I’ve been going frequently to the cinema of late – I went twice last year – but this year in Australia I’ve already been a couple of dozen times. The results aren’t encouraging in terms of product or the number of patrons going during the week. The movies they show have been pretty substandard and so I guess that’s not surprising considering the blockbusters are being held back while others have been delayed in terms of their production… Then I went to see Disney’s so-called blockbuster Cruella (2021) on the weekend and it was in a gigantic cinema at the local multiplex where there were five or six other people… It wasn’t a Saturday night but it was a sign that cinema really is dead… and that Cruella was being awaited on the internet to be devoured by zombies at home who sit in front of the screen! Once bitten, you’ll watch movies anywhere! And I did it for nearly all of 2020.
With the 75-inch Smart TV becoming a more affordable reality for even those on a near-poverty line level type household, and whether that household and television is a lone one or shared by either family or friends… plus if the Smart TV user’s indulgence in alcohol and/or weed and/or other substances makes driving an impossibility… Further, you may not like movies or tv shows and prefer video or computer games. I should also mention the world of sport which is perhaps the biggest screen phenomenon to this day!
The thing is you may prefer to sit at home and enjoy your computer games stoned or drunk, or others now prefer the streaming platforms which have already adopted the first release strategy online for blockbuster movies such as Disney while the rest of the studios will probably follow through in their entirety… and it will happen soon. Yes, I hear you say, what else does Nostradamus see in his crystal ball?!
Going to the movies is a habit and hobby which, despite the five-second speech of hope that actress Frances McDormand gave as she paid lip-service to her Best Actress Oscar – that people will be back shoulder to shoulder in the cinema…. It now seems unlikely to be revived on the scale it once existed. The Covid outbreak is a long-term new reality which will keep people sitting shoulder to shoulder for another year worldwide at least if they even bother to turn up, when they can stay at home and take a pee break, sip an alcoholic beverage or take a toke on a bong. They don’t have to drive to the cinema, they don’t have to rush to the toilet midway through an epic movie if they’ve brought a cola or a lemonade which is super-sized…. Why bother especially when its only one movie which almost pays a month’s subscription for certain streaming platforms.
And so, even ‘Hollywood’ as a concept seems to now be dead in terms of it being a by-word for the cinema. Now it is the names of Netflix, Prime, Foxtel and friends – all at a press of a button – and all directly debited from your bank account. It is too easy and thus irresistible and all at the press of a button in your favourite sitting position. The press button age may separate us further as human beings in terms of collective viewing at the cinema but it may be the salvation of some souls as I have hinted n some articles. Perhaps in the future there will never really exist a movie as such but a personalised viewing experience for each individual which is tailored for each individual. Sure there’s a standard Hollywood release for groups of people to watch…
But what if each person still heard something else on the soundtrack which related to their good selves and the promotion of comforting their very soul. It’s not totally out of the question… and maybe not too far in the future. What remains is the set in celluloid Hollywood product of the past which we trust will never change or be altered by some central movie or tv show dealing computer… or maybe they too will never be the same again. Mind-boggling if you can understand what I am talking about… We will only be able to trust what has been captured on film or celluloid for being the real thing in the future as opposed to the computer altered images of today.
Also, the word and place of Hollywood in Los Angeles is an in-name only town in terms of movies being made or as a by-word for film culture will like the dinosaur La Brea tar-pits of the movie world. A place full of history in terms of film and celluloid and the launching pad for the new world of streaming on-line. The big studios perhaps remain as well as the top brass making their deals there… But will the stars continue to keep their homes in the Hollywood Hills? Certainly, Paramount keeps another film library elsewhere of all its product just in case “The Big One” in terms of an earthquake hits Los Angeles.
However, movies made in the English language have long been migrating and decentralising away from ‘Hollywood’ and are being made in countries such as Canada and Australia as well as nations in Eastern Europe and Asia. Even the other States of America away from California are home to studios which offer a cheaper option to make product for the rise of the ever-hungry streaming platforms. The sad thing is that the studio system in Hollywood, churned out some good stuff within its stuffy reign since the late 1920s when Oscar first emerged.
Scripts were rewritten endlessly in big budget old Hollywood while today anything is made into a show and cheaply now that there is no longer the technology once known as celluloid to waste. Not that the studio system is essentially the source of cult movies as independently produced films continue to surprise both past and present.
Now, I’m sad to say, I can’t watch Netflix just yet, except for a few movies and shows, as I find the product in terms of movies to be just plain standard so far. I’m not quite hooked. I hope it will improve… but just putting star names or stars who were once big on the ‘once big cinema screen’ as drawcards doesn’t guarantee a good night’s viewing. Sadly, the movie as a concept is perhaps also dead along with the cinema experience as people curl up and binge on television shows instead of movies. Time is being taken or drawn out to tell stories – but is it at the expense of quality?
Quality and not quantity. And the idea of distilling something special into something once known as a movie? Polishing the script… etc. – maybe after Covid is accepted as the new normal and there is no further catastrophe in terms of mutation of the virus, we can go back to watching good movies on our Smart TVs which may also embrace Covid as a part of everyday life. Will we ignore Covid as well in the movies or will more movies set in pre-2020 be made in sentimental as well as in comfort of our shaken civilisation? Certainly, the escape into a Marvel or DC universe is all the more irresistible. But do we need the big screen still for that? Just a possible tip or not a tip!
The rejection of the format of a movie which lasts 90 or 150 minutes, when compared to the longer experience, of investing and indulging or suppressing emotions, in the security blanket of a long-winded television series, as it suspends what passes as reality these days, has also become the norm. People no longer like a movie to end after just 100 minutes and then being left to be taunted by reality… There was a time that used to be that kids would tune in at a certain time each night or afternoon after school and watch their favourite tv show religiously, even when it was repeated over and over again… And now it has returned in the form of Friends being repeated, but now you can pick and choose when you want to watch your show at the touch of a button.
Now that Hollywood has been eaten by the big screen tv… or is it just a form of reincarnation or revolution in terms of showbusiness and how we enjoy our screen entertainment? We must accept that the change has arrived and that children are growing up without going to the cinema and they often also have no real interest to still go the cinema… Neither does the child who watched tv happily at home since they were barely a few years old. I happily note that both my local cinemas have unisex toilet options and one has even eliminated the urinal as a possible source of embarrassment or of predatory behaviour. It’s safer to watch a screen at home. A saving grace is that there is now a further delineation between nature as opposed to the screen at hand and so the need for children to be able to enjoy themselves safely at a park or on their green backyard lawn will become all the more reason for saving the planet as well as seen as important for children themselves in terms of feeling sand or soil beneath their feet and social integration.
For those viewers, who prefer to live like mushrooms in a darkened room and binge without the use of drugs or alcohol and watch their tv shows or movies forever and ever amen – there is no crime in that either. Just change the sheets occasionally!
I’ve written articles about the possibilities of the Smart TV for lonely, depressed or people who are slightly damaged by sexual or physical assaults by others but who remain essentially pure at heart and open-minded… The future screen will perhaps x-ray your habits even in public as you pass by one as it will also protect children in a one unhappy parent home with the security of a screen which will be their friend and keep their egg-shell of a small ego safe until it is ready for the reality of adolescence to take hold those hard knocks experiences to take place… The screen will then always be there to comfort the adolescent and give the post-adolescent who has not given in to irredeemable criminal and evil predatory behaviour, both sexually and financially, a chance to enjoy their own piece and peace of God on Earth. We don’t necessarily need to know just yet what is behind this alien or super computer new age… but it may help the young find the peace and security and wonder of a child once more through self-analysis without the intrusion of a judgmental doctor of psychiatrist. There is hope for the future… I may be talking in the riddles of the Sphynx or riddles in general… but I do believe that a super intelligence will be at work in those who deserve it, or who have been unwarrantedly and inadvertently discarded or possibly fallen through the cracks. Just don’t go looking for it. And, there I go on again about the possibilities of God on Earth… and the Smart TV!
If cinemas in their current state are to survive it will be in a boutique experience type way. People are still turning up to the art-houses in rather impressive numbers for limited runs of certain movies from exotic overseas destinations such as France and Italy and they are usually part of a festival of sorts. The future of the multiplex which does not show art movies will rely on video gamers taking their console to plug into the cinema and play to their heart’s content on a screen which is so massive that there will be no comparison but to return… If the price is competitive. The cinema can serve drinks and food, maybe there’s a burger joint next door or a classy restaurant which, for a fee, you will be allowed to take in their produce, rather than for it to be forbidden. The pause button can be used whenever the gamer likes… or movies may again have intermissions just like John Wayne’s Hondo (1953) did while still clocking in at only 80 odd-minutes in total…. Just so you don’t miss a plot point because of a rush to a pee break!
The same goes for good food and drink being prepared by the cinema just for a movie to be screened for different reasons. It all comes down to timing and variety. Variety is still the spice of life and that is the secret of the movies of the past…. Future viewings of the movies chosen may be a cult movie of a group of friends who want to get drunk and eat food, even if again that fee is charged for Uber Eats to Deliveroo so to speak if you don’t like the cinema’s food. Musicals in a cinema with their great sound systems is still incomparable. By all means have a double feature, have a movie orgy and wake up not remembering the ending. Just don’t speak during the feature! Once again, the intermission pause button is forever on hand and at the discretion of the leader of the experience or its democracy, while the experience of the movie and the unisex toilet is all inclusive. Communities can go to the cinema without stigma in that spell of love and friendship and adoration of the cinema… of ‘that’ movie! On a gigantic screen. Distributors will perhaps also have to subsidise the cinemas in some way in terms of the number of tickets sold if first releases are to continue and they share their profits from internet streaming.
How about a wake at your local cinema showing your dearly departed’s favourite movie while getting drunk with friends before or after at the cinema? Or perhaps you are dying yourself and have a couple of movies on your bucket list that for a fee may be tracked down by some sort of cinema broker/manager for you to see on the big screen at the cinema? For less than a few hundred dollars you could watch a double feature on a big screen of your very own in a cinema and totally alone! It seems that way now but the movies they show aren’t of your choosing and aren’t very good.
“Him and his Jew friends” said a receptionist about me at my local doctor’s general practice when she knew I was an all-consumed Hollywood movie lover. Yeah, and British films and Aussie films!! Soon, gone will be the notion that entertainment or Hollywood was once run by a bunch of rich Jews who controlled the studios even if their product and Hollywood remains ‘tainted’ by this so-called collaboration. They may control banking over the world according to people who hang out in doctor’s waiting rooms but it never really bothered me as much as it bothers others in the first place.
That Hollywood was a work in progress and one of a Sodom which would eventually be consumed by the rest of the world was probably underlined by the destruction of The Garden of Allah hotel which existed in Hollywood from the time Oscar began when it opened around 1927 as it served as a place for the Hollywood elite to stay and have their numerous affairs or just meet and get drunk or stoned. It was pulled down and erased from Hollywood in 1959 and then everyone made love in the other perfumed Garden of Allah known as the place where actor Johnny Depp notoriously had sex in every room, known as Chateau Marmont. “Pave paradise put up a parking lot” may have been the philosophy and the same has happening in Hollywood in terms of television emerging victorious and a universal melting pot for the world to recover and wonder in front of without fear of judgment in public. Yes, the holy war is over for those who don’t think it is safe on the streets at night as Smart TV and the product it spruiks often forgets the old movies and cult items produced independently of those tainted studio factories of Hollywood in that Babylon or Sodom which was eventually decimated by fear of communism, AIDS, racism, sexism and now Covid and accusations and complaints upon the great old ones and young ones who raped and assaulted in the name of cinema and a good time.
The end of days prophecy says all that remains for the ruins of Hollywood to be totally consumed is by an earthquake! We can still learn lessons from the tragedies of the lives of the stars of the past which is what this blog is sometimes about… Sodom has fallen, or has expanded, and to look back at it, if it even existed at all, we will see it’s past celluloid product in a different philosophical light if it is kept pristine in a historical sense as it was meant to be seen, or with a different soundtrack and picture – possibly due to future cancel culture – as the new Sodom’s overpaid residents, their bank accounts still overflowing, get used to being a star of the small screen in the home entertainment revolution. Will there still be stars? I’m sure the media will create the one’s it continually wants to celebrate while those who are not chosen by the mainstream media have to settle for fame in the relatively short-term realm of the low-paying social media and reality television.
And so, will Los Angeles be the centre of movie-making and deal-making forever and ever amen? Or has it been already scattered to the winds of the world as the entire population of the free world can create either on screen or learn onscreen to express themselves in terms of art in other forms… Can the new small screen culture still overcome nepotism and money and power….? It won’t matter to those who are content either to be pacified by their screen or moved to create as a result of it.
That is the beauty of the new world of Smart TV and being able to make a movie on your iPhone… I once dreamt that every person on Earth could be a star of their own movie and that the blockbusters shouldn’t be hogged by the overpaid actors and directors who star and direct them forever and ever. Everyone in their life should have at least one movie or television credit to their name… The love of the movies is their permanence and immortality it provides for those who aspire to it. Perhaps it doesn’t matter anymore as the need to be a star is outweighed by the simple fact that we can be content and sometimes occasionally happy in the space that we inhabit without poverty and the hunger of ambition.
The symbolic organisation of SPECTRE in the Bond movies, the unchecked evil which does not share the philosophy of and brotherhood and sisterhood of the movies, the lone wolf first person shooter gamers with bad intentions, and those pushed too far over the sexual and/or relationship precipice … Perhaps these evil and violent people may be possible future victims of an Eagle Eye (2008) super intelligence. “Bevare” as Bela Lugosi (1882-1956 heart attack) said in Glen and Glenda (1953) and “take care” instead for yourself in terms of your scruples and family who are your friends and your community because you are being watched everywhere in this electronic world… The mind-boggling dream of an intelligence that is meting out justice where it is deserved and soothing those who have suffered injustice… can it ever be one of divine intervention? Or is it just like that Eye in the Sky (2015) with someone with their finger on the button on a suburban level. Or maybe you suffer gremlins on your computer because you’re not thinking correctly. Or was that headache you’re suddenly getting another symptom of the way you think? Maybe we are full of mind-controlling nano-particles already where the only cure is to be good. “It’s in the water baby” are words from a song by Placebo. Tee hee.
The Old Hollywood of the 1920s through to, so it seems, the 1970s has been relegated and segregated by the streaming platforms for belonging to a bygone era or not being relevant of worth the space on the server’s platform. Perhaps no-one is interested from learning from the past? Or maybe we should always be learning in the present? These old movies, some of them increasingly rare to find, must sometimes now be dug up only on disc, if they are to be observed at all. Or are we better to just forget there ever was a place called the celluloid or film Hollywood and just accept the brave new world of our Smart TV and those streaming platform products which seems bland or underbaked to me but others love and lap up with great love and affection? Perhaps the world has let go of the 1920s through to the 1970s in terms of cinema and moved on … but I can’t quite do that in the realm of my love of cult movies.
To the younger people today, there never was a place called Hollywood and they are not interested in movies which are just plain boring when taken out of context. Say goodbye to Hollywood sang Billy Joel, but he didn’t just mean not ever being one of its movie stars, or forever worshipping movies as an art-form, lest you be seen as effete. I choose ‘whatever’ in terms of that question! It’s a plus to me!! This song Say Goodbye to Hollywood is now also the fulfillment of the prediction that the world has reached a point of saying either ‘hell’ or ‘hello’ as we choose to embrace or reject something entirely new in terms of technology and the way we view movies today. Time will tell…
I must admit the transition from movie theatres to home screens has been smooth thanks to Covid and I couldn’t help but wonder if the virus was part of a conspiracy to have us connect more with our home screens and the devices in our hands. There’s been worse conspiracies … if you choose to talk negatively about conspiracies and not be content in yourself with your screen, work or art-form and relationships … Well, I certainly can’t do anything about that! We can still believe in God and teevee but not necessarily at the same time, which is the world’s dilemma, in that God can often be a distant memory at the best of times despite our best intentions!
But I love to theorise about the possible ideas and the genius of some filmmakers, now moviemakers, soon to be series-makers – and what has emerged from their vision, or sometimes the blurring and the lack of it, when they created something which deserves the moniker of ‘cult’. Keep investigating to avoid ennui is the answer… Even if the closed-minded and often aged conservatives say there is no answer!
Anyway, the queue at the theatre box office tells me that cinema is dead, long live the tv screen and may humankind and nature conquer the planet and restore equilibrium as there’s no place else to go and we’re going there fast!! And, faster, so it seems!! And, sadly, I don’t think James Bond is going to be enough to save you from this spectre.
Addendum: Whether you can make head nor tail of this article which I know will not pass the pub test despite my jokes which can often be so black they are taken seriously… Yes Keith Richards sung Mick Jagger’s ponce as well! Instead keep your soul and screen filled and continue to heal as the next dream you may have overnight could be David Cronenberg’s eXistenZ (1999). It’s all so real. Keep dreaming…