In a 1.8.19 Vulture interview with Mark Jacobson, First Reformed director-writer Paul Schrader has expanded upon his previously voiced opinion that low-rent audiences are the chief cause of today’s movie malaise.
During a BAFTA discussion in London a few weeks ago, Schrader said that “when people take movies seriously it’s very easy to make a serious movie. When they don’t take it seriously, it’s very, very hard. We now have audiences that don’t take movies seriously so it’s hard to make a serious movie for them. It’s not that us filmmakers are letting you down, it’s you audiences [that] are letting us down.” In other words, that was then and this is now.
“[What we’re discussing is] part of the larger question of the de-fraction of culture. The fact that there’s no center. There’s no Johnny Carson, there’s no Walter Cronkite, there’s no Bruce Springsteen. There’s no fucking center to popular culture. The atrium where everyone would get together to talk is now dozens of little rooms.
“So back in the ’60s and ’70s, if you wanted to talk about the culture, and what was happening around us, you were going to have to talk about Bonnie and Clyde. Or The Wild Bunch. That was part of the conversation. And so, if you look back through that period, almost every week something came out that would give a critic a bone to chew on. If it had substance in it, you know. It’s taken 50 years for those opposed to the counterculture to finally win. To make sure that 1969 could never happen again.
“And of course, we could talk for days about the cowboy atmosphere we’re in now. Nothing we’ve learned in the last 100 years is of much value. We don’t know what a movie is anymore. We don’t know how long it is, we don’t know where you see it, we don’t know how you monetize it. What if it’s a net series? That is half hours, or 15 minutes. What if it’s 115 minutes, you know? That’s still a movie, isn’t it? Yes, it is. Mad Men is a movie — a 79-hour movie.”