The Guardian‘s John Patterson has written a lament about the downturn of commercial cinema that manifested in 1982.
Despite the release of first-raters like Blade Runner, The Road Warrior, Diner, Missing, First Blood, E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial, 48 HRS., The Verdict, Sophie’s Choice, My Favorite Year, An Officer and a Gentleman and Tootsie, Patterson notes that “one can indeed foresee today’s mainstream Hollywood: special effects; science fiction replacing the moribund western; the rise of serious gore; one-dimensional worldviews and a paucity of powerful ideas.”
1982 was the year in which everyone realized that the move-brat generation “had helped kill off their own 1970s renaissance with big-budget flops that frightened the studios” — Cimino‘s Heaven’s Gate, Scorsese‘s New York, New York, Coppola‘s Apocalypse Now (wait…it’s made $91,383,841since opening in ’79…how could it be consdiered a loss-leader?), Spielberg‘s 1941, Beatty‘s Reds, Altman‘s Popeye, and John Landis‘s gargantuan The Blues Brothers, “a huge flop until video made it a hit.”
This left the field “clear for Steven Spielberg and George Lucas to solidify the foundations of the Temple of Dumb, and, well, here we all are today.”
Let it be said again that in 20 years the name “Steven Spielberg” will have far fewer positive associations that it does today. Spielberg deserves respect for being perhaps the greatest hack of all time, but once the memory of his having made truckloads of money for himself and thousands of other people fades, his true legacy will start to take shape. His Duel-to-E.T. surge and Schindler’s List aside, Spileberg’s record is undeniably spotty. Always, Amistad, A.I., Munich….the man has been a “problem director” for too many years.
I’m linked to this before, but Pauline Kael spotted all the bad trends in 1980 in this brilliant New Yorker piece called “Why Movies Are So Bad, or The Numbers.”