Monday, April 20, 2009

So This Is What Passes For "Influential" These Days?

Here's a column discussing the "Top 10 Most Influential Films in the Last 10 Years" - a strange concept, perhaps. Although I can't say that I'd necessarily argue with the choices on this list, I do have to wonder: if this is what "influential" means, then who really cares about being "influential"? Often I think of "influential" and "artistically superior" as being somewhat synonymous. If I were to name the most influential films in cinema history, for example, I would essentially be naming films that I also thought were "classic" as it were (check out this list for an interesting and very recent attempt to do so). I can't think of too many films that I would call influential and yet artistically mediocre. Jurassic Park, perhaps (which in my mind, at least, really kick-started the now-ubiquitous CGI craze). But JP wasn't such a bad piece of summer cheese when all is said and done (I still can't believe the same director released Schindler's List a mere six months later, however).

Truth be told, have the past ten years really been that progressive of a period when placed in the grand scheme of cinema history as a whole? I think there have been some great movies in the past ten years, but very few of those films I would honestly call "influential." For the most part I'd say they achieved their greatness by injecting unique energy into old formulas rather than by suggesting whole new avenues of filmmaking possibilities. The films below were "influential" in the sense that they inspired Hollywood studios to pour their marketing dollars into similar fare. But am I supposed to care?

The Top 10 Most Influential Films in the Last 10 Years:

10. The Sixth Sense
9. Moulin Rouge!
8. Bowling For Columbine
7. The Polar Express
6. The Lord Of The Rings
5. Little Miss Sunshine
4. The Matrix
3. The Blair Witch Project
2. Sin City
1. Batman Begins and The Dark Knight


Herr Zrbo said...

What the hell are the Polar Express and Sin City doing on that list? Sin City is just part of this current wank-fest for Frank Miller, and Polar Express had that really creepy Tom Hanks. Not that any of those are really 'influential'. Maybe the Matrix cause the bullet time thing made us all go 'zomg!'

yoggoth said...

What's so influential about Batman Begins and The Dark Knight? They only look so good in comparison to Batman and Robin, the worst Hollywood blockbuster ever made.

yoggoth said...

On top of that, The Dark Knight has been out for what, 9 months?

The Matrix I can understand.

Sin City maybe on the theory that other movies have used the visual style?

Little Earl said...

"Sin City is just part of this current wank-fest for Frank Miller"

Maybe Sin City started the wank-fest? Hence: influential?

I suggest reading the article (if you haven't already); the author provides thorough explanations for all of his choices, it's not just completely baseless.

yoggoth said...

Oh so you want us to actually read the article? What's this blog for??

The Frank Miller love fest started in the comic world long before Sin City. I think the more influential thing about it is the CG.

yoggoth said...

"The darker, more realistic take was something that hadn’t been done before in comic book films. Instead audiences had seen a slew of mediocre to poor comic book adaptations or the hokier Spider-Mans."

I don't know, the first Batman movie seemed as dark and realistic as the last two. He's right about Spider-man though.

Little Earl said...

Notice the author did not call the Spider-man movies "mediocre to poor." He called them "hokier," but what he really meant to say was "hokier, but still better than the Batman movies." Christopher Nolan thinks he's making Schindler's List. For my money Sam Raimi strikes the perfect balance of whimsy and Joseph Campbellian gravitas. (You and I have discussed this before but I felt I needed to let the world know where I stood.)

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