Whenever someone uses the words "art" and "cinema" in the same sentence, my eyes may light up, but also, I am reminded of a pompous, uneducated, obese christian woman who, during my youthful dalliance with religion, would taunt me with her self-righteous ignorance and criticize my intellectual pursuits. Like most followers of fairy tales, she could not tolerate education, much less anything intellectual or artistic. While the enjoyable and romantic film "Somewhere in Time" was her favorite movie, her idea of the sublime proved to be a chocolate donut between her lips. One day just prior to my UCLA Film School graduation, she announced to me that she hadn't yet decided if "cinema" was art. I told her to hurry up and decide because the entire world was awaiting her decision and the future of cinema was in doubt unless she awarded her blessings.
I discovered the possibilities Cinema had to offer in the late seventies, during a long-gone golden age when filmmakers were given free reign to expand the parameters of their art form. Studio money backed their experiments and an entire generation of idealistic artists became swept up in the joys of developing consciousness through making movies. Today, we all know the studios only concern themselves with the bottom line and most filmmakers are only interested in their next deal. Art houses close daily. The entire focus of moviemaking seems to be on the opening weekend grosses. The best work being made does not appear on the silver screen, but on cable.
"We live now under the tyranny of the entertainment complex, which tolerates no slackers mooning for a brief, quaint, lost movie culture." - Richard Schickel
In "Death of a Cinema Culture", Richard Schickel, L.A. Times, describes how the recent deaths of Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni signal the end of an "era of film as art." If the donut eating critic of my religious youth were to put down the carbs and the bible long enough to read this article, she might learn something. So could you.