Friday 22 July 2016

The future of film - Bruce Hodsdon contemplates the death of 'a certain kind of cinema' .

Kent Jones, film critic, director of the New York Festival and collaborator with Martin Scorsese, has recently directed and co-written a revisiting, on film, of the famous 1962 interview with Alfred Hitchcock conducted by Francois Truffaut over the course of a week in 1962 and published in book form in 1966. The film is about to be released in cinemas around the country.  In an article on his film by Philippa Hawker in The Weekend Australian's Review section (16-17/7), Jones speaks of his uncertainty about the contemporary perceptions of Hitchcock among younger audiences which leads him to reflect that “everything to do with the history of cinema is getting filed away on the top shelf in the library.” Twenty years ago, Jones says, he felt that preservation and restoration projects had really taken hold and that cinema's legacy was assured. Now he's not so sure that it is a “mission accomplished.” He suspects that if Hitchcock means much at all to most young people it is as “something abstract”. This leads Jones to reflect further on portents for the future of mainstream cinema.

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.

1 comment:

  1. Nice: at least I have the 1966 book Truffaut on Hitchcock in original edition. It is on my bottom shelf too 'cos it is big.


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