Movies: Better Today?

Have you ever wondered if movies are getting better? Yep, you read that correctly. Getting better. Let me provide some context. I was listening to The Talk Show, episode #40 and in the middle of their ongoing Bond movie-fest, they started discussing the differences between the Bond movies of the Connery era and the Bond movies they were at currently in the series (I think it was in the middle of the Roger Moore era). Both hosts seem to think the Connerry-era Bond movies were so much better. Is this true? Is it smiply nostalgia? Having never seen most of the Bond movies, much less the older ones, I have no frame of reference, so I don’t know in this particlar case.

But it got me thinking. The movies we look back on with great admiration, the movies that we love, the movies that give us comfort. Are these movies really great? If you removed the notion of Citizen Kane and Orson Wells from the collective conscience and released the movie next week, would we (society) view the movie in the same way?

My personal opinion would probably be something to this effect. On the whole, movies made today are probably better than movies made in the past. Let me repeat, on the whole. Movies that are considered classics would probably still do ok in modern times, but I don’t think they would reach the pinnacle they are at now in movie historians’ eyes. I think the world has just changed too much for us to take a movie from the past and drop it in current times and have it stand on its own legs.

I often go back to movies I liked as a kid and re-watch them. Some still have the magic, some are ok, and some are just down-right bad. The acting is over-the-top, the directing is dull, the suspense is laughable sometimes. Forgoing the advances in technology, one movie that still holds up for me is “Back to the Future”. Great movie, even now. Released in 1985, it sill hold up. The action’s good, the acting is still believable (commenters, start your engines), and the story is still fun.

Then there’s a movie like The Shining. I know a lot of people (including John Gruber and Dan Benjamin from The Talk Show itself) will disagree with this next statement. It’s not really a good movie, in my opinion. The acting is way over-the-top. It’s painfully slow to get going and, as an audience member, you’re never quite sure what’s going on. Obviously, you know what is going on big-picture-wise, but the subtlety is wasted. The only real thing I’ll give the movie is the creepiness factor. It still does have that.

What do you think? Are these movies that are held up as the epitome of film really all that good from today’s statndards?


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