Posted on Friday, September 23rd, 2016 by Peter Sciretta
Showtime has lured filmmaker David Lynch back to television with a revival of Twin Peaks. The auteur director responsible for Eraserhead, Blue Velvet, and Mulholland Drive now seems to believe that movies are no longer the primary place to find interesting visual stories. He says, “Cable television is the new arthouse.”
“The feature film and the form of the feature film is not so pleasing to people these days. A continuing story seems to be what is interesting for people nowadays. Cable television is the new arthouse,” he said.
Is David Lynch right? Has television become the new art-house? Have long-form stories taken the edge from exciting big screen entertainment?
We live in a much different world than when I first experienced an independent arthouse movie theater. You really had to work to find independent films. I know the movie rental place in my small suburban town didn’t stock many art house films. While I had discovered independent films at an earlier age through the gateway drug that was Kevin Smith’s Clerks, it wasn’t until The Blair Witch Project that I ventured into the city of Boston and had my first experience with an art house cinema. It was a magical place, a cinema multiplex filled with interesting movies with original ideas I have not ever heard about before and I couldn’t experience elsewhere.
Over the last decade, we’ve seen a shift in the movies that are getting made. We’re getting more adaptations, sequels, and remakes than ever before. The middle ground for movie budgets has fallen to the wayside. And some of the most interesting stories being produced today are told on television. Now all of those interesting movies are available at the click of a button. And side by side with those indie movies on streaming services like Netflix are long-form stories told over the course of dozens of hours.
We’re already seeing bigger name filmmakers dip their toes into serialized television, and the results have been mixed. Cameron Crowe’s Roadies was canceled after only one season on Showtime, while the Netflix’s House of Cards is still enjoying its run (David Fincher directed the first two episodes). Steven Soderbergh directed 20 episodes of The Knick for Cinemax. Television showrunners are directing not only episodes but full seasons of one continuous story.
Even when a television series is an adaptation of a familiar property, like Fargo, the medium provides a much larger format to explore characters and dig deeper into the layers of a story. I’m finding myself enjoying more television on a regular basis than I am stories on the big screen.
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