When a collection of misfits and geeks almost accidentally started Last Movie Outpost two years ago, we didn’t have any idea that only six months later the entire movie industry would be brought to its knees with productions halted and theaters closed. Our timing sucks!
Luckily for us, there was still plenty to talk about as streaming models were experimented with, movies were sent into cinemas to test the water, and everyone watched a lot of boxsets.
One hot topic during lockdown was kickstarted by Martin Scorsese when he opined on what constitutes cinema, and whether the rush of superhero movies qualifies. He was not supportive. You would expect one of Scorsese’s most famous writing partners to agree, wouldn’t you? Well, we would be wrong.
Paul Schrader sees things differently. A legend of what Scorsese would call real cinema, Schrader wrote screenplays for Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ, and Bringing Out the Dead. The Mosquito Coast for Peter Weir. Obsession for Brian DePalma. He was also writer/director on American Gigolo and Cat People, among others. The guy knows his cinema.
However, in an interview with GQ he says he accepts a wider definition of cinema and has an open view of things:
“No, they [superhero movies] are cinema. So is that cat video on YouTube, it’s cinema. It is kind of surprising that what we used to regard as adolescent entertainment, comic books for teenagers, has become the dominant genre economically. Each generation is informed, and informed by literature, or informed by theater, or informed by live television, or informed by film school. Now we have a generation that’s been informed by video games and manga.
It’s not that the filmmakers have changed, it’s that the audiences have changed. And when the audiences don’t want serious movies, it’s very, very hard to make one. When they do, when they ask you, ‘What should I think about women’s lib, gay rights, racial situations, economic inequality?’ and the audience is interested in hearing about these issues, well then you can make those movies.
And we have. Particularly in the fifties, and sixties, and seventies, we’re making them one or two a week about social issues. And they were financially successful because audiences wanted them. Then something changed in the culture, the center dropped out. Those movies are still being made, but they’re not in the center of the conversation anymore.”
Cat videos? On the internet? Steady on Paul! Schrader’s latest movie The Card Counter is getting stellar notices at the Venice Film Festival.