Apr 8, 2012

Bogdanovich on Cinema

Last week, director Peter Bogdanovich was in town to introduce his 1971 masterpiece The Last Picture Show. On Good Friday, Peter Howell of the Toronto Star published an interview with the famed filmmaker-critic-author-historian. In addition to discussing his own work, Bogdanovich comments on the current state of cinema. Unsurprisingly, the 72 year-old director finds it in sorry shape.

“I just think films have become so decadent. Fast, fancy cutting just for the sake of cutting. Just because it’s something to do, like eye candy or whatever. These stupid movies, these ‘tentpole movies,’ which is a term I hate, are just inane. I have no interest in them.” Particularly intriguing is his quip about today's film criticism. (“There used to be more interesting film critics than there are now. I don’t read many.")

Despite however much he may correct, these bite-sized quips barely scratch the surface. The so-called decadence of current cinema needs a book or a chapter all its own to properly chronicle the reasons for its decline. (Ironically, within the article, Bogdanovich hints that he and his fellow upstarts of the New Hollywood in the 1970s, indirectly started the decline upon dismantling the studio system, as he now says that at least that system worked.)  And as for his statement on criticism, it is true that the days of "cinephilia", as communicated in print with the panache of such luminaries as Pauline Kael or Andrew Sarris, are long gone. Still, their existence depended on the fact that movies of the 1960s and 70s were more stimulating and challenging, thereby bringing out the best writing in all of them. If the current crop of cinema is poor and does not engage anyone, then it fails to bring out good film writing.

You can read the entire article here.

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