My love for movies grew even more, inexplicably, when Siskel and Ebert became a weekly staple in the late ’80s. A ten-year-old black kid from Long Island probably only had one thing in common with two middle-aged white guys from Illinois, but that one similarity sparked a huge interest that led to me becoming an amateur movie reviewer.
Honestly, Eugene “Gene” Siskel and Roger Ebert are the biggest reasons why you are reading these words now. They inspired me to look at movies in a different way; which, eventually, led to many late-night (and lengthy) diner conversations with fellow film fan — and friend — Peter Tedone. Our 4 AM talks became the first version of THE FILM BASEMENT podcast… and, now, we are witnessing a rebirth, of sorts, for THE FILMS ON TAP PODCAST.
To be fair, I will never claim to have a knowledgeable eye (or ear) for technical aspects of film, but I have spent a relatively shameful amount of time watching, researching, and loving movies over the past three decades. Regardless of genre, and with indifference to style, I consider moviemaking to be the most underrated art form. And, by extension, I believe that the role of a film critic is as important as it is often overlooked.
Lately, however, film criticism feels more like inane arguments between rival sports fan bases — which makes sense, I guess, because a majority of movies now seemingly belong to competing franchises. Yeah, we had our STAR WARS vs STAR TREK arguments in the past, but the bizarre ‘geek culture’ mentality of tearing down one thing in order to promote another is starting to suck the joy out of being a fan.
Don’t get me wrong: I have no problem with arguing why Ivan Drago is a better antagonist than Clubber Lang… but I don’t feel like it’s necessary, at all, to trash Lang. I don’t need to show love for the FAST & FURIOUS franchise by ripping apart TRANSFORMERS or JURASSIC WORLD, and I’ll never understand the desire to root against all DC films.
[PLEASE NOTE: There is a remarkable difference between questioning bad decisions and outwardly cheering for the failure of an upcoming movie. That kind of bottom-feeding negativity isn’t helping anyone, or anything.]
Of course, I am guilty of being negative, too. I watch a socially-unhealthy amount of movies each year, but I struggle to name many that I actually enjoy. Is it a matter of most mainstream movies no longer being ‘as good as they used to be’, or is it because I’m just jaded? Well, yes… and yes.
With $225 million budgets and $18 tickets at stake, the film industry is no longer operating under the guise of making art for art’s sake. Money is the bottom line — and this is no longer the world of a major studio taking a huge chance on a kid and a fake shark. The Marvel Cinematic Universe isn’t nearing twenty movies deep simply because of the quality of the films, after all. But, yes, I am also jaded.
I miss having action movie stars who look like they could single-handedly take on an army of bad guys while dropping deliciously cheesy one-liners. I miss horror movies that understood the importance of actual suspense (and even fun). I miss raunchy comedies that know how a fucking set-up & punchline combo works.
But, yes, I am also jaded.
There are still plenty of great movies out there. I didn’t fully appreciate LADY BIRD, but, yes, I love THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN. I have mixed opinions concerning UNSEEN, but I was completely unnerved by both RAW and THE KILLING OF A SACRED DEER. Right now, I can go out and watch A QUIET PLACE, ISLE OF DOGS, BLOCKERS, and LOVE, SIMON. They may not all end up as complete winners in my book (I have seen one of them already), but that doesn’t mean they aren’t, at least, good.
And the upcoming calendar is loaded with potential gems:
- SUPER TROOPERS 2 (April 20)
- AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (April 27)
- DEADPOOL 2 (May 18)
- SOLO: A STAR WARS STORY (May 25)
- ACTION POINT (June 1)
- ADRIFT (June 1)
- HEREDITARY (June 8)
- OCEAN’S 8 (June 8)
- THE INCREDIBLES 2 (June 15)
- SuperFly (June 15)
- TAG (June 15)
- JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM (June 22)
- SICARIO: DAY OF THE SOLDADO (June 29)
This is shaping up to be a far more interesting summer than last year (I’m talking about YOU, August 2017), so let’s put the negativity on hold for a bit. Maybe we all just need to step away from the Comments Section, take a deep breath, and remember why we fell in love with movies in the first place.