One thought to heap on the pile of end-of-the-decade musings:
I came of age (film-wise) in the 1990s. Having not come of age in any other decade, I am convinced that this was a perfectly acceptable time to come of age. It was the decade that gave us Tarantino, Kevin Smith, Paul Thomas Anderson, David Fincher, Spike Jonez, Sophia Coppola, Peter Jackson, even Michael Bay. The quality of their films is not at issue here, but the fact that each of their films is clearly a (fill in director’s name here) film.
For example, the second you see the black helicopter chopping through the haze on the horizon, you know you are watching a Michael Bay movie. The point being that, time was a visionary could get funding to put his vision on celluloid and I wonder if that time has past.
Take a look at the last decade (2000-2009), where are the auteurs? Christopher Nolan? Yes, granted. He made “The Following” that gave him the clout to make “Memento” and then become what he is today. But besides Mr. Nolan was there another auteur who came of age in the past ten years.
I’m sure there are a few names that people will throw out but if you look at the list in the first paragraph you will notice a pattern: each of them made more than one film in that decade. Almost to a man (and Sophia) they made a smaller film initially which was used as a springboard to larger things and (closer to, if not) into the mainstream.
QT: Reservoir Dogs to Pulp Fiction
Coppola: Virgin Suicides to Lost in Translation
PTA: Hard Eight to Boogie Nights
Smith: Clerks to Mallrats
Again, your opinion of these films is irrelevant to the fact that up until the turn of the millinium, auteurs had an upwardly mobile career path. Now, however, it seems as if there is no room for them in the industry.
Obviously, I will concede that (as I get older), I don’t see as many movies now as I did in my twenties. And obviously, I am overlooking a few examples (Rian Johnson made Brick in ’05 and then made “Brother’s Bloom” this year) but in terms of names that came from a decade, Christopher Nolan seems to stand alone in the aughts.
One is left to wonder as to whether film is becoming (like TV) a producer’s medium. Is it so much more about product packaging than quality product now than it was merely ten years ago? Is the threatened writer’s strike of ’99 the line of demarcation when the studios decided that it’s not about challenging film audiences but placating them with tight blouses and fart jokes?
And I’m not saying there isn’t a place for those things (who am I to criticize tight blouses and fart jokes?). I’m merely saying that the ’70s gave us Lucas, Spielberg, Scorsese et al. The ’80s gave us Spike Lee, Oliver Stone, James Cameron, Soderberg etc. And the ’90s gave us the list above.
How will history view the last ten years?