The CNN docu-series The Movies delivers another installment this week. It’s obviously the last episode of the series because of the way AMC broadcasts the show. But there are two more episodes to go; and the episode order will take us back to the beginning of cinema.
This time, the Tom Hanks/Playtone produced series brings us into the 21st century. There are only a few exceptions with the choices the episode made. But it still made me want to watch every film it showcased for the umpteenth time. The 21st century in cinema is big. We see the true growth of franchises, and the desire to create a tentpole for production companies. We see (finally) an increased diversity in front of and behind the camera telling all manner of stories. And we see a star driven production cycle giving way to storytellers and the creation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Movies ran the gamut from the comedies of Will Ferrell and Judd Apatow to the auteurship of directors like Nolan, del Toro, Cuaron, Inarritu, Bigelow, and Peele. There are also both Andersons. Those two specifically gave us increased respect for source materials as they brought big properties to the silver screen.
It’s a fascinating look back over the past twenty years, the films that that time created, and ones that are modern classics like those cinema entries that came before it. They’re so recent, though. Perhaps we don’t think of them on the same scale as the films we grew up with. But these are the films that built Hollywood and drew us to those darkened auditoriums where films set our imaginations alight.
There’s a variety of films shared in this episode, all of them incredible examples of the time period of which they are representative, which are also as timeless as favored films from yesteryear. Sure, there are more movies in production in a single year now than ever before, but that also means there are more voices, more people sharing their stories, more to discover and more to explore.
It’s a helluva time to be a cinephile, with all the brilliant films that have come before to the fantastic films that are being made today. There are brilliant indie gems to stupendous comic book movies. Thus, there are venues and opportunities for all of these stories to reach their audience.
It also shows that movie-going is not a passive experience for the cinephile. Movie-lovers are driven now to hunt down movies, and they know where to find the big box office films. But the smaller films that may elude others pay off when film lovers seek them out and enjoy them.
It’s things like that which make me truly appreciate living in Toronto. There are countless cinemas, some catering to the big titles, and others delivering those critical films that demand an audience. The Lightbox could arguably be the most important contribution to filmgoers in Toronto.
And as more people get vaccines, and we gain control over this pandemic, I’m eager to hit the Lightbox for countless retrospectives and critical darlings which deliver on my love of films. To travel to Cineplexes and throw my attention to that glittering screen as a big budget epic plays out.
The Movies, as a series, taps into that love, reinvigorates it, and reminds us of the communal nature of this form of storytelling, gathering around the flickering campfire of the screen to share ourselves and our stories.
The Movies airs on AMC, check it out.