I have been discussing with an American friend, Richard Winston our viewpoints on the film. To be more precise, the decline of film, we will often email each other and say, ‘I watched a truly great film the other day from such and such a date’.
None of these films are current.
Now, I do go to the cinema, and I am sure Richard still does but I find myself coming out from that dark space feeling numb. I very rarely come out and say, ‘Wow, that was just…’ and then have no words to express what I feel because it is that good! Citizen Kane (1941), A Matter of Life and Death (1946), Lady of Shanghai (1947), North by Northwest (1959), Three Days of the Condor (1975) all made me feel like that.
Years later, a good film is still with you, you know the story.
I only have to say, North by Northwest (1959) – I wasn’t even born then – and I recall the story, the characterisation and the cinematography. Sure, there is no arguing that this Hitchcock at his best.
Yet the seminal classics of my generation stick with me. If you ask me about the original Star Wars trilogy (1977-1983) I can tell you the it is a coming of age story, I can talk about the characters, good vs evil (yes the SFX were great and still are but they are not the heart of the story, they were the heart of the subsequent merchandising). I can also tell you that the likes of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher rewrote their lines because as Ford said, ‘Lucas can write but his dialogue stinks’. So, I always felt a sinking feeling when George Lucas re-edited them to tinker with SFX, it didn’t bode well and then he did the worst thing possible in the late 90s, he wrote The Phantom Menace (1999), he wrote Ja Ja Binks, more CGI than character and showed us all that the future of film was just dead. Really? Who wants films full of CGI? No story, no heart, no empathy, no sympathy, no character.
Want to prove me wrong? Go stand outside any of the new blockbusters, and as people come out, ask them, ‘Why did you like it?’. Character and story will be low down on the list.
Now yes,I am being crotchety. There have been some great movies that have come out in the last few years – I’m finding it difficult to think of any features but shorts come thick and fast. I think the final nail for me will be when Lindsay Lohan gets her new project off the ground. She wants to remake ‘Some Like It Hot’ (1959) and play Monroe’s role – it’s not a classic film, it’s not as good as Misfits (1961) or Bus Stop (1956) – but it shouldn’t be remade or reimagined, that’s a buzzword for crap. Thank God that Billy Wilder is dead.