Volume 94, Issue 55

Wednesday, December 6, 2000


Broken Hearts a smashing success

Why are movies so bad this year?


Shopgirl a great read

Big name acts falter a little with their new CDs

Why are movies so bad this year?

By Aaron St. John
A&E Editor

The year is nearly over and the time for "best of" lists is upon us. Over the next month or so, the media will be filled with pundits of various levels of qualification selecting what they feel were the best albums, books and films of the year. It's been a good year for both music and the printed word; picking the best examples of each will be difficult because there's so much to choose from. Unfortunately, when it comes to movies, the same cannot be said.

The last 12 months have seen countless films released, many with the promise of being inspired works of art or good entertainment and sometimes both. Upon release, most of these films proved to be neither. In comparison to 1999, which saw the release of a remarkable number of quality films, many of which can already be declared classics, 2000 has been severely lacking.

Last year, we had Magnolia, American Beauty and Fight Club, to name but a few (and the list is long). This year's crop has produced nothing on the same level. The average calibre of the movies released has been remarkably and painfully low. For movie buffs, this must have been a particularly devastating year; with absolutely nothing worth seeing, where have they been spending their Tuesday nights?

So what could be the reason for this lack of brilliance in cinema? One strong possibility could be the decisions of the major studios as to films get the green light for production. The films produced this year have stunk of overused cliches and an increased focus on style over content, resulting in a cadre of films that offered the same concepts and plots we've all seen a million times before, but were presented in a slicker format with a soundtrack of big-name artists. There has been very little work done this year that seemed to reflect an attempt at doing something new. Instead, the studios hoped we would swallow the same fodder they've given us before and that we would not notice because of the shiny new package it came in.

The other possible answer is more disturbing. The directors who were responsible for last year's greats have all taken 2000 off. Perhaps they're working on new projects, but they haven't released anything this year, and their absence is noticeable. What this suggests is that within the pool of talent currently working in Hollywood, there are but a few who are capable of creating films that are innovative, visionary or, at the very least, worth spending $12 on. If that's true, if there really is just a handful of brilliant directors working today, the future does not look good.

Equally frightening are the repercussions a year like this may have on the future. According to Variety, box office receipts are down for the first time in over a decade.

Traditionally, the solution to that problem, according to big business, is to play it safe. Potentially this means, that the films coming out of the big studios are going to get even worse, as they nix any project that is in any way risk-taking, and stick with the tried and true formula.

I could be wrong. Maybe this year has just been an anomaly, a blip. Maybe the films that are set to come out this holiday season will all be extraordinary and we'll be back in The Golden Age that last year seemed to herald.

I hope so, because I don't think I can take another Richard Gere/actress-of-your-choice romantic comedy.

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Copyright The Gazette 2000