The state of cinema in 2007

I was going to link to this New York Times story on how the marketplace for movies has, to some extent, gotten to where it is in 2007 as part of a Quick Takes post later today but upon another reading I think it deserves special attention.

Because the Toronto is so large and functions both as a preview for the fall studio season and as an international bazaar, with goods from Germany, Kazakhstan, Russia and Mongolia (the multinational provenance for the period epic “Mongol”), it affords an instructive view of the state of the American art and industry. More than any other major festival, Toronto makes clear the divide between those movies that matter aesthetically and intellectually — think the work of Hou Hsiao-hsien, the Dardenne brothers and Gus Van Sant — and those movies that matter largely because of their awards potential and the presumed interest to what remains of the discriminating, adult audience. Think “The Queen,” “Good Night, and Good Luck” and any number of films nominated for best picture in recent years.These two subsets — the art cinema of Mr. Hou and the quality studio cinema of George Clooney, in Toronto with “Michael Clayton” — are dwarfed by big-studio trash like “Pirates of the Caribbean,” of course. But that’s another story. The story here, one as complex if more urgent, involves radical shifts in distribution and exhibition; the ever-escalating numbers of movies pouring into (and quickly out of) theaters; and the demise of the sort of movie love that once inspired cartoons in The New Yorker. This isn’t a story about the death of cinema or even of movie love, which is alive and excitably well at a blog near you. It’s about how the films that once thrilled a segment of the audience — Bergman, Antonioni — have become marginalia, increasingly obscure objects of cinephilic desire.

Go read the whole thing. It’s well worth it.

By Chris Thilk

Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist with over 15 years of experience in online strategy and content marketing. He lives in the Chicago suburbs.