What’s Wrong With Our Movies?

21 Best Kids Movies 2020 - New Kids Films Coming Out to the Theater in 2020

Patty and I watch a lot of movies, and we own a pretty big collection of them, too.

Lately we’ve been watching–or trying to watch–some new movies, and have been coming away disappointed. Or irate over the wasted time.

There’s a widespread failing here: the plot, what there is of it, completely falls apart as the movie nears its end. They’ve got all these writers and they can’t finish the story. Suspense mounts–and then melts down because nothing much happens. Or what does happen is so preposterous, the viewer can’t believe in it.

I believe there’s a simple explanation as to why so many movies today are so crappy.

If you never read or hear a story, you won’t know how to tell one.

Who’s readin’ anymore? The people who become screenwriters? And in the unlikely event they’re reading anything at all, what are they reading–comic books? The backs of cereal boxes?

I am a storyteller. I write novels and get paid for it. How do I do it? I consume as many stories as I can! I learn how to tell stories by studying stories. Do this, but don’t do that. Do you see how Edgar Rice Burroughs or Charles Dickens juggle their subplots without ever dropping one? Do you see how John Blaine paints a picture while never forgetting to keep the plot moving?

But who’s reading anymore? Who’s learning how to tell a story? It’s getting so we simply won’t even try a movie made after 2000. We know the wheels are going to fall off the plot. We know there are going to be gaping holes left in the story… because nobody knows how to tell a story anymore.

True, even in contemporary movies, even in TV, I encounter a story that leaves me lost in admiration. An episode of Endeavour called “Deguello” had me convinced the writers were going to drop the ball, they’ll never bring all these story lines together–and yet they did it! Without padding, without leaving things out, without inventing ridiculous coincidences–wow!

But examples like this are getting to be few and far between.

6 comments on “What’s Wrong With Our Movies?

  1. Ben Franklin said that everything he has ever learned he has learned from books. I don’t know how many stories he read but he was quite the learned man and it was mostly what he read. I know that book reading and story reading in particular is a habit that needs to be cultivated and that’s whether it’s reading an actual book or reading it on an I-pad. The habit of reading takes time. My kids all are readers for which I’m thankful. And my grandchildren love it when we just sit around and tell stories (or rather me tell the stories) and try out different ideas to make a story work. It’s fun to do.

  2. Your theory makes a lot of sense. It’s hard to create something good, if you’ve never experienced something good. My creative field of interest is music, and a lot of modern music strikes me as being contrived. What has happened, is that songwriting has become a process of assembling ideas. They literally have people that are paid to come up with hooks and other songwriting gimmicks, and then experienced songwriters assemble these into “songs”, which to my ear, tend to sound formulaic.

    The thing is, they aren’t really trying to write songs, because they are studying songs that became hits, and trying to manufacture hits. The problem is the motivation. I have written a handful of songs, none of which I have ever sought to market. But the reasons I wrote these songs, although it varied from song to song, in every case emanated from something I was feeling at the time.

    The four most durable songs I have composed came from some immediate need. One was written as a teaching device; a familiar composition I could use to emulate Chet Atkins. Another was born of romantic feelings, and I ended up with a very nice little Bossa Nova. In another case, I needed a song to record a demonstration of a particular guitar, so I wrote an imaginative and lighthearted little Blues that I could distribute without violating the copyright of anyone else. The last was a classical piece, written from the grief of hearing that a friend was terminally ill.

    None of these songs would be hits, unless the musical tastes of the masses shift drastically, but if I do say so myself, these are good songs and hold up musically. In every case, there was a personal emotion involved; the need for a Chet Atkins style song that was within my capabilities, romantic attraction, the desire to display the sound of a new instrument to best advantage, and grief. Money, or salability we’re not factors, and I don’t care in the slightest about these things. The songs are personal expression, and nothing else.

    Now I am not anti-profit, nor opposed to the forces of a free market. I actually am in favor of this, so at a philosophical level, I support the right of the music industry to compose and distribute as they see fit, but attempting to manufacture hits by gluing together a bunch of musical cliches is unlikely to create memorable music that stands the test of time.

    Now, a person can write a song about a current topic, like Disco Duck, and it might just catch the fancy of a mass audience, and sell. But the success will be short lived and the song will probably be remembered only as an example of the foolishness of the public’s tastes.

    So, back to movies. As I see it, the moviemakers have done the same thing, basically going for quick profits and copying other successes, without regard for the quality of the story. Face it, comic books are not usually the source of great literary works.

    The music business is wailing and gnashing their teeth, because they aren’t selling all that many recordings, but, IMHO, this reduces to the quality of what they are producing. The last CDs I bought, were less than a week ago, but were recorded in the ‘60s, because the artist, Wes Montgomery, died in 1968. Produce something good, and I’ll buy it.

    Likewise for movies. I haven’t been to a movie in a theater in over a decade. Make a good movie, and I might just go see it, or at least buy it on BluRay,

  3. Maybe you already have such a list, but I would like to see a list of the movies you liked. I like all genera.

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