Sunday, January 3, 2010

Kael of the Week: What's Missing?

"Not every movie has to matter; generally we go hoping just to be relaxed and refreshed. But because most of the time we come out slugged and depressed, I think we care far more now about the reach for something. We've simply spent too much time at movies made by people who didn't enjoy themselves and who didn't respect themselves or us, and we rarely enjoy ourselves at the movies anymore. They're big catered affairs, and we're humiliated to be there among the guests. I look at the list of movies playing, and most of them I genuinely just can't face, because the odds are so strong that they're going to be the same old failed entertainment, and, even though I may have had more of a bellyful than most people, I'm sure this isn't just my own reaction. Practically everybody I know feels the same way. This may seem an awfully moral approach, but it comes out of surfeit and aesthetic disgust. There's something vital to enjoyment that we haven't been getting much of. Playfulness? Joy? Perhaps even honest cynicism? What's missing isn't anything as simple as talent; there's lots of talent, even on TV. But the business conditions of moviemaking have soured the spirit of most big movies."

- From "The Bottom of the Pit"
The New Yorker, September 27, 1969

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