Do the Movies Have a Future? I

– “The Way We Live Now,” Do the Movies Have a Future? David Denby
– “The Decay of Cinema” – Susan Sontag (or PDF here)
– NYTimes “Independent movies” 2010 (or PDF here)
– Adaptation (Spike Jonze, 2002) – IN CLASS – 

For next week, we will be discussing the question David Denby asks in his book of the same title: Do the Movies Have a Future?

As you read through Denby, Sontag and Dargis, I want you to think of your own moviegoing experiences and think of the following questions which we’ll discuss in class:

Do you agree with Sontag that “ordinary films, films made purely for entertainment(that is, commercial) purposes, are astonishingly witless; the vast majority fail resoundingly to appeal to their cynically targeted audiences”?

What do you make of the fact that Denby and Dargis are making a similar point as Sontag only almost twenty years later?

A lot of you, in discussing your favorite films divided them into “serious” films and “funny” ones (or conversely, into “favorite” film and “film I watched most often”); what do these distinctions tell us about how we watch films? Do great movies not entertain us as much, or are entertaining movies less likely to be “serious”?

What’s the role of the critic (and the fan) in the world Denby describes? Do you read reviews? Do you trust your friends’ opinions more? What makes you choose the types of films you watch? Is it dictated by social media and the digital world? In what ways?

How do you engage with films after you’ve seen them? Do you read reviews or are you more likely to encounter film appreciation in Buzzfeed posts, Tumblr gifs and YouTube mashups?

See you all next week!


About Manuel Betancourt

Manuel is a New York City-based writer, editor, and critical thinker. He's a pop culture enthusiast and an eternal Buffy fan. His work has appeared in Film Comment,, Backstage Magazine, Vice, INTO,, Los Angeles Review of Books, and Catapult, among others. He's a regular contributor to Remezcla and Electric Literature. | @bmanuel
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