Earlier this week I watched The Five Devils, and with that, officially hit 1,000 films on Letterboxd. (It certainly feels like I’ve seen more movies than that, but maybe it’s just because I’ve seen Hackers so many times.)
I have a strange relationship with movies—in one hand I love cinema as an art form, and in the other I understand the addictive effects of screen-based media. In the interest of the former, I try to see as many movies as possible, but in caution of the latter, I have to make sure I am not sidelining my life or work with streaming habits. (A circumstance that has happened more than I care to admit.)
There are many strange and fascinating parts about being a movie-lover who moved to Los Angeles in my late 30s, and I’ll write about them as time goes on. For now, the big news here is the writer’s strike—something I was thinking about while watching The Five Devils.
Art in the United States has a troubled history, as ‘success’ is often tied to our market-based concept of the word. Even with film, a medium practically defined by the efforts of Americans here in Hollywood, the business of entertainment has woefully impacted the culture produced. The Five Devils, a French film, was a good movie. It won’t win Best Picture anywhere, but it was a wonderful little tale. It is exactly the type of movie that is made less and less in the USA.
When I look at the WGA strike—and the rejected demands by the industry—there is certainly something to be won for the livelihood of the profession. But beyond that, it shows the entertainment industry playing their hand in regards to the future: There is no interest in human stories, in small budgets, in lower profits. Being profitable isn’t enough—the industry is about Intellectual Property, franchise films, and streaming rights. They’re more than happy to have an AI shit out a couple Marvel movies every year ad nauseum.
Like all art, the best cinema isn’t a formula. Its resonance is defined by the humanity of its creation, the passion behind the imperfections in craft. To my mind, there isn’t much worse than watching the grotesque nature of capital actively work to tarnish the potential of creativity in the name of profit. The US already struggles to keep up with foreign cinema in terms of artistic quality, and it’s not like a shift to more algorithm-friendly content is going to do anything for that.
It’d be a comedy, if it wasn’t such a tragedy.