The following is a rebuttal to my last post “Hollywood, the bunk movie dealers.” These are not my words and have not been edited in anyway (except for this intro). if you would like to join the discussion comment below. –Matt
By Stephen Wolthuis
Matt and I have spent hours, and I mean HOURS, discussing every imaginable topic, mostly while drinking of course. What I love most is that we don’t argue, nor do we just agree with each other for the sake of it, we discuss; it’s quite nice to be honest. So, when he sent me a link to his newest article, I happily set about reading it, expecting to agree with most and disagree with parts, but generally enjoying it. However, this was different. While I still enjoyed reading it, I found myself wholeheartedly disagreeing. I messaged him requesting the opportunity for a rebuttal to which he more than enthusiastically agreed to post. So here it is. Let the discussion commence!
Matt and I are close in age, about a year apart, so we grew up with the same cultural touchstones; Star Wars, Transformers, Goonies, Saturday morning cartoons, Reaganomics, etc. I am an unabashed nostalgia junky; I wear it on my sleeve and make no apologies. But nostalgia can be dangerous, it can cut you off from truly great things right in front of you and, even worse, it can create a belief that there existed this great time when all was perfect (MAGA anyone?). So, when Matt stated that 1999 was the last year movies were good, I shook my head and thought “nostalgia just took another one”.
I love the movies I grew up with! I make my daughter watch Goonies. I still think fondly of spending an entire summer in my high school years watching every classic I could get my hands on. Spielberg, Zemeckis, and Lucas defined my childhood and Kubrick, Scorsese, and Coppola brought me into adulthood. Most importantly, I remember the great year of movies from 1999. I also remember, as Matt pointed out, how it also featured the steaming pile of garbage that was the Phantom Menace (I saw it 9 times, convinced it would magically become great….it didn’t). But where Matt and I diverge is in the twenty years since.
Let go back to 2010. Christopher Nolan had come become a big name through his clever work on Memento and his fantastic take on comic book movies with Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. But in 2010 he headed back to original works with Inception. I still remember seeing it for the first time. I was absolutely blown away with the concept of the movie. Visually dazzling, a story that grabs you, and writing that pops (“you mustn’t be afraid to dream a little bigger darling”). I hadn’t left a theater that thrilled since I was a preteen staring at the screen while velociraptors chased children around a kitchen in Jurassic Park. And the soundtrack, I encourage everyone to listen to Hans Zimmer’s “Time”. I agree with Matt on the power of the music of movies; John Williams is always my number one played artist on Spotify. Inception became a huge financial and critical success; and it holds up great nearly ten years on.
I want to talk about another film, dramatically different but no less incredible. Richard Linklater spend twelve years making Boyhood. He systematically filmed briefly each year to capture the coming of age story of Mason. This movie left me a bit breathless when I finished. As my wife likes to say, “it gave me all the feels”. It’s easy enough to try a new “trick” in filmmaking, but Linklater created a movie that would not have been the same without the use of the same actor. I left looking back on so many moments from growing up that I was almost afraid to watch it again. The soundtrack too should be mentioned, featuring great tracks from Wilco, Arcade Fire, The Black Keys.
I bring these two movies up for a reason, they are originals works that are distinctly modern and I believe both will stand the test of time. There are countless others I could mention, from Lord of the Rings or the Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind to The Departed or John Wick. In the same hand I could mention that every E.T. has a Mac and Me, or every The Deerhunter has Heaven’s Gate. When we dismiss an entire two decades outright and anything going forward, we miss the opportunity to truly see the great work out there or allow ourselves to simply enjoy what’s in front of us. Is the market overly diluted? Absolutely! Is there an emphasis on rehashing the same old crap? Yep! But greatness is sitting write in front of us, and it isn’t hard to find. I refuse to be the guy screaming at kids to get off my lawn, and instead give the new stuff a try……. but do actually stay off my goddamn lawn!