Movies

Discussion in 'General Chit-chat' started by infernovia, Oct 24, 2010.

  1. specs

    specs Well-Known Member

    Going to see it tonight. Semi-hyped.
     
  2. -Y-

    -Y- Well-Known Member

    Have you tried do something hard, like writing script for House of Leaves?
     
  3. specs

    specs Well-Known Member

    So I'm not sure what you're getting at by asking this question...
     
  4. vivafringe

    vivafringe Moderator Staff Member

    Could you clarify what you mean by "basically implies?" I don't want to accidentally beat a strawman to death.

    But here is another thought experiment: if I had to pick 10 movies to take with me to a desert island, they'd be much different than the next 10 movies I'm actually going to watch. This isn't a hard proof, but hopefully it gets at what I will try to say.
     
  5. -Y-

    -Y- Well-Known Member

    House of Leaves has a very complex, confusing narrative. Writing scripts for it would be like trying to draw with your left foot. But very experimental and fun.
     
  6. specs

    specs Well-Known Member

    Ah okay. Gotcha. I may seek it out. No promises.
     
  7. rozencrantz

    rozencrantz Active Member

    Low-grade House of Leaves spoilers:
    Maybe I need to re-read it, but I remember it being pretty straightforward, aside from the layout. Since the book is about a movie, I think it would be good to just drop typewriter-guy entirely and make the movie that is in the book. Did he even contribute anything to the story other than whining and doing the Lovecraft "this story is really scary" schtick?
     
  8. Claytus

    Claytus Well-Known Member

    Nothing complicated. If I think there's something good about a movie, I'm willing to watch it again to appreciate that good thing. Doesn't really matter whether the thing is that it's humorous, or it's deep, or it has good acting, or what.

    I will admit there's a different question about things a person would seek to watch again, versus be willing to watch again. But my other point was just that the first category is incredibly small for me personally, and basically just includes a list of films that I feel did everything well instead of just one or two things.

    I don't think I understand. I mean, on the face of it, the next 10 movies you might watch are probably going to be things you haven't seen before. Whereas, movies you choose you to bring to an island are probably going to be things you have seen before. I'm not sure what that's supposed to say. Yes, you have personal likes and dislikes. I would still be willing to wager that those 10 movies you want to take with you, you actually like specific things about that made you want to rewatch them, you don't like them wholey because they're "rewatchable". Why even bother with the second-order metric, then? It's just obscuring information (well, in this setting... it would be a fine metric in a casual conversation with people who don't sit around talking about movies on the internet).
     
  9. vivafringe

    vivafringe Moderator Staff Member

    1. Yeah, the analogy isn't perfect (analogies seldom are). However, your specific objection can be addressed by simply stating that my desert movies/next 10 movies would be different even if you limited the pool of movies to ones I had seen (or hadn't seen). This isn't really an invitation to find some other flaw in the analogy, ha. If it didn't help you understand my viewpoint, then probably we should just focus on actual arguments.

    2. I usually hate it when people make subjective arguments, but I think it applies here. Probably for you, rewatchability and quality correlate pretty closely. For me they are different enough to distinguish. For this reason alone the two terms are semantically separate, in the same way a color blind person acknowledges that "green" is a real word.

    3. The mere fact that my next 10 movies would be ones I hadn't seen shows that I enjoy novelty over more than movies with some abstract "good" quality. Which helps to show that you have the wrong definition of "good," because a "good" movie should simply be one that you enjoy (that is the whole point of a movie). Note: I'm using a pretty loose definition of "enjoy" here, so apologies for butchering language a bit.

    4. Some counterexamples. The Blair Witch Project was a great experience that would probably be boring if I watched it again. I felt informed by An Inconvenient Truth, but now that I have learned the facts in it, there's no point in rewatching. Requiem for a Dream made me want to vomit, and I never want to watch it again, but the fact that it elicited such a strong response deserves praise. The Sixth Sense has a killer surprise ending that dominates your experience, to the point that watching it a second time is like watching a completely different movie (and, in my opinion, a worse one).
     
  10. specs

    specs Well-Known Member

    House of Leaves is $18.99 on the iBooks store. Good lord that's too rich for me. FOR NOW.
     
  11. rozencrantz

    rozencrantz Active Member

    Reading House of Leaves on an e-reader would be a really terrible idea. The author pretty deliberately structures some scenes around the fact that it is a fairly heavy and floppy object.
     
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  12. specs

    specs Well-Known Member

    That's crazy. You're crazy. Stop being crazy.

    Though I suppose I have to use these library cards sometime. Very well. It will be done.
     
  13. -Y-

    -Y- Well-Known Member

    Yes, in fact the book is slightly bigger on the inside than outside. Also Gregory House vs House of Leaves would be way more bizarre. Do that!
     
  14. Claytus

    Claytus Well-Known Member

    Yeah, honestly I had a few thoughts along these lines myself while thinking on this topic the past few days. Requiem for a Dream is a really, really great example, but it seems pretty rare. There are certainly other movies that fall in that category, but I'm not sure you can generalize it enough for our discussion.

    An Inconvenient Truth (or really, Documentaries in general....).... Hmmm. Also feels like a different category, I mean did you watch it for "enjoyment" in the first place? I think a pretty solid argument could be made that they aren't "good" from the perspective of film as a medium. They don't have narrative, cinematography, acting, etc. Well, even that's not entirely true... the most successful documentaries at least insert a dramatic narrative component to draw people in. I think they still just fall short of fully realized films. I mean, Godzilla is pretty much a fully-functional message about the dangers of nuclear weapons, but strikes me as a better film than countless documentaries on the subject. There's a gray area, there, but I'm not convinced this is really a counterexample.

    Something like the Sixth Sense, on the other hand. My film professor in college once pointed out that the first thing he said after seeing it was "M. Knight Shyamalan will never make another film as popular as that one", to immediate shocked outcries from the people he saw it with. Has he been right or what? To a trained eye that was objectively a bad movie, because the trick ending is a pretty weak narrative device, and there's nothing else going on. I actually think this is a better proof that bad movies lack "rewatchability" than vice versa.

    I don't like this at all. Like, the easiest way I can say why is when I discuss Board Games with friends who don't play as many as I do, and don't hang around discussing game design the way we do. I have often found myself in the situation of saying "X game is not good, because there's a dominant strategy/lack of interaction/lame duck situation", or whatever, all terms we all know but they don't. And then I get response that's like "No, the game's actually good, because I thought it was fun".

    Which is a fine thing to say... but finding a game fun doesn't somehow negate design problems. It does imply that either there are good things that outweigh the problems, or the person playing it just happened to have a good experience that doesn't represent the game in the abstract, or any other reason. But it's always possible to qualify a statement like that without having to claim "fun" is some unique undefinable quality. Now, I will *totally* accept if the person says "I don't know how to qualify the statement further", but I think that's a hugely different than saying "It's not possible to qualify the statement further", which seems to be what you're doing with movies in this weird rambling metaphor.

    Like, an example.... I love "The One" and "Army of Darkness", and have probably watched both an inordinate number of times, even though most people would probably classify them as bad films. Which is okay, my tastes don't need to align with anyone else's. But I also don't need to apologize for it. Jet Li's stunts and Bruce Campbell's humour are the "good things" about those two films, and put them on my quality list, not some other fake list.

    My point wasn't that "good" is abstract, it's that it's variable. Any specific movie would have a thing (or list of things) that make it good. You just can't generalize without a level of abstraction.

    I do think watching a film you haven't seen before isn't a part of that category, though. You watch a new film because you're betting it has "good" things about it. It's not inherently good because you haven't seen it before.
     
  15. icewolf34

    icewolf34 Well-Known Member

    Wait, sorry, what's stopping him from making another 'objectively bad movie' that still achieves mass popularity? All the same techniques are still available, no?
     
  16. Claytus

    Claytus Well-Known Member

    The really short answer is that because he became famous for using a trick-ending, everyone came to expect trick-endings from him. And once someone expects a trick, it's not actually a trick anymore. Thus, no mass-popularity, because that type of movie is emminently boring if you aren't being actively surprised.

    A longer answer would point out that a) He did that already, Signs and Unbreakable basically *are* the exact same movie as Sixth Sense, using the exact same techniques. So we don't have to wonder if it will happen, we know it happened. And b) Audiences are actually generally smarter than people want to give them credit for, so even if the layperson isn't immediately able to point out that a trick-ending is a weak narrative technique, they inherently know it. I mean, that's what it means... it's "weak" because it doesn't engage the average person very well. And using weak techniques does not make for good storytelling.
     
  17. icewolf34

    icewolf34 Well-Known Member

    So an experiment might go something like this:

    Find two unsophisticated filmwatchers who have never heard of Shyamalan or seen any of his films. Show one Sixth Sense and the other Signs. We expect: they will both probably think they have seen a great movie. Then, show them the other film. We expect: both will think the second movie is bad.
     
  18. Logo

    Logo Well-Known Member


    And even shorter answer would be...

    It's happening. Watch out guys it's happening. Hey guys did you know it's happening? Look out it's happening.

    Oddly enough I like Unbreakable more than 6th sense. In part because 6th sense was spoiled for me, but also I like the Unbreakable characters and I feel like something more than just the twist happens in it.
     
  19. Kayin

    Kayin Well-Known Member

    I only saw the 6th Sense spoiled and I actually think I enjoyed it more because of that. I hate cheap turnarounds and really enjoyed watching all the little details that supported the movie's conclusion. Not to say if it was "good" or not (I'm not enough of a cinema guy to really talk about that), but yeah, I sorta enjoyed it even though I was spoiled. Though also yes, Unbreakable is a cooler, more balanced movie.
     
  20. Claytus

    Claytus Well-Known Member

    Hmm... I concur with Logo that this might work if you used Unbreakable. Those movies are very similar, and I can respect anyone who prefers one over the other, regardless of which.

    Signs has... other problems.
     
  21. vivafringe

    vivafringe Moderator Staff Member

    It seems a lot of our disagreement comes from the fact that we fundamentally disagree on whether “objectively bad” is a meaningful term. I think it is pretty much a nonsense phrase, like banana stapler. There is a car in Lord of the Rings. This is probably the closest I could come up with when it came to a truly “objective” flaw. Notice how little it actually matters.

    The closest thing that I could even think of when it came to an “objective” judge of a movie would be a robot that could scan people’s brains, then recommend movies to them based on that. If you asked it what the “best” movie was, it could spit out the most popular movie, or the movie that produced the “deepest” experience in a certain subset of people. But any answer it gave would still depend on the enjoyment of at least one viewer in its database. There isn’t a “goodness” that’s separate from experience, because the entire purpose of film is to provide an experience.

    You balk at this because you don’t want your views to matter exactly as little as, say, some 8-year-old who likes Transformers. However, I don’t have any problem with valuing my opinion over others. That is the beauty of acknowledging subjective experience: the sheer fact that it is your experience automatically makes it the most important. You don’t need to introduce “objectivity” or any nonsense like that.

    The main reason for debating the quality of movies is because it’s fun to try to account for differences in experience, and to find common ground. It’s not to argue out whether the movie is “objectively good” or not. For me, saying that a movie is good is shorthand for “I liked it.” I read critics because they tend to be a better judge of what I will enjoy than my friends/coworkers. If I didn’t consistently agree with them, I wouldn’t read them.

    Re: the Sixth Sense: I liked the acting, and remember being absorbed by the story before the ending happened. I mean don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t amazing; without the ending it’d be maybe a 3/5? And yeah, M. Knight Shyamalan’s movies after The Sixth Sense have ranged from uninspiring to horribad. Annoyingly, it seems to fit both of our models for “goodness,” because I would say the rest of his movies were bad because they didn’t provide a sufficiently novel experience (also they were just worse movies; you will never convince me The Happening is equal in quality to the Sixth Sense even if there are superficial similarities).

    With the ending, it was one of the highlights for that year. Lots of people, both regular guys and critics, gave it praise. Saying “objectively bad” is ignoring the vast array of people that really liked it.

    If this model was true, I would just watch The Godfather over and over. I mean, honestly, what is the probability that the next film I watch will actually be an “objectively better” film than the Godfather?
     
  22. specs

    specs Well-Known Member

    Reading the script for Casablanca, it's amazing how much -- and how little -- the actual format proper of a screenplay has changed. And even Casablanca, hailed like the greatest film of all time, follows the "Hollywood formula" many indie types hate.

    Just Saiyan.
     
  23. Delha

    Delha Active Member

    So, the DBZ thing where you parry their attack within inches of your face, then look at them?
     
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  24. Claytus

    Claytus Well-Known Member

    First of all, all of that seems like sketchy territory. Like, if everything's subjective you're implicitly throwing out a huge amount of academic reasoning. I mean, the whole thing about Joseph Campbell's monomyth stuff being a basis for why Star Wars (and a million other things) were succesful is pretty solid ground to stand on. (Easy to bring up because there's another thread about the EC episodes going on). There is a more solid framework for crafting movies that exists, right now, than there is for designing games. And yet, clearly we all agree that there are right and wrong things to do in game design.

    But more importantly, I think you're completely mischaracterizing what I said. My real point is that 99% of films have a long list of "objectively bad" elements, and a list of "objectively good" elements. It is completely okay for different people to value those elements differently, and the lists are going to vary from movie to movie. That's why I keep saying over and over that rankings are dumb and there's no such thing as a "best" film. But we can compare two films by looking over those lists, and stating which elements we enjoy and which we don't.

    I would go so far to say that from where I'm standing, I think you're the one balking at your opinions having equal value with everyone else. The whole point is to embrace the fact that we shared the same experience (watching a film), and took something different away. It's the same as the endless argument on these forums about some people thinking fighting games are better as a pure mental exercise, and some people thinking combo execution is a fun component that would destroy the game if we give up. We can make long lists of "objectively bad" and "objectively good" things about execution. And if our final opinions are different so what... they're both valid, and we gained more from the discussion than the conclusion anyway.

    All this "it's subjective" crap just feels like some armor you're putting up to prevent discussion because you feel guilty that your opinion won't seem informed. Instead of just applying some critical thinking and self-confidence to assert your opinion with a supporting explanation.

    Again, confusing the idea of "objectively good elements" with "objectively good in some universal sense". The probability that the next film you watch will be more humorous than The Godfather is like, 100%. That is a dark film.

    And the more important point I was making was that a new film is basically guaranteed to have something about it that's an "objectively good" thing, films have too many moving parts for everything to be bad. And you can appreciate that part of it as a learning experience even if you don't overall enjoy the film. I was pretty down on Prometheus a page back, but I certainly don't regret seeing it... it spawns interesting conversations by default because it's so upfront about it's weird messages. In other cases, for example Signs... what few good things exist weren't of interest to me, so I didn't like it overall. But, we don't have stoop to some weird "it's good because it's new" nonsense, we can say it's good because of X, where X is an objective element, rather than a subjective element.
     
  25. vivafringe

    vivafringe Moderator Staff Member

    Heh, I think above all else, it shouldn't seem like I am trying to prevent discussion!

    What you're trying to get at when you talk about the monomyth is that there are elements that have a deep resonance with (most of) the human race. I'm not denying those exist, or that we shouldn't look for them. Indeed, most of storymaking has just been iteration of resonant stories.

    But "objectively good?" That's not what objective means. If an alien came down and watched the movie, he wouldn't necessarily enjoy stories with monomyths in them. You wouldn't say, "Azathoth, Devourer of Worlds, saw the Godfather and didn't like it. He must not value the objectively good parts of that movie." I mean, say "broad appeal," or "almost universally hated," or even "widely acclaimed" if you want. But you have to at least imply an audience when you talk of how good a piece of entertainment, or even elements of entertainment, actually are.

    I think you can get to my position with a bit of inductive reasoning. It's true; after I added The Godfather to my list of movies to repeat infinitely, I might add Holy Grail, so I could have more "objectively good elements." But then I'm lacking on romance, so I should probably throw in Casablanca. Come to think of it, there are other forms of comedy besides screwball, so maybe I'd add Groundhog Day to my roster of movies to repeat infinitely.

    What number of movies would you actually stop and say, "OK, now I can actually start repeating them infinitely?" Empirically the number seems incredibly high, like larger than a person could even watch in a lifetime. This search for new objectively good elements is, in my language, "novelty."
     
  26. CrystalChaos

    CrystalChaos Moderator Staff Member

    so maybe I'd add Groundhog Day to my roster of movies to repeat infinitely.
     
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  27. infernovia

    infernovia Well-Known Member

    I notice that I only complain about rewatchability when I am talking about movies that rely on gimmicks or twists. I also don't usually consider them good/great, but merely average. I managed to watch the Sixth Sense and Memento unspoiled, but I still didn't think they were that engaging.

    Why would you ever stop and watch something infinitely? That's the point of Groundhog Day isn't it, that anything repeated too many times is boring. You need newness to keep movies fun.

    Now, I think there are a lot of movies that will be saved by our culture because of their great value. But even these movies, I will take extended breaks from and maybe watch it once a year or until I have forgotten large chunks of it. So I really don't think the deserted island scenario is really that engaging of a topic. What movies are grand and phenomenal, and has or will survive the test of time... well that's another topic.
     
  28. Delha

    Delha Active Member

    I'd argue that for our purposes in this thread, "objectively good" should be pretty much synonymous with "effective". The next obvious question is "effective at what" (which parallels "objectively good at doing what"), and for the most part, I'm going to assume that breaks out to something along the lines of "effective at generating a response in the humans who watch it".

    Once we start talking about non-humans watching movies, you start getting into crap like having to qualify statements "...so long as we're on the planet Earth" or or such tedium.
     
  29. vivafringe

    vivafringe Moderator Staff Member

    No, you don't need to qualify statements for earthlings. When you use words like "good," "effective," etc., it's just implied that you're talking about some sort of earthling audience. Usually you can actually narrow it down further through context, like if I say "Avengers is awesome," I'm not necessarily implying that I'd recommend it to my grandma. But "objectively good" actively tries to divorce a movie's qualities from its audience. It's literally saying, "regardless of its audience, such and such quality is good." Which is crazy.

    Usually the term itself is a red flag. A lot of the time it comes up when one person is trying to make his opinion seem more official and important. It's a lot like passive voice in that respect. For instance, rather than actually address a negative review's points, someone might just dismiss the review as "not objective enough."
     
  30. rozencrantz

    rozencrantz Active Member

    I think "objectively good" works if you define the context really well. In animation for instance, "The Thief and the Cobbler" (what remains of it) is objectively good, you can measure the quality of animation in pretty specific ways.

    Outside of technical accomplishment, the idea falls apart really fast, and you get into weird social-capital effects where people treat things as "objectively good" even though they don't enjoy them (Shakespeare, Joyce, Wagner, etc)
     
  31. Claytus

    Claytus Well-Known Member

    I still think there's a misunderstanding going on as the core issue here. I'll say it again... you have to compare discrete elements over discrete groups of films. Like, it seems 100% reasonable to me to say it, for example, "It is objectively easier to follow the action scenes in Avengers than the action scenes in Transformers". We can boil that down to some pretty simple reasons... less camera motion, less motion blur, more focus on individual character actions, fewer gigantic explosions and debris, whatever else.

    Why does the audience matter to a statement like that? I don't care if my grandma is watching the films, or some 15yr old teenager they were actually made for... there is a technical skill in constructing editing that parses well for the human brain, which stands outside the topic of enjoyment.

    I mean, sure, there's are also a million non-objective statements you can make, too. But that doesn't imply that all statements must be non-objective when viewed from some macro level. And it also doesn't imply that the subjective statements aren't actually just very poorly written mashups of multiple objective issues (I could go either way on this, can't think of good examples... but I certainly don't think it's a given that it's false). Like, themes of young male empowerment might not resonate with your grandma. That doesn't make Avengers cease to be a successful example of the "young male empowerment" genre, which is certainly popular in general.


    Tycho answered this question for me a while back in better language than I could hope to come up with, so I'll just stick it here:
    It's just as true of movies as any other medium. I mean, I doubt anyone will ever make a better World War 2 movie than Casablance... mostly because they're not trying, WW2 is not of daily relevance to us the way it was 50 years ago. But the other side of the coin is that future issues will never be spoken to more directly than by future movies.

    The end goal is to use the skills of the past to make future movies as good as they can possibly be. Not to use old movies as some sort of rejection criteria in cases where a future movie could have been better.
     
  32. vivafringe

    vivafringe Moderator Staff Member

    Claytus, you seem to have changed your position from “I can say Sixth Sense is an objectively bad movie,” to “we can make objective comparisons between movies that are meaningful in explaining subjective experience.” There’s nothing wrong with changing positions; in fact that should be the goal of actual discussion. But I want to make sure.

    I think the statement, “the action scenes are objectively easier to follow in Avengers than Transformers” is less offensive than “Transformers is an objectively bad movie.” But it still seems to be an unclear way to say what you really want to say. What meaning is “objective” actually adding into the sentence? By that I mean, how does your sentence differ in meaning from the same sentence, but with “objectively” removed? It seems that rather than clarify things, the extra word confuses the issue.

    You could say, “everyone finds the action scenes easier to follow” (a dubious claim). You could also say, “most people find the action scenes easier to follow” (a probable claim). Either of these makes the sentence more clear. But “objectively easier to understand” makes my brain twist in knots.

    If Azathoth comes and measures the Transformers to be 30 human minutes, he is wrong. If Azathoth happens to understand Transformers easier than Avengers, is he wrong?
     
  33. Claytus

    Claytus Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I can give you that one. I guess a better statement would have been "Sixth Sense is objectively a poorly written movie". I guess there's a level of personal bias there. I think the scale of bad things are large enough in that film to make it a bad film. But I'm not just saying it because I didn't like it, I'm saying it because I can point out problems, which was really my original point.

    It's all a question of scale. The fact that we're discussing the mechanics of criticism here sort of forces a small scale. I need discretely provable statements. I think talking more casually, a more blanket statement can be applicable to discussion. I just expect you to question it if you disagree, and expect myself to be able to justify it. That doesn't make the blanket statement subjective... it just makes it shorthand for what is really a larger amount of information, but maybe we don't need to spell out every single detail, so why start there?

    The short version is that it shouldn't make any difference.

    The longer version is that I felt compelled to add specifically because you fell back on subjective claims. "Amelie is good, and my proof is that I felt happy when I saw it", or whatever, I know that's not what you said, I'm short on time to go find the post. Your emotional state is not useful to convey to me, a guess at what caused that emotional state would be useful. The end goal is that I shouldn't be able to say "Maybe I'll like this movie because viva liked it", I'd much rather say "Maybe I'll like this movie because I enjoy quirky acting styles, and viva seems to also like quirky acting styles". Obviously that's not foolproof... maybe we have a different definition of "quirky", but it's still a better topic of discussion.

    It is really not dubious at all. Most of it comes down to scientific reasons... our vision works better with focus points and the ability to discern motion, etc.

    An easier example to discuss is, say, "Avatar uses 3d more effectively than Transformers". Which is true because out of all the 3d movies, Avatar is famous for having the least change in focus depth when doing jump cuts. The human eye requires some known time and effort to refocus after a depth change. So movies without consistent focus depth are physically more difficult to watch, and you lose some amount of visual information for a period of time after a change.

    It's harder to prove some of the other things I've said. But that doesn't them any less audience-agnostic claims.

    Azathoth is a cool guy who understands film criticism techniques, so I'm 100% sure he won't say either of those things. Prove me wrong.
     
  34. specs

    specs Well-Known Member

    Gladiator 2.

    Find the script.

    Read it.

    KABLAM. That was your mind.
     
  35. Eji1700

    Eji1700 Well-Known Member

    Just saw the dark knight rises.
    I'll have lots to say on this later but the short version is it's a good movie, and better than most, but not as good as it could have been, and that's even factoring in the impossible hype set for it.
     
  36. vivafringe

    vivafringe Moderator Staff Member

    Okay, I can finally see why you thought I was trying to eliminate discussion. Under your model, it seems like admitting that subjective opinions are valid is the end of discussion. For me, it’s actually the beginning of meaningful discussion. Movies aren’t like politics, where in theory you can sway someone’s opinion if your arguments are convincing enough. But discussion can still be illuminating.

    If you want to be logical, it’s a bad idea to form a conclusion, then rationalize it later. But I’d argue this process is unavoidable when it comes to entertainment; you either enjoy a movie, or not. Then later they you try to explain why you liked it (or not). So no matter how many objective facts about the movie I present to you, you’re not going to change your opinion. The bottom line has already been signed.

    This makes discussions about a movie useless if your goal is to convince the other person that his opinions are wrong. What you can do, however, is account for the difference in experience. Such discussion is interesting (I’m always amazed at human diversity) and useful (you can try to predict if you will like a movie). I was very careful with my wording when I said, “we can make objective comparisons between movies that are meaningful in explaining subjective experience.” The goal was to present your view in a way I agreed with, to try to find some common ground. What’s important with the wording is that we are merely observing what tends to result in enjoyment; we are not trying to justify whether we should enjoy something, based on objective facts about the movie.

    But what about your worry, that you run into some kid who likes Transformers for “bad” reasons? My advice would be to find someone more interesting to talk to about movies, rather than trying to undermine his enjoyment with logical argument. There isn’t much point in discussion, because you probably have a better idea of why he enjoys the movie than he does.

    As to whether all humans find Transformers more confusing than Avengers; I think probably there would be edge cases (mental illness, unusual cultural background, etc.) where someone would understand Transformers easier. I’m not totally sure about this though, and would certainly believe a neurobiologist if he told me otherwise. So I guess I’ll cede the point; it’s not like it’s important anyway.

    Re Azathoth: I can see you rolling your eyes from all the way over here. You think the point isn’t relevant to discussion. But my assertion is that for something to be objective, it can’t depend on an observer; it has to literally be a property of the object itself. “Observer” doesn’t mean just a human observer either; it includes AIs and Azathoth and basically all kinds of consciousness.

    Re: Sixth Sense, I definitely don’t think “objectively poorly written” is going to fly. “Objectively relies on a gimmicky twist ending,” sure. But “objectively poorly written” is just a more specific way of saying “objectively bad.” It makes the same categorical mistake.

    Re: Amelie, the point of my post was that I was saying that I valued movies that produced short-term “happiness” more than the average critic, who seemed to value long-term “drama” more. Maybe I wasn’t clear enough, but I was definitely not trying to end discussion by saying “I liked it, so it was good.” I’ll agree with you that such positions are boring and not particularly helpful to discussion. But if someone says that, there’s no need to evoke objectivism. Just tell them to explain themselves better.
     
  37. Claytus

    Claytus Well-Known Member

    I would say this is a baseline fact of discussion. You're no more likely to change someone's opinion in politics than about movies. If discussion was about convincing your opponent, noone would ever engage in it, because it would be a waste of time. Discussion is about the desire to learn from your opponent, or to convince third parties. (It just sometimes luckily turns out that if both parties are engaged in learning, then they might reach a consensus viewpoint, that usually doesn't match either person's starting viewpoint)

    But the point is to educate the kid. The idea of a conversation like this would never be to just come away with the kid thinking that Transformers sucked now. The point is that maybe the kid watches a couple other films that he might like even better.

    This is an empty statement, though. Like, you're on a slippery slope where suddenly the sky being blue is a subjective statement, because actually "blue" is a property of the way human eyes process certain wavelengths of light, and the sky having color is because sunlight refracts through it. So, suddenly colors aren't innate properties of an object, they're entirely dependent on outside objects (photons), and observers (eyes).

    You've literally defined the word "objective" out of existence, rather than created a reasonable argument.
     
  38. vivafringe

    vivafringe Moderator Staff Member

    Sure, when talking about movies with people, I often recommend something they might like. I guess you can call that "educating" if you really want to.

    Not really, in my opinion. We've found plenty of ways to measure characteristics of objects that can be replicated by other people (e.g. temperature). By bringing up color you are presenting a pretty famous edge case. Think about the fact that people debate whether color is an objective or subjective property. This is why I have an aneurysm over saying "objectively good." "Green" is about a million years away from "bad writing." The word has very nebulous meaning when applied to things that are subjective (e.g. script quality). Worse still, I've seen many instances of people using "objective" as a meaningless buzzword to invoke authority.

    I realize you've amended your position for the most part, though. Also hopefully I've clarified what started this in the first place: I don't think it's acceptable discussion to say "well I liked it, so it's good."
     
  39. infernovia

    infernovia Well-Known Member

    Non-existant things aside, some movies:

    *** The Raid: Redemption.
    This is not as good as The Man from Nowhere in terms of well... almost everything. But it's still an ok Martial Arts flick. This might be Tony Jaa's best flick, although the camera works is still shoddy in a lot of places (lame chaotic cinema). It would be cool if they were so comfortable with the fights, that they could make their context make sense. It could happen!

    *** Moonrise Kingdom
    I think this is a good movie for kids, as it's well made, the development and the coming of age has the right amount of frivolity and seriousness a child would form. So it handles that child's mindset really well. However, it was not that engaging for me, as the side plots with the adults could have used work and the characters, being children, were not really engaging enough. The issues with adults are mostly handled outside of the viewer's sight.


    Some older stuff:
    **** Gran Torino
    Good film, held back by the spotty acting of the kids and the pacing of the storyline or random behavior Clint Eastwood decided to add. However, the overall film was made well, the situation seemed difficult for the characters as it was for the viewer, and the characters were interesting. You are right there with the problem the characters face, and it's not just one-sided. The vet's alienation from his own family, how the hmong community accepts him, all of these interactions are done well.

    ***** Indiana Jones: Raiders of the Lost Ark
    **** Indiana Jones: The Temple of Doom
    **** Indiana Jones: The Holy Grail

    ***** Heat
    Great slower paced hunt with engaging characters. It also does a good job of showing how much their love is removing the other portions of their family, in that it is almost non-existent. It's a really good film, although it requires active participation on your part as it will not erupt in action sequences to keep your attention.
     
  40. specs

    specs Well-Known Member

    Re: Dark Knight Rises

    I just sent two friends two texts that sum up my thoughts. Here they are.

    SPOILERS AHEAD (highlight)

    So I got Ras' motive. I got Scarecrow's, Joker's, and Dent's. I even get Selina's and Bane's. I don't get Talia's. And their plan was dumb. And the societal message was just a lie to take petty revenge. Which I buy as something that could happen, but it's a disappointing thing in a story. Otherwise I liked it but I expected better.

    Also the prison was useless. Mostly useless. Like it was there purely to make Bruce just climb something. Also he gets out and he won't bore you with the details of his miraculous teleportation back to Gotham.
     
  41. Eji1700

    Eji1700 Well-Known Member

    Specs nailed most my thoughts, and I don't feel like going through the hassle of spoiler texting my reply just so i can elaborate on all the reasons why I think he's right and point out a few other quips.
     
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  42. infernovia

    infernovia Well-Known Member

    At least give me a summary of if you thought it was good or not, I don't think that's spoilery at all.
     
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  43. specs

    specs Well-Known Member

    It was a suitable ending to Nolan's trilogy but stumbled in ways both unignoreable and avoidable. I enjoyed it less that Begins or DK, but I still enjoyed it.
     
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  44. Claytus

    Claytus Well-Known Member

    I haven't had the chance to see it, but hulk seemed to disagree with you a lot.
    http://badassdigest.com/2012/03/14/...d-the-wonderful-world-of-martial-arts-cinema/

    He also seems to paint it as a positive move away from overly chaotic cinema. Had you read that before, and/or does it match up better with your position than I seem to think?

    Also not in line with what I've heard. I think the way I heard it said was "The film is mature enough to not pretend a movie can solve everyone's problems".

    @specs: I'm 99% sure that the whole prison thing is taken directly from the original Bane storylines in the comics. Probably more fan-service than a completely logical plot point.
     
  45. Claytus

    Claytus Well-Known Member

    Oh man, double post. Oh well. You guys are in for a treat... or possibly a less positive word. I have had the unique opportunity to watch "Pitch Black" and "The Dark Knight Rises" back-to-back. And then I got drunk. So now I will brain dump about this unique experience in a hopefully spoiler-free way.

    The first thing I noticed is that the movies appear to explore the exact same themes (well, I should really say PB explores themes that TDKR also explores... TDKR also explores like a million other things). The ability of love to be a force of redemption, the inability of people to accept help from someone previously branded as a criminal, the trouble of maintaining hope in extenuating circumstances. And even more interestingly, they seem to have conflicting ways of handling most of these issues.

    I'm trying to be spoiler-free, so I guess I'll just name some of the comparisons that seemed to make the most sense to me.
    1) Catwoman == Riddick
    2) Bruce Wayne == the pilot girl who's super important but I forget the name of
    3) Alfred == the religious dude who I forget the name of
    4) Bane == uh... james? jones? The weird evil police guy who I apparently forgot the name of
    5) The structure of society and the roles it forces on people == the aliens

    Pitch Black also really impressed me as being simultaneously a terrible film, and yet seeming like it should be a good film when I tried to analyze individual elements. It's one of the only horror films I can name that actually managed to adhere to the 3 rules of terror (as taken from Kara no Kyoukai 5). And simultaneously it establishes Riddick as a solid anti-hero along traditional veins of sci-fi action films. It really has all the tropes of both genres. I think they just distract from each other in all the wrong ways. Riddick is so awesome that it never really occurs to you that a truly bad outcome is possible, the way horror demands. And the aliens are so damn scary and powerful that Riddick never gets the opportunity to actually stand up to them in a heroic way, the way sci-fi demands. What you're left with is this film that is so weirdly on-key when it comes to completely internal characterization (Riddick and the pilot girl basically both go through a huge transformation in attitude from the beginning of the film to the end), and yet absolutely no external realization of those changes. Both Riddick and the pilot girl come to the realization that they actually care about other people, and as soon as that occurs, they both become helpless. Riddick is finally confronted with a situation that he can't escape with his own physical prowess, and the girl dies from a nearly pointless action in order to redeem guilt over something selfish that she tried but failed to do at the beginning.

    Anyway, I guess for anyone wanting an actual review of TDKR, I'd say it's biggest problem is that it fails to be self-contained. Most of the big success of superhero films in recent years is their ability to shed the baggage of 40 years of storytelling, and boil that all down to an entirely self-contained movie script that makes sense to the average viewer. TDKR throws that all right out the window... half the film entirely relies on the viewer having seen Nolan's previous batman films for emotional impact, and the other half requires familiarity with the comic books to make any kind of logical sense. Catwoman is kind of a perfect example... she's just there all of sudden. There's a whole bunch of nods, such as her protege being a seemingly major character initially, but absolutely no explanation is given as to why she's hanging around or why there's a random girl living with her. If you know the character beforehand, it all makes perfect sense. If you don't... your choices are basically to accept that she's a part of gotham city (which is at least easy to do, the film flows well, and the inconsistencies aren't too noticeable until you think about it later), or just sit around going... wtf? Another great example is the prison... it's thematically spot on, but the plot demands that you believe the prison is a "living hell" that caused Bane great suffering, and yet when Wayne is hanging out there, everyone seems to be super-nice, and they help heal his grievous wounds, and cheer him as he escapes. So again... wtf?

    Somehow both films manage to work on the same level, though. TDKR is completely about Wayne's redemption from the obsessions of his past. And PB is (trying to be) completely about the various characters redemption from earlier failures. And yet, what's so striking, to get back to my premise... they just handles these events differently. Riddick starts out evil, is redeemed by love, and loses everything except his life. Wayne starts out disenfranchised, is redeemed by love, and may have earned a "normal" life at the end.

    I wonder how much of the differences can be attributed to simple scope (PB's major plot points actual mirror The Dark Knight better, in terms of the pilot girl and Rachel Dawson both dying), but maybe TDKR is getting at the same ideas, just with more detail, and more characters to use. And alternatively, how much comes down to the simple fact that the writers of PB seemed to be saying an external sacrifice was necessary for a change in character to take hold, while TDKR seems to posit that people willing to make a change in their character are the only ones capable of moving forward without sacrificing anything.
     
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  46. infernovia

    infernovia Well-Known Member

    Well, I have a really low tolerance for chaos cinema, but moreover, I felt like there were repetitive moments that weren't distinct enough for the casual viewer which could have been removed for more acting/storytelling to make the fights make more sense. There are some cool stuff there though. The guy who loves barehanded fighting was a great character because he corners his opponent with a gun, and then engages him with a fist fight cuz he is just that crazy (and he was built that way, although I feel like they could have made him act more insane). And some of the hits just have that visceral feel to it that's just great (see him pounding on the bag). Anyway, I didn't see many things in terms of storytelling or acting to write home about. The context pretty much crosses the line of plausibility a lot of times imo and a lot of the dramatic moments didn't have enough context or build up for me, and they could have easily made me care about it.

    I feel like this could have been Die Hard, martial arts version. But it wasn't. It's fine for what it is though, but I didn't enjoy the action as much due to it feeling kind of chaotic and it just broke the line of plausibility too often for me.

    That's fine and why I said I would make my kids watch it if I have them. But the problems aren't really that engaging for me. Like the turmoil that an affair would bring to a relationship or to the mind of the person... well you don't actually engage with it at all, or you engage with it in passing. It's all filtered through the kid's eyes. Which is fine, again, but it's not a movie for me.
     
  47. Eji1700

    Eji1700 Well-Known Member

    Watched The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo last night with some friends.

    Notes-
    I have read the books. The first one is actually enjoyable and decentish for being pretty over the top and predictable. The other two are fucking absurd and not very good.
    I don't drink very often and I drank a TON over the course of the movie and was most very certainly drunk.

    I actually really liked it and was not expecting that. The acting is very good and they did a wonderful job of adapting the book and cutting various parts to make it fit in the movie. I actually like the movie's version of the male lead a TON better than the book's. Now that said I'm not sure how well it's paced or how well it conveys things. I have read the books, and had a friend there who I was discussing the series with while watching the movie so of course everything that was happening was clear. I was WAY too drunk to analyze if it would've been confusing as hell for someone who was just dropped into it with no prior knowledge.
     
  48. Delha

    Delha Active Member

    Haven't seen the movie yet, but I can say that in Knightfall the leadup to Bane fighting Batman includes breaking everyone out of Arkham specifically so that he'll run himself ragged before the showdown. I'd assume the movie handles this quite differently, since Knightfall includes several of his A-list villains who inherently carry more weight than random inmates.

    More interested in seeing the movie than ever, for better or worse.
     
  49. vivafringe

    vivafringe Moderator Staff Member

    I haven't read the books, but liked both movies very much. On the whole I prefer the Fincher film (it gets the exposition done in a less tedious manner). But both have their strengths and are worth seeing in their own right.

    The Girl Who Played with Fire threw away the movie's best strength (the charisma between the 2 leads) for a fairly mundane murder mystery. It was so bad I didn't bother watching the third one. I'm hopeful that Fincher's take won't be bad, but don't have high expectations.
     
  50. Logo

    Logo Well-Known Member

    MINOR TDKR spoilers so be warned....

    Cinematography wise, the major points, and the execution of individual scenes made TDKR an awesome finish to the series for me.

    Some of the plot details made it leave an aftertaste though and could have been done better for sure. Just less Hollywood magic and a little of something more believable. The water vaporizer was a good doomsday weapon, the one in TDKR wasn't.

    Bane was perfect as the anti-batman and I love how each of the main villains except Talia does a great job of taking an aspect of Batman and preversing it. Bane does this in a few ways including some more cosmetic things like his voice and his mask. (Batman wears his to protect others, Bane wears his to protect himself).
     

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