She Lost It at the Movies
An odd disjunction today affects our experience of the movies. On the one hand, never have films been so accomplished, so technically glossy. On the other, they just do not seem to matter the way they once did. Some people have pointed to the pervasiveness of videotape, which has made film more available than ever, as a culprit here. The other side of plenitude, they say, is an obvious diminution of scale and scope; the moviegoing experience is constrained not only by the small compass of the television set but, in a subtler way, by the sense of movies as casual and ready-to-hand consumables rather than as special events.
More fundamentally still, movies no longer seem as central as they once did in defining our culture. Of course, popular and/ or controversial films still stir up much talk, but nothing to rival the urgency or the seriousness with which movies were discussed only a couple of decades ago. And not just discussed: it seemed then as if practically everyone with cultural aspirations wanted to be “into film,” whether as a writer, a director, or, for that matter, a critic. Indeed, writing about the movies had become, by the early 60′s, a respectable form of higher criticism, and even an academic discipline.
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