I noticed that while older films (especially black-and-white films) are often more emotional and interpersonal, while newer films aim to be sophisticated and complex, but has a certain degree of nihilism.
A friend and I just re-watched the Star Wars saga (all six films, one a day). We started from the trilogy and worked our way to the prequels. I was very young when I last watched them and seeing them again was certainly a different experience. People weren't kidding when they said LucasArts pulled the plug on the "magic" of the trilogy. The prequels featured stunning costumes and hairdos (some of the most amazing I've seen) while the trilogy had simpler costumes. While being more grand and cinematic, watching the prequels made me feel "cold". The sequels are an adventure, while the prequel is a political snafu you know you're not getting out of.
It's more realistic as a story and completely lost the mythical atmosphere that the trilogy had, and certainly much more subtle in their portrayal of politics. While the trilogy was friendly to all ages, the prequels are definitely not appropriate for children. Episode 5 is usually designated the "darkest" of the three, but I didn't feel the trilogy was "dark" in any sense of the word, while the prequels, especially Episode 2, are darker by several shades. The expanded universe was no better, and the battle with the "dark side" seems unending and the writers do their best to reverse the "happy ending" shown in Episode 3 because, as we all know, Leia and Han's son Anakin dies young, and their daughter Jaina ends up having to kill her twin Jacen. While all of this is happening, the galaxy is always, always at war. I'm forced to conclude that in our new expanded Star Wars universe, nobody ever gets a break.
Meanwhile, children's films have also become more "adult" and "complex" but far and away they contain far more idealism than any mature films. I won't lie. I enjoy children's films such as How to Train Your Dragon and it's striking that children's films and fantasy movies produce some of the best soundtracks on the market, while the rest are atonal, repetitive and elusive. Those bold strokes and emotional climaxes are by and large gone. Children's films make me feel nostalgic but also optimistic. Like old films, such as the 1930s "A Tale of Two Cities", even in its darkest hours there is a hint of optimism. Showing love or emotions in films is just not fashionable anymore, and even when they do, it's so overacted and complex that it gets lost. But on the other hand I can't imagine many actors acting like the old films anymore- just imagining it makes me think it would look impossibly ridiculous on today's big screens. Strong, silent action heroes who are slightly nihilistic as well as unbridled, raw aggression, on the other hand, are in fashion. Does anybody else see this, or is it just me? In some ways I find it lamentable.