© By Rob Ager (June 2017)


Before you read

If you are of the opinion that post-millennial movies are generally as good as movies of the preceding
half century of annual film releases then there's no purpose in you reading this article. It is written for
readers who already agree that post-millennial movies are comparatively poor and who wish to gain
a little more insight into why it is the case. Each major argument in this article could be made with a lot
more detail along with extensive movie examples, but it would result in the article being a very long read.
Meanwhile, I'm not particularly interested in attempted counter arguments from people wishing to persuade
me, against my experience, that good movies haven't become a rarity. I may, further down the line, produce
in depth articles and videos that expand on certain basic arguments made in this article. Thanks and enjoy.


I’m not alone in thinking that modern (as in post-millennial) fiction films are generally terrible. Many friends and relatives of mine have expressed similar views, including people who are only in their twenties. Several articles have been published by mainstream media sources making the same claim.

For well over ten years now I’ve been switching off the majority of new release movies within the first 20 minutes out of total boredom and head-shaking disbelief at the ineptness of the film makers. To see a new release film that actually holds my attention to the end for a single viewing without making my hand twitch toward the stop button on my remote is something I now consider a luxury, a rare treat. To see a movie that is actually worth watching several times has virtually become a once a year event for me.

But prior to the turn of the millennium I usually found that at least five great films would be released in any given year, and sometimes a great many more than that. Here some sample lists of what I consider to be great movies released in given years that had rewatch value or at least being movies that somehow pushed the boundaries of cinema in some memorable way.

1968 (13 movies) The Odd Couple, The Producers, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Night of the Living Dead, Oliver, Planet of the Apes, Where Eagles Dare, Rosemary’s Baby, The Thomas Crown Affair, Barbaralla, If, The Devil Rides Out, Once Upon a Time in the West

1979 (11 movies) Apocalypse Now, The Warriors, Mad Max, Being There, Alien, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Murder by Decree, The Jerk, Moonraker, Escape from Alcatraz, Monty Python’s The Life of Brian

1982 (20 movies) Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, Poltergeist, 48 hrs, Porky’s, ET, Blade Runner, Tootsie, The Thing, First Blood, Creepshow, Death Wish 2, Night Shift, Death Trap, White Dog, Pink Floyd: The Wall, The Dark Crystal, Halloween 3 (yes I like this one for its originality), Star Trek 2: Wrath of Khan, Rocky 3, Tron

1984 (15 movies) Nightmare On Elm Street, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Terminator, Beverley Hills Cop, Ghosbusters, Revenge of the Nerds, Gremlins, Footloose, Runaway, Dreamscape, Police Academy, 1984, The Bounty, Repoman, Red Dawn

1991 (7 movies) Things had tailed off a bit by the early 1990’s. Silence of the Lambs, Cape Fear, Terminator 2, Naked Lunch, Barton Fink, Point Break, True Colours

1998 (8 movies) Big Lebowski, Truman Show, Saving Private Ryan, Thin Red Line, Antz, A Bug’s Life, Pi, There’s Something About Mary

1999 (7 movies) American Beauty, Fight Club, The Matrix, Eyes Wide Shut, Blair Witch Project, Existenz, Three Kings

2000 (5 movies) In the year 2000 the quality of new release movies was really beginning to tail off. Gladiator, Castaway and Mission Impossible2 were the big hits (none of which I considered to have rewatch value). Battle Royale, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Sexy Beast, Tigerland and Chopper were the only great releases in my opinion and were virtually all non-Hollywood productions.

2001 (3 movies) AI Artificial Intelligence, Mulholland Drive, Man Who Wasn’t There

2002 (2 movies) City of God, Punch Drunk Love

And in 2003 I didn’t see a single movie that I considered worth watching a second time or that even left any kind of lasting memory upon me. (correction: one correspondent reminded me that the Korean movie Oldboy was released in 2003. That film did leave a lasting impression on me) Things haven’t gotten much better since with most years producing just one or two films that I would choose to watch again.

In wanting to understand this dilemma more thoroughly I’ve gone through a careful examination of patterns across many post-millennial release movies and compared those patterns with the multiple great movies that would appear annually before the turn of the millennium. Rather than find that it’s just a case of two or three problems, I’ve identified twenty-seven ways in which modern movies tend to fail. Most modern movies have a decent handful of these twenty-seven problems occurring in their run time and some movies even have most of them occurring. I’ve split my list into two basic categories … Craftsmanship (most fall in this category) and Social / Technological (as in changes that have occurred outside the movies themselves, but which inhibit the quality of movies).




Back when the average movie was between 90 minutes and 2 hours in length, scenes tended to be condensed to get their points across quickly and without wasting screen time. But today more and more movies are weighing in at two and a half to three hours in length, not because the stories are more complex, but because the same plot points and character points are repeated too many times and because film makers are dragging things out, not getting to the point with each scene. Because of this a lot of movies flip back and forth in their run time between being interesting and boring.


This is generally a problem with action sequences – fast editing to make it look like an action sequence is more dynamic than it actually is, but I’ve seen a lot of examples of fast editing happening with straight dialogue scenes. Too much rapid flipping back and forth between close ups where a single wide shot of the two characters would be less distracting and would flow more continuously in terms of the acting.


The obsession with creating imagery that flows like a shampoo ad is a huge problem because it’s distracting. A simple dialogue scene today will often have the camera arcing around the characters on a circular track when it absolutely doesn’t need to. Swooping crane shots and helicopter shots flying over landscapes are used when not needed, sometimes making the movie feel like a car advert. And every shot has to be self-indulgently super crisp clean in movement and composition. It’s like the cinematographers are competing with the script writer and director for the audience’s attention, distracting us from the narrative. It makes a lot of movies feel unreal as well because our real world visual experience is more chaotic. Ironically, the film industry went through a shaky cam phase shortly after the millennium, where they adopted the opposite problem. Thankfully the shaky cam trend has eased off recently, but there is still a problem of many cinematographers filming basic dialogue scenes with a gently bobbing, distracting and entirely unnecessary handheld movement.


In terms of lighting everything tends to be too clear in post-millennial movies, especially in night time scenes. But our real night time vision isn’t like that. We have large patches of unrecognizability. So, especially for horror films, it’s important to allow things to be under lit and obscure. Go watch some of the classic horrors like A Nightmare On Elm Street and Halloween and you’ll notice a lot of darkness. The best visual balance is to be artistic enough to assist the narrative, yet allow some natural defects to occur that maintain a sense of our imperfect reality.


This seems to have started with The Matrix in 1999. Great film and awesome effects and fights, but the over-choreographed and unrealistic facets of those fight scenes were suitable for the false reality simulation narrative. What seems to have happened since is that those unrealistic facets have been transferred to other action movies that are not set in a CGI simulation dream world. Result = the action scenes lack credibility.


Notice I didn’t say, “Too much CGI”. We now have entire kids’ movies that are CGI from start to finish and that works fine because they are visually consistent. There’s a reason why the combination of live action and cartoons was done so rarely and when it was, it was clear which was which … Who Framed Roger Rabbit the classic example. There’s now so much CGI in movies and it’s used with such vagueness that for many of us it has the opposite effect of what’s intended. Instead of making everything look and thus feel totally real, it makes some us feel like nothing in the movie is real – like it’s all just an advanced cartoon – even the actors themselves.

Still to this day, I haven’t seen a CGI movie monster that is anywhere near as unnerving as the practical effects in movies like The Thing, Hellraiser or The Howling. The use of CGI for removing problematic things such visible wires used to lift actors in action scenes is useful and it works better because actors are not CGI. Terminator 2 is a great example of appropriate use of CGI because it’s mostly just used to create effects that would be impossible with practical effects. Pretty much everything else, including some very dangerous looking vehicle chases, appear to use practical effects.

The two golden rules of CGI: only use it when there’s no practical filming alternative and, if using it to touch up practical filming errors, only use it in a non-intrusive way that doesn’t draw attention to itself.


From reports I’ve read, there’s a tendency in film studios today to use temporary musical scores in rough cuts of movies to show to executives. Then composers are basically told to produce something very similar for the actual score – in other words an imitation of another composer’s work instead of something tailored directly toward the movie. I don’t know how common that is but it could be one reason why so few modern film scores are effective or memorable. The great old-school movie composers like John Williams, Bernard Herman, John Barry or (my personal favourite) Jerry Goldsmith, produced movie scores that perfectly fitted the movies and were memorable in themselves. Key pieces of music from Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Psycho, Cape Fear, the James Bond films, Star Wars, First Blood, The Thing, Total Recall, Robocop and other pre-millenial movies are unique and instantly recognizable. But for some reason most modern film scores fall back on the same old nuances and for me most of them just seem to blend into each other. Danny Elfman gets a lot of praise but to me his scores all sound the same from one movie to the next. Hans Zimmer is perhaps the best around today, but for me even his work is inferior to the pre-millennial greats of film composing.


The reduced power of the director in today’s film industry seems to have resulted in a lot more outsourcing of creative decisions to second unit filming crews. The result is that even many of the great old-school directors like Martin Scorsese and Ridley Scott aren’t producing works with anywhere near the power, originality and unique personal style of their early works. Many of the greats like Hitchcock, Scorsese and Kubrick knew the jobs of their crew better than the crew knew them. So they were able to give better instructions to all the creative departments. Sometimes a director can be carried along by a great cast, cinematographer and superb script, like with American Beauty, but all too often the outsourcing results in formulaic creative decisions.


Now this is a problem which I’m bewildered by. Famous movie stars have been very influential in getting movies made as far back as the early 20th century, but up until the millennium casting tended to be fairly good on the whole. At the very least actors tended to look the part for their roles, but I find with a lot of movies today the casting is totally wrong. Take the movie Red Dragon, which was a remake of Manhunter. The script was decent, the direction was mediocre and the cast was just awful. Ralph Fiennes (or Rafe Fines or however the hell you pronounce his name) is a very good actor, but he looks nothing like the serial killer character that was in the original movie nor the description given in the novel. Same goes for Edward Norton, a good actor who doesn’t fit the role of the cop character he plays. William Peterson was much better in the original. And then the series Hannibal had even worse casting. The guy who played Lecter himself was decent, I thought, but the rest of the cast was awful. Even the genders and ethnicities of key characters are changed from the original novels and movie versions. Was that just to fit in with the stupid social group representation political correctness trend? Scott Glenn was great in Silence of the Lambs as the behavioural crime unit boss – he had that enduring sadness fitting with his line of work, but Lawrence Fishburne (who I like generally) doesn’t fit the bill. And this is happening all over the place. There’s a good reason the studios never took up Dustin Hoffman’s desire to play James Bond.


In the early decades of film making the art form was like the Wild West. It was uncharted territory. The manners in which plot points, emotions and themes were communicated were largely being made up as the film makers went along. Sure, they could and did copy each other, but the roads weren’t so well travelled as they are now. Today there are a very wide range of cinematic communication styles and techniques that have been laid out as creative options for every film maker, and that includes specific metaphors. While it’s easy to assume that there are no new creative styles left, it’s not the case. In one of my short films I had a shot in which a camera moves into the back of a character’s head and dissolves to become her point of view, but in black and white. I challenged those on set who said everything’s been done before to find an example of that kind of shot transition and no one could come up with one. That was around 2004 so I don’t know if it’s been done since. Blair Witch Project broke mould with its found footage presentation of the story. Cloud Atlas showed the same human struggles occurring across multiple generations of characters who never meet or know each other – by the way that’s a post-millennial film I really like.

There are other creative choices that have hardly been explored, but I think the range of established film making formulas allows modern film makers to go the lazy route. So again and again horror films are crap because it’s one boring jump scare after another … silence and nothing happening, and maybe the threat of a jump scare that doesn’t actually happen and then OOH !!! jump scare with a sudden switch from silence to loudness. It’s become so repetitive that the jump scares can be seen coming, which defeats the point. There are many other ways to psychologically unnerve the audience, but they require a bit more imagination from the film makers.

This repetition of metaphors from other movies extends into acting styles, dialogue nuances, shot choices and just about everything else. And the worst part about it for me is that film makers often shift metaphors from an appropriate context in someone else’s movie to the wrong context in their own. Take the hugely over-rated movie Drive (2012). That film borrows tons of metaphors and scene structures from far better movies like The Driver, Mad Max 1 & 2, Repoman and Goodfellas (pre-millennial movies), but it repeatedly gets the context all wrong. The hero and the kid who have a personal connection, but look at each other and don’t talk – that’s taken straight from Mad Max 2, but in the latter it worked because the kid had been brutalized and was becoming animal-like; he communicates in animal grunts. Max himself has deteriorated down the same path. But in Drive the kid is from a normal upbringing, so there’s no reason the kid would speak so little.


And that brings me onto the issue of dumb heroes. The lead character in Drive (2012) was an idiot. When he took a guy to do what was supposedly his last mob job to get out of the gangster business, I was thinking, “Are you fucking stupid? The mob aint gonna leave this guy alone and he’s probably gonna get killed on this job anyway!” That’s exactly what happens. And when the lead gets stabbed at the end of the movie I saw that coming well in advance too. In both instances I immediately was able to think of smarter tactics that I would have used in each situation. But take the old movie The Driver (which Drive borrows so heavily from) – the lead character is actually smart. He tells everyone he doesn’t carry a gun so that when he really needs to use one it takes his opponents by surprise. The reason I’ve used Drive for a couple of examples of crap modern film making is specifically because the film has been praised by so many people. It shows how bad modern movies are that Drive is considered one of the cream of the crop of the past ten years.

This idiocy of many hero characters is a huge problem in movies today. And when they do appear to come up with smart plans to save the day, their plans are often heavily dependent on too many circumstantial factors going their way. In other words they weren’t smart plans.


Do I need to explain this one? If you can’t hear and understand the dialogue you can’t follow the fucking story. It’s not hip and cool to mumble dialogue like a drunk with a sore throat. It’s stupid. Even Arnie and Stallone spoke audible dialogue.


Movies are constantly trying to be more and more grandiose than each other and to see off competition from television and computer games. But the result is that movies are becoming more and more disconnected from the real world of the viewer. I think there needs to be a trend in the other direction, to make more movies about everyday life. There’s plenty of interesting and dramatic stuff going on in regular life from which movies could communicate valuable insights.

A good example of this bigger spectacle error is the second half of The Force Awakens. First half of the story is very good … smaller scale personal story about a storm trooper who rebels. They could have gotten a full movie just out of that. But the second half of Force Awakens tries go bigger by having a planet that has been converted into a Death Star. Do we really need something bigger than the Death Star itself? Do we need a planet-sized explosion to feel like the movie hit the jackpot? No. The best Star Wars movie is Empire Strikes Back and one reason it’s better is because it gets the big battle spectacle out the way at the start of the movie then goes in for smaller battles centred around key characters and the things that are important to them. The ending doesn’t have a big explosion or thousands of people fighting all at once.


Movies that are conceptually empty, but they try to act meaningful by having large sequences of hardly anything happening. The idea seems to be to make the viewer think that because it’s slow and uneventful there must be some deeper meaning. Stuff like that crappy Dicaprio film where he’s lost in the woods after being mauled by a bear (it’s so bad I can’t even be bothered looking up the title). Those films are crap. If you want a slow movie that really is full of meaning – go check out the 1979 Peter Seller’s movie Being There.




This one is a huge problem. The age of IT communication has brought lots of benefits to society, but it’s also making our lives increasingly unfilmable. People talking or arguing via Email, Facebook, Twitter or even Skype tend not to work dramatically as fiction scenes. Actually it’s one of the reasons I quite liked the 2012 movie Jack Reacher. The lead character, as a living-off-radar rule, doesn’t use electronic communication devices. So it allows the film to be shot in a traditional face to face communication format. And it’s well known that horror movie plots are much more difficult to write now because anyone who’s stuck in the middle of nowhere will likely be able to find a place where they can get mobile phone reception.

IT communication tends to reduce human interaction down to premeditated text. Each message is consciously thought out before it’s sent and that removes the nonverbal, spontaneous stuff that actors can use to convey depth beyond scripted dialogue alone. I’ve seen various attempts to make IT communication more dramatic in movies and TV shows, but I’m yet to see it work well. The Departed did a good job of incorporating IT communication and so did the TV show The Wire, but in both those instances the criminals of the story only used IT devices sparingly to avoid detection.

In old sci-fi movies and TV shows people tended to chat with each other in video calls that had greater technical quality than modern Skype systems. What each character saw on their screen was usually professionally shot (not grainy and badly lit with and poor sound quality like real Skype calls). A notable exception is the scene in Aliens, in which soldiers have helmet camera attachments that relay info back to command - fuzzy, shaky camera footage of a battle scene. However the footage is just one element in a scene that is mostly shot in the usual, physically present way. To show the entire action scene through those fuzzy video cameras would not work.

This general issue of many human communications and sometimes entire friendships or professional relationships occurring only via IT devices renders them dramatically dull and generally not worth putting into fiction movies. My guess is that cinema is going to be filled more and more with stories set prior to the age of the internet and that pre-millennial based fiction will become the equivalent of Wild West movies. Though a big problem with this is that a lot of younger people today seem to get confused when a story looks like modern day life, but there are no IT devices. So, for example, in the Bates Motel TV series Norman Bates, who was supposed to have gone crazy because of his isolation from the world by his Mother, has a fucking mobile phone and sends texts. So there’s the entire premise of the character ruined right there. (Apologies by the way for my occasional swearing, but I feel compelled to express my frustration with the low quality of modern movies)


This goes hand in hand with the fact that IT communication tends to reduce human thought and interaction down to its verbal component. Too many movies over-explain themselves through dialogue. Characters say what they’re feeling instead of showing it through expressions, gestures and actions. And plot points are stated by characters as if they are narrating their own stories in real time. One of the worst examples of this is Inception. It could have been a much better film if it didn’t over-explain itself through dialogue. By leaving no mystery, by not challenging the audience to figure at least some of the story out for themselves, these movies become watch once affairs.


As far as I can tell there are two major problems caused by illegal downloading. The first is that profits for film producers and distributors are inhibited. So they’re more likely to just play safe in terms of the types of films they make to ensure profit. And the second is that the usual sales feedback mechanism is distorted beyond recognition. It used to be that when studios made movies people enjoyed they profited and if they made movies people didn’t enjoy they lost money. And the issue may be imbalanced by the types of audiences that do and don’t illegally download films. For example, kids’ movies probably still make a profit because parents like to physically take their kids to the cinema as a family outing and the kids like to get proper copies of the movies on disc with the pretty packaging. Romantic comedies might have the same benefit on account of girlie nights out to the cinema or guys taking women on cinema dates. But adult male targeted audiences may be more likely to just download the latest action and horror movies – you know the movies that don’t have magical superheroes in them. And it’s hard to gather research stats on the effects of illegal downloading because people don’t want to admit that they’re doing it.


Blitz marketing started a couple of decades before the millennium, but it has become ever more prominent. It used to be that movies would open to a small number of cinemas with low key advertising and that word of mouth and ticket sales would determine whether the film continued to be shown and expanded to even more cinemas. But today word of mouth is mostly left out of the equation. There’s an advertising blitz, an attempt to make a huge amount of money in the short space of a couple of weeks and then the movie disappears from cinema screens. But the more accurate story of market feedback is then told by the DVD and Blu-ray sales figures. How often do we go into a DVD store and see movies that were only released a few months ago, but have had their prices slashed and are sat there on the shelves with hardly anyone buying them?


The distortion of market feedback by ad blitzing and illegal downloading, encourages producers and distributors to seek profit from third party sources instead of the audience. Product placement is a big one, but also a lot of movies are covert propaganda pieces and it’s hard gauge this because, by the nature of propaganda itself, those who covertly fund and promote fiction propaganda will disguise their motives and even their involvement. It’s well known that this happens with a lot of war movies. For example, military assistance is sometimes required if a war movie needs tank and plane props, but the military won’t provide such assistance unless it can scrutinize and alter the script so that it ideologically fits with their recruitment and PR agendas. And so a movie like Tigerland, in which the hero gives a great big “fuck you” to his commanding officers in near enough every scene, doesn’t feature any tanks, planes or other expensive military hardware or locations. Movie propaganda and product placement go back way before the millennium, but I think they’re even more common now because illegal downloading and competition from TV and video games makes straight ticket sales a less reliable form of revenue.


Simply making one off great movies that make a lot of money is becoming less and less. The focus is now on brand development so that more money can be made from sequels, merchandise and other spin offs. To that effect stories are hardly ever finished. They’re left open-ended. This isn’t always a bad thing. Some sequels I quite like, but it gets tedious. Most films seem to be trying to hook us in to buy more stuff instead of just “enjoy this one great movie that you’ve already bought your ticket for”.


This is another factor that distorts market feedback and is hard to prove because of its covert nature. There have been odd instances where studios have been caught out releasing fake or paid for reviews of their own movie products. Needless to say the fake reviews will be much more positive. The idea is to create a fake word of mouth buzz being that people trust word of mouth much more than traditional adverts. Online reviews written by anonymous people could be written by anyone including studio personnel, distributors or even rival film companies trying to trash their competitors’ movies unfairly. I’ve noticed as well that when new movies come out like say Cloverfield or Alien Covenant, in depth movie theory videos similar to the kind of film analysis videos I produce begin to appear very quickly on Youtube. They’ll be of very high technical quality and will use proper HD footage even before the HD version of the movie has been publicly released, which suggests to me the video is a just a studio advertisement disguised as third party Youtube content. Sometimes those videos are quite interesting anyway, revealing facets of the movie that would otherwise be missed. In other instances very polished Youtube videos are released that strive to debunk negative online opinions about new releases. This happened with Prometheus for example and was done with a level of determination that made me suspect it was a studio marketing department tactic.

Studios have come to realize that movies that generate a lot of debate about their meaning are likely to make long term profits and are likely to help market whatever brands are associated with the film. In some ways this is good because some of the studios are coming to realize that audiences do want hidden depths and concepts in their movies, not just one dimensional forgettable trash. So some of them are trying to move in that direction, but having them hijack the online public debate of their products only serves to distort market feedback all over again.


This has kind of always gone on in the industry, but today it shouldn’t be a major problem. Today home video cameras and editing software can be used to make movies that are technically much better than most mainstream movies that were released 70 or 80 yrs ago. Those shoddy old movies still get watched and some are still hailed as classics, and yet today film studios work to a ridiculously high standard of OCD technical sheen that really isn’t necessary at all. Movies could be made much cheaper without sacrificing entertainment value. I suspect that the reason such expensive standards are adhered to is so that the bigwigs in the movie industry can shut out small competitors who lack the funds to match their product in terms of technical sheen. If the standards were loosened up considerably then a swathe of fresh and original movies might pour through from the independent scene.


This sort of works in tandem with the propaganda element. Political correctness has severely distorted movie plots and themes since the millennium – in particular the pro-globalism ideology has become over-riding. I don’t mind such propaganda films existing so long as movies presenting alternative views on society are present in roughly equal measure. I’m all for diversity of opinion. At the level of funding, those dishing out the film production money are in the position of deciding that only scripts that match their own ideological agendas get green lit. A movie like Dirty Harry, which is a great film, but has ideological facets that I personally disagree with, would be unlikely to be made today. But those very facets that I morally disagree with ironically help to make it a great film. If we just view Dirty Harry as a piece of drama and not a pro- police brutality, anti-constitutional statement then it’s a very good movie.


This one isn’t widely recognized. People tend to blame studio executives for having the wrong motives, but in my experience a lot of film makers who are just starting out, even at the amateur level, are motivated by the shallow goal of becoming famous. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve met young film makers who are trying to imitate the style and success of Quentin Tarantino, who is typically viewed as being a cool director (even though some of his post-millennial movies are quite poor). A lot of them are just trying to rehash their favourite movies instead of being drawn to scripts, source novels or story ideas that are fresh. Some want the money, some want the ego and some think it’ll get them pussy. But that seems to be the shallowness of our age – so many people are obsessed with celebrity status.


This is an odd one and I think the studio marketing departments are onto it. A lot of people will go watch an “event” movie even if they know it’ll be bad, even if they’ve heard consistently bad reviews, because they don’t want to be left out of the armchair critic social discussion of the film afterward. Unfortunately this distorts market feedback, encouraging studios to produce crap and oversell it. If a film has bad reviews I don’t go see it and if I do stumble across a borrowed copy and it turns out the film is rubbish then I’ll switch it off after 20 mins and barely mention it to anyone. And I virtually never produce film study videos about crap films. I only want to promote good ones.


This is another odd one that I think isn’t widely recognized. Art tends to thrive when free speech is stifled. It provides an alternative means of expression for what isn’t allowed to be spoken. But with the onset of the internet there is now massive scope for anybody to say what they want to say to however many millions of people are willing to listen. This sort of puts a lot of artistic expression on a bit of a back burner. Isn’t it easier to just state your thoughts clearly in words instead of wrapping them in fiction? It’s not a total redundancy though because verbal statements are confined to the limited logic of language. Human experience has facets for which we don’t yet have sufficient words to describe and this is where art can still strike a chord with people.


And here’s the one I consider the most important of the whole lot. There is a severe lack of visionary directors. We get some who make the occasionally excellent or even classic film, but hardly any of them are consistently good. Take premillennial John Carpenter. In a five year period he made Halloween, The Fog, Escape From New York, The Thing and Christine. That’s a great run. Or when Jim Cameron started out Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss then T2. And if you look at the premillennial careers of the Coen bros, Stanley Kubrick, Martin Scorsese, Spielberg, David Lynch, Woody Allen, Francis Coppola, or going back to Hitchcock, Sergio Leone or Kurosawa … most of them have had the odd run where they made 3, 4 or even 5 classic movies one after the other. But I haven’t found that with any post-millennial film makers. Paul Thomas Andersen has been probably the closest to that kind of consistency in Hollywood.

It’s tempting to assume that the studios not giving directors much control over their work is the problem, but it’s never been cheaper and easier for film makers to go independent so I don’t see that as the obstacle. Maybe even the great directors working today have gotten suckered into the formulaic rehash cycle. But a major factor I suspect is the problem is that there are few film makers who are drawing on their own personal life experience for interesting subject matter, or at least they’re not drawing on their own unique philosophical view of the world. An exception to that I believe is Japanese director Takeshi Miike. I’ve only seen about four of his films, but there is a philosophical and stylistic consistency. When I watch that guy’s movies I really feel like the film maker is trying to communicate something of his own. He’s pushing conceptual boundaries, just as Kurosawa had done decades before. And I’m not just talking about the intense violence. There are other ways of pushing the boundaries of movies into fresh territory like Woody Allen did with relationship comedy dramas or the Coen Bros did with their cynical satires on the human condition.

We need more of that. We need film makers who actually have a unique view on life and can communicate it in fiction movie form to entertain and educate.


So there you go, that’s my extensive list of why post-millennial movies on the whole are so fucking crap, to put it bluntly. Can we do anything about it? That’s a whole other question, which I’ll let you ponder over.

Thanks for reading.

Be sure to check out my other articles and videos on movies, psychology and other subjects.