Saturday, January 23, 2010

"I'll take one for 'Mindless,' please."

Roger Ebert is back at the Sundance Film Festival after a 3 year absence. Because he's there and we're not, I'd highly recommend you keep an eye on his blog for updates direct from Colorado, unless you've already discovered it for yourself. Roger Ebert's Journal is one of the finest blogs I've found on the web, and his readers are the type of insightful, intelligent folks that should be the envy of any publication, web-based or otherwise.

This is something he wrote in his first entry from Sundance. It rang true, and I wanted to share it with you.

"When you're here it's easy to lose sight of the real world of "Avatar" and "Sherlock Holmes." The town is jammed. The screenings are packed. The Park Record observes that parking has become as hard to find as tickets. It's said that financing has dried up. That audiences don't hunger for intelligent films. And yet all these films got made. They will all get seen. The word will go forth from this time and place that some of them were wonderful. And in all but a few cases, the market won't care. Average American moviegoers cheerfully buy tickets to movies they expect will be junk. But confront them with something that might be great and they start looking all alarmed."

This is terribly sad and, unfortunately, far too true.


Chris W said...

I'm really hopig this year isn't like last year. Last year was supposedly a very rough year for a lot of film at Sundance. There were a lot of films that premiered at Sundance last year that weren't bought or were bought and never really saw theatrical distribution. While this isn't always uncommon there seemed to be a lot of movies last year that were cursed with this fate. Some people complained it was the quality of the films while others said it was just a sign of the current independent film market and I tend to think it was the later. There seems to be a lot more buzz about a lot more of the films that are at Sundance this year so hopefully that means most of them will see at least marginal releases.

Adam said...

It seems to me that the trend he's referring to is one that extends far beyond Sundance. It's so much more difficult to get what I would consider "films of quality" made than it is to churn out another remake, reboot, or sequel.

We've talked before about how filmmakers like Bergman, Fellini, Antonioni, and Kurosawa would be reduced to the margins if they were to work today, and it seems that it's truer than ever in today's current climate. I've become a frequenter of 2 local "art-house" theaters because they're the only ones around that actually have the movies I want to see.

It's terribly sad to me to think that so many moviegoers today have such a limited experience with the movies that they'd reject the possibility of going to see a film just because it looks "weird." That's such a cop-out, isn't it?

Chris W said...

Obviously you know that you and I disagree on some of the bigger budget type films but I do totally agree that some of the smaller, more eccentric and heady films don't get wider releases. While I know it's not always financially feasable I like you would very much like to see films like say CRAZY HEART or THE ROAD or 500 DAYS OF SUMMER get the kind of release that garbage like SORORITY ROW gets. A piece of junk like that isn't released in as many theatres as somethink like G.I. JOE but it's' released in probably 10 times the amount of theatres as something like THE BROTHERS BLOOM a movie made for FAR less money that would actually build an audience based on word of mouth and not die two days after it was released. Sadly the whole paradigm has chas changed. I think we might eventually get back to the way things should be but it's still a while down the line.

Adam Zanzie said...

Like the both of you, I enjoy Ebert's journal entries (and have even gotten more than one responses by the man himself!). That being said, I think the entries have been getting significantly less interesting; the last one that really got me going was the one about health care reform.

Adam said...

At first, I thought, "yeah, Adam's right. His blog entries have gotten less interesting." Then, I went back to look at his recent stuff and realized that I actually can't agree with you on this one. For the most part, 1 out of every 2or 3 posts is something that I'm interested in. I particularly like when he talks about the movies. :-)
No surprises there. He has a level of consistent insight that I envy.

The only quibble with his blog that I have is the way that he chooses to delve into political topics. Far too often, I feel that he comes across as though his position is the only viable one, and he doesn't seem to include room for others. Obviously, his readers get into some serious debate about the topic at hand, but I would like Roger to be a bit more open to other ideas.

More than one reply? I envy you. I've only gotten one, but I was able to tell him the answer to something he didn't know, so I count myself fortunate.