Sunday, January 8, 2012

The New Breed of Movie-Lover

Last night, I saw The Social Network for what is perhaps the fifteenth time. Before you ask: yes, I like rewatching films a lot more than the average person...I don't really tire of certain movies. And yes, The Social Network is currently in my top ten favourite movies of all time. Through each of these rewatches, I have realized one thing: The Social Network is one of the best films I've ever seen. I think it is perfect film-making, and one of the best modern films.

A lot of people might have trouble processing why I think that it is one of the best films I've ever seen. The main reason for this? It was made in 2010. It hasn't been around long enough to be the best of anything, has it? Here's the thing: a lot of people like to think that the only amazing movies were made at least 20-30 years ago. Even more people like to think that movies were only good back in the 1930s/40s. Now, I'm not slagging off the 30s/40s, or any movies from the past. If you look at my current top 100, a lot of the movies are from that particular period in time. I am a huge classic Hollywood fan. In fact, they are what kicked off my huge passion for movies. But between all of those black-and-white romance and cigarettes, I was still taking in the newer stuff. Some of which was just as good, if not better, than those older films.

I don't know whether I've been reading or writing to much, but I've had this idea drummed into my head that older films generally are better than the newer films. This, to a degree, is true, considering what a sorry state the film industry seems to be in when some of the highest grossing movies are ones like the Twilight series. Yes, back in the day films were very authentic as they didn't have the computers or technology that we have these days. They were more inventive, considering film-making was so young and they had so much to discover. But, believe it or not, they had bad films back in those days. And some of the films don't stand up so well now as they did back then. People get so darn protective over them, though. If I were to say that I didn't like Citizen Kane, people would probably get their pitchforks and fire and come to my house in the dead of night to kill me. Truth is, I don't like Citizen Kane an awful lot. So do whatever you please: report my blog and have it shut down or whatever. I am obviously what you would call an 'uneducated' person who pretends to like movies.

Here's where we have our problem: just because I didn't like Citizen Kane that much and yet I proclaim a new movie like The Social Network to be one of the best films I've ever seen, then I must be uneducated. Which is correct, if you take that term literally. I haven't been to film school. The closest I've had to a lesson on film is one I taught my music class over a year ago. Still, I know a thing or two about films, and probably a lot more than anyone else I know. How did I learn? By watching them. And I learnt just as much from new movies as I did from old movies.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that new movies never get enough credit. They come out, we say we either like them or don't, and then they fall out of the conversation. They get compared to older films, deemed unworthy, and that is the end. But those older films? They were once new. They once had lovers and haters. They aren't bulletproof. They're just the same, basically. We can keep looking back at what everything once was - which is fine. But just know that cinema is still happening. Just because every second movie is a sequel, remake, comic book movie, found footage movie etc doesn't mean that cinematic greatness doesn't still exist. Some of the movies released in the recent years will be perceived as classics soon. The Social Network should hopefully be one of them - unless Facebook goes under and it'll be extremely out-dated.

I'm someone who likes to look forward to the future. I'm someone who looks to embrace the new. I'm young, so therefore I have a different perspective on things. It is hard being young, because no-one takes you seriously, but I've learnt a lot. Let's just say this:

My name is Stevee Taylor. I'm 16 years old and I come from a small town in New Zealand called Dannevirke. I have had an interest in film for around five years. I'm good at English and I want to be a director. My directing idols are Christopher Nolan, Sofia Coppola, Quentin Tarantino, David Fincher and Steven Spielberg. My acting idols are people like Amy Adams, Jessica Chastain, Leonardo DiCaprio and Ralph Fiennes. I learnt everything I know about films watching new and old films. And I'm ambitious because of watching those films. And just because I really like new films, doesn't mean I'm any less of a film-lover.


  1. I understand what you're saying, though maybe you were a tad too hostile. But that's your right. I've written things a lot more angrier than this, and at least your rants make sense. Mine are often ignorant and idiotic. You have great points and you make them excellently. As for this one, I agree with what you've written completely. How old it is has nothing to do with whether a movie is great or not. I, like you, love The Social Network and it is in my Top 100 films. You don't have to love Citizen Kane or Sunset Blvd to be thought of as a true film lover. When I first saw those movies years ago, I didn't like them at all. But I didn't feel guilty about it. I like what I like. Sometimes my tastes change (I now love those two movies), but my tastes are my tastes, and so are yours. No one has the right to belittle your film preferences, it is just wrong.

  2. I'm with you. Film love is subjective, you love what you love and no one can take that away from you. I think film is getting better and better. I'm deeply grateful to older films for paving the way but I reckon 90% of my top 100 would be films post-70s and most would be from the last two decades. Those films mean the most to me personally.

  3. There's a reason old films are given more credit than new films. Actually, there are two, one significant and one not so.

    The minor reason is that often a film needs to "age" a little to justify its place in the pantheon. It's easy to become infatuated with a new film and realize that it doesn't necessarily hold up.

    The other reason is that people have lousy memories. People bow and scrape at the altar of Old Hollywood because they forget that, just like today, a bunch of those movies were awful, but have been forgotten.

    Let me put it this way--in 100 years, people will still be talking about The Social Network and The Dark Knight. They will not be talking about I am Number Four, I Don't Know How She Does It, or The Season of the Witch. The good movies will last; the bad ones will be forgotten. And this gives the impression that there only were good movies.

  4. I think there's a fine line between film criticism, and being a film fan - often one is forgotten in favour of the other. That's not to say the two can't co-exist, but there's a real snobbery that can emerge within film criticism. There's this idea that older is better because it has stood the test of time - but new films have also learnt from the successes and failures of old films, and are equally as (if not more) entertaining.

    It all depends what people look for when they watch a film.

  5. I think The Social Network will still be a good movie when facebook shuts down - if it ever will.
    I haven't seen many of the "classics" myself, which is why I sometimes think "Hey, you don't know a damn about movies", when I love a new film that many others don't like. But you're absolutely right, cinema is something that is happening now, and whether we like the changes or not - they have to happen. It's evolution.

  6. I think this will be considered a classic. It's funny because I was thinking of writing a post on similar lines about the greatness of Social Network.

  7. As long as you can articulate into why you like these new films as opposed to something like Citizen Kane which you didn't think was that great.

    I think you're going to do just fine. You're smart enough to understand why you love The Social Network and I'm sure you can write an essay about that film and its brilliance. Your passion for films and the way you're able to say why you think this film is great or why a film sucks is enough to be great. Plus, you're young and you can get better. Besides, you can back it up better than most people out there who claims to have an opinion when really, they don't know shit.

  8. Interesting thoughts Stevee. But newer movies still have to prove themselves over the test of time. It's common for many people to be enamored with the latest movie only to fall out of love after 6 months, a year or five. It's another to stand in the limelight for several decades and still be considered one of the great movies of all-time.

  9. What a well-written and thought-provoking post, Stevee, well done! You know, I seem to have the same school of thought that 'older films generally are better than the newer films' perhaps because my first three films I ever remember of making an impact on me were classic films my mother brought home from her overseas trip.

    Yet over the years I did not become a classic film junkie (for lack of a better word), I tend to watch more contemporary cinema until fairly recently when my Gregory Peck crush brought more appreciation of classic films. Now, though I don't think EVERY classic films are better than films today, I do think that the lack of special effects, camera/editing tricks, what have you, are more than made up for by amazing screen presence of the actors and well-written dialogue. So to some degree, I think with the ever increasing film technology these days, some of the nuances of movie making is lost and in a lot of films, real acting goes by the way side as people are more concerned about whether the explosions/shootouts/car chases are bombastic enough. But then again, every now and again we get films like The Social Network which I agree is top-notch filmmaking, so yes, cinematic greatness CAN and still DO happen.

    Btw, on a side note, I actually have not seen Citizen Kane but it's interesting to hear someone not putting it on a pedestal like the rest. I'll check it out one day and see how I feel about it :)

  10. Amazing article, Stevee. I typically don't have the attention span to read editorials and whatnot and generally skip over them on blogs and sites... but this one really hooked me, and I read every word. And I agree.

    And I also agree with Steve. There was a bunch of crap back then, just like there's a bunch of crap now. And in not even 100 years, just like people now don't remember the crap from 50+ years ago, people will not remember the crap from now.

  11. Tyler - I was too hostile. I actually hate this idea why I thought to publish it. Ah well.
    I've always loved Sunset Blvd. even though I think that Gloria Swanson's performance has aged terribly. And no, no-one should belittle anyone's preferences to anything!

    Pete - Exactly. I have a lot of recent films that mean a lot to me, too.

    Steve - I know what you mean about becoming infatuated with a film and then realising it doesn't hold up. It happens to me a lot, but there are some that really stick with me (like The Social Network).
    And I certainly hope that no-one will be talking about those movies ages from now :P

    Liam - That's exactly right. That's also why I'm happy to be a film fan rather than a film critic.

    Mette - I don't think Facebook will ever shut down.
    I know exactly what you mean. I sometimes feel bad when I watch movies like The Smurfs instead of watching those classics that I haven't seen...but I'm curious about what is happening 'now'.

    Nikhat - Do it!

    Steven - Thanks! I try.

    Castor - Yes, I suppose you are right!

    Ruth - Yes, that sounds about right. Explosions seem to have taken over the film industry, which sucks. We have lost a few good actors and some true seriousness, but there are still good movies out there.
    And check out Citizen Kane. Admittedly, it has been a while since I've seen it, but I just didn't love it like everyone else.

    Nick - Thanks! Your 60/60 project kinda inspired me, especially the comments made on your Chinatown review.
    At least we can say that the crap that is made now won't be remembered later!


You mustn't be afraid to dream a little bigger, darling.


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