film, this is mostly due to the high cost of ticket prices and the expense of going out to see a film these days. I have eclectic tastes and a lot of popular modern films hold no appeal for me, but an average night out at the movies with my guy will cost us about $20 and for that same price we were able to rent 15 films at Netflix last month. When it comes to my rental selections, I will almost always choose to watch an older film over a newer one mainly because a lot of previously hard to see films are being released for the first time in the US on DVD and I’m a firm believer that you need to understand the past in order to truly appreciate the future. Exploring the rich and endless history of cinema over the years has informed my perspective and helped shape my appreciation for the modern films I see. But it’s also made me extremely critical of many modern filmmakers who rely much too heavily on the past work of previous directors and seem to have trouble developing their own voice and individual style.
Contrary to what many people may assume, I’m not all that fond of modern films that borrow their lots from previous generations. It should also be pretty clear by now that I prefer the experimental, daring and avant-garde over the middlebrow, predictable and safe. I get the greatest enjoyment from the work of directors who push the boundaries of film and explore uncharted or unexpected territories. For example, I don’t understand why so many modern musicals seem stuck in the past and are unable to leave the early ’80s. With that in mind, I’d cherish the opportunity to watch Dancer in the Dark and Velvet Goldmine again any day of the week over Chicago and Mama Mia.
Simply put, my affection for ’60s and ’70s era cinema does not overshadow the enjoyment I get from many modern films. Two working directors who I appreciate a lot currently have movies playing in theaters. I’ve admired Jim Jarmusch’s work ever since I first saw Stranger Than Paradise in the mid ’80s so I’m really looking forward to seeing his latest film Limits of Control. If I compiled a list of my favorite films from the ’90s Atom Egoyan’s The Sweet Hereafter and Felicia’s Journey would probably be on it so I’m extremely curious about Egoyan’s current film Adoration. And even though I don’t write about modern films at Cinebeats, you could find me happily sharing Twitter messages about new films recently shown at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival that I was looking forward to seeing such as Gaspar Noe’s Enter the Void and Lars von Trier’s Antichrist.
With all this in mind, I’ve decided to start posting a new regular (or at least as often as I remember to) feature here at Cinebeats that I’m going to simply call Modern Mondays.
Every Monday I’ll try to find some free time to share my thoughts or just post a few images from one of my favorite post 1979 films. With 2010 on the near horizon I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my favorite films made in the the last decade and sadly, many of them have not received the critical attention or respect that I think they’re deserving of. At a time when attention spans and perspectives appear to be shrinking, it seems more important than ever to draw attention to the work of living artists and craftsmen who are using cinema in innovative ways. Hopefully I’ll be able to shine a light on some of my favorite modern films with Modern Mondays.