When I was first planning this column a few weeks ago, I wanted to write about The Iron Giant, which hits Blu-ray in North America in a swanky new Special Edition today. I have never seen Brad Bird’s animated masterpiece in its entirety, so this was more than enough reason to finally catch up (and hope for it to wash away the taste of Tomorrowland’s abysmal third act).
Alas, that will be a column for another day.
Because when I actually began writing, I started thinking about all of the movies I have watched this year. And I realized rather quickly that most of them suck. Plain and simple. Sequilitis, reimaginings no one asked for, useless franchise extensions and genuinely uninspired filmmaking – all of these and more explain the quality of this year’s films. Yes, there were a few box office records broken by a select few, but those films were the exceptions. Nearly everything else has flopped or has disappointed.
With this in mind, I have been considering going cold turkey and giving up on movies altogether. After eight months of 2016, I can say with confidence that while I liked a handful of movies, I was only really wowed by three. It frightens me that I can single out the likes of Zootopia, Swiss Army Man and an unreleased movie I am literally not even allowed to talk about yet as films that I actually loved – and that everything else let me down in some way or form, even the movies I liked.
On the other hand, I could name countless TV shows and mini-series that have left me riveted and stunned by just how incredible they are.
American Crime Story: The People v. O.J. Simpson.
Making a Murderer.
O.J.: Made in America.
The Night Of.
Better Call Saul.
Fresh Off the Boat.
Inside Amy Schumer.
And of course, the single best series of the year, Stranger Things. Seriously, if you have not watched this Netflix triumph, stop reading and start bingeing it right now. I will start eating my Eggos while you do it.
That’s ten shows, for those keeping track at home. Ten shows I genuinely loved versus three films – and those are just the shows I could think of off the top of my head. I am certain there could be even more, but I have yet to start tracking my TV shows the same way I track my movies (but need to start immediately). The level of quality storytelling on television has been exponentially increasing ever since The Sopranos dominated HBO in the early 2000’s, and it is only getting better.
So why should I bother spending time and money at the movies, only to continue being disappointed?
That’s the question I have been racking my brain trying to answer. And even as I write this and by the time you actually read it, I likely will still not have an answer. And for someone who has spent so much time watching, buying, reading, writing and devoting his life to film, this is beyond terrifying. But that’s what I hope to explore more of in this column. And with the Toronto International Film Festival coming up very soon and a positively packed fall schedule of new movies to watch, I may have to hold off on giving up on films for now.
Or maybe I just need to stop procrastinating and watch a movie like the much-acclaimed The Iron Giant. Maybe then I will have my faith in this medium be rewarded.
RECOMMENDATION OF THE WEEK: Don’t Breathe, the latest theatrical nightmare from Fede Alvarez. He shocked just about everyone with his terrifically bloody Evil Dead remake in 2013, and he ups the ante here with the story of three would-be thieves who cross the wrong blind guy in what could easily pass for as post-apocalyptic Detroit. The film has an intensity unlike any other this season, and it is actually quite scary – save for one ludicrously bad sequence in the final third of the film that derails nearly everything. I did not love it, but I did really enjoy it. So if horror is your thing, do not miss out.