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When TV surpassed Film....

  • 24-06-2020 7:59am
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 2,723 ✭✭✭ El Rifle


    Was thinking to myself last night how far film has fallen away in recent years in quality and when was it exactly when TV passed it by?

    The last 3 films I have watched I turned them off before getting to the end. Da 5 Bloods, which was kind of embarrassing, Artemis Fowl which was reasonably entertaining until about half way through when it became road side spaghetti, and Force of Nature where Mel Gibson of all people was phoning it in in a very flawed production.

    The last 3 series I have watched or am watching - Yellowstone which came back for season 3 yesterday, a flawless production, heavyweight acting from the cast, brilliant writing. The Bureau - engaging, brilliantly scripted and so real. Billions, while dipping slightly now a really brilliant show. I could name half a dozen more shows like Succession that are just brilliant, but I can't even name a movie quickly that I thought was brilliant lately. I have to go back to 6 months-1 year for the likes of Parasite, Judy, Once upon a time and the Irishman. Has there been anything at all of top quality in the last 6 months released?

    I had a thought after watching Yellowstone, maybe Costner after 3 seasons will have had enough and want to go back to film. But then I thought why on earth would he do that? In order to go back to what exactly? Now it seems the holy grail of acting is to get yourself a lead roll in TV series of quality.

    At what point did we get to this place where TV is far superior to film? In the 80's and 90's you had some fantastic mini series. But generally long running tv shows were entertaining but formulaic and cliched. Then the likes of the Sopranos, Lost and The Shield came along. Then Rome, Deadwood, Damages and the likes. But film was still regularly good and exciting back then.
    Now you have a long list of fantastic tv far too much to watch even, and this void for film that I can only fill with older stuff until a handful of award worthy pics come out each year who's number seems to go down by half as each passes.

    I feel like in the last handful of years film is collapsing.

    Are we going to wake up in a few years with film almost completely dead apart from franchises, and straight to DVD esque productions?


Comments

  • Registered Users Posts: 17,088 ✭✭✭✭ kippy


    El Rifle wrote: »
    Was thinking to myself last night how far film has fallen away in recent years in quality and when was it exactly when TV passed it by?

    The last 3 films I have watched I turned them off before getting to the end. Da 5 Bloods, which was kind of embarrassing, Artemis Fowl which was reasonably entertaining until about half way through when it became road side spaghetti, and Force of Nature where Mel Gibson of all people was phoning it in in a very flawed production.

    The last 3 series I have watched or am watching - Yellowstone which came back for season 3 yesterday, a flawless production, heavyweight acting from the cast, brilliant writing. The Bureau - engaging, brilliantly scripted and so real. Billions, while dipping slightly now a really brilliant show. I could name half a dozen more shows like Succession that are just brilliant, but I can't even name a movie quickly that I thought was brilliant lately. I have to go back to 6 months-1 year for the likes of Parasite, Judy, Once upon a time and the Irishman. Has there been anything at all of top quality in the last 6 months released?

    I had a thought after watching Yellowstone, maybe Costner after 3 seasons will have had enough and want to go back to film. But then I thought why on earth would he do that? In order to go back to what exactly? Now it seems the holy grail of acting is to get yourself a lead roll in TV series of quality.

    At what point did we get to this place where TV is far superior to film? In the 80's and 90's you had some fantastic mini series. But generally long running tv shows were entertaining but formulaic and cliched. Then the likes of the Sopranos, Lost and The Shield came along. Then Rome, Deadwood, Damages and the likes. But film was still regularly good and exciting back then.
    Now you have a long list of fantastic tv far too much to watch even, and this void for film that I can only fill with older stuff until a handful of award worthy pics come out each year who's number seems to go down by half as each passes.

    I feel like in the last handful of years film is collapsing.

    Are we going to wake up in a few years with film almost completely dead apart from franchises, and straight to DVD esque productions?

    A few things.
    The availability of platforms that have easily accessible content with a good interface for relatively little. This means content creators can us hours and hours of a series to tell a story rather than a limited 90 minutes and it is more likely to do well.
    People's ability to focus on something for more than a half hour/attention span.
    The fact that more content than every is being produced mean a lot of it will be poor.

    Film isn't dead though.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2,743 ✭✭✭ Heres Johnny


    As much bad TV as there is bad film. Got loads of recommendations from people and lasted an episode or 2 they were that bad. Space force with Steve Carell being the most recent. Absolute rubbish.
    With the demand for new content all the time, a lot of movie and TV these days is rubbish. But get a good TV series and it's great to pass the time.


  • Moderators, Entertainment Moderators Posts: 17,713 Mod ✭✭✭✭ ixoy


    Certain platforms and channels, such as FX and I believe Netflix, also seem to be more hands off. Show runners can create the vision they want more freely and I've seen some of them point out that they would be more restricted running under a typical Hollywood studio. That's a very attractive quality for some - Alex Garland's recent 'Devs' springs to mind for example.


  • Registered Users Posts: 27,679 ✭✭✭✭ murpho999


    I wouldn't agree with your assessment at all and I would by new means call "Yellowstone" a flawless production and it has received mixed reviews from critics.

    No doubt this is a great age for TV as it has transformed to longer story arcs rather than episodic adventures and therefore allowing writers more scope and more character development which therefore appeals to higher grade actors.

    However, film is by no means dead, and just because the last 3 you have seen have not been to your liking does not mean the art is dead.

    Also, complaining about releases over the last 6 months as Covid has stopped the majority of film releases.

    Problem with cinema now is too many blockbuster franchises appealing to the masses but they're are plenty of good films being made.

    I think both can exist side by side as they are different concepts and the big screen experience will always appeal to people.


  • Moderators, Entertainment Moderators Posts: 27,828 Mod ✭✭✭✭ pixelburp


    Not sure one can take two industries as disparate and wide ranging as TV & Film, then boil them down into reductions of which is "better" right now. What studios are we looking at here? What TV services? Shows, genres etc etc. you could pick any number of examples that either disprove or prove as one sees fit.

    What I would say is that over the past 10-20 years TV production has pulled itself up by the bootstraps. Not sure where you could say that change "started", but it's not uncommon these days to find cinema grade production values in otherwise humble TV shows. Or indeed, Hollywood figures from both behind & in front of the lens. Though plenty of channels still produce output with flat lightning, direction and generally pedestrian production quality (basically, most of CW's output). Maybe as cinema became more focused on colossal blockbusters, the talent got squeezed out and simply moved to TV.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 3,863 ✭✭✭ mikhail


    That's a good point. The same industry that gave us The Sopranos and The Wire gave us Celebrity Love Island and Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Hell, the same one that gave us Season 1 of Westworld and True Detective gave us Season 2 of Westworld and True Detective.

    Long form TV shows are a thing now, and weren't in the past, and that's attracted writing and acting talent to TV at a time when budgets for prestige productions have climbed dramatically. That's a positive thing, but it's only one trend of many relating to both industires.


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Computer Games Moderators, Entertainment Moderators Posts: 27,249 CMod ✭✭✭✭ johnny_ultimate


    El Rifle wrote: »
    Has there been anything at all of top quality in the last 6 months released?

    If only there was something about the last six months that may have slowed film releases down a tad :p

    Joking aside, I'm still of the firm belief that film is alive and kicking in ways TV simply is not. That's not to say that there isn't great modern TV, because of course there is. I think the main problem with TV though is it's still a heavily commercialised industry in ways film isn't. There's no real highly visible 'arthouse' or indie TV space (it does exist, from what I can gather, but its small and hard to find) and most even great TV shows tend to be wedded to particular genres such as crime / cops to a greater extent than you see in the broader spectrum of cinema (obviously mainstream film is just as wedded to a handful of genres).

    I passed the IFI today, where posters for Parasite and Portrait of a Lady on Fire are still displayed outside the shuttered doors. They're two films among the best of the past ten years, and IMO operating on a very different plain than even top-tier television. But they're hardly alone in that respect, and great films have continued to be released while the cinemas are shut. Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Moffie, The Wild Goose Lake, Bacaru, Blow The Man Down and Ema are some of the best ones I've seen. Before the cinemas closed the past six months or so we had Little Women, Uncut Gems, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Color Out of Space, A Hidden Life, The Personal History of David Copperfield, End of the Century and other fine films.

    I love a good TV show - currently hooked on The Expanse, and crave the likes of Better Call Saul, Watchmen or Atlanta when I can get them. I think the very best of them do reach for the sort of heights you get in great cinema, or - even more interestingly - a different height that feels fully considered for smaller screens, shorter running times and serialisation. The Wire is perhaps the finest example of that: a show that uses a massive running time and seasonal structure to tell a story in a way you simply couldn't in film.

    Still, there's a gap there - hard to articulate, maybe, and not a gap that's always a bad thing for TV that does its own thing. But I'd ultimately come down on the side of there being more scope - and that includes funding mechanisms - in film for filmmakers to tell different sorts of stories, in different sorts of ways. The excitement in cinephile circles around Twin Peaks: The Return was partially elitism (although it was ****ing astounding), but also because that was a rare TV show felt formally audacious and unclassifiable in the same way the best cinema is. There are others - things like the Dekalog, Fanny and Alexander or Berlin Alexanderplatz - but I think unsurprisingly those examples are all productions from directors known for their cinema works first and foremost. There's lots of space in my life for great TV and film, thankfully, but there's a breadth and depth to cinema that I think will always make it a particularly special medium for me and many others.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,723 ✭✭✭ El Rifle


    pixelburp wrote: »
    Not sure one can take two industries as disparate and wide ranging as TV & Film, then boil them down into reductions of which is "better" right now. .

    Perhaps, Im just basing it on what I'm seeing and whats entertaining me. As a film fanatic for the best part of 25 years, as the years go by I get more and more disappointed with the quality I'm seeing.
    When I see the production quality of Yellowstone from a technical standpoint, it is just so damn good. Then I watch Spike Lee's latest and theres student errors in it. And Mel Gibsons flick there was some awful gaffs in there. So cheap and lazy. The old watering can in front of the camera I hadn't seen in a long time.
    If only there was something about the last six months that may have slowed film releases down a tad :p

    Joking aside, I'm still of the firm belief that film is alive and kicking in ways TV simply is not. .

    While we have had the covid problem, the likes of Amazon and Netflix produce and fund their own films for their platforms so I would have expected a few decent ones over the last few months, but nothing springs to mind.

    I hear what you are saying about the gap on Films and TV, there is that difference, a kind of magical difference between film and TV. The magic that John Williams and Ennio sprinkle on movies for example. But I feel the glass of film is draining and the glass of TV is filling up. And I feel like I've blinked and the balance between the two has now passed to TV and its gaining momentum.

    You have a rare film palette because you are taking in everything on a global scale and a lot of films I might consider a bit more obscure. And maybe I'm lazy in that regard.
    But at the same time, years ago I remember bringing up the topic of the franchises destroying cinema and got shot down by most. I think it was a topic here again last year and 5 years later or whatever it was the majority were agreeing with my points against a few ardent franchise bible folk.

    My prediction now is in 5 years time TV will have mostly eaten up the film industry. Leading directors, actors and technical staff will have moved over, and won't be looking back and film will be a place for the homogenous, productions for the masses and adolescents, with behind the scenes execs having all the creative control, so that there will be no creative at all almost.
    Thats not to say good films still won't get made, and probably the likes of yourself will still find enough to keep positive about the art. But I think the pool is getting smaller and smaller each year in film, and the art which has been dying slowly for 5 years+ is now dying at an accelerated rate.

    Could be wrong, but we shall see!


  • Moderators, Category Moderators, Arts Moderators, Computer Games Moderators, Entertainment Moderators Posts: 27,249 CMod ✭✭✭✭ johnny_ultimate


    El Rifle wrote: »
    While we have had the covid problem, the likes of Amazon and Netflix produce and fund their own films for their platforms so I would have expected a few decent ones over the last few months, but nothing springs to mind.

    Just on Amazon particularly, they’ve released a fair few notable movies over the past few months - Selah and the Spade, Blow The Man Down, The Vast of Night, 7500... I don’t love all those films, I must stress (Blow The Man Down is my favourite of them, followed by Vast of Night... other two left me pretty cold despite their plus points). But they are interesting, generally well-received debut films from ambitious newcomer directors, all released during the pandemic months. Some or all of these film won’t be for everyone - some certainly weren’t for me! - but they’re hardly things being churned out for the sake of it either (coughnetflixcough).

    Also, and I can never stress this enough: Mubi! Their raft of exclusive releases are of much higher quality than the bigger name streaming services, and it’s a great way to dabble in cinema from all over the world :)


  • Registered Users Posts: 626 ✭✭✭ Wedwood


    It used to be the case that you couldn’t replicate the cinema experience at home, now you can with the arrival of big screen TVs and surround sound kits, or projectors if you like. TV programme makers have responded and created more ‘cinematic’ shows since the likes of Band of Brothers and The Sopranos.

    Over the same period, I’d struggle to remember the Best Picture winners at the Oscars, in the main, they’ve been pretty bland since the turn of the century. Yet, the big money is still in the cinema releases, albeit it’s the Superhero/Sci Fi stuff that are the big earners.

    Also, there’s very few real ‘movie stars’ left where their star power alone is enough to get you to the cinema. Tom Cruise is maybe the only one in that category. All of the rest of them are just as likely to appear on a Netflix release.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 406 ✭✭ Full_Circle_81


    Its pretty hard to compare the quality of movies and TV directly, since their formats are so different. One has to tell a story in a very limited amount of time and the other has the potential luxury of seasons to accomplish the same feat.

    But personally, my interest in movies in general has dropped off over the past 10 years or so. I will still watch movies regularly (cinema for big movies, rental for small movies, tv/streaming for old movies and classics), but I find TV to be a much more rewarding experience and a better investment of my time.
    I struggle to remember the last movie I saw where I thought "yeah, that was an incredible movie". I'm admittedly hard to please where movies are concerned, but most films I watch that come recommended or highly regarded leave me with a felling of "performances were good, but the film was just OK".

    For example, I just rented Parasite a few weeks back and was extremely underwhelmed. I kept thinking afterwards "and thats all there was to it?!".

    TV on the other hand has gone from strength to strength. The shift to serialised storytelling has allowed it to become a much more immersive experience, where characters can develop over months and years. Writers can take their time with stories and allow things to build in ways that make movies feel rushed in comparison. TV can now also easily match movies for quality of production, acting and writing. And you don't have to look to mega-expensive shows like GOT for an example of this.

    And I would argue that, depending on the show, they can be just as idiosyncratic as any movie. Take The Knick for example: it had Soderbergh-isms all over it, creating a very unique viewing experience. Same with Lindelof and Watchmen, Hannibal with Fuller/Slade and Mr. Robot and Sam Esmail (even though I wasn't a fan of that show).

    I can still enjoy the odd movie here and there, and can re-watch any number of old favourites from time to time, but nowadays TV shows are what I spend most of my time on and get far more enjoyment out of.
    I know this is just a personal preference, as varying opinions in this thread have demonstrated.


  • Moderators, Entertainment Moderators Posts: 27,828 Mod ✭✭✭✭ pixelburp


    El Rifle wrote: »
    Perhaps, Im just basing it on what I'm seeing and whats entertaining me. As a film fanatic for the best part of 25 years, as the years go by I get more and more disappointed with the quality I'm seeing.
    When I see the production quality of Yellowstone from a technical standpoint, it is just so damn good. Then I watch Spike Lee's latest and theres student errors in it. And Mel Gibsons flick there was some awful gaffs in there. So cheap and lazy. The old watering can in front of the camera I hadn't seen in a long time.

    Yeah, but wonky films with hamfisted production values are as old as cinema itself; heck many a YouTube channel makes a living dissecting those films. I haven't seen Da 5 Bloods yet so can't comment on it specifically but TBH I'd argue they are the exception not the norm. Quite the opposite in fact: we live in an era of 4K high definition and the ability to pause single frames; film production has become much more difficult for set dressers and production design, 'cos flaws show up easier than ever. Can't just have that cowboy in the background keep his digital watch on as it'll show up.

    Heck, I've even seen the argument made that some TV & Film shouldn't be remasted to 4K because all those flaws and flimsy design show - and I'd kinda agree. Star Trek: The Next Generation looked pretty godawful in places, the 4K picture showing just how cheap and flimsy the background sets could be.

    Meanwhile ... TV has had a huge jump up in quality: as I said I don't know when that happened exactly but TV used to be shíte. It certainly wasn't the medium actors or directors wanted to work in, as it was the poor cousin both in terms of budget and talent. I guess it had a more disposable quality to it, not without reason I guess it used to be called "The Idiot Box". Yet now in the last 12 months alone it can claim Watchmen as part of its own.

    What I'd ultimately suggest is less one medium being predominantly better than the other - more that TV & Film have achieved parity. Both exist on the same plane of ... I dunno, quality? Artistry? Whatever X factor you want to call the difference between Eastenders and, say, Legion; an eccentric piece of cinematic genius - on the tellybox!

    Hell, here's a real thinker: can we even call it "TV" anymore? Television is the technology, but with Netflix / Amazon producing movies and weird interactive experiments, the term feels insufficient nowadays. Flick through Netflix and you'll find a myriad of form, genre and much more than "just" a few dramas.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2,281 ✭✭✭ CrankyHaus


    If anything I've been going back to film over the last couple of years; rediscovering the joy of an entertaining and moving story told over 2 hours.
    More and more TV Shows are boring, indulgent and meandering; stretched out over a dozen or more hour long episodes for a story that could be told in half the time or less.
    I blame streaming. The likes of Netflix want you logged on for as long as possible, and do not have the time constraint of programmed TV. So the dross that would have ended up on the cutting floor in the past stays in there.
    Meanwhile the "Golden Age of Television" is long dead, except as a marketing slogan to pretend that the latest derivative zombies saga is on a par with The Wire or The Sopranos.
    Absolute quality still comes along, but only occasionally.


  • Registered Users Posts: 406 ✭✭ Full_Circle_81


    CrankyHaus wrote: »
    If anything I've been going back to film over the last couple of years; rediscovering the joy of an entertaining and moving story told over 2 hours.
    More and more TV Shows are boring, indulgent and meandering; stretched out over a dozen or more hour long episodes for a story that could be told in half the time or less.
    I blame streaming. The likes of Netflix want you logged on for as long as possible, and do not have the time constraint of programmed TV. So the dross that would have ended up on the cutting floor in the past stays in there.
    Meanwhile the "Golden Age of Television" is long dead, except as a marketing slogan to pretend that the latest derivative zombies saga is on a par with The Wire or The Sopranos.
    Absolute quality still comes along, but only occasionally.

    Actually, that is an interesting counterpoint to pros I associate with TV. It certainly is a skill to be able to tell an interesting and engaging story in the confines of a shorter time period. And I completely agree that a lot of tv shows (particularly those on Netflix) suffer from having too many episodes to pad out a season long story :)


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,723 ✭✭✭ El Rifle


    pixelburp wrote: »

    Hell, here's a real thinker: can we even call it "TV" anymore? Television is the technology, but with Netflix / Amazon producing movies and weird interactive experiments, the term feels insufficient nowadays. Flick through Netflix and you'll find a myriad of form, genre and much more than "just" a few dramas.

    Thats an interesting take actually. It is something else....but at the same time, TV came up with the format and the style. Or you could say HBO came up with it. So we have to give poor old TV its dues :D
    CrankyHaus wrote: »
    If anything I've been going back to film over the last couple of years; rediscovering the joy of an entertaining and moving story told over 2 hours.
    More and more TV Shows are boring, indulgent and meandering; stretched out over a dozen or more hour long episodes for a story that could be told in half the time or less.
    I blame streaming. The likes of Netflix want you logged on for as long as possible, and do not have the time constraint of programmed TV. So the dross that would have ended up on the cutting floor in the past stays in there.
    Meanwhile the "Golden Age of Television" is long dead, except as a marketing slogan to pretend that the latest derivative zombies saga is on a par with The Wire or The Sopranos.
    Absolute quality still comes along, but only occasionally.

    I mix both Film and TV, but now with Film 80% + is me rewatching old stuff, because the new stuff doesn't cut it nearly as much as it used to. Probably I have run out of older stuff I haven't seen yet too which is annoying. The well has been tapped too much.

    But in terms of your point on TV, there is plenty of crap, because theres 100's of shows nowadays. Things I haven't even heard of are in Season 7.
    But there is an incredible amount of super high quality stuff now. Theres more then you can watch, whereas even going back ten years there was a handful of must see shows. I feel like theres a vast array of quality, and every country is now producing their own brilliant shows. In the last few months I've watched Brazilian, Argentinian and Mexican productions. Theres been loads of brilliant Italian productions in the last few years. Watching a French one at the moment. There was the various Scandinavia drama's even the likes of Iceland production a decent one.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,946 ✭✭✭ Mike Litoris


    I hear you but when it's good, it's hard to beat a good well made 2 hour movie as an event. It does seem they're getting harder to find these days. I think mainstream movies have suffered in the last 20 years with the popularity of superhero cash cows. It's a bit like the current music industry but no where near as bad! :p

    Whatever you call the medium, the likes of GOT, True Detective and the recent Dark have been the most memorable things I've watched over the last 10 years. I'm struggling to think of movies that have had the same impact in the same time frame.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 2,281 ✭✭✭ CrankyHaus


    I hear you but when it's good, it's hard to beat a good well made 2 hour movie as an event. It does seem they're getting harder to find these days. I think mainstream movies have suffered in the last 20 years with the popularity of superhero cash cows.

    After hearing of the death of Joel Schumacher I watched Phonebooth for the first time the other day. A short, intense, focused film like that felt like a relic from a different era of Hollywood. I thought the same when I watched Logan Lucky a few years ago, or Everybody Wants Some, they're just a type of film that barely gets made anymore, sadly.


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