Posted at 3:59 PM on January 1, 2009
by Euan Kerr
"Who watches the Watchmen?"
As we watch 2008 fade into the past it seems unlikely we will remember it as one of the great movie years. Oh, there have been some high points such as "Wall*E" and "Slumdog Millionaire, and of course there will be lots of hooplah around the awards season, but when you compare this January with the choices the judges were examining last January from 2007, there ain't much to compare.
"Revolutionary Road" is no "There will be Blood," "Slumdog," while good, is no "No Country for Old Men."
In a few weeks "The Dark Knight Returns" will be re-released, and while it will make a ton more money, it will also make it clear if the film has the sustaining power to be a real classic.
The experts says that a bad economy doesn't tend to have a huge impact on the box office. People are looking for escape from tough times. Yet deep down we have to hope that a tighter economy might make for smarter script choices, and new approaches to getting fresh innovative work to the public.
We also have to hope for the public to be more demanding, refusing to accept easy retreads of old stories and to celebrate innovation in film. Yes there are only five different stories in the world, but there are a million different ways of telling them.
Being an optimist I am ever hopeful. You have to be or you wouldn't keep walking through the darkened door into a movie theater. There are some good signs already: "Waltz with Bashir" and "The Class" are eyepopping adaptations of important stories and they'll be popping up at a movie theater near you soon. I am also excited about "Coraline" and "Watchmen" (if it gets out of court) although as ever with adaptations of treasured books I can't help feeling apprehensive.
So onward and upward. We'll get through the Oscars. We'll get through the late spring slump. We'll get through the economic slump. And can just hope we'll be delighted at the picture palace.