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For the love of movies: The Past, Present, and Future of Cinema and what makes us fans (1 Viewer)

JohnRice

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My point was toward the big budget stuff, which tends to always have to be mostly an action film.
So, your point is, if you eliminate the area where almost all the great Sci-Fi films are, there are no great Sci-Fi films. ;)
 

Reggie W

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So, your point is, if you eliminate the area where almost all the great Sci-Fi films are, there are no great Sci-Fi films. ;)

Well, what are you calling big budget today? I would argue that a lot of the great sci-fi from the recent past, Moon, Arrival, Annihilation, etc...were small to moderate budget and were not big budget pictures.
 

JohnRice

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Well, what are you calling big budget today? I would argue that a lot of the great sci-fi from the recent past, Moon, Arrival, Annihilation, etc...were small to moderate budget and were not big budget pictures.
So what? Are you claiming that only big budget movies exist? If a movie is great Sci-Fi, it’s great Sci-Fi, regardless of the budget.
 

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In all the film conversations I have had, I have never really had a conversation about Fight Club. I need to watch it again but I mean all that struck me about the picture was the social commentary it was making and that it was a really intelligent picture from a very creative filmmaker.
I agree but some critics disagree and feel it was just a violent meathead movie. I'm paraphrasing but a critic said something to the effect of that Fight Club "was anti-capitalism, anti-society and, yes, anti-god". I actually agree with that but unlike the critic, I don't find that offputting. However, that quote shows that some of the people that dislike the movie could still see that there is more at play than just making testosterone addled teens and 20 somethings go "Oh, cool!" when a dude gets beat up.

Fun fact: Apparently, Fincher had that quote printed out as a banner and hung up in his office. :)
 

JohnRice

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Well, what are you calling big budget today? I would argue that a lot of the great sci-fi from the recent past, Moon, Arrival, Annihilation, etc...were small to moderate budget and were not big budget pictures.
Have seen I Am Mother by chance?
 

Reggie W

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So what? Are you claiming that only big budget movies exist? If a movie is great Sci-Fi, it’s great Sci-Fi, regardless of the budget.

No, my claim would be that you are far more likely to get a good or interesting picture if the budget is small to moderate than you will with a big budget.

It's what I would call the "ambition" factor. On the small to moderate budget film you are going to get a very ambitious project where the writer or director or set designer...basically across the board...is going to really go for it and attempt to do something awesome and unique.

On a big budget picture the ambition will be removed and you will get product, formatted, assembled, formulated, created by committee to appeal to the most people possible no matter how it compromises the film because the goal for the picture is to make as much money as possible.

The higher your budget the more people looking over your shoulder that will want to tell you what to do. Simple as that.

Now, that being said, I am not saying that I am not entertained by some big budget projects but, in my opinion, they have a much higher prospect for being crappy than a smaller budget film where the artists actually make all the decisions.

I did see I Am Mother, a good picture and a small budget picture as well. This is the thing, with small budget pictures they are likely lucky to get into production and finished so when we get them and we love them, in truth there is a great deal of luck involved that allowed that picture to escape into the wild.

Big budget pictures tend to be corporate decisions that are going to get made no matter what and because they poured a boatload of money into them...an entire group of people that are not part of a "creative" team are going to have a massive say in what they are. Which, more often than not, is crap.
 

Joe Wong

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Movies are ultimately a business, when we get down to it. Studios are unlikely to keep spending money on small/moderate budget pictures if they lose money. Heck, they'll stop a "big-budget" franchise in its tracks if there are diminishing returns (eg. the Divergent series).

Blame the audience if certain movies don't get the green light these days. Audience tastes change and evolve over time. I'm guessing back in the day, movie stars had a certain mystique or allure, such that they would be a draw, but nowadays, with many celebrities having a social media presence, that veil has vanished. I'm sure the promise of spectacle (action, special effects), etc.) has something to do with current trends as well (action/sfx typically provides escapism), but when it becomes mindless spectacle, you can see audiences respond in the appropriate way (eg. the Transformers series by Michael Bay). I've argued elsewhere that Disney/Marvel is not to blame for the current popularity of superhero films if audiences keep watching them. I can understand if studios market a film poorly and it doesn't do well because of that, but again, ultimately it's a business and if a studio doesn't see much potential, they won't put in the $ to sell a film.
 

Joe Wong

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In all the film conversations I have had, I have never really had a conversation about Fight Club. I need to watch it again but I mean all that struck me about the picture was the social commentary it was making and that it was a really intelligent picture from a very creative filmmaker.

I've always thought of Tarantino as a dialogue guy. A guy that approaches everything he does from the aspect of writing a memorable character that is going to say something you are going to remember.

I have never thought about the action scenes in his films. I think they are fine but to me this is not what he is all about. I think of nothing but scenes with his characters talking, fully engaged with each other and lighting up the screen because of it.

Yes! Aside from the stylised violence in QT's films, his dialogue is what distinguishes him from many other writers.

Case in point: Inglorious Basterds. I've always considered the film as essentially a series of long conversations. But what a series of conversations!! He uses dialogue to set the stage, then draws you into the conflict, and builds a ton of suspense along the way.

My favourite QT scene is the one in Pulp Fiction (in The Bonnie Situation chapter), when Jules and Vincent have to make a stop at the home of Jules' friend, Jimmy, of Toluca Lake, due to a bloody backseat in their car. Particularly this exchange:



Brilliant in its intensity, funny in its absurdity.
 

Josh Steinberg

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I've argued elsewhere that Disney/Marvel is not to blame for the current popularity of superhero films if audiences keep watching them.

I agree wholeheartedly. I also think it’s worth noting that in a typical year, Marvel will release 2-3 movies. Surely we can’t blame whatever is unsatisfactory about the entirety of the movie industry on one studio putting out three films.
 

Walter Kittel

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On a big budget picture the ambition will be removed and you will get product, formatted, assembled, formulated, created by committee to appeal to the most people possible no matter how it compromises the film because the goal for the picture is to make as much money as possible.

The higher your budget the more people looking over your shoulder that will want to tell you what to do. Simple as that.

One additional factor to consider is the creative talent behind the film. Filmmakers like Peter Jackson, James Cameron, Christopher Nolan, and Denis Villeneuve (for instance) have very strong visions for their films that will make this much less of a factor. Now people may be looking over their shoulder telling them what to do. But it will have little effect, or at least so I surmise based on their finished films.

- Walter.
 

JohnRice

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I don't even know what this discussion is actually about, and I'm getting a little dizzy. I don't think I have anything else to contribute.
 

jcroy

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No, my claim would be that you are far more likely to get a good or interesting picture if the budget is small to moderate than you will with a big budget.

It's what I would call the "ambition" factor. On the small to moderate budget film you are going to get a very ambitious project where the writer or director or set designer...basically across the board...is going to really go for it and attempt to do something awesome and unique.

On a big budget picture the ambition will be removed and you will get product, formatted, assembled, formulated, created by committee to appeal to the most people possible no matter how it compromises the film because the goal for the picture is to make as much money as possible.

The higher your budget the more people looking over your shoulder that will want to tell you what to do. Simple as that.

Now, that being said, I am not saying that I am not entertained by some big budget projects but, in my opinion, they have a much higher prospect for being crappy than a smaller budget film where the artists actually make all the decisions.

I did see I Am Mother, a good picture and a small budget picture as well. This is the thing, with small budget pictures they are likely lucky to get into production and finished so when we get them and we love them, in truth there is a great deal of luck involved that allowed that picture to escape into the wild.

Big budget pictures tend to be corporate decisions that are going to get made no matter what and because they poured a boatload of money into them...an entire group of people that are not part of a "creative" team are going to have a massive say in what they are. Which, more often than not, is crap.

This is generally not true. I liked watching some films which were produced on small to moderate budgets, which were complete total "atrocities".

One big case I'm familiar with in the recent past, are the small/moderate budget films produced by bottom feeder movie studios like The Asylum. They're the movie company which gave us classics like the Sharknado franchise. ;)

Another case are the low budget films produced by Uwe Boll.
 

jayembee

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I get what Pike is trying to say. I've seen a lot of low-budget films created by "nobodies" that are better than a lot of big-budget films made by and with popular filmmakers. For example, Gareth Edwards' virtually-nil-budget Monsters is a hell of a lot more creative than his bloated mega-budget Godzilla.

But when it comes down to it, big-budget films have as much of a chance of being good as low-budget films, and low-budget films have as much of a chance of being stinkers as big-budget films. Budget is only one of the various factors that affect how good the final result will be.
 
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Reggie W

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This is generally not true. I liked watching some films which were produced on small to moderate budgets, which were complete total "atrocities".

One big case I'm familiar with in the recent past, are the small/moderate budget films produced by bottom feeder movie studios like The Asylum. They're the movie company which gave us classics like the Sharknado franchise. ;)

Another case are the low budget films produced by Uwe Boll.

Recently I watched Strawberry Mansion, an odd little science fiction crossed with romance yarn. A small budget picture loaded with stop motion animation and lovingly done homemade in camera effects. It far exceeded any Marvel film in story, scope, and ambition. It was a lot of fun and it was obvious the filmmakers poured themselves into the project.

This is what I want out of a picture. The feeling that people made it and let their creativity guide them. Granted I know the picture would not be for everyone and the old style effects would not please fans of CGI. For me though, it was a joy to watch. An obvious nod to someone like Terry Gilliam.

I am not speaking in absolutes, I said you are far more likely to get a good or interesting film when watching a small to moderate budget film. Sure, there are obvious exceptions, the low budget action pictures that get churned out with Bruce Willis and pictures like the ones you mentioned that are quickly thrown together to be straight to streaming schlock. But there are a lot of great filmmakers working in this area including names like Wes Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson.

And really, Uwe Boll is essentially a brand name for bad so not really fair to put him in the mix. You know what you are getting if Uwe is your man.

I also do not mean every big budget picture is bad. I enjoy some of them. I just think, and I stand by this, that if I am searching around for something to watch I am far better off taking a chance on a picture like Strawberry Mansion than the latest big budget sci-fi deal because it is just far more likely to be less formula and more inspiration.

I mean I am obviously taking a pass on stuff from Mr. Boll or a Sharknado picture.
 

Reggie W

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I get what Pike is trying to say. I've seen a lot of low-budget films created by "nobodies" that are better than a lot of big-budget films made by and with popular filmmakers. For example, Gareth Edwards' virtually-nil-budget Monsters is a hell of a lot more creative than his bloated mega-budget Godzilla.

But when it comes down to it, big-budget films have as much of a chance of being good as low-budget films, and low-budget films have as much of a chance of being stinkers as big-budget films. Budget is only one of the various factors that affect how good the final result will be.

Yes, like the song says you pay your money and you take your chances.

I just think on pictures with a larger budget what gets slashed is the ability to do things outside of a formula. Not just on comic book films but on anything given a huge budget where the largest concern is how much money the picture returns. On huge franchise stuff, it seems all formula. However, I also see an "Oscar" formula at work in pictures shooting for one of those. So, I am not laying this all on Marvel or the later Star Wars pictures. It is just a general trend toward attempting to follow a formula over trying to do something outside of a formula.

I do think that over the last 25 years or so that huge budget hampers more than helps the filmmakers. Paul Thomas Anderson recently said he has no interest in working with huge budgets. He does what he wants to do on his pictures and you can feel that watching the films...whether you are a fan of them or not.

If people want to check out some science fiction that is outside of the box and interesting try something like The Wanting Mare, a lovingly handmade original film. The effects are all created by the filmmaker and they are pretty damn wonderful and amazing when you look at the budget they were working on. I was transported to a world watching them.
 

Reggie W

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Movies are ultimately a business, when we get down to it.

Well, I think it is a sliding scale. The more money spent on the picture the more you need to treat that picture like a business, a product you are selling. So, in the making of it, you are going to be more assembling than following your creative instincts. I don't know why Lord and Miller were fired from that Star Wars/Han Solo picture but it likely revolved around them attempting to do things that were outside of the Star Wars formula. PTA specifically works with lower budgets so that he can make pictures he wants to make. Scorsese, who is often brought up due to his comments on the state of filmmaking, has been granted some massive budgets of late that rival a Marvel budget. The thing about that is he is definitely not making pictures likely to bring in a profit in the range of a Marvel film. One of the reasons for this is Scorsese pictures would be primarily for an English speaking audience because they are heavily dialogue dependent to tell their stories. Meaning the dialogue is going to be more complex than just telling you where a character has to go next or what thing they need to find to prevent the world being destroyed. So, much harder to make a Scorsese film work for a audience that speaks no English. You can translate it or put it in subtitles but often times there is nuance to what is being said and how they are saying it. Phrases or words that are being used that have a double meaning that a translation would not capture. You simply can't make Marvel type money on a picture like this because it is not written for simple translation into many languages.

Blame the audience if certain movies don't get the green light these days.

Well, I don't so much blame audiences for what gets greenlit because at that stage of the picture the audience is not a big part of the decision-making process. Audiences do speak with their money and what they pay to see but as I said above, there are other factors involved. Like a big effects film with simplistic English dialogue is far easier to sell to worldwide audiences. Hence, it has way more potential to make a lot of money. I don't think the problem with a Scorsese picture or PTA picture is audiences don't like them, they are just designed with only English speaking audiences in mind. So, they are built to appeal to a smaller number of people from the start.

One additional factor to consider is the creative talent behind the film. Filmmakers like Peter Jackson, James Cameron, Christopher Nolan, and Denis Villeneuve (for instance) have very strong visions for their films that will make this much less of a factor.

Yes, I think the director does play a part in how ambitious a picture is. The guys you mention all can helm a huge blockbuster and make it a more interesting experience. I will say of them Cameron is the guy that seems to know that simplifying English dialogue makes your picture much more marketable...because he has been doing it for a while. His pictures always have this very basic/simplistic hence easy to translate dialogue. It seems like it is bad writing but I have come to understand that is much more likely to make his pictures more marketable worldwide. He is the one guy in that group that seems to know and treats the dialogue as part of the marketing.

I don't even know what this discussion is actually about, and I'm getting a little dizzy. I don't think I have anything else to contribute.

Well, it is sort of an odd conversation because it is about trying to delineate lines between artistic ambition and marketability. So, there really are a lot of moving parts and there are lots of exceptions to what is being discussed.

Arrival is a picture that seems to break a lot of the general expectations because it was a very profitable picture but does not fit the mold or formula of what should be profitable at all. It was complex, about language, paced for the story not to keep people from getting bored, and not loaded with action sequences. So, it is a film I thought a lot about. It kind of made Denis Villeneuve's career and opened the door to him doing Blade Runner 2049 and Dune. However, nothing about the picture says it should have succeeded nor did he create a formula with it that could be repeated.

I think the success of the picture is based upon the idea it is about a mother and her decision about having a child...knowing things she should not know about that child's and her own future. This was the big hook I think because it is a hot topic in this country, probably in some others as well. The bonds between a mother, father, and child and the choices they make that can impact all of their lives does resonate. So, in a way, I think Villeneuve got lucky with it. He had a hit with a type of film that should not have been a hit. Due to this fact, Villeneuve is granted larger budgets but still has a contemplative style that, sadly, I don't think some people like. He slid more into a formula with the first Dune picture but not all the way in and did not really alter his style. He also had the misfortune of having Dune fall into the time of Covid.
 

jayembee

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One of the reasons for this is Scorsese pictures would be primarily for an English speaking audience because they are heavily dialogue dependent to tell their stories. Meaning the dialogue is going to be more complex than just telling you where a character has to go next or what thing they need to find to prevent the world being destroyed. So, much harder to make a Scorsese film work for a audience that speaks no English. You can translate it or put it in subtitles but often times there is nuance to what is being said and how they are saying it. Phrases or words that are being used that have a double meaning that a translation would not capture. You simply can't make Marvel type money on a picture like this because it is not written for simple translation into many languages.

I get what you mean, but using Scorsese as your prime example of this seems...odd. Scorsese is, and has always been, at the forefront of the promotion of World Cinema. It doesn't strike me as reasonable to suggest that Scorsese would deliberately make pictures primarily for an English-speaking audience, and not be very concerned with how they would be adapted (i.e. translated) for foreign audiences, given that he's so focused (when not actually making a film) on bringing foreign-language films to English-speaking audiences. What's good for the goose, and all that.
 

Joe Wong

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I get what you mean, but using Scorsese as your prime example of this seems...odd. Scorsese is, and has always been, at the forefront of the promotion of World Cinema. It doesn't strike me as reasonable to suggest that Scorsese would deliberately make pictures primarily for an English-speaking audience, and not be very concerned with how they would be adapted (i.e. translated) for foreign audiences, given that he's so focused (when not actually making a film) on bringing foreign-language films to English-speaking audiences. What's good for the goose, and all that.

And the film for which he won his Oscar for Best Director is a remake of a Hong Kong film, Infernal Affairs, spoken in Cantonese.
 

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