It's not that I feel pessimistic. It's possible to make a good movie for nothing, which is great... On the other hand, I think that [a] door is finally closing and the mingling that has gone on for the last 100 years between cinema and commerce is no longer there. It's almost gone. It's becoming more and more a question of cinema versus popular entertainment.
A certain kind of cinema is almost at the point that it's no longer possible. Cinema is driven by a filmmaker, by someone who wants -needs- to make a film that he or she will explore and find only in the process of making it (shooting, editing, mixing, colour correcting) as opposed to the many films now made that are simply realisations of ideas, films that are assembled... I think it's getting harder for many of the people in my movie – for instance, Fincher wouldn't be able to make Zodiac today.
Jones finds further implications in a process begun with the breakdown of the classical studio system in the sixties: “in the wake of the 90s the studios have ceased to exist and become one small part of enormous multi-pronged conglomerates. Their entertainment divisions are run by people ever more distant from movies as you and I refer to them...The cinema from the start was based on a tension between art and commerce. That tension, that impurity was extremely productive and interesting. But now it's largely gone. The split has happened between what we call cinema on the one hand, and what Abel Ferrara once referred to as “investments in worldwide entertainment.”
Jodie Foster was here in late May to promote her fourth film as director, Money Monster. In a press conference she said that Money Monster is “a kind of hybrid between a mainstream Hollywood movie that is original, and yet it's not like a super-hero franchise. It's about relevant things that are happening now and it's smart.” She is pessimistic that films like Money Monster will continue to be made by the Hollywood conglomerates.
At the time I tended to dismiss Ms Foster's claim as a promotional byline for the media, although concerning enough to put on file. Although, as she suggests, very much a contemporary “Hollywood hybrid”, a viewing of Money Monster brought to mind Frank Capra's populist thirties romantic satires, Mr Deeds Goes to Town and Mr Smith Goes to Washington. Kent Jones's musings had me reaching for that file on the bottom shelf.