To the uninitiated or would-be cinephile there’s possibly something indispensable about David A. Weiner’s epic surveys of movies in the eighties. Weiner’s most recent addition to his growing catalogue is In Search Of Tomorrow (2022) which surveys science fiction movies of the eighties much in the same way that his In Search Of Darkness (2019) surveyed the horror films of that same decade.
There’s a really big difference between In Search Of Tomorrow and In Search Of Darkness that really speaks to the purpose of these monolithic documentaries. Each of these films is, on a formal level, a “clip show” interspersed with the talking heads of a few interviewees. The difference is that In Search Of Tomorrow, unlike In Search Of Darkness, never addresses the culture of its genre’s fandom. Weiner doesn’t interview as many fans or collectors in In Search Of Tomorrow nor does he include any mention of the pivotal role fan conventions played in science fiction movie culture in the eighties.
In Search Of Darkness, while being informative in only the most superficial way, worked as a kind of remote initiation into a niche of film culture; it brings the viewer, even if only temporarily, into a community of fans. In Search Of Tomorrow, in the absence of any allusion to a community, feels like a long running infomercial. Both movies are motivated by nostalgia but In Search Of Tomorrow is never unified by a shared nostalgia amongst its participants.
This shortcoming in In Search Of Tomorrow is the result of the films that Weiner selected for inclusion. To do a documentary about science fiction in films of the eighties and not talk to people like Roger Corman or Charles Band is to neglect one of the richest avenues for expression the genre ever had. The films Weiner does include, all essential, are not as diverse as those in In Search Of Darkness. Films like the original Star Wars movies or the Back To The Future Franchise are so popular (more popular even than any of the films included in In Search Of Darkness) that just to mention them is enough.
With every new film Weiner makes like this the fallout of nostalgia for the eighties can be felt more clearly. As the 2020s really begin there’s already an obvious move away from the spectacles of nostalgia that form things like the show Stranger Things or the documentaries of David A. Weiner. It’s time to move on.