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FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE is not unsophisticated. You are.

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by Matt Zoller Seitz
September 14, 2012 10:49 AM
85 Comments
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From Russia With Love was released almost 50 years ago.

I point that out not to make anyone reading this feel old (or young), but because I revisited the second James Bond picture on a big screen recently, in a small but packed Manhattan theater, and it made me painfully aware that for a good many people, movies aren’t art or experience, they’re product. And products date.

Some of the patrons seemed truly, deeply, un-ironically into the film, but many more seemed to be treating it as a nostalgia trip. The very qualities that made the film seem modern and exciting when it came out amused them. The film’s lack of newness prevented connection with the audience.

Scratch that. It wasn’t the film’s fault. It was the audience’s.  

I hate to be the guy who says “You’re watching it wrong,” but these people definitely were.

There might be a lot of factors contributing to the viewers' failure to engage (surely including lack of film literacy), but ultimately, that’s their decision and their loss.

It’s up to the individual viewer to decide to connect or not connect with a creative work. By "connect,” I mean connect emotionally and imaginatively—giving yourself to the movie for as long as you can, and trying to see the world through its eyes and feel things on its wavelength.  

That wasn’t happening here.

I heard constant tittering and guffawing, all with the same message: “Can you believe people once thought this film was daring? It’s so old-fashioned.” The arch double-entendres; the bloodless violence, long takes, and longer scenes; the alpha male attitudes toward women and sex; John Barry’s jazzy, brassy, borderline-hysterical score: all these things elicited gentle mockery. They laughed at Sean Connery’s hairy chest. They laughed at some obvious stunt-double work. When Bond flirted with the secretary Moneypenny and put his face close to hers, a guy a couple of rows in front of me stage-whispered to his friend, “Sexual harassment!”

I saw From Russia With Love with my good friend Stephen Neave. He’s a huge James Bond fan. The audience pissed him off. Afterward he told me the two young men in front of us were snickering and joking so much that he wanted to smack them across the backs of their heads.

“Why pay twelve bucks to see an old movie in a theater, then sit there the whole time and act superior to it?” he said. “That doesn’t make any sense to me. If you act that way, you’re wasting your money. You’re not getting everything out of the movie. You’re not experiencing it. Plus, this is not a black-and-white subtitled movie about sheepherders. It’s James Bond!”

I know what he meant.

I don’t think highly of many of the Bond pictures as movies. With few exceptions, they don’t have much in the way of emotional content, and they don’t knock themselves out trying to create nuanced characters or tell coherent stories. They’re pure escapism—action scenes strung together by cheesecake, gadgets, and banter.

But if you meet them on their own terms, even the worst Bonds are, or ought to be, watchable, if only for their surface pleasures: the clothes, the cars, the explosions, the scenery, the hero’s brawny chest and cruel smile, the curves on the women. From Russia With Love has two of the sexiest images I’ve ever seen: the opening credits with the names projected on belly dancers’ writhing, whirling bodies, and the scene where a bare-chested, towel-clad Bond enters his bedroom and finds Tatiana Romanova in his bed. Images like that aren’t cute. They’re primordial. The Jean-Luc Godard quote “All you need for a movie is a girl and a gun” sums up the franchise in twelve words. Films like this are cheeky erotic daydreams. The idea of somebody sitting through a cheeky erotic daydream with a smirk is just sad. Why not engage in some daydreams of your own?

I like imagining myself seeing From Russia with Love for the first time in 1963 while on a date with a woman I fancied, having no clue what shifts in technology and morality the future would bring, and maybe thinking something like: Hey, the movie just made a joke about oral sex, and then it cut to a close-up of the Russian agent’s lipsticked mouth. It’s filling up the whole screen! I’ve never seen a movie do that. How did that get past the censors? Hey… Look at that. My date isn’t embarrassed. She’s laughing in a sort of delightedly nervous way. She’s cool. Maybe we can get a drink after this.

The 2012 IFC crowd’s reaction reminded me of an experience in college circa 1988. My film history teacher, an associate professor from NYU who’d just arrived on campus a month earlier, kicked off his very first film history course by showing Singing in the Rain. Most of the students laughed and joked from start to finish. They thought it was hilarious.

I expected the professor to shush them, but he didn’t. He later told me that he was so disturbed by the students’ refusal to engage that he wanted to let it continue so he could study it.   

He opened the post-screening lecture by asking the crowd to please tell him what was so funny.

“This movie is a musical comedy,” he explained, “so I expected laughs, but the laughs were in what seemed to me like strange places,” he said. “I picked this movie to open my fall film history class because I wanted to open with something accessible and fun, and it sounds as though a lot of you didn’t think it was either of those things. And I’d like to know why.”

A young woman raised her hand.

“Well, it was just funny,” she said, “because they’d just, you know, be talking, and then they’d start singing, and you’d hear this orchestra suddenly start playing out of nowhere, and then they’re dancing these really elaborate routines.”

Another student volunteered that the characters talked in a “corny” way and smiled so much that their performances didn’t seem “natural.”

Another said that, compared to videos that aired on MTV circa 1988, the film seemed “really primitive and kind of unsophisticated.”

The teacher shifted back and forth on his heels, staring at the ground, weighing words in his head.

Then he looked up and said, “I don’t know if I can ever explain this to you in a way that makes sense, but I just have to say that it disturbs me that you would think a movie like Singing in the Rain is corny and unsophisticated. Music videos can be works of art in their own rights, but they’re not necessarily more sophisticated than Singing in the Rain. In fact, I would argue that a movie that has people standing around having conversations with each other, and then suddenly has them singing and dancing to a score that appears out of nowhere, then goes back to having them talk, asks more imagination from its audience than a music video. You have to decide to be OK with whatever the film is doing at any moment. You have to decide to accept it as normal, and decide to care about what’s happening even though it just suddenly turned into a different kind of movie. It’s like when you’re at a play and you just decide to pretend that the characters are wherever the play tells you they are, rather than looking at the stage and seeing a couple of actors in chairs pretending to be people they aren’t. Any work that would ask something like that of an audience cannot be called unsophisticated. It’s sad to think that there was once a time when Hollywood released dozens of movies like this each year, and millions of people went to see them, and enjoyed themselves, and laughed, and sang along, and got wrapped up in the story, and that if the same kind of movies were released right now, people would laugh at them and call them unsophisticated. That so many of you could sit there and snicker at Singing in the Rain for being unsophisticated depresses me beyond words. This movie is not unsophisticated. You are.”

His contract was not renewed.

Matt Zoller Seitz is the co-founder of Press Play.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: The volume of response to this piece sparked the writer to publish a follow-up, which you can read here.]  

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85 Comments

  • Edouard Jean LeDuc | December 13, 2013 12:33 AMReply

    They've always been around.
    Robert W. Paul, father of British Cinema, even parodied them.
    http://youtu.be/oKC56jeWKdw

  • Yl | January 27, 2013 1:03 AMReply

    You should have asked them their definition of what is unsophisticated.

  • bosh | January 14, 2013 11:57 AMReply

    Why pay twelve bucks to see an old movie in a theater, then sit there the whole time and act superior to it, when you can act superior to those around you instead?

  • Red Team | November 13, 2012 12:15 AMReply

    What's it like being dead on the inside?

  • 3zz | October 1, 2012 5:38 PMReply

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  • Steve | September 28, 2012 12:33 PMReply

    If you are looking for blame for the 2 example above:

    James Bond - Blame Austin Powers. The movies literally lampponed everything that made these movies dated. Young people cannot appreciate old bond films anymore because of the Austin Powers franchise.

    Singing In The Rain (and other old musicals) - For some reason, the adult audience has become way to cynical for musicals. There are still out there, though. They are just children's movies. Think Lion King, Tangled, etc. There is a reason college students think is unsophisticated and corny. Their only reference is the kids movies they watched as a child. Blame Disney? Nah. Blame a cynical society that can suspend disbelief for a bit of entertainment.

  • John | September 20, 2012 10:38 PMReply

    Of course his contract was not renewed. Schools today don't want to challenge their students and tell them they have to reach, that they may not know anything when they walk in the door. Schools today tell students they're already terrific. That gets them to take more courses, write more checks, and think they're wonderful and smart when they graduate. They aren't educated, but they think they are, so they're happy. The school gets its gold coins, so it's happy. The only problem is, no one is really educated. But that's a minor detail.

    This is what happens when liberals--and I'm not a conservative, but this is largely a liberal phenomenon--destroy and urinate on artistic canons.

  • Voorhaz | December 13, 2013 12:08 AM

    You might not be a conservative, but you certainly are a douche.

  • robert1107 | September 19, 2012 4:00 PMReply

    FRWL has one of the great hand-to-hand fights ever. The life and death battle between Shaw and Connery on board the train is chilling and a nail-biter. Only one better was in Saving Private Ryan.

  • Kevin | September 18, 2012 11:47 PMReply

    I saw FRWL three times (triple bill with DOCTOR NO and GOLDFINGER, no less!) in one week at a revival house in the mid 70s. While the audience about crapped its collective pants during the 'animated map of train's path' bits (stuff that actually WORKED in RAIDER 5 years later, everything old is new again I guess), they were totally into the movie, laughing in the right places, deadly quiet when Grant has Bond down on his knees. They did laugh (or at least make 'this is weird' kind of noises) during the scene where Bond checks his hotel room for bugs, not because the action was corny but because some nimrod of a sound tech had done the shittiest job imagineable on the sound mix, which had the JB theme ramping up and down in the most annoying way possible (I find FROM RUSSIA to be the perfect Bond movie, but that one scene has always driven me nuts.)

    When I don't like a movie or feel inclined to make fun of it, the LAST place you'd find me was paying money to see it in a theater. So why these folks queue up to something they're not going to give the benefit of the doubt to, I just dunno.

    I mean, I absolutely HATE the casting of Craig as Bond (acts like Timothy Dalton -- that parts okay, I LOVED Dalton's Bond, very Fleming-esque -- but looks like dogmeat.) It's why I skipped CASINO ROYALE in the theater, cuz he looks like he should be playing the villain's second henchman, or Felix Leiter AFTER the shark got to him. Face it, the guy looks like Taylor Negron in LAST BOY SCOUT crossed with Gollum. That ain't Bond of the books or the movies, not by a long shot.
    Even now I still think he is lousy casting, even though I enjoyed QUANTUM (hey, somebody had to) and have a relatively good feeling about SKYFALL, due in no small part to the involvement of cinematographer Roger Deakins and the fact they're using miniatures again for some stuff instead of CG for everything. But I didn't go into the theater playing QUANTUM and make noises about how hard the guy is on the eyes while watching the movie (even though I was only seeing it because I was doing an article about it.) I'll save that kind of acting out for when I'm on the internet, so you don't have to listen if you don't want to.

  • oplease19 | September 18, 2012 10:54 PMReply

    Maybe the teacher would have had his contract renewed if he followed up "This movie isn't unsophisticated. You are." with 'But that's why you're here, and that's why I'm here. Hopefully as the class progresses you'll develop a more sophisticated approach to movies and to life.'

  • joeyjojo | September 18, 2012 9:10 PMReply

    I just wanted to say that the paragraph about fantasizing about going on a first date with an easy '60's gal to go see From Russia With Love ranks just below the novel "The Sweet Hereafter" on lists of "Saddest Things I Ever Read." I think the paragraph itself may be proportionally sadder because it's so much shorter, but the cumulative effect of the novel was ultimately slightly sadder overall.

  • Matt Zoller Seitz | September 20, 2012 10:15 AM

    That was offered as an alternative to standing outside of the film and snickering at it from a 2012 perspective. But thanks anyway, I guess?

  • Marc Purello | September 18, 2012 3:25 PMReply

    Not really sure what to make of young movie-goer's today. Seems to me that they are more interested in CGI, and far-out stories, (nothing wrong with that, btw) than something that tells a straight story, with action and adventure thrown in. James Bond to me, especially the Sean Connery era was about action, mystery, and even though glamorized, the inner working of MI6, CIA et al.

    Many things got past the censors then, blood was not one of them. But the scene in FRWL on the train, still ranks as one of the most brutal, yet suspenseful fight scenes in cinema.

    I really think that many films of today,(not all) are not about characters and story, but more about blood, gore, and over the top CGI...which, in some cases does not look any better than the matte work and animation of old.

    Sadly, I really think that in some instances I recall, if I explained the picture, and really SOLD it...the young folks I knew viewed the film in question with an open mind.

  • andy p | September 18, 2012 3:12 PMReply

    Re Alex comment...

    "Students must be prepared to open themselves up to the time of the film €”as a popular medium, movies are tuned to the time of their making but as decades pass, we notice that acting styles and production methods look dated, €”but we should be able to adjust our sensibilities to allow for that or the stories of yesteryear will be forever shut off from new audiences and students will grow up living in a bubble of contemporaneity where they only like what they've seen in their brief lifespan."

    I totally agree. You have to make certain allowances when you see an old movie. You have to accept and appreciate the era in which it was made. I think Star Wars is a lousy film, I did in 1977, but I can still appreciate how ground breaking it was in its time, and I would certainly not voice my issues as immaturely as the audience at the FRWL screening. You may not like the movie but you cannot make fun of it just because it may be restricted by technology or attitudes of the time. Maybe it is an American thing but you would never get the same reaction in a retrospective in the UK.

    Staying with science fiction, I am sure the audience would have had equal disdain for The Day The Earth Stood Still , or Forbidden Planet, yet they are rightly regarded as classic movies despite the Disney animated effects of the latter and the 'man in a rubber suit' robot in the former.

    It is a really mystifying way to behave. Would they react the same to a Dickens novel because the language is not modern. It does not read like a comic so I refuse to entertain it? That implies a worrying closed mindedness, which as Alex points out, will prevent them from ever learning from historic movie and literary moments.

    However back to the movie in question. no one in their right mind could consider FRWL as a parody. It is simply one of the best thrillers of its day, and is by a short hair (OHMSS comes second) the best Bond film in the series to date. It has a style, intelligence, wit and sheer class that cannot be created or bettered today exactly because it is a product of the people and the era in which it was made. That is why the Hollywood pre-occupation with remaking old movies is always doomed to failure (The remake of The Day The Earth Stood Still is a case in point) they can improve the special effects but everything else suffers, and special effects do not a good movie make! In summary, if you are not mature enough or interested enough to treat the movie with respect, stay at home.

  • Scott O | September 18, 2012 1:01 AMReply

    I wasn't a film major at Northwestern University, but I took the intro course for fun. Our film professor (shout out to Scott Curtis) also showed us Singing in the Rain on the first day. My class definitely acted in the same way this blog describes. The difference is that our professor was understanding instead of condescending regarding our perspectives and used that to teach us something about the movie. I love Singing in the Rain now. Good teacher.

  • Matt Zoller Seitz | September 20, 2012 1:19 PM

    It was 1988. I didn't have a tape recorder with me. He was one of my mentors, and I listened to him more closely than I did to most teachers. But this is storytelling, the cadence and assertions are accurate, and his point (which he repeated in various other classes) stuck with me. Some embellishment and hyperbole is inevitable. If that's "dishonest," so is every memoir ever written.

  • Michael L. Norris | September 18, 2012 9:56 AM

    Nice. As opposed to, say, "I don’t know if I can ever explain this to you in a way that makes sense[.]" Which would seem to be the opposite of teaching.

    I mean, they actually call these events of perceptual difference "teachable moments."

    Also, as an aside that's bothered me for the past few days, Matt, are you providing an exact quotation of what your professor said? Not embellishing (at all?) to heighten your anecdote's dramatic climax? You just happen to have his every word memorized and ready for deployment? Because, if you don't, if there's been any addition on your part, putting his speech in quotation marks is overtly dishonest. And expecting us to believe it is incredible.

  • Jay | September 17, 2012 10:36 PMReply

    You are being overly critical of your fellow audience members. I agree, why pay out twelve bucks just to snicker at something, but 50 years from now young people will snicker at 'SkyFall' and other movies of our current time. It's the nature of the beast unfortunately. As for those who watch it for nostalgia, all the better. I often will go see a movie from my childhood when they have a special showing at a big screen and often do so purely out of nostalgia. This doesn't make me appreaciate it any less. If anything, I often appreciate it far more when I leave because I remember the era and come to realize how educated and sophisticated the writers and producers were about their subject matter before the internet made us all instant geniuses on any subject.

  • Dan Anix | September 17, 2012 10:11 PMReply

    “Why pay twelve bucks to see an old movie in a theater, then sit there the whole time and act superior to it?” he said. “That doesn’t make any sense to me. If you act that way, you’re wasting your money..."

    DON'T THEY KNOW THEIR ENJOYMENT OF THE MOVIE IS THE WRONG KIND!?!

  • Kirk | September 17, 2012 6:15 PMReply

    Sorry boris, From Russia With Love was NOT a tongue-in-cheek parody. It was an adventure, mystery spy movie that took itself extremely seriously in silent periods (the first in the series that became a trademark) and also sprinkled in comedy relief to break that tension as well. Contemporary audiences and critics may not appreciate it like we did when it came out, but it was wholely serious when released.

  • Boris | September 17, 2012 4:47 PMReply

    From Russia With Love is a tongue-in-cheek parody. It exaggerates all the most ridiculous aspects of the spy movies that came before it. It practically invites you to laugh at how corny and absurd everything is. All of the contemporary critics recognized this. I don't think it's fair to say the people laughing at the cheesy parts of the movie were not engaging with it properly.

  • Panskeptic | September 17, 2012 6:37 PM

    I saw this film in its initial release. We took the fight in the train compartment very seriously, as it was the most violent fistfight in film history up to its time - it's still cut in half in many TV prints. We wanted the women, we wanted to be as handsome as Connery. We did not stand outside the entertainment and limit ourselves to irony and putdowns. The critics talked to each other. We enjoyed the film.

  • Bobby M | September 17, 2012 2:11 PMReply

    I wasn't at your screening, but being a Bond fan and an attendee of many Rep Screenings, etc. in NYC I feel like your audience doesn't sound that bad. I even have doubts on whether the audience was enjoying it as ironically as you claim they were. And it feels weird and nitpicky to be upset with someone about smirking through an "erotic daydream" when you describe an oral sex joke scene that I can accept as eliciting reactions from knowing laughter, to nervous laughter, to smirking, to shock today and in 1963. It sounds like they were enjoying the film. In reading your piece and Devin Faraci's piece on old movies over at BadassDigest I find that I'm more concerned with you guys and how it sounds like you're putting yourselves above the audience and dictating how to watch the movie. Maybe that's going a bit far. But I'm a huge fan of Bond, a big fan of movies, a lover of Singin' in the Rain and sick of Irony, and reading these pieces makes me feel like if I'm laughing at a movie I'm gonna upset you guys if we're in the same theater. Sometimes I laugh with glee at how good the movie is. Like I found myself laughing during The Master at just how goddamn good it was to see Joaquin Pheonix in that dept store and to have a movie feel like a movie. Maybe someone thought I was laughing at the movie. Hope not.

  • Darren R. | September 17, 2012 1:33 PMReply

    Interesting piece, and a subject well worth exploring. I'd add, though, that people who are equally closed off to appreciating 'new' or popular movies are being just as closed minded as those who don't let themselves enjoy these more dated ones. Snobs can be every bit as smug and annoying as philistines. It's something that cuts both ways.

  • JoeS | September 17, 2012 1:31 PMReply

    There have always been those who enjoy tearing down the past in order for themselves to feel "superior" to what has come before. What has changed is technology. This takes a few different forms. Cinema by its very nature is more susceptible to this more than other art forms because it depicts fashion, architecture and yes, technology so clearly on screen in ways literature, theater and painting can more easily hide. And, the physical act of making & projecting movies is also far more tech reliant than other mediums.

    All that said, the snark quotient has increased exponentially over the years. Some of it is the growth of the hipster culture, but, I have my own pet theory: The rise of Home Video.

    Before Videotapes, Cable & DVDs, movies were seen only chopped up on tiny TVs or at movie theaters (including fairly rare revivals). There was a certain randomness to the selections you had access to, so you were exposed to a variety of genres, styles, and most importanly eras. But, with the advent of home video, virtually any movie could be accessed and viewers could become more and more selective in what they watched. If they only really cared about 70s grindhouse films - they could watch them over and over and "live" in that period of cinema. We have a couple of generations of viewers now who have grown up watching the same 100 or so films that they grew up with (usually only made during THEIR lifetimes). To me, it's little surprise that those with such a narrow view of cinema find anything outside their narrow scope of movie0watching to be not worthy of their full respect.

  • Snark | September 17, 2012 11:40 AMReply

    How could anyone possibly take this article seriously after the headlines infantile statement?

  • SLEZE | September 17, 2012 10:43 AMReply

    What's is funny is that most film snobs don't seem to understand that filmmaking - like any art - evolves. It is very rare for a specific instance of art to stay relevant. Although there are many masterpiece paintings, music and literature that can endure the years in the hearts of arts aficianados, it is rare for them to keep their appeal to the general audience.

    Case and point of irrelevance: The original Manchurian candidate is an exceptional movie that is still an exciting, heart racing watch - with one troublespot. The fight scene between Henry Silva and Frank Sinatra is LAUGHABLE by today's standards and was embarassing to even watch.

    Moviemaking has evolved, pioneering works become dated.

  • Sautet rules | September 17, 2012 3:17 PM

    I like to think most film “snobs” are well aware that filmmaking evolves; after all, film has evolved quite rapidly throughout its relatively young life. The question remains: if some members of the current audience have so little use for films of another era, why do they pony up the cash and waste two hours of life on something for which they have no affinity? Why order a plate of pistachio ice cream if you hate pistachio ice cream? Just to sit there and sneer at it?

  • Michael L. Norris | September 17, 2012 10:33 AMReply

    "Afterward he told me the two young men in front of us were snickering and joking so much that he wanted to smack them across the backs of their heads."

    So, forgive me if I'm misreading the sentiment here, but are we to understand the impulse to violence as the appropriate response to the reactions of human beings thirty years removed experientially and culturally from you and your friend's perspective? Fantasies of recourse to physical violence are somehow more "sophisticated" than tittering at culturally distant fictional situations?

    Seems like you should be directing your sophisticated desires more toward the failed educators of these younger people than to the younger generation of moviegoer. Or maybe you should direct your energies toward doing a better job of educating them yourself?

  • JF | September 19, 2012 9:53 AM

    In the time you spent typing up this post in it's highly unnecessary college thesis tone, you could have considered the fact that the so-called "impulse to violence" expressed in the post remained merely a THOUGHT. Said thought was not acted upon, nor can I recall the use of violence being recommended by the poster. Rather odd thing for you to single out so intensely. We all have thoughts like that, all the time.

  • Michael L. Norris | September 17, 2012 10:59 AM

    Alan:

    And so the impulse to harm them physically is understandable, acceptable, and appropriate where the label of idiot is applied? Because your unwillingness to understand their different (but no less culturally mediated perspectives) is better than their unwillingness to engage with films they find different? Am I understanding you correctly?

  • Alan Cecil | September 17, 2012 10:48 AM

    If I am paying $12 to see a movie (or eat at a nice restaurant), why should some twits ruin the experience for me? Sorry, but the youth of today are idiots. Get over it.

  • TriangleDimes | September 17, 2012 8:35 AMReply

    You're overreacting.

  • RK Gist | September 16, 2012 10:05 AMReply

    The refusal to meet a film (or any other work of art/entertainment) on its own terms is something that does indeed irk me; and I have encountered it more times that I care to recount.

    Some years ago, when a restored "El Cid" was playing at a revival house (now long gone) I jumped at the chance to see an Anthony Mann film on a large screen. I wanted to experience the film, but not so a couple of fellows across the aisle a few rows up to my left. All these two clowns could do was make snide remarks about just about anything & everything in the film. Charlton Heston came in for particularly cruel jibes. My question, in such situations are, why are you here? and what were you expecting?

    "Time, culture lag," is something an old prof used to say about such things--especially when running some Griffith. While that it explains some of the disconnect, there is an unearned, smug, superiority that I often feel from people when it comes to anything "old." Maybe I'm just old, I don't know.

    I watched the "Singin' in the Rain" Blu-Ray a couple of weeks ago--it was anything but unsophisticated.

  • Eyeball Theater | September 16, 2012 2:03 AMReply

    Stories like this make me think that the irony we use to distance ourselves from experience is a form of cannibalism.

  • I seriously hope you guys ross douthat | September 15, 2012 12:29 PMReply

    'The Jean-Luc Godard quote “All you need for a movie is a girl and a gun” sums up the franchise in twelve words.'

    It's actually (basically) a D. W. Griffith quote that JLG stole.

  • bblackmoor | September 15, 2012 12:32 AMReply

    American culture is becoming more shallow than I ever would have predicted 30 years ago -- and I predicted that it would get pretty damned shallow.

  • Evelyn in Iowa City, Iowa | September 14, 2012 10:59 PMReply

    In 1996 I went to see 'Night of the Hunter' at the Castro Theater on Castro street in San Francisco. It was a weekend matinee showing. The auditorium was packed for the showing. The audience reacted as described in this beautifully-written piece by Matt. Now I admit that I think Charles Laughton's 'Night of the Hunter' is a film masterpiece that plumbs the depths of what's best and worst in humanity, and it scares the shit out of me every time I view it. As the audience was leaving the auditorium after the showing was over, I sat there in my seat, unable to rise, stunned by their derisive behavior and their unwillingness to appreciate this masterpiece. I began crying, I couldn't stop myself. I realized that these audience members who behaved so badly were dead inside. Never have I felt so alienated from the rest of 'humanity.' I was in emotional shock.
    Out in the lobby of the Castro Theater, I walked out still crying and happened to be seen by 2 elderly women that I passed closely. They were strangers to me. We three exchanged looks and I explained why I was crying. These two white-haired gals who had been young nymphs during World War II then asked me to accompany them to a nearby coffeshop where we all sat with coffee and treat and gave each other comfort with words. Thanks to them I was able to pull myself together.
    I haven't viewed a film in a movie theater since August 2002. Using DVDs from my public library (including extensive Inter-Library Loan services), since my experience at the Castro Theater I have vastly expanded my film literacy, scope and knowledge, which was already extensive at that time. I have been a dedicated and serious student of film for the past 42 years, but the last five years have been especially enriching. No matter how deeply I study film in all its manifestations and eras, there is always an undiscovered delight still awaiting me. For example, incredibly, only within the past 36 months did I discover Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger; the works of Jacques Becker, and the body of work by actor Jean Gabin. An unwillingness to appreciate, understand and engage with films of all eras denies such deeply enriching experiences to those who are unwilling.

  • Neal in Houston | September 16, 2012 1:22 PM

    I had a very similar, dispiriting experience at a showing of "Night of the Hunter" in Ann Arbor at the Michigan Theater in 1988 or so. It was SO out of the blue for me that an audience would react this way! I had first seen the film a few years earlier at the Temple Cinematheque in Philadelphia, run by the wonderful David Grossman. At THAT time, the film was very difficult to see anywhere, and Grossman lovingly introduced it to a large and appreciative audience. We were ALL under its spell. What happened in Michigan? I don't know. Perhaps a combination of lack of context, promoting it as a horror genre film? More likely, the generation of students populating the audience just were at the wrong film for them. But to have ruined the glorious, dream of a sequence when the children escape Robert Mitchum on the river with cackles of laughter was an awful experience!
    When the old MGM DVD came out, I showed it for a roomful of colleagues at a music festival I was working at, and THEY were spellbound by it, as I'd hoped. At least I know where my friends stand on this one, but I was ashamed by my contemporaries in Ann Arbor, where I would have expected better!

    I should relate one experience of a different kind, but memorable for different reasons. The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston was showing "Barbarella", which perhaps can only be appreciated in the company of 200 other folks dropping THEIR jaws in chorus at some of the undeniable camp silliness of this film, which surely nobody ever has taken "seriously". I'm not sure I'd wan't to experience this opus in reverent silence! At one point, when Jane Fonda appeared in yet another silly outfit there was the voice of ONE solitary audience member who couldn't quite stifle his "ohhh my gaaawwwwdd". Well, THAT was enough to get the whole of the audience cracking up to HIS reaction!! Treasurable moment!

  • Neal | September 15, 2012 1:04 AM

    I think I was at the same showing or one the same weekend at the Castro. My experience really turned me off from going to see older films at public venues. The snickering any time a character expresses sentiment seems so immature. People complain that films now seem to be made for fifteen year olds. Maybe that's true given how people now react to films once made for adults.

  • Mark | September 14, 2012 10:42 PMReply

    I have an 8 and a 10 yr-old. They've seen Hunger Games, Avengers, some stuff that's a little more intense than we probably should have allowed. For family movie night we put on Hitchcock's the Lady Vanishes. I remembered it as being sort of a cozy thriller. Sure enough they shifted around for the first part, what with it being all black and white with a crackly soundtrack. Long story short, it scared the heck out of them, a lot more than it did me. I think it takes a certain number of years (say, 18 or so) and some self-consciousness and fear to build up so much resistance to something made for the sensibilities of a time other than your own.

  • badge | September 16, 2012 11:02 PM

    It's funny that 'Night of the Hunter' should get a couple of mentions. It screened at the Auckland Film Festival (New Zealand) about 20 years ago and before it started the programmer walked out - an unprecedented event - and told us that the film had been shown at the Wellington Film Festival the week before and that the audience had condescended to the film and snickered all the way through it, and that he hoped that Auckland audiences were more literate. Then he walked out. As a ploy, it worked - no way, no how, were Aucklanders going to pass up a chance to be superior to Wellingtonians - and the film ran through without comment.

  • jessica | September 14, 2012 10:34 PMReply

    idk i guess it depends for me, i remember watching the third transformers movie in theaters with my cousins and i was just cracking up throughout the whole film..im sorry but it was SO TERRIBLE...then some other time i go to a screening of vertigo and the audience is a much older crowd and i thought everyone was going there to immerse themselves in the film, nah instead everyone was too busy laughing at how scott ferguson really likes his drink or how sick he becomes after he lost madeleine....and that just got me so mad because that damn movie is so damn good

  • Mr. Erm | September 14, 2012 10:20 PMReply

    Not going to lie, James Bond movies are rather crappy.

  • Mark | September 18, 2012 11:47 AM

    Erm. That is the name of the next Bond villain, isn't it? "I laugh and snigger at you, Mr. Bond!"

  • Jeffmc2000 | September 16, 2012 11:37 PM

    That's a perfectly valid opinion, unless you claim to be a heterosexual male.

  • Reason Prevails | September 15, 2012 4:37 AM

    That's not a lie. It's a falsehood (in most cases; some of the Moore films *were* rather crappy).

    Pretty big difference.

  • Oscar | September 14, 2012 9:35 PMReply

    I don't believe there is a wrong way to watch a film. I've seen all the Bond films and been absorbed by them, yet as they are often playing on TV I can watch a scene or two of one with friends and laugh along. Seeing a film at the cinema is a group activity, so you have to side with the mood of the majority. It's a risky move to watch a favourite with others, as you may not like the reaction, but it doesn't make it any less valid. If someone is in the mood to laugh along with friends, you can't berate them for their lack of sophistication. It is you who is lacking in flexibility

  • C Finley | September 14, 2012 9:07 PMReply

    Imagination is the issue here for sure. All movies require a degree of suspension of belief. I recently enjoyed a celebration of Gene Kelly's 100th birthday viewing a different movie each week for several weeks. The final film finished with a skype Q & A with Patricia Kelly. Each film finished with applause. Our supporters of course are film fans and love all types of films. I believe that our youth today as any generation take for granted having the technological advantages we have today. Silent films, talkies, technicolor, cinimascope, stop action animation, and now CGI are only as good as the story they tell. If one ignores the story due to the format of how the story is told, then I doubt if they will ever be true film fans.

  • Luke M. | September 14, 2012 8:42 PMReply

    I had an almost identical experience when I went to see the re-release of The Exorcist at a local Seattle theater a few years ago. Some of the most disturbing scenes in the movie - primarily ones that involved Linda Blair swearing or being menacing, and the iconic head turn - were met with outright laughter from what I would call a majority of the audience. The people in the theater even laughed at innocuous things, like every time the doctor mentioned Ritalin.

    I was so infuriated that I left halfway through. The Exorcist is one of the most disturbing horror movies of the century, and the people in the theater chose to crap all over it rather than immerse themselves in it.

  • Niles | September 14, 2012 10:23 PM

    Had the same experience at an Exorcist screening. Went nuts.

  • Pete McAlpine | September 14, 2012 8:27 PMReply

    Unless I'm confusining it with something else, I was stunned at how "dark" the message of SINGING IN THE RAIN was. I had no problem "getting into" its message.

  • Sam | September 14, 2012 6:54 PMReply

    As I've grown more film-literate I've been more successful in the attempt to watch older movies as though I was the ideal audience (that is, contemporary to the movie's original release). This ability goes hand-in-hand with a more general empathy that hopefully develops as we mature. But I must also admit that many years ago the sight of Barbara Stanwyck going incognito by wearing sunglasses inside a grocery store in Double Indemnity sent me into hysterics at my university theater, to the consternation of several others. Given this insight, I can say with some confidence that the audiences you write of were 1) too young to have developed a naturally empathic response mechanism, and 2) probably stoned.

  • Michael | September 14, 2012 6:48 PMReply

    Well, next time don't go see the movie with an audience of asshole hipsters.

  • Sparrow | September 15, 2012 2:23 AM

    Good luck trying to find an audience that doesn't have at least a couple of these self-worshipping toddlers.

  • Brian Darr | September 14, 2012 6:46 PMReply

    The irony is that Singin' in the Rain is a film that allowed 1952 audiences to snicker at the 'old-fashioned' filmmaking styles of the late 1920s, by caricaturing their most alien aspects, and by mythologizing spurious history. (John Gilbert's reputation has yet to recover!) It's a delightful film and probably a masterpiece anyway, but its existence practically proves this 'new'-centric approach to older films goes back more than just a couple generations, even if the mile markers for 'newness' change.

  • Abby B | September 14, 2012 5:43 PMReply

    Gosh, was just talking about this same thing last night over dinner. In a time when more movies are more easily available than ever, we have a generation who's actively opposed to experiencing anything but The New.

  • Ted Mills | September 14, 2012 5:03 PMReply

    Well, the teacher didn't do enough pre-emptive lecturing, perhaps? When I'm about to show an older film in class, I like to use a bit of reverse psychology and say that "maybe some of you are not going to get this/understand this/follow this" or "maybe some of this will seem old" etc. This usually taps into a defensive mechanism and they then refrain from that kind of stuff. I show Vertigo, La Jetee, Meshes of the Afternoon, and they always end in great discussions.

    On the other hand, it was watching "Blow Up" in class where I realized the things that people found offensive or "daring" at the time (free love! drugs!) are not the things they do now--instead it was Hemmings casual and cruel sexism (for which he is never punished for) that shocked the students. It was their viewing that helped me re-see the film.

  • Steven Doyle | September 14, 2012 4:51 PMReply

    Agreed, it was a "teachable moment". But I don't think what he said was an insult. It was a hard truth that those kids need to absorb and understand. I would have followed "This movie is not unsophisticated. You are." with, "But that's why you're here. If you already knew all this stuff, you wouldn't need this class."

    I've met young people who won't watch any movie made more than about ten years ago, because they can't wrap their little heads around the fact that fashion changes with time, and that it's not important. (And anything made earlier than their personal memories start is meaningless to them.)

    (Seriously, had that girl never seen a musical before?)

  • Neil | September 14, 2012 4:50 PMReply

    Disagree, Kenny. If a film is shown to a class to learn something from it, or if a film is shown in some arthouse revival setting, a noisy and immature response from the audience defeats the whole purpose more often than not, whether or not anyone is a geek or nerd or young or old. When people go to the symphony to hear Beethoven, the tendency is to respond respectfully. No one laughs because timpani is used instead of a hip-hop dance kit. People who don't like romantic classical music should probably not be in that audience, and if they are there just to ironically laugh at the music, maybe their home stereo would suffice for that type of enjoyment. But I doubt it would, it's possible they need to be seen in public being derisive, to show how clever they are. That's more like behavior on an internet comment board then, where people like to throw around shallow sarcasm like it's going out of style.

    And your last sentence makes no sense, otherwise I'd respond to it since it's seems to be directed at me.

  • Sparrow | September 15, 2012 2:27 AM

    "But I doubt it would, it's possible they need to be seen in public being derisive, to show how clever they are."

    And there's the crux of that kind of attitude. It's all about how cool they look, and how terrified they are of anyone catching actually engaging in any kind of emotionally honest way. Our entire culture has been infected with this type of faux-sophistication for a couple of decades now, and its main purpose - to make the person seem too "adult" for emotion - actually reveals a very adolescent view of oneself and the world.

  • Kenny! | September 14, 2012 5:04 PM

    But if the problem was the noisy patrons, why not confine the admonition to people being loud and obnoxious at movie theatres instead of criticizing their reasons for being there? We've all experienced people who are genuinely engaged with a film interfering with the experience for others, it's certainly not a phenomenon exclusive to those who are enjoying a jeer at the film's expense.

    Making decisions for others about how they SHOULD enjoy an entertainment is a pretty slippery slope with no clearly defined end. As someone pointed out, one can apply that same logic to any piece of art or entertainment at all, using any criterion that one values personally. 'Hey man, just because you can't appreciate the craft that went into these special effects, doesn't mean you should be dissing this Michael Bay film!'

    Also, the last sentence of my prior comment wasn't directed at you.

  • Nicholas | September 14, 2012 4:44 PMReply

    By this logic, any bad movie is the fault of the audience, not the lack of craftsmanship on the part of the filmmakers. If you didn't like, say, Scary Movie 4, or Watchmen, or Battleship, it was because of your own lack of imagination. You, the viewer, chose to not consider it a good movie.

    The real problem was that the audiences weren't culturally literate enough to appreciate it, although it's hard to imagine anyone finding a Bond film challenging.

  • Nicholas | September 20, 2012 4:01 AM

    Re JF:

    Here's what I was referring to, specifically (from the professor's words):

    "You have to decide to be OK with whatever the film is doing at any moment. You have to decide to accept it as normal, and decide to care about what’s happening even though it just suddenly turned into a different kind of movie."

    By this logic, if I don't like the way Tommy Wiseau's The Room has scene after scene of purposeless dialogue, that's my problem, and not any fault of the filmmakers. By the professor's logic, The Room would be a good movie if the audience chose to see it that way. This is a very general example, but you get the idea.

    Matt Seitz is really talking about movie etiquette (not talking during the movie) and cultural literacy. In the professor example, the students didn't understand the conventions of a musical. It's like someone saying they didn't like Shakespeare because "they all talked funny". I was confused because the professor made it sound as if liking something was a pure matter of choice.

    Quick question: are you Jason Fortuny?

  • jf | September 19, 2012 8:46 AM

    Terrible argument. Re-read the post and try again, dear.

  • Richard Altman | September 14, 2012 4:41 PMReply

    I wasn't sure how I was going to react to this article and I wholeheartedly agree with it. It is a fine and thoughtful piece. Audiences today seem to have a provincial attitude towards film...even those who sign up for a college film class it seems. Many have no frame of reference or historical perspective on where film has been or how it got where it is today. Is Hitchcock cliche because you've seen the train going through the tunnel a million times...or seen people dangling from national monuments...or dodge a variety of aircraft while running through an open field....Nevermind that Hitch created the cliche that has been appropriated by film makers of every stripe since. That those works are alternately classified as an homage or derivative or just plain rip offs. Even From Russia With Love is guilty of the Hitchcockian nod with the Bond dodging the helicopter in the pivotal escape scene. For my money, FRWL remains the best Bond film ever made because it embodies the exotic and erotic textures of the times. To those modern (read young and uninformed) audiences that can't see beyond their MTV I paraphrase Shakespeare (someone else whose work can be considered cliche after a mere 500 years of performance)...the fault lies not in your stars (and their movies) but in yourselves.

  • Kenny! | September 14, 2012 4:38 PMReply

    When someone says 'I hate to be the guy who says....', they usually mean the precise opposite. Perhaps that's the case here. I love both Connery-era Bond films and 'Singing in the Rain' unequivocally and without irony, but telling others that they need to enjoy them 'like I do' or 'for the reasons I do' smacks of the archetype of the sullen, frustrated teenage geek who takes it as a personal affront that the rest of the world doesn't accord some cherished cultural touchstone of theirs sufficient reverence.

    The world's a big place, big enough for people who pay for tickets to 'From Russia with Love' to have an ironic snicker at its expense if that's the way they want to roll. After all, those ticket purchases contribute to making such a screening financially viable in the first place.

    But if invoking film history class as a justification for the superiority of your way of experiencing art and entertainment makes the experience that much more enjoyable, go right ahead!

  • JF | September 19, 2012 9:21 AM

    OR maybe, he's saying that if someone is going into a movie predetermined to make a public mockery of it, they might be better off saving themselves the 12 bucks they'd spend on disrupting the viewing experience for others and instead find a real hobby (okay so maybe the "find a hobby" part is more my own thought)?

    Obviously everyone is free to feel whatever it is they feel about a piece of entertainment, but if you cannot resist rubbing those feelings blatantly in the face of someone who is feeling differently, then that's where sophistication is clearly lacking. Nice hypocrisy also--that you take such an issue with "superior" or smug attitudes, yet you are here defending people clearly who have a condescending view of older movies and movies they aren't used to.

  • Matt Zoller Seitz | September 14, 2012 8:00 PM

    @KENNY! -- No, I actually mean that. But there are rare instances in which somebody is indeed "watching it wrong," and you encounter those instances at repertory screenings of old movies. FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE isn't a "cherished cultural touchstone" to me, but I do think it's smug and irritating when you're trying to really give yourself over to a different mindset and are constantly being taken out of it by people who have decided that, for whatever reason, they are superior to the movie. Stephen Neave's comment (quoted in my piece) sums it all up for me. Not all reactions are equal.

  • Mike | September 14, 2012 7:07 PM

    I don't agree at all that when someone says "I hate to be the guy..." they really mean the opposite. It's easy to make that accusation when talking about something like movies, but if you extend the idea to truly serious matters you see it's clearly not true.

    I hate to be the guy to tell you, but your father has died.

    I hate to be the guy to tell you, but you've failed the class.

    I hate to be the guy to tell you, but your girlfriend is cheating on you.

    I hate to be the guy who says this, but your failure to appreciate this movie isn't because of the movie.

    With the possible exception of a few sadists here and there, nobody really wants to be the guy who delivers bad news, but sometimes there's nobody else who can, or will, deliver it.

  • cadavra | September 14, 2012 4:36 PMReply

    This has little to do with the movie(s), and almost everything to do with two generations that have been raised to believe that anything old is bad, as well as possessing an innate and unearned superiority that looks down on anything that doesn't match their own level of ironic detachment. Neil Gabler recently opined that kids today go to the movies not to actually enjoy them but so they'll have something to talk about with their friends. The constant pandering to an audience that doesn't care about, well, anything, is as good a reason as any why most movies today are rubbish, and why the classics of the past are being relegated to the dustbin of history.

  • John Boy | September 14, 2012 4:34 PMReply

    I saw "Bullitt" on the big screen a couple years ago and was so excited to finally get to see it on the big screen. My viewing experience was ruined by the audience who constantly snickered at the fashion and technology. I was so livid, I wanted to beat the snot out of every last one of them. My reaction was the same as the author's: "Why would you come out and pay to watch a movie you obviously have no respect for." Thank you for writing this article.

  • Neil | September 14, 2012 4:07 PMReply

    I could not agree more. It's only an unsophisticated *audience* that can't watch a film considerate of its time period and historical context. This is actually one of the many reasons I dropped out of music school - that's how sensitive I was at the time I suppose. I was studying film scoring and we would watch movies like Hitchcock's Spellbound (1945) and there was laughter at every turn at every mildly antiquated sentiment or idea. And worst of all, the professor made no helpful comment and seemed to only encourage this sort of philistine attitude. Unfortunately I think this problem not only stemmed from ignorance but from students who are more consumerist/profit-minded than artistically minded. These people know that modern music videos sell millions of records and make millions of dollars; meanwhile making a movie in 2012 that looks and feels like Singin' In The Rain would be insane, so they simply reject the latter film as valueless to modern culture, because it seems like there's no money to be made from studying it. There's no doubt that a modern audience might have difficulty understanding or appreciated some random older film from another era. But to see this reaction in film classes or at art house revival theaters is discouraging.

    And another reason why that is depressing, is because if you can't appreciate that older films come from a certain historical context and see how that relates and appreciate it for what it is, you're probably also missing out on what today's modern films are actually saying, even as unintentional subtext, about the society we live in now.

  • Cinenerd | September 14, 2012 3:58 PMReply

    It made me sad when I was buying my ticket to "Raiders of the Lost Ark" this week and some kid next to me asked if it was "a new one or the old one" before he would buy a ticket.

  • Chris | September 14, 2012 3:48 PMReply

    I think this says it better than I ever could:
    http://www.adbusters.org/magazine/79/hipster.html

  • Bunting | September 14, 2012 3:23 PMReply

    Someone's got to call SOMETHING "Cheesecake, Gadgets, And Banter." A blog. A hamster. Anything.

  • Edward Copeland | September 14, 2012 3:08 PMReply

    While not necessarily in the case of the older Bonds (it's been quite some time since I've seen "From Russia With Love"), it's a simple truth that some movies, especially ones set in the time in which they were released, do not age well and get easily mocked by later generations. I'm sure films I love that debuted in my lifetime will receive the same reaction from later moviegoers -- you get that already when you see films made at the beginning of cellphones when they were so huge. Anything that revolves around tracing a call seems absurd to people who grew up with caller ID as they watch movie cops urging people to keep bad guys talking on the line. As far as film literacy goes, that implies that there is a right or wrong opinion about any movie when there is no objective way to determine a film or TV show or piece of music, etc.'s worth. It's all subjective. It's not the moviegoer's obligation to connect with the film -- the film must capture the moviegoer. The film supplies the magic, not the viewer, and that magic doesn't transfer universally. If it were the other way around, should we expect audiences to embrace the worst films ever made just because someone financed them and they ended up on a movie screen? I think that's why period pieces tend to hold up so much better. You mentioned Singin' in the Rain -- it's not only the (in my opinion) best movie musical but it also happens to be a period piece.

  • Jay | September 15, 2012 6:08 PM

    I don't think a chuckle over dated technology, such as the old giant cell phones, is anything to get upset about -- it's a natural response. But if someone uses that as a reason to dismiss the entire film as "dated" and worthy of mockery well, that's absurd. What were the filmmakers supposed to do? Hop in their time machine and copy cell phones of the future? As for tracing a call -- why would a historically accurate depiction of that be "absurd" to a modern viewer? On the contrary, it would be absurd if they traced the call in any other way. You can't fault a film for being accurate in its time, but you can certainly fault a modern audience for not cutting it some slack in theirs.

  • Alex | September 15, 2012 12:27 PM

    Concerning your comments: "As far as film literacy goes, that implies that there is a right or wrong opinion about any movie when there is no objective way to determine a film or TV show or piece of music, etc.'s worth. It's all subjective. It's not the moviegoer's obligation to connect with the film -- the film must capture the moviegoer. The film supplies the magic, not the viewer, and that magic doesn't transfer universally."

    This suggests that any viewer comes to the screening prepared to enjoy any film if it's worth its salt. And that there are no lasting aesthetic criteria by which we can say one film is artistically superior to another. But people have different levels of openness to artistic content.
    I sympathize with the author who had to suffer through a screening of the film while audience members made snarky remarks reflecting their detachment from the 50 year old film. This is something like you have probably experienced trying to show students older films that they just don't get. Years ago I screened Vertigo for a class and it was a shock when the woman's body was seen falling outside the church tower window—some students snorted at what they could see was a mannequin falling in a studio lit set. As polished as Hitchcock's films were at the time, the dramaturgy and production values of the day inevitably date the film. Students must be prepared by the prof. to open themselves up to the time of the film—as a popular medium, movies are tuned to the time of their making but as decades pass, we notice that acting styles and production methods look dated—but we should be able to adjust our sensibilities to allow for that or the stories of yesteryear will be forever shut off from new audiences and students will grow up living in a bubble of contemporaneity where they only like what they've seen in their brief lifespan.

  • Trentrunner69 | September 14, 2012 3:03 PMReply

    As a teacher of film and lit, I suppose I'm expected to side with you and your 1988 teacher, but I can't. I've been exactly where he's been--showing an old movie to new students--and gotten that precise reaction. So I understand Mr. 1988's reaction, but he missed a huge opportunity--THE opportunity--to teach these students. He had begun to do just that, as he points out that ALL art contains artifice (hey, they even share letters! in order!). But then he blew it and insulted his students, when instead he should have explained that enjoying more art is about understanding and absorbing conventions that at first seem strange, funny, and...artificial. I understand his feeling, but he blew that. He shouldn't have had his contract renewed if he couldn't see that that was (sorry, Oprah alert) a teachable moment. As for your Bond experience, been there, my friend.

  • Matt Zoller Seitz | September 14, 2012 3:53 PM

    @TRENTRUNNER: You're right, he did blow a "teachable moment." But as his projectionist, man, did it feel good to witness that.

  • Tony Dayoub | September 14, 2012 2:01 PMReply

    "This movie is not unsophisticated. You are."

    The bright side to this is that the advent of technology like the Internet, DVDs and Blu-rays are making older movies much more accessible (and without the usual impediments such as poor picture or audio quality) than ever before. The very fact that you could go to a revival screening and it even has an audience interested in watching it (even if for all the wrong reasons) bodes well for older films. I'm willing to bet that FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE connected in just the right way with someone in that audience who'd never seen it before. And I'm willing to bet that even with those that it didn't their will be some among them who will reconsider their kneejerk reaction to the film with the passage of a few days, weeks, etc. As long as these films are getting the exposure they deserve, I'm willing to forgive the unfortunate, attendant, limited thinking.

    Anyway, of the film proper, I curiously feel the opposite of what these philistines did. Of all the older Bond films, FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE's minimal use of gadgetry accounts for why it still holds up so well.

  • John Keefer | September 14, 2012 11:40 AMReply

    I had the pleasure of the exact-opposite experience last night with two of my buddies and Night of the Living Dead. We're all about 29 and they had never seen the film, one of my favorites, and I was a little worried that they wouldn't be able to really "see" the 44-year old movie. We're all so protective of our favorites, aren't we? But sure enough they both loved it and their love added to my pre-existing love. One buddy even said, "The older I get the more I love older movies. They just seem to have an authority to them." Damn right!

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