Sunday, August 9, 2009

Appealing to the lowest common denominator

A.O. Scott has a remarkable essay in today's New York Times in which he laments the fact that studios are rarely marketing or even producing films for adults. He writes:

"...those reliable axioms about the taste and expectations of the mass movie audience are not so much laws of nature as artifacts of corporate strategy. And the lessons derived from them conveniently serve to strengthen a status quo that increasingly marginalizes risk, originality and intelligence. The big lesson of the summer of 2009 is that those qualities, while they may be desirable in some abstract, ideal way, don’t pay the bills. The studios, housed in large and beleaguered media conglomerates, have grown more cautious as the economy has faltered, releasing fewer movies and concentrating resources on dependable formulas. Nearly every big hit so far has been part of a franchise built on an established cultural brand. "

His conclusion:

"...go see Up, the only hugely successful movie of the summer that engages genuinely adult themes. It’s about loss, frustration, disappointment. And it offers one of the season’s most pointed and paradoxical lessons. If you want to make a mature film for mature audiences, make sure it’s a cartoon."

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