In 1989, Spike Lee picked up a trashcan and hurled it into the front window of Sal’s Pizzeria, stirring chaos in Bed-Stuy and sending movie audiences into a tizzy about race relations…. Jump ahead 20 years: today’s watercooler cinema holds nary an ounce of subversive content. On the contrary, the most talked-about upscale American films of the year (“Precious,” “Up in the Air”) uphold such conservative myths as the sanctity of family and community.
That’s not to suggest the agit-pop screeds of Michael Moore — yes, he was back this year, too, with “Capitalism: A Love Story,” his biggest box office disappointment since 1997’s “The Big One” — are preferable. But it’s a reminder that the forceful, provocative cinema of Spike Lee, John Sayles, Todd Haynes or Gregg Araki has been replaced by the bourgeois niceties of Jason Reitman and Marc Webb…
Read my whole story, “The Year of Apolitical Cinema?” at IFC.com.
So am I too hard on today’s indie sensations, or is it true, as I suggest, that today’s “cinema of mavericks has gone soft”?