Sunday, January 12, 2014

Movies: Why The New York Times Got It Wrong

(Drivebycuriosity) - Are there too many movies? The New York Times seems to think so. "Flooding theaters isn`t good for filmmakers or filmgoers", writes the paper in today´s Sunday edition. The article (by their film critic Manohla Dargis  nytimes) is called "an appeal for sanity". The authors focuses on the independent scene (low budged films produced outside the big studios) and complaints that too many independent movies get squeezed into the movie theaters. I highly disagree.

The author counts that "nearly 900 film reviews ran in The New York Times in 2013". Therefore the author saw "too many lackluster, forgettable and just plain bad movies pouring into theaters, distracting the entertainment media and, more important, overwhelming the audience". Maybe so.

But I am a frequent movie goer - and I love the variety. The more movies are in the cinema, the greater is the selection I can choose from, the greater is the serendipity to find a movie that really hits the spot. Last year I picked for instance movies like "Europa Report", "Kiss of the Damned" and "In the House" and many more which I enjoyed a lot (driveby).

The NYT complains that there is not much screen space available so the majority of the films can bee seen just a short time in the theaters and then will switch into the digital realm. There is just a small window for seeing those films on the big screen. I agree, but I believe a small window is better than no window. And I enjoy watching the down streams from Netflix and Amazon Instant Video. Viva la variety. I perceive the claim "overwhelming the audience" as elitist, arrogant and undemocratic.

I also believe that the high competition pressure, created by the flood of movies, is generally good for the quality of movies. Competition doesn´t necessaryly create better ideas and plots, of course, but the makers will take more efforts in writing and selecting scripts. And cinematography, editing, soundtracks and even the acting, important parts of any movie, benefit a lot from competitive pressure.

I believe that the negativity of the NYT article is based on the traditional liberal attitude of the paper. Liberals don´t understand economics and they don´t believe in competition. Liberals prefer regulation. They want that an authority decides for you, in this case they cry for an authority who picks the movies you should watch. This reminds me of China where the government decides how many children people can have, how many political parties they can  elect (just one) and how many and what kind of movies they can see.

American media complain often about censorship in China and they demand more freedom for other countries - why do they want to restrict freedom of choice at home in the USA?

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