by Anthony King
Thanks to a trip to the theater and a handful of tweets from several different people this week I've been thinking about something: what is the likelihood that the year I decide to watch as many new releases as possible, the people who usually watch all the new movies are lamenting the fact that new movies aren't very good? More in a bit, but first, what I've been watching.
This leads perfectly into the topic at hand. I was talking to my friend James a couple months ago and he seemed a bit disenchanted with what lie ahead on the movie release schedule. Our own Adam Riske tweeted something similar this week: “The saddest thing about the current state of movies for me is how few convey any relatable human experience or behavior.” In the past month I've seen or heard at least a dozen similar sentiments. While I agree, I think what we're being force fed en masse are spectacles that are nothing more than blatant cash grabs. Obvious, yes I know. While I'm sure it's great, John Wick: Chapter 4 seems to me like they're just riding the cabbage wave until it peters out. Movies with deeply human stories are relegated to indie arthouse, theaters whereas in the past these movies would appear for (at least) a weekend at the multiplex. The problem is that indie arthouse theaters are usually only located in mid-sized to large cities. We have two in Omaha but even they pad their schedules with family movies.Scream VI, Infinity Pool, and M3gan), one got a brief theatrical run (Plane), and the rest are direct to streaming. Four of these movies tell deeply human and profoundly interesting stories, and only one got a major release (Infinity Pool, yes I still believe it's a movie about addiction). Narvik, currently in the number three spot on my list, is a WWII tale told from a Norwegian point of view, about placing one's pride and love on life's scale. It's currently streaming but buried on Netflix. Another movie floating among the jetsam of the Netflix library is the Covid-centric Spanish police thriller Infiesto (#4). Here we have a story about two cops dealing with work-life balance, obsession, and a world being ravaged by an unknown disease. Then there's Attachment (#8), a Danish horror-drama about two women who have recently fallen in love, but a scornful mother and a secret wedges animosity and distrust between them. Attachment made a festival run last year and is now streaming on Shudder. A common thread strings these three films together: they are distinctly not American. Whether that has any clout to it or not is a question for another column. But as I watch new movies – something I rarely did the past few years – I'm starting to realize American producers with any sort of money really aren't interested in telling stories about relatable humans. Neon is an Austin-based distributor, but even Infinity Pool (#5) is a very non-American movie. My point is this, the state of movies today is grim at best, yes, but we have two options before us: 1.) We can spend most of our viewing time watching older movies; and 2.) We have to work a little harder to seek out interesting new movies, because they're out there, but we have to enjoy the thrill of the hunt in order to find them.