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Will television surpass film?

2237 Views 21 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  deacongreg
I suppose the title says it all,....

As most of you know, (or maybe it's just me) but very few Hollywood films as of late (or the last 20 years) have been worth looking at. On the other hand there are a number of excellent TV productions. Whether you like 'em or not:

All in the Family
Band of Brothers
Battlestar Galactica
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Hill Street Blues
The Honeymooners
Mad Men
The Office
The Shield
The Sopranos
SpongeBob SquarePants
Twin Peaks
The West Wing
to name a few,...

Curious,...when will Hollywood get a clue? Perhaps it's just me,... but I prefer a little character and plot development much more than an all out slam-bam action film. Whatever happened to:

Close Encounters of the Third Kind
The Godfather
High Noon
In the Heat of the Night
Lawrence of Arabia
The Quiet Man
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Red Rock West
The Shootist
Twelve O'Clock High
Young Frankenstein

Just a smattering of good films,..... but
Am I alone? Does the vast majority just want another: Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, et al; mindnumbing action film???: :hissyfit:
Or will the quality of television finally surpase film making?
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As always, I have a different perspective on things.

In my opinion, the reason why so many current films are so mediocre
or bad is that they are too expensive.

Why is that a problem? Well the more money a movie costs, the more
the bottom liners, financiers, merchandizing interest and others will have
influence on the content. And you can't blame them because the risk
is so high they need alternative venues to make sure there is income
generated from it. So you're not going to get challenging or daring or
innovative movies by 'auteur' directors in large numbers in these financial

If they can dramatically reduce the cost of films then they can take more
risks with cutting edge filmmaking techniques and approaches. So that's
how I see it.

In terms of TV shows listed above, I don't think "All in the Family" (or others
like "Laugh In") hold up in the long run because they are too topical and
linked with the years they were produced which is always a problem with
'message' shows and movies or those with a political slant. Times change
and so do the political stakes which dates those episodes to the point where
they are no longer relevant or entertaining...at least not for me. I had a tough
time sitting through Season One of "All in the Family" and had to really rewind
my memory banks to remember what topics they were referring to back in the
early seventies. I also don't think "Gunsmoke" holds up, at least not the color
episodes. It's too tame and doesn't have enough action for my tastes. The whole
point of a Western was action and some strong characterization. I thought the
series was too cliche. I prefer "Have Gun will Travel" or "Wanted: Dead or Alive"
in that genre. Much better shows.

"Band of Brothers" was very well acted but somewhat sloppily constructed as a series.
I don't think the characters were that well established or individualist enough and I had
to go back to some previous episodes to figure out who was who. It did grow on me
during the run but not every show worked on it's own and was too dependent on what
the previous show was. Good but not great and I wouldn't want to screen it again.
I thought the history was quite interesting but I didn't become that emotionally involved
with the people in the story.

"The Honeymooners" holds up fine because it has very strong characterization and is the best Laurel and Hardy clone of all time. So good you almost forget that most of the plots were recycled from the Roach team shorts.
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I saw "A Bridge Too Far" in 70mm when it came out in NYC back in 1977 while
I was at NYU. I was epic and noisey and had a good cast but I can't figure
out why they made it. It was about a failed mission which was a real downer.

I'm not a fan of Richard Attenborough as a director although he's a good
actor. His movies lack the character nuance of a David Lean film. I was
very disappointed with his "Ghandi". Attenborough depicted him as a flawless
Saint. He beat Lean to the theaters since that director was also preparing
his version. Lean's heroes are flawed and shown in shades of gray just like
real life which makes them much more interesting to watch. I wish Lean's
version had been produced. It would've been a better movie.

The other trouble with Attenborough films is that they tend to be too long
with a very slow pacing. The performances are always good but I think he
lacks style as a director.

Bringing this back to the original topic, another problem for theatrical movies
is the insistence that most stay within the PG-13 content which is what the
megaplexes prefer. They don't want minors sneaking into R rated movies so
few are released these days. HBO doesn't have these restrictions so they can
incorporate more adult content into their narratives.
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What you stated is true but you have to factor in the business end.
The increase in popularity of home video formats dramatically decreased
adult patronage in cinemas in the eighties and nineties. So studios and
distributors are reacting and catering to the current moviegoing demographic.
It's a "Catch 22" situation. Exhibitors will say, "Why make movies with
adult content when it's mostly teenagers attending" and the other side of
it is "Why would adults attend if the content is geared for teenagers".
I haven't watched the Oscars since the eighties and have only seen a
few of the nominees. None of them spark my interest, some I
don't want to see at all (i.e. "Milk") but I'll get around to screening the
rest on DVD at some point in the future. Maybe they'll exceed my

I'm not part of Hollywood or that crowd or that method of filmmaking.
I am in the film business which is quite large and encompasses many
directors and producers who operate outside of Los Angeles. Since
I'm not part of Hollywood and I'm not partial to their product these days,
I don't have any interest in what they do other than to take advantage
of any niche I can find in the marketplace. I'd rather watch a quirky
indie movie than whatever is screened at a megaplex. So that's my bias
which is why I find these awards shows crashing bores. Listening to
acceptance speeches is like torture on the rack for me.
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