Now that the sun of the new decade has set, what films will remain in the cultural subconscious 20 years from now? What will be The Graduate, The Godfather, The Breakfast Club?
Personally, I think The Dark Knight will be a beloved film by the masses, Superbad will be a comedic touchstone (speaking from the point of view of a teenager who knows the pop culture around him all too well), and There Will Be Blood will be the artistic achievement of the decade lauded by film geeks/buffs/torch-bearers of this generation.
To quote Radiohead, “I might be wrong”, so voice your opinions!
The Graduate – On the Occasion of Remembering the Turning Gate
The Godfather – Xiao Wu
The Breakfast Club – Drifting Clouds
I’m glad that Law already answered the question. See you in 20 years, Cubit.
Those all seem like films that would be personal for Law, not really this generation. I’m not speaking on a personal level or what my favorite films of the decade are. I’m asking which one’s will define and represent the decade?
Well, Hong Sang-soo arguably made some of the most relevant statements on sexual relations in contemporary cinema as did Mike Nichols back in the 1960’s. The abscence of music in his films contrasts the use of Simon and Garfunkel songs in “The Graduate”. Jia Zhanke’s is one of the greatest modern-day films about crime, and therefore directly relates to the status of “The Godfather” in the 1970’s. I’ve neither seen “The Breakfast Club” nor “Drifting Clouds”, but am quite sure that I will have seen both films in 20 years.
Unless you simply list the top box office winners of the decade this whole way of looking at things has no meaning. I raised this issue on the Soderbergh, filmmaker of the decade (or whatever it was called) thread. It’s not just that I feel that trying to define a decade by films or films by a decade is wrongheaded, it’s that it no longer holds any weight, artistically speaking.
In that thread I jokingly said Ozu was the director of the 2000s but in truth, he could be. Since the advent of home video current trends in filmmaking are less important. Even discounting anomalies such as Melville being the director of 2006 with the release of Army of Shadows you must take into account that with boutique labels like Criterion putting out ancient gems every year, for many art film lovers, Ozus films actually may be the films that define their viewing decade more than any film that came out in the last ten years. Thankfully, we are no longer bound by our theater experiences.
Mike—that’s an excellent point. Last year I was introduced to more amazing directors I’d never heard of than at any time in my entire life, so 2009, for me, was defined by Tarkovsky, Bergman, Weeresethakul, HHH, and others.
I certainly won’t look back and define 2009 by any mainstream US release.
Yeah, I think that’s true for most people who care about cinema. I get much more excited about DVD releases than theatrical releases, for the most part. Hell, I get more excited about finding a film on youtube than most theatrical releases. :)
Do you think The Graduate was box-office gold? Was Fight Club a huge hit? NO. I’m not saying you should measure the cultural weight of a film by its box office receipts, but I am strictly speaking in the mainstream here. I’m not saying that these mainstream films are the best of the decade, but more or less they are the generational films. They are what this generation is defined by. Who is our John Hughes, our John Ford? What filmmaker (though he may not be the best) will represent this generation and will be known by the masses for years to come?
I’m not speaking about artistic achievement. I’m talking about zeitgeist.
If I could watch any film in a theater right now it would be Wavelength, so that tells you where I’m coming from, though I am looking forward to seeing The White Ribbon when it comes to Dallas next week.
The Graduate: Jump Tomorrow
that is all I know. I don’t think Judd Apatow will be remember for much longer he is a pox on cinema
I would love to see Wavelength, or any Snow film for that matter, in a theater, especially since he doesn’t believe in DVD.
Sorry Cubit, I don’t think we’ll see anymore Graduates but others do so I’ll just back out of this thread so as not to highjack it.
I have not seen The Graduate and The Breakfast Club and have no plans to 1) see them, 2) use populist means to measure cinema.
If anything, my generation is defined by Facebook and Korean girl bands. But even that cannot umbrella everyone.
I feel the work of Charlie Kaufman and Michel Gondry is going to have an important part in the pop culture in the future. Maybe Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind will be as the love story of our time. I’m sure Avatar is going to be the first movie that comes to mind about eco-fairytales (very important in times of global warming… there will be more in the years coming). Juno and Little miss sunshine will be seen as tipical independent cinema examples. Anddd sad but true, maybe the people are going to see the kids from these years as the characters of High School Musical in the way of Breakfast Club.
I think the same about The Dark Knight: like the cinema aclaimed by the official critics and by the audiences.
The first movie that comes to mind about eco-fairytales is not “Avatar”, but either “Princess Mononoke” or “Nausicäa of the Valley of the Winds”. And at least “Mononoke” is even known by many mainstream viewers.
i think the work of larry clarke or elephant will be seen as more of an indicator of today’s society
APURSANSAR: That comes to your mind. And you are not the “general audiences”
Avatar is a huge happening like it or not.
And whose generation are we defining? White, male, American, middle class teenagers?
i simply meant our breakfast club law.
Anthology Film Archives regularly shows the films of Michael Snow, Stan Brakhage, Hollis Frampton, Paul Sharits, Jonas Mekas, Robert Breer, Harry Smith, Bruce Baillie, Ron Rice, Ken Jacob, … you get the idea, it’s the holy mecca of avant garde film.
Actually, I have to raise a concern with this whole way of looking at things. This whole “which films define a generation” thing (recognizing that the OP actually only brought up which films would remain in the public consciousness, not “define”) and all of the answers are simply magazine and video company marketing tools to sell stupid lists in magazines and to sell more copies of the Graduate, The Godfather and The Breakfast Club. When I look back 20 years from now it will probably be to find the films my generation ignored, you know, the good ones.
Thanks, but it sounds like there’s some traveling involved, yes?
Re: “I’m not speaking about artistic achievement. I’m talking about zeitgeist.”
Lighten up, everybody.
I think that’s a reasonable way to look at pop culture and cinema.
As I read the post, Law, we aren’t “measuring cinema,” we are examining a response to it.
How people will be talking about a particular film 20 years after the fact
is not necessarily any kind of gauge of its contemporary perceived value (see Easy Rider, Vertigo, The Greatest Show on Earth, or The Manchurian Candidate for variations on that theme).
And I also agree with you, Cubit, that box office receipts are not always an indicator
of what captures the collective imagination.
Zeitgeist exists independently of commerce in many instances, otherwise
Blue Velvet and Rushmore could not have become the cultural touchstones they are now.
Off the top of my head, I can’t match too many films for films in the sense Cubit has suggested.
But I would guess that many people will regard No Country For Old Men the way an earlier
crowd did Chinatown.
It’s also possible that Best in Show will be fondly quoted and referenced
as often as some of Mel Brooks’ films have been.
The Dark Knight might be an analog for Superman.
In any case, this idea makes a fun thought experiment.
Mike: unless you are near NYC, there’s quite of bit of travel involved. Though I’m sure most major cities have some cinemas that’ll show Wavelength though.
I hope sincerely that the cultural zeitgeist, especially in America, turns from embracing superhero movies to embracing the avante-garde, the experimental, and the artistic. We need to mature, to move away from escapism and turn inward, and yes we need to become “elitist”, at least in our understanding of human behavior as reflected in art. Entertainment is fun, and even necessary, but Americans engorge themselves on it excessively and there are so many other types of cuisine, so to speak. I hope the internet can broaden more people’s awareness.
I only say this from how much film as an artform has enriched my life as a person this past year.
Here, here. And when can I see your film, Mr. Downey?
To Be Declared, Mr. Ryan.
there wasnt a “Godfather” in the 80s or 90s so what makes you think that the 2000s has one?
The Godfather will remain “the greatest movie ever” for a long time
Not in the public consciousness, which I understand is the point of this thread, but I’d consider Once Upon A Time In America to be the Godfather of the 80’s.
@ Cubit. The Graduate WAS box office gold. It was absolutely huge.
And to answer your question, Michael Bay and Judd Apatow are probably this generations John Hughes.
In the 1970s a French journalist asked the Chinese statesman Chou En Lai what he thought the long term implications of the French Revolution had been. Chou Enlai famously replied that it was too early to tell. On the front cover of this month’s Atlantic there is a small headline trumpeting an article ‘Obama: Historians Judge His First Year". How a self respecting ’historian’ could professionally evaluate the current events of the last 12 months eludes me.
I guess my answer to the OP would be to wait a generation and see. Trust me, 20 years isn’t that long. And, by the by, Buck Henry playing himself in The Player, pitching ‘The Post Graduate’ to Tim Robbins in 1991, may have something to do with this thread, but I’m not sure what.