WolfmanOz at the Movies #51

Is cinema dying ?

As I write this last post for the year, a feeling of melancholy and sadness is with me as I write about what I believe is that movies and the thrill of going to the cinema and luxuriating in the magic of the big screen appears to be dying.

There was always something special in going to the cinema in having that shared experience in enjoying a film, whether it be a comedy, a musical, a drama, a western, an action flick etc etc.

As I look back on 2022, I only saw 2 films at the cinema – No Time To Die, Daniel Craig’s last foray as Bond (thank God, as this film was awful) and Top Gun: Maverick where Tom Cruise shows he’s still got the magic to provide a thoroughly entertaining non-woke film for the audience. But after that zilch nada nothing.

Hollywood, in particular, keeps rehashing old material and making the same movies and TV shows over and over again. The key differences between the old and new versions is that the newer offerings are often dumbed down, coarser, infused with contemporary woke themes, and are obliged to have a far more racially diverse cast, and all the while delivering an inferior product that isn’t worth the time of day.

Of today’s crop of films I have soon had my fill. Most of them are obscurely told, they tell me things I don’t care about, in language I find offensive; and they concern characters whom I would willingly cross the road to avoid. Dark and shaky cinematography makes them unattractive to look at, and all the old studio crafts, so laboriously learned during the Golden Age, appear have been jettisoned in favour of obscenely large budgets which allow the film-maker to wander restlessly around the globe giving distorted views of real locations or the film is laced with incessant CGI instead of setting their own and the audience’s imaginations to work.

Nowadays one has to fight one’s way through the thick showy surface in order to get to a story which all too often is not worth following.

One problem is that modern films are largely made by people with no sense of humour, people who do not realise that they must please the mass audience if the industry in which they work is to survive. Old-time screenwriters would no doubt be viewed by these people as cynical hacks, but at least they took pains to please their audience with all the expertise at their command, and they still expressed their own view in a vein of sardonic humour which ran through most of their scripts.

The absurd pretensions of some modern film-makers certainly causes amusement wherever sensible people congregate, but the advocates of sanity are in no position to have the last word.

Movies are thus produced for a small group of jet-setters and wokesters; meanwhile that patient paying audience discovers that not only the films but the cost of going to the cinema is infinitely more expensive, as the cost of admission has risen at a phenomenal rate.  What other commodity has risen in price to this extent?  Television is infinitely cheaper and can be viewed in the comfort of one’s home: no wonder so many people prefer it.

So the movie industry hastens on its way to perdition and catastrophe, a fate which surely cannot be delayed more than another few years, and for which simple-minded greed, lack of foresight and a large measure of incompetence are chiefly responsible.

Some of the elements missing from modern cinema are to be found in television, with the plethora of choice for viewers from endless streaming services there is so much to chose from. But television is a private enjoyment, and one inevitably misses the sense of comradeship, of sharing a pleasure, that the cinema used to fulfil.

So, I usually include some clips scattered in my weekly post, but all I can think of now is just to present some of my favourite moments in cinema which I can still enjoy but I know I won’t see any more of in the coming years.

Enjoy . . . and a Happy New Year to you all.

45 thoughts on “WolfmanOz at the Movies #51”

  1. Hi Wolfie
    I am with you 100%. I used to enjoy going to the cinema, especially the majestic one with the curtains rolling back exposing the screen. The Hoyts 1 &2 in Rundle mall were cracking, the the academy cinemas in Hindmarsh square which bought that end of town alive.
    Since the 2000 the renovated suburban cinemas from the 20 & 30 with double billing’s were great.
    Now it’s a room with 30 seats and 10 in the audience.
    Film today is shyte, wife keeps asking about this and that but like the Roman emperor I answer with the thumbs down.
    One treason is the sheer volume of films. In the 70s the studios pushed out 120 films which ran for 2 weeks to 9 months (grease and sat night fever were the champs – Star Wars close encounters jaws) which were a part of our lives.
    Now it’s on for one month and breaks all records.
    Woke shyte has always been there. Worse now. I recall seeing costa graves z on tv, gripped by it but internally there was something wrong to me about it. It’s was socialist clap trap.
    Dog day afternoon – Leon – “ I’m a woman trapped in a man’s body” well the entire audience cracked up at that – one of he funniest lines ever.
    For real drama, lighting , and female beauty, the talkies of the 30 to the 50s. They don’t write intense drama like that anymore. Gilda come to mind.King Vidors film about Catherine the great, Robert donat goodbye mr chips ( my mum being a German loved that film) Spenser Tracey in captain courageous, huckleberry Finn.
    then came the urban films with their violence and sex. Klute,mash ( l hate that film the treatment of houlahan in the shower is infuriating and yet we a meant to laugh at it), midnight cowboy – the graduate – what is this rubbish all about.
    Simpler stories with a theme- buzz lurman in my humble opinion is good at this, real people – the urban Tarantino films like Jackie brown.
    Females in films now are yuk. No lighting to highlight beauty, just put a bowl round their head and make sure the camera catches the mo above their lip.
    Finally bring back old Disney – the story of the dog lying on his masters grave and the townspeople feeding the dog, and of course lassie, the railway children and sound of music ( I used to shit my daks when the adverts come on for this as this was another reason for the other kids in the street to get stuck into me for being a crout).
    Thanks Wolfie – loved ya column.
    Perhaps you could do album of the week.

    7
  2. I have fond memories too of the now almost extinct drive-in cinema. Today’s teens will never know the delights of the diner food, the privacy of a back seat that provided excellent opportunities for dalliance and/or substance abuse, with the final denouement of the accidental drive off with the metal speaker still attached to the car. Even the type of movie that would find itself as part of a drive-in double feature would beat most of the woke tosh served up today.

    10
  3. My Wife finally watched Top Gun Maverick for 1st time Tuesday Night, for me 5th Time, as we babysat Neurotic 18 Month Old Female Beagle, whose youngster owners are away for a week.

    She enjoyed the film, even not having seen Top Gun

    Started watching Netflix Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery last night and am enjoying so far

    To Quote reviewer at Link

    Glass Onion reminds us we all got a bit strange in lockdown, and for murder mysteries, that, it seems, is helpful. Our detectives used to rely on boring old cigarette ash to solve a case, now they get to use masks and lockdown parties as well.

    4
  4. Disney stock value down $500 billion. ?
    Aus films still mainly funded by gummint agencies, I mean, you. If you followed the link to the Woodford The Voice advertising event, I mean, Festival, yesterday you’ll see it was too. Let’s hope Elbow and Burnie got cooties from the hippies.

    4
  5. Louis Litt says:
    December 29, 2022 at 8:41 am
    Thanks Wolfie – loved ya column.
    Perhaps you could do album of the week.

    Nah – Rabz has the music posts covered.

    Anyway, there’s enough in me to still talk about the films of yesteryear.

    Thanks to Pogria next week I’ll be focusing on Ealing comedies.

    7
  6. I just popped into say how much I’ve enjoyed your columns, Wolfie. You’ve reminded me of old delights, introduced me to new ones and made me think about what I expect and enjoy when I sit down in front of a great film.

    I’ve not been to a movie since before lockdown for all the reasons listed above. I’m still keen to see Top Gun:Maverick but the limitations you describe do not make it seem worth the effort.

    7
  7. The last film I saw in the cinema was They Shall Not Grow Old.

    That was in Auckland in 2018, the film was just out and yet I was the only person present!

    I’m afraid to say the magic just isn’t there any more.

    2
  8. Thanks for your movie postings here Woolfman. They add so much to the Cat, as do Rabz’s music posts.

    We rarely go to the cinema together now. Last time was to see Belfast, one of the best movies this year. I see movies regularly with my girlfriends, for we have a greater tolerance of crap which provides a lively discussion over lunch afterwards. Anything good, which is rare indeed these days, I drag Hairy along to see it, as happened with Belfast, thus seeing it twice myself.

    One thing that annoys with the plethora of streaming shows is that you have to subscribe to so many platforms in order to see a particular show you’re interested in. Is it possible to just purchase the one movie from a non-subscribed platform, without a full subscription? We have Foxtel and Netflix which mostly keeps us busy so we’ve not tried anything else, but I read reviews of other shows I’d like to see on other platforms.

    4
  9. I slipped away once from some never-ending speeches and saw “Belle Epoque”; no other soul in the cinema

    2
  10. When the Crown Cinema with Cinemascope opened in St. Mary’s in Sydney’s far western suburbs in 1956 it was sheer magic to attend ‘the movies’ rather than ‘the pictures’ by entering through its dramatic glitzy portal. A change from the old screenings in the Mechanics Institute hall or the staid 1930’s Art Deco Nepean Picture Theatre in Penrith where only the elite of the town sat ‘upstairs’. We dressed up in fancier stuff (oh memories of my ‘organza’ blouse that became a dishrag in the rain one night) than ‘the snobs’ of Penrith to attend The Crown for Saturday nites as the whole town turned out for the latest Hollywood extravaganza, with Jimmy Dean, or Elizabeth Taylor, bringing into our semi-rural lives a taste of sophistication the likes of which we’d never known before. St. Mary’s had hit the bigtime, and there we were, in amongst it. It was life-changing. Our dreams grew wider and wider.

    2
  11. Hollywood, in particular, keeps rehashing old material and making the same movies and TV shows over and over again.

    Yep, I’ve lost count how many reboots of Batman and Spiderman have been done. It seems like they redo the wretched things every five years. Where has all the imagination gone?

    And just to depress you even more Wolfman here’s a story from today:

    Harry Potter ‘movie reboot in works at Warner Bros after Fantastic Beasts failure’ (28 Dec)

    Warner Bros are planning to totally recast in a Harry Potter movies reboot which will be arriving sooner than expected, according to a new leak.

    While I quite liked the original this is just silly. There must be oodles of great stories that could be told. Doing the same ones endlessly is getting very tiresome. At least Ms Rowling will get richer out of it I suppose, which is quite fine with me.

    4
  12. Movies are becoming less believable by the year. I saw the original Top Gun and enjoyed it immensely, having been a fast jet pilot in the RAAF in the 70’s but when I saw the trailers for Top Gun -Maverick the flying sequences were too much for me and I passed on the movie.

    5
  13. Movies are thus produced for a small group of jet-setters and wokesters

    That could refer to almost every major event anywhere in the world today. From the World Cup and the Olympics to the footy and the cricket, everywhere has been invaded.

    Not content with the ponderous pomposity of recent Oscar nights and Cannes, no longer does it suffice for these wankers to remain together chumming it up inside the tent. Now the whole world must succumb to their dribble.

    So, no good movies, no movie ticket.

    Wolfie, thanks for your contributions! Without them we could forget how great Hollywood once was.

    5
  14. Thanks to everyone for your kind words – great comments also ! ! !

    Yeah, today’s movies leave me totally cold, but thankfully, there’s a huge reservoir of films from yesteryear to revisit and re-evaluate.

    My digital library has over 4,000 films now – but I do yearn for the days watching and enjoying a good/great film on the big screen.

    9
  15. I have said before that movie accounting is notoriously dodgy. It probably always has been, given the players, but nowadays the propensity of studios to release films that cost a motza and any fule could see were doomed makes me suspect that there is a lot of money laundering going on, probably from the drug trade.

    In the old days, the moguls may have fiddled the books, but they also produced a genuine product. Even Mel Brooks’ spoof on dodgy accounting, The Producers, was a proper film that made money. 🙂

    The IRS has long been remarkably uninterested in inquiring into showbiz. Fancy that.

    They are too busy auditing SMEs and political foes of the Democrats.

    3
  16. Maverick was still slightly woke. The woman pilot beat the men to win selection. Nevertheless it was an enjoyable movie. A rarity indeed.

    2
  17. I really enjoyed Maverick, the first time I’d been to see a “Hollywood” movie in years. I saw it at the Ritz at Randwick and I thought to myself, I love coming to the movies with a friend or friends, munching on a choc top and watching a good film. But there’s been nothing to see for years, until Maverick. However, I do go to film festivals such as the Jewish, Israeli and French film festivals, but even then I’m very, very careful as to what I choose to see, there is a lot of woke crap even in those specialist film festivals.

    There are four films I try to watch every year….

    1. The Great Escape
    2. The Searchers
    3. The Wizard of Oz
    4. Some Like it Hot

    Each of these films is sublime in different ways and each represents the pinnacle of Hollywood, in different ways. I have other favourites too, such as Vertigo, Rear Window (I’m quite a fan of both James Stewart and John Wayne, both quintessential American males) and there are others but one thing is for sure, they don’t make films like they once did. It’s sad, very sad.

    7
  18. Cassie of Sydney says:
    December 29, 2022 at 1:39 pm
    There are four films I try to watch every year….

    1. The Great Escape
    2. The Searchers
    3. The Wizard of Oz
    4. Some Like it Hot

    All classics . . . Some Like It Hot is my favourite comedy of all-time.

    Although there’s lot to admire in The Searchers and John Wayne is superb as Ethan Edwards it’s not my favourite John Ford western – that goes to The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance featuring your 2 favourites and another favourite of mine in Lee Marvin.

    Cassie of Sydney says:
    December 29, 2022 at 1:40 pm
    Oh and love your work Wolfman. I look forward to more next year.

    Thanks Cassie – I’ve already got the next 7 posts already planned out . . .

    Love your rants as well – keep ’em up !

    5
  19. My biggest gripe with many modern movies is the foul language. F this, F that…..it’s never ending. Every now and then perhaps ok, but every sentence seems to be littered with at least one profanity. Who talks like that? About the only word unspoken is the ‘c’ word although that gets an airing from time to time.

    I don’t think I’m a prude – maybe I’m just getting old.

    7
  20. Speedbox @2:41pm:
    I loathe the extreme overuse of the ‘F’ word and other bad language; my main reason for not bothering with films (movies) these days. However, I’ve avoided cinemas for many years as the volume of the sound became far too loud to bear; it’s like a physical assault on the body.
    Having said that, my sister and I watched Ghandi, Lawrence of Arabia and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel while I was in England this year.
    Like you, I’m not a prude but there are limits and plenty of modern stuff far overeaches them. Currently, we are having a good giggle at ‘Allo ‘Allo as holiday relaxation; I’d rate that as quite far enough, thankyou!

    6
  21. Thanks for your posts, Wolfman. They have been my Thursday go-to all year. I love the movies, either going to the cinema or just watching at home. Our old Blockbuster video account used to cop a real caning back in the day.

    But, as our screens get larger and our gadgets more sophisticated, our entertainment options have shrunk proportionately. It isn’t the volume of items, it’s the quality. I have a Netflix account and often I’ll skip through the entire catalogue and find exactly zero of interest. To get anything approaching the choice at the old video stores, you have to subscribe to a raft of platforms. Not happening.

    And, being a cheapskate, I’ll wait until I’m airborne to see the latest. That last Bond (a franchise I adore) was a shocker. Glad it came with the ticket.

    That said, some of the stuff offered to children isn’t bad at all. I’ve just been treated to Sing2 – kept the littlies enthralled, and like Madagascar, it sounded as if the actors were having a ball doing the voiceovers.

    Modern adult fare now has to have a dodgy message – not the truisms of yesteryear that no one could object to, but a blunt instrument beating of boring bulldust and bludgeoning of anyone who doesn’t go along with the received woke wisdom. And it goes on…and on…. Nothing is permitted to hit the cutting room floor. Yawn.

    Time to revisit some of those old, tightly scripted black and white delights. Maybe a bit of Bogart and Hepburn for starters…

    4
  22. In relation to language just watch FTA tv.Plenfy of v8s and ca and from early in the evening especia,my on ABC

    1
  23. Just a quick thank you to Wolfman. Love your posts. I actually took film-making and study as an elective when I did my degree, so I guess I’m a bit hooked.

    My taste in movies has varied greatly with each “chapter” of my life, from Monty Python to Love Actually, from Romeo and Juliet (Olivia Hussey — swoon) to Camelot (Richard Harris was Arthur, from Hunt for the Wilderpeople to The Yangtse Incident, from The Sand Pebbles to Bond, James Bond, from El Dorado to Zulu … it just goes on.

    “Movies with a message” bug me, particularly when it is blatant “wokeism”, such as Emancipation. Nowadays I prefer to be entertained, rather than preached to (or at).

    I look forward to your piece on the Ealing comedies because they were such a part of my childhood, as well as the Ralph Thomas/Betty Box “Doctor …” series.

    4
  24. Keep up the excellent work, Wolfie. I enjoy your movie posts immensely and your love of cinema as an artform shines through in every one.

    BTW, have you done a Peckinpah post? I thought you had, but can’t seem to find it. I watched an 18 minute dissection of “Cross of Iron” on youtube last night explaining why it is one of the greatest “anti-war” films ever made, despite everything seemingly conspiring against it, including Peckinpah’s increasingly erratic and “Peruvian marching powder” fuelled behaviour.

    Which reminds me, must watch the original Straw Dogs, after only having (accidentally) seen the Kate Bosworth version about four years ago, which for all its faults, also features James Woods at his malevolent best.

    4
  25. No Rabz I haven’t done a post on Peckinpah.

    I have to admit I’m not his greatest fan, as I find most of his output very uneven and over-rated (all IMHO) although his story is certainly very colourful.

    However, The Wild Bunch is in my top 20 favourite films of all-time, so the guy certainly had a unique talent, even if he dissipated it with booze.

    I’ll give it some thought for next year.

    3
  26. Of today’s crop of films I have soon had my fill

    last night I watched Clint Eastwood’s film, Cry Macho.
    it was a quest story and a good one, imo

    maybe the narrative was clunky and maybe it was made by an old man who’s become clunky in his method.

    or maybe not

    the film was 30% set-up and then ever so gently, one narrative split into two

    in the end, the old and the new parted ways at the border.
    both complete and both incomplete

    there was a lot left unsaid in the film and I reckon it was a very male message
    from a man, for men

    a swan song and a masterpiece

    5
  27. I thought I would list the words/comments of various contributors that reminded me of some of my favourites..

    WolfmanOz
    “perdition”. The Road to Perdition” is among the best of Gangster movies, and proof that Tom Hanks can act.
    “Hollywood, in particular, keeps rehashing old material and making the same movies and TV shows over and over again”. Maybe they could rehash Cape Fear. I can’t figure out which is better but both are timeless. but I can’t remember anything past the first three Star Wars movies, or any of the rehashed garbage.
    “totally cold” Eight Below, easy watch in the best Lassie tradition
    I don’t believe the cinematography in Lawrence of Arabia has ever been exceeded.

    Louis Litt
    “Dog Day Afternoon – Leon ” This reminded me of Al Pacino and “Scent of a woman” where his performance was exceptional. But on to “Leon the Professional” with Jean Reno and 12yo Natalie Portman. Ostensibly just another gangster movie, Luc Besson directs a multi layered work of art that challenges his viewers.
    “Disney”. After recalling Eight Below and Lassie, who could think of Disney without mentioning “Old Yella”
    “Sound of Music”. Still watch it every time (same with Forrest Gump) but i am addicted to the worst/best movie I have ever seen “My Fair Lady”. Beautiful songs and music, lousy actors.
    I think Brigadoon is on TV every 100 years. Absolutely glorious example of that genre.

    Cassie of Sydney
    The Wizard of OZ is the enduring memory of my kids of their grandmother, along with Gone with the Wind. They must have seen them hundreds of times.

    There’s more, but I am already boring.

    For the future, I wonder where CGI will go. Roger Rabbit was an great beginning and now we have Avatar. The downsides are the like of Polar Express and anything starring The Rock. Even the plots are CGI.

    Thanks Wolfman, your weekly columns are evocative reminders of the best parts of our lives. for me, writing my thoughts has been one smile after another. Keep it up!!!

    4
  28. The last film i saw on the big screen was the latest Top Gun film from Tom Cruise

    It was awesome, pure entertainment, with the big theatre sound that you can’t get anywhere else.

    Anything else is pretentious wankery

    2
  29. Wolfman, thank you for the mention.
    I love movies and decent television. It was and still is an excellent escape when life wasn’t going to plan. I flatly refuse to pay for streaming. My money will not be used for the making of propaganda and woke trash.

    The last film I saw at the cinema was “Ladies in Black”.
    That was a very enjoyable movie, one to add to the short list of decent Aussie movies.
    I enjoy watching DVDs, especially now that I have a larger TV. Friends gifted me a 55″ a few months ago.
    Awesome friends!
    I have ordered Flame Trees of Thika, The Jewel in the Crown, Hornblower and Sharpe collections to get me through the Summer. I had seen Jewel in the Crown when it was first shown but it has been so long I don’t remember much of it. The other three will be fresh viewing for me.
    If anyone has any suggestion re, collections of other series, I’m all ears. I would love to get my hands on the early Poldark series.

    2
  30. The Banshees of Inisherin

    I sat through this miasma of putridity waiting for the promised black humour.

    What a failure; what a waste of almost 2 hours; what self-indulgent, unkind and peurile tripe.

    2
  31. Pogria, I highly recommend the 12 part adaptation of Brideshead Revisited. The A Passage to India series is also excellent.

    2
  32. Pogria says:
    December 30, 2022 at 12:15 pm

    All good Pogria.

    Watched Ladies In Black a few months ago and I agree with your assessment.

    Some classic TV series I’d recommend:
    Colditz
    Foyle’s War
    House Of Cards (UK version)
    I, Claudius
    Upstairs Downstairs

    2
  33. Thank you Wolfman, for sharing, and everyone else for chiming in. We also search a lot for good screen stuff these days, so the comments lead to some good watching. We rewatched Schindlers List recently and found it very moving, and also very much enjoyed The Pianist (Netflix) this week. It is interesting to see some old movies from the “modern” perspective, but sad to see good franchises get weaker and weaker, not recognising where to stop eg James Bond and now I see Harry Potter going to be done to death.

    2
  34. And that is kind of the point, Wolfman.

    Initially, television was regarded by the snobbocracy as an inferior product for the uneducated masses. Then, for a while, Hollywood and TV co-existed as TV became more ubiquitous.

    TV kept getting better, and Hollywood even began to steal from it, like the Batman franchise. Then TV started to produce its own blockbusters, like The Sopranos.

    Apart from the factors like wokeness and sleaze, the movie business seems to have succumbed to complacency and is still trying to work out what went wrong.

    I would love to be a fly on the wall in the meetings where the studios decide which movies to fund.

    2
  35. mizaris,
    a commenter, sorry, can’t remember who, warned us about that movie in the last couple of threads.

    1
  36. Johanna,
    I saw Brideshead Revisited when it first aired. Awesome production. The two part recent version was execrable! Thanks for reminding me about A passage to India. Will see if I can order it.
    This is why I asked about mini series. I couldn’t remember all the ones I want to see. Turns out I can buy the original Poldark from Amazon or Fishpond.

    1
  37. Wolfman,
    I remember watching Colditz with my father when he was still alive. My father and mother both lived through the war. They were fifteen years old when it began. In the early seventies, I remember watching several episodes of the “The World at War”. I was able to purchase the digitally remastered version of it a few months ago. It was still as haunting as I remember when I saw it at the age of thirteen or fourteen.
    “Foyles War” is a No Brainer. I love it!
    House of Cards (UK version) is a chilling insight to Politics.
    “I, Claudius”. Will put that on my list. Haven’t seen it. Did name my huge ginger cat I Claudius though. Had a run where I named cats after Caesars. Maximus, Titus Andronicus and I Claudius. Stopped there because I haven’t owned any huge male cats for sometime.
    “Upstairs Downstairs”.
    Saw most of that when it aired. Late seventies I think. Will add that to my list. I would like to revisit it.

    “House of Cards UK”, crapped all over the US version. One of the main things the Poms get right about a good mini-series is keep it “short, sharp and finished.” The yanks drag it out for ages because they want to milk it for money. The UK version of “The Office”, is a perfect example.

    1
  38. Wolfman,
    you mention feeling Melancholy at the start of your post. Have you seen the film “Melancholia?”

    I am in two minds on that movie. Par for the course I suppose if you have seen it. I understand it from the view of a person suffering from depression, but the correlation to an unknown planet about to collide with Earth is jarring. It was directed by Lars von Trier so I suppose that explains its weirdness.
    Although I did like “Beneath Us, the Waves”.

    1
  39. No Pogria . . . I haven’t seen Melancholia.

    I can’t say the films of Lars von Trier have much appeal for me.

    1

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.