WNYC's Brian Lehrer did a segment this morning with Joshua Horowitz, author of the new book, The Mind of the Modern Moviemaker: Twenty Conversations with the New Generation of Filmmakers, and Kerry Conran, creator of that strange hybrid of painterly geekery and celebrity charity, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow. It's a good piece of radio, but Horowitz' book is an odd bag, comprised as it is with interviews with both card-carrying hipster aesthetes like Michel Gondry, and dude-movie heroes like Todd "Old School" Phillips. To many of us, a lot of the guys that Horowitz singles out for investigation are unremarkable hacks; to Horowitz, they're a new crop of auteurs, stamping a generation-specific brand of irony and self-referentiality and digital savvy on classical filmmaking.

I'm sure he's probably right, but I'm not sure this is cause for celebration. The segment reminded me of a coversation I had last week about the state of the jump cut, and other technical tactics that filmmakers employ to remind you that you're watching a film. The person I was speaking with praised a certain filmmaker's use of such tactics as "Godardian". In response, I said something along the lines of, "I think if Godard was dead, one would hope that the post-digital flurry of self-referentiality would have him rolling in his grave." (As it is, the old New Wave master seems to be too far afield of relevancy to cause much of a fuss about anything). 

The running theme of Horowitz's argument seems to be that it's easier now, for people who want to badly enough, to make films: Conran spends years developing virtual sets on his home computer and eventually finds himself directing Gwyneth Paltrow in front of a blue screen; Kevin Smith maxes out his credit card, feeds his friends lines about blow jobs and Yoda, and we get Clerks. Which all reminds me of a line from a little dino-film by Steven Speilberg, who probably deserves as much credit for the filmmaking foibles of this new generation as anyone: "You spent so much time worrying about whether you could do it, you didn't stop to think if you should."

Later today, you'll be able to listen to the interview here.
categories Movies, Cinematical