Danny Boyle Claims “The Pixarification Of Movies” Is Wiping Out Adult Storytelling in Cinema

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by Charlie Schmidlin
May 6, 2013 11:16 AM
21 Comments
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You can almost feel the 180-degree turn in Danny Boyle's latest thriller "Trance" -- away from the good-natured optimism of the Olympic opening ceremonies that took up his past few years, and into a much darker, naughtier corner. It's a refreshing turn from the director -- even while the film doesn't track among his best -- and also one that he believes embodies the type of cinema that's escaped screens as of late.  

Interviewed during the press rounds for “Trance,” Boyle rightfully pointed to the '70s as a “great heyday of filmmaking,” and also praised his favorite film director, Nicolas Roeg, in leading the charge for bold cinema. “Roeg made a series of films through that era that were just astonishing… adult films, with adult themes, adult violence, adult sexuality. We've lost that, or we're in danger of losing it.”

One of the prime examples, Boyle says, is “Star Wars,” and while he acknowledges “they are great movies, especially the first three,” he says they've also led to a " 'Pixar-ification' of movies.” He adds, “Pixar make great movies -- don't get me wrong, they are very sophisticated storytellers. But they are family friendly, and that's the danger, if you put 'Star Wars,' Pixar, and these big action movies together. They have violence in them but not violence that hurts… it's kind of spinning tops.”

Boyle certainly makes some interesting points (he and Steven Soderbergh would make a fantastic TED co-talk), especially when he claims cable television is “much more dangerous than what you see in cinema, and that's the wrong way around.” Do you think “Game of Thrones,” “Breaking Bad,” and “Mad Men” are where cutting-edge storytelling now lives? Or is cinema safely dangerous as long as Lars von Trier is around? Check the full clip out below, and let us know. [via SlashFilm

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21 Comments

  • Frank | May 9, 2013 12:51 AMReply

    He raises very legitimate points. On the flip-side, he also directed the $377,910,544 grossing slumdog millionaire; which touched on child exploitation and mutilation, but was ultimately a boy-gets-girl redemption story that featured a popular abc games show and ended on a catchy dance number. There's hope yet.

  • gabriel | May 7, 2013 9:07 PMReply

    4 quadrant films (PG-13 films that appeal to young/old and men/women) will always do better at the box office than R films. Going to the movies is a special occasion for families, but rarely a first date for two adults. If we want R films to succeed, we need more smaller art house theaters and fewer multiplexes.

  • MAURICE EMEL | May 7, 2013 12:38 PMReply

    I agree in regards to the family-oriented move for movies, but I disagree with the idea that movies should be the place where young people go to access content that's generally forbidden to them. I hate to say it but this is just a case of not adapting to the times. Any teen or young adult who wants access to unfriendly "ma-n-pa" content will simply go to the internet. Unlike the past when most homes had one centralized TV, today every house member has their own viewing device away from the prying eyes of their parents, in the forms of a TV, a computer, and a mobile device.

    I personally feel the move of adult themes moving to TV is better. Its much nicer to see character nuance, ideas and plot roll out over a 13hr period instead of 2.

  • A Guy Named Joe | May 6, 2013 7:55 PMReply

    Here's something to think about... In 1979, "Kramer Vs. Kramer" made $109 million, which in 2013 dollars is about $340 million.

    a) Would today's audiences go to see an adult themed movie like "Kramer Vs. Kramer?"

    b) Would studio execs even greenlight a movie like "Kramer Vs. Kramer?" And if they did, would they rewrite it as a breezy and heart-warming family comedy/drama, where the dad and mom get back together in the end, and there is a fun kitchen scene in the middle where everyone lipsyncs to a Motown song?

  • douglassirk | May 6, 2013 6:23 PMReply

    Preach.

  • ParcaMortem | May 6, 2013 5:14 PMReply

    Directors who start to take themselves too seriously have been saying the same thing for the past 90 years. In the old days, a creative director would still be "rewarded" with directing a roman movie, a musical, or a Jerry Lewis comedy. A studio is right in not giving $100 million to make a film tt would only generate $20 million, regardless of artistic quality. And if there are no dangerous films, then someone explain the releases of films by Cronenberg, the overrated Von Trier, PT Anderson, and other Cannes favorites? There's morr distribution methods than ever.

  • jt | May 6, 2013 6:53 PM

    @parcamortem. I completely agree.

  • Todd | May 6, 2013 2:53 PMReply

    You know, there were a lot of family movies back then, too. Blaming the pop, sci-fi, and family friendly movies for the lack of adult films seems a bit unreasonable. Blame the producers, or the studios perhaps. A better idea would be to make a good adult oriented movie instead of whining about it - now there's a thought.

  • Jon | May 7, 2013 7:07 PM

    "they can't pull movies out their ass, they need money and support" that's why he says we should blame the studios/producers...

  • Washington | May 6, 2013 3:16 PM

    Actually I realized I'd have to explain my reply even more to you because you're that dense. The movies he's talking about aren't supported anymore. "there were a lot of family movies back then too" You don't even have the first clue to what your talking about. This is about an attitude of every movie needing to replicated the success of the big dumb family friendly inoffensive marvel movies and the like. I think you're just upset because it sounded like somebody is criticizing pixar and you enjoyed a movie of theirs one time.

  • Washington | May 6, 2013 3:13 PM

    No, here's an actual real thought, people can't just pull movies out of their ass, they need money and support. Seriously this isn't a difficult concept to grasp.

  • Benutty | May 6, 2013 2:51 PMReply

    Danny Boyle made Slumdog Millionaire. Like he needs to stfu/gtfo. He has no leg to stand on in this argument.

  • Washington | May 6, 2013 3:04 PM

    As if that somehow has anything to do with what he's saying

  • Zach | May 6, 2013 11:51 AMReply

    And Danny Boyle actually said "Star Wars" led to the Pixarification of movies? Because SO many great Pixar films came out between 1977 and 1995.

  • Mohammed | May 6, 2013 2:58 PM

    You are doing what you can to misunderstand it. Star Wars, along with Jaws, mark the beginning of the tent-pole films. Those films started a trend of making films that reach all demographics, the Pixarification of adult movies. It's a very fitting term for it. It's like saying; " Hey, stop a minute! There were no "gays" before the 20th century, just sodomites."

  • Stephen B | May 6, 2013 11:55 AM

    Great counterargument.

  • Frank S. | May 6, 2013 11:50 AMReply

    You know I gotta say: Slashfilm's lazy headline and one sentence in the piece with zero context was odious. It was like that Philistine Peter S was leaving him out to dry so the nerds over there could pick him apart without even explaining what he meant about "Pixarification" meant. I found it really gross and I won't be going there anymore. Thanks for a least a couple lines of text to explain what this means, christ, is is that hard?

  • Rob | May 6, 2013 11:43 AMReply

    I agree with what him and Soderbergh are saying, but neither of them have made the films they are describing in a long time. Boyle has been extremely commercial with his last five films, and Soderbergh's "Side Affects" was laughably Hollywood formulaic. What you don't see are films that are subversive, and as much as these directors like to talk, are they really gun-ho to bite the hand that feeds them?

  • Washington | May 6, 2013 1:37 PM

    Where's the support to even make the kind of movies they're talking about though? They wouldn't even let Soderbergh make his Liberace movie, he had to go to tv for that. I get the impression you do well in hollywood you're "rewarded" with a comic book movie or some established "brand" or "intellectual property" to "reimagine" under close supervision.

  • putney | May 6, 2013 11:24 AMReply

    so what's the excuse for trance being a complete turd then?

  • Frank S. | May 6, 2013 11:52 AM

    Empty straw man argument. Besides the point. Use your brain, you can do better.

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