Comments and observations on social and political trends and events.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The Day the Movies Died Movies + TV:

I found this article highly interesting and gives me an opening to share some observations of my own.

I've been seeing movies with my friend Carl for more than ten years. When I get home my wife will ask what I thought of the movie. Many times I'd say, "They found a way to cram a 60 minute story into a 2 hour movie." I've also noticed the increased use of fast cutting and shaky cameras. I recall reading a Roger Ebert review (of Michael Bay's Armageddon, I think) in which he pointed out that no shot lasted more than 3 seconds.

I have also noticed that younger folks like my daughters who grew up under this newer, fast editing find older movies like Capricorn One to be deadly boring. Recently when I mentioned I was going to see True Grit to friends they told me their daughter didn't like it. Sure enough, I did like True Grit. I could also see why our friend's daughter didn't like it. There was precious little action. What is shown in the previews is about it. It was more a character study than an action movie. It was heavy on dialog and light on action, just like No Country for Old Men (by the same directors).

Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying all movies should have the pacing of True Grit or No Country. I enjoy movies that intersperse action with narrative, something I think the original Terminator did well. I do think the current movie style reflects a shorter attention span that seems to be part of our culture, especially among younger kids. My wife who is a high school math teacher admits that she has had to change her style over the years to be more entertaining to hold the attention of her students. In the book Brain Rules John Medina recommends structuring presentations in ten minute modules to hold the audience's attention. For movies this slice of time has been whittled to two or three seconds.

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