Exactly 14 years ago one of the greatest years for aspirational, middle-class, non-budget-busting, CG-averse, review-driven movies came to an end — 2007. Call it the last glorious year for this kind of film, for only 10 weeks later — on 3.14.08, to be be exact — Variety‘s Anne Thompson wrote about the imminent demise of this sort of fare.

Whatever vitality or opportunity that kind of theatrical film had going in ’07 (typified by Syriana, Munich, The Social Network, Babel, Proof of Life, Michael Clayton, Brokeback Mountain, American Gangster, Before The Devil Knows You’re Dead, No Country for Old Men, Superbad, There Will Be Blood, Zodiac), it would soon be squeezed and then gradually squelched by the Marvel / D.C. machine, and then by fucking Millennials, most of whom have never given a damn about middle-range theatrical dramas, and then by the gradual migration of such films and subject matter to cable and streaming, and then just to streaming.

And then came the first wave of wokester instructional dramas in ’17 or thereabouts. And then the final death blow — the pandemic that began almost two years ago (or around March 1, 2020).

It used to be that the movie year was composed of ten months of crap with a smattering of review-driven, award-seeking films opening between mid-October and mid December. Some of those would-be Oscar contenders would do good theatrical business or at least break even with profits to come from cable licensing and home video. But that’s finished now also. West Side Story died, King Richard died, etc. Only Spider-Man: No Way Home hit the jackpot.

The industry that I grew up with and measured my life against and thrived by until roughly four or five years ago…the movie industry of the late ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, aughts and the first half of the teens…that industry is more or less gone now. It was withering on the vine when the pandemic came along, and now it’s 90% dead, dead, fucking dead. Ditto the joy of life as I used to know it, in a sense…the joy of living by, for and through movies. I’m not saying that life is over, but the euphoric days will never return. Not in force, they won’t. Not like 2007.

There’s enough excitement and intrigue and discovery in new films to keep my pulse beating, so to speak, and there will always be the top-tier film festivals, of course, plus the HD streaming options today are miraculous. But the vibrancy of the movie-worshipping life I lived for so many decades…that wellspring of fresh nourishing water that I drank from so joyfully in theatres and at Cannes, Sundance, Toronto, Telluride….I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that the flush times for devotional cineastes like myself are pretty much…well, seriously diminished. Certainly in a theatrical sense. The game isn’t completely over and done with, of course, but it’s certainly on life support.

The pandemic didn’t kill everything, but it damn sure took the joy out of living.