having trouble getting through a few classics

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Tim_Stack, Aug 5, 2004.

  1. Tim_C

    Tim_C Stunt Coordinator

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    No one is obligated to like every "classic" film. In fact, I'm positive that there isn't a single "movie buff" or critic who likes ever single film that has been deemed a "classic." Roger Ebert recently wrote that he wasn't very impressed by "High Noon." Leonard Maltin loves the film and gave it 4 stars, and it's made it onto many "great films" list. Film is an art and different people are going to react differently to different films, depending upon their experiences and personality. (Being a teenager, I realize that some of the films I like now I probably will not like fifteen years from now, and some I don't enjoy now will probably me more entertaining then.) I first watched "The 400 Blows" at a time in my life when I was having a lot of conflict with my parents, and it "struck a chord." I loved it and it's now one of my favorite movies. I've heard other people refer to the film as "pretentious" or "boring." Something I could never agree with, but I can respect. A film isn't considered a "classic" because everyone found it boring or monotonous. No matter how much some people hate "Gone with the Wind" or "Bringing Up Baby" they're still great movies with a lot of fans.

    I like the acting and dialogue in old movies, even though it does tend to take a little while to get used to. I sometimes have a harder time staying away for films over three hours, but that's mainly because I choose to watch them late at night. I always try to sit through a film in one sitting (without pausing even,) but sometimes it's just not possible if I get too tired.

    "Vertigo" is my favorite film of all time (when I say favorite, I mean the films that I enjoy the most, not necessarily the ones that are most important or influential,) and I thought "Lawrence of Arabia" was wonderful and never got boring. The fact that other people were disappointed by them doesn't make them any worse movies in my eyes. I didn't like "The Grand Illusion," "The Searchers," or "The Passion of Joan of Ark" (among many other "classics,") but I can still recognize their importance and influence, and I appreciated their "great cinematic qualities." I realize there are people who love those films and find them to be highly enjoyable. Respect and enjoyment are two different things. I don't like any film because it's considered great, I like it because it "connects with me" and strikes me on an emotional level. I love all three "The Lord of the Rings" films not because they're "great" (though they are to an extent) but because I was highly entertained and "captivated" by them. I thought they were wonderful, emotional, and intelligent. Other people disagree, and I respect that.

    My father and I recently watched all of Tarkovsky's "Solaris" in one sitting and we both found it to be quite compelling and even entertaining. Some people I've talked to or read on these boards found watching grass grow to be more enjoyable, and I can certainly understand that.

    I've never been a fan of judging someone's intelligence by their taste in films. Many times I've read posts (mostly on the IMDb) claiming that anyone who likes "The Lord of the Rings" movies "obviously" have not seen any of the "classics" or are "stupid" or some other such thing. While I'll admit there still are a lot of classics I haven't seen (I'm trying to "catch up") I'd like to belive I'm a bit more than "stupid" and I'm more than positive that I have seen quite a few of the classics. I think it's rude to generalize all the fans of a film into one group or another, because it's never going to be true. There are a lot of intelligent, informed movie-goers who enjoyed "The Lord of the Rings," I'm sure there are also some less than intelligent people who like any given film, but that doesn't make every fan of that film less than intelligent.

    It goes the other way around too. Too often a fan of a film such as "UHF" or "The Fast and the Furious" will assume that the only people who like a film such as "Ciitzen Kane" are snobbish film buffs who hate every modern film and thinks anyone who likes them is "subpar." I like a lot of movies, old and new, from "Citizen Kane" to "Big Fish," and I know a lot of other people who like "Citizen Kane" also enjoy quite a few newer movies, so,,,

    I think the most important thing to remember is that for every film there are intelligent people who did not like it and intelligent people who did. No one has "seen the light" or "seen through the hype" for a certain film. No one's opinion is invalid, and the fact that one person or a group of people don't like a film doesn't make the movie any less of a classic, or at least any less enjoyable in the eyes of those who do like the film (obviously.)

    Here's a quote I post a lot on different sites:

    "The wonderful thing about film (or any art form) is that one person can hate a movie and one person can love it and they can both be right."
     
  2. DaveButcher

    DaveButcher Stunt Coordinator

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    Nice post Tim.

    But I'll point out again that I never questioned anyones intelligence based on their taste in films.
     
  3. Brad E

    Brad E Second Unit

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    I really enjoyed Unforgiven and still do. But at the same time I feel a great deal of sadness while watching.
    Unforgiven, for me, is the turning point in which Eastwood changes from tough guy to old guy. And like any good actor he adapts to his current situation by taking roles like Bridges of Madison County and most recently, Blood Work.
    But these are not the roles that made him a legend. He is the greatest tough guy of all time with that natural mean look and acting to back it up. And, IMO, no one past or present has been able to match it so convincingly.

    To see him in Unforgiven not able to get on his horse nearly broke my heart. At that point it was obvious that his rein of terror was over. A reflection of his real life, he just couldn't do it anymore.
     
  4. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    He -- the character, that is -- seems plenty tough to me in the final shoot-out. The bodies are on the ground to prove it.

    M.
     
  5. Brad E

    Brad E Second Unit

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    You assume a lot and totally missed my point. At the time of release he was 62. Before this movie I never thought of him as over the hill. But it was now evident that the Eastwood glory days were over.
    Now he is 74, life expectancy in North America is around 76. Yes, it saddens me that the actor is nearing his death. Although he is in good shape for his age and will likely live several more years or decades.
     
  6. Michael Reuben

    Michael Reuben Studio Mogul

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    If I missed your point, it's because it's unclear what your point is. Somehow you've concluded that Clint Eastwood was "over the hill" at the time he released the film that won him Oscars for director and best picture because, in the film, the character he played had trouble getting on a horse. And now you're saddened because he's "nearing his death", even though you grant that he may have "decades" more to live.

    I'm sure I'm not the only one who finds this impossible to follow.

    M.
     
  7. Brad E

    Brad E Second Unit

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    Yet another assumption. I'm not sure if you are actually wanting to understand or if you are just trying to bust my balls, but I'll try one more time.

    Think of Unforgiven as a turning point. The realization that the glory days of Clint Eastwood, the actor, are over.
    This is what I felt 12 years ago and 12 years later, I see that I'm correct.
    Not saying that he didn't go on to make good movies or to slam him in any way. Just that he could no longer take on the type of roles that made him famous.
     
  8. Jeff B.

    Jeff B. Stunt Coordinator

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    In some cases, yes I do. I'm not sure if I have certain criteria or not. I know what you are saying about the acting in older movies. To me it seems there is definetely a difference, and I'm not quite sure what it is...maybe it was more stylized, or almost over the top in some ways.

    I have a thing for westerns though. I can pretty much watch any western no matter how old it is. Something about the simplicity of most westerns really turns me on. You know, its a lot of just the regular good guy (usually happens to be a hardass) vs. the bad guy. The good guy usually isn't perfect, and has some heavy stuff from his past. I think my affinity for westerns might have to do with my dad and I pretty much watching every John Wayne ever when my mom was working nights.

    I know what you mean about Clint getting old too. His getting old was definetely a major theme in Unforgiven, and it worked well for him since he was probably going through the same thing at the time. Blood work was painful for me to watch. It seemed like Clint was moving in slow motion the entire movie. I can always watch a good Clint Eastwood western though. I remember the first Clint movie I ever watched was High Plains Drifter, been a fan ever since.


    I think Tim did a great job of explaining how some people feel about classics. I certainly can respect and appreciate "classics" for what they are, but I don't feel obligated to add them all to my favorites list. I noticed a few people in this thread thought Rear Window was boring. For some reason I was totally entranced with this film, even though it is a bit different then what I would normally watch. Who knows [​IMG] But after this thread I feel like I should give some more older movies a chance.
     
  9. Terry St

    Terry St Second Unit

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    What you are noticing is definitely real. Acting style has evolved considerably since film began. Ignoring the amateur side of things, the first film actors were literally stage actors. The requirements of stage acting are actually quite different from film. On stage, only the front couple of rows of the audience can really see the actors' faces in detail. As a result, stage actors must exaggerate the emotions they are trying to express so that the entire audience can understand them. This leads to the highly artificial pantomiming you see in early silent films. With film came the close-up, eliminating the need for coarse pantomiming. Actors adapted to this gradually over time.

    One big change in style occurred with the advent of "method acting". I should probably explain what the heck method acting is before continuing... There are two main schools of acting out there: Technical and Method. Technical acting relies on observing and reproducing the physical aspects of emotions while "Method Acting" involves trying to experience the appropriate emotions on command. Both schools are still around today, but method acting didn't really arrive on the scene until the 50's. (in hollywood at least) Marlon Brando was the first big method actor in hollywood. Bogart is a good example of a technical actor. Some actors use a combination of the two schools.

    When method acting arrived on the scene it initially felt a lot more naturalistic. However, as time has gone by technical acting has caught up is now quite subdued. It takes a keen eye (keener than mine!) to tell the difference between a method actor and a technical actor today. Both styles work when done well, and fail miserably when done poorly. Both styles have evolved over the years. Some have actually argued that acting in modern times has actually become *too* subdued. It has been suggested that many modern actors respond nothing like a real person would. While a stage actor would exaggerate a real person's emotions, the modern film actor under-expresses them, instead relying on the director to express emotion for them semiotically. (e.g. Even if the the actor assumes a completely blank expression emotion can be conveyed through framing, cuts, etc. Semiotics relies on the juxtaposition of the actors face with other images to express the desired emotion.) Anyways... We're starting to get a little off topic.

    To sum up, acting style has changed over the years. At first, acting evolved to take advantage of the unique advantages (and disadvantages) of film. Since then, acting has continued to evolve. However, whether or not it has continually improved has been questioned by smarter people than me! Some would argue that acting has evolved just for the sake of evolving, not unlike how fashion continually changes. When you watch an older film and the acting seems funny, is it because real people don't express themselves that way, or is it because actors in modern films don't express themselves that way? It's a valid question well worth pondering the next time you watch some classic films.
     
  10. Joe D

    Joe D Supporting Actor

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    8 1/2 has some great scenes in it, but it is a movie which I feel is worse than the sum of its parts. There just isn't enough story there to satisfy me for the entire length of the film.

    Vertigo is also a movie which has some great scenes in it, but it is too drawn out.

    Now LOA, Citizen Kane, and Rear Window, those are masterpieces.
     
  11. Charles Gurganus

    Charles Gurganus Supporting Actor

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    Any time Out of Africa comes on I am "out of dodge".
     
  12. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

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    Jeff, I think that's a great thing to do (watching more older films with an open mind and taking into consideration when they were made). You might be surprised at how rewarding it might be for you.

    I'm 42 and watch all types of films, and am particularly fond of older ones. However, I'm one of the people who didn't think much of REAR WINDOW (I admired its style more than I actually enjoyed it) and especially VERTIGO. However, I think such classics like CITIZEN KANE, SUNSET BLVD., IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT and THE DEFIANT ONES (just to name a few) rate four stars and are as great as their reputations suggest. It's worth a try to expand your horizons, if you're game and a diehard "film buff". [​IMG]
     
  13. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

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    If you're suggesting that Eastwood might not be able to play an athletic Dirty Harry-type again (much as Sean Connery couldn't be James Bond today) I'm sort of inclined to see more of what you're saying. However, for the purposes of what we're discussing here, I'd like to make the noble suggestion that perhaps you might wish to try and change your approach and expectations to films you watch. Clint Eastwood is still ripe for different kinds of older roles even though he might not be Harry anymore.
     
  14. Zen Butler

    Zen Butler Producer

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    I don't find this an old vs. new argument. There are plenty of newer films that I don't identify with as well as a handful of classics that I just don't connect with.
    As to the classics, I tend to try and find out about the time that they were made, which helps with the context.

    It's a shame this thread's author is having trouble with The Seventh Seal. I find it one of the finest films ever made.

    I wouldn't say this lack of identification is the fault of the classic film. It's a shame when we've reduced films to two genres; old and new.

    As to Unforgiven, this is a film, in my opinion, that has aged very well. Once I thought a tinge overrated, it just gets better with every viewing.
     
  15. Keith M.

    Keith M. Second Unit

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    The one that almost makes me take a dirt nap is 2001. I have tried to get through this mess about 10 times now. Everytime, I end up waking up to the menus...

    [​IMG]
     
  16. Malcolm R

    Malcolm R Executive Producer

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    This is the problem I've had with most classic films I've viewed as well. It seems very obvious that these are "actors playing a role." They seem very unnatural and over-the-top with their gestures, movements, and expressions.

    Whereas in modern films, it feels more like I'm watching a character, not an actor playing a character.
     
  17. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    This is one of the reasons why viewing older films is important (if you really want to learn about film). Contrast pre-Method acting with post-Method acting and understand both techniques and you will appreciate older films more. I find it fascinating to contrast Bogart with Brando, both of whom were outstanding actors, but approached the craft from very different angles. If you have not yet, view On The Waterfront. It is a (gasp!) B&W film, but the acting is directly from the Method school and will seriously refute any idea that only "modern films" have believable characters. Besides, I feel Bogart in Casablanca is one of the most believable characters of all time and the consummate "method" actor, DeNiro, has been replaying the character of "DeNiro" for the last 20 years.

    As Olivier said to Brando after Marlon said he could not shoot for a full day because he was having trouble getting "into character" due to his not researching the part enough - "My dear boy, that is why they call it acting!"

    Let go of your prejudices (they really are silly, these are just films). View a film in the context of when it was filmed, what the style of acting and production was and what the director was trying to say. Take the time to make a study of a film, to learn something, not just while away a couple hours time. That is, if you really want to learn. If you don't want to learn and just want to be "entertained", fine. But please understand that without time invested to understand and appreciate film as an art form, a critique consisting of "those old films bore me to tears and I can't get into them" is a loaded one indeed (especially in these parts).

    Edit: As an aside, I always find myself sleeping through 2001. I recognize it as an important film and it is effective in it's tone and visuals, but I fall asleep. This is not a critique of a fine film, it is a statement on my inability to grasp it and find it engaging. In years past, I would have written it off as "sucks" and no one could have told me different. I have long since lost my "omnipotence of youth" and will now admit it is my failure, not Kubrick's, that is to blame for my bored response to 2001.
     
  18. Jeff Gatie

    Jeff Gatie Lead Actor

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    Didn't like Vertigo because I find the "Jimmy Stewart as stalker" plot a little creepy. But Rear Window has the single greatest reveal in the history of film. Course it helps that Hitchcock uses the most beautiful actress of all time! If Hitch can give me a reveal on Grace Kelly like that, I would not care if a gimpy Jimmy Stewart recited the phone book for the next 2 hours, I'm still watching!
     
  19. DaveButcher

    DaveButcher Stunt Coordinator

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    good post Jeff.




    Yes, would that be the natural performance of Keannu Reeves in the Matrix, or perhaps the subtle character development that Arnie shows in Commando.[​IMG]

    When you're talking about OTT gestures and movements, while that may be true of early silents, I really think you'd have a hard time showing me examples of this by the 40's. There are of course exceptions (and films that are designed to ape that very style, still familiar to audiences), but for the most part acting had moved far past the "vaudeville on the screen" of the 1920's and early 30's. I would suggest really watching a few of these movies and understand that a movie made in 1929 and 1949 are very different animals, even though they are both B&W.
     
  20. Joe Karlosi

    Joe Karlosi Producer

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    I have no trouble understanding this, but for me, I liked 2001 very much. I approached it more as a visual space opera without narrative. The HAL sequence was actually kind of intense, too.
     

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