So you stopped watching movies for fun...

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Dome Vongvises, Jan 29, 2002.

  1. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    and watch them for artistic enlightment.
    I'd like to hear some of the elder statesmen and rookies of the forum on this. Can you identify any particular moment in your movie, ahem, excuse me, film-watching life [​IMG] where your tastes and expectations for movies changed enough to the point where you quit finding Hollywood blockbusters fun and found the dialogue and action sequences laughable and stupid? Do you remember a movie you loved during childhood, but cringe in shame when your better sensibilities tell you how juvenile it was? Does it bother you that at one point you had pedestrian tastes?
    Thankfully, this stuff hasn't happened to me. [​IMG]
    Unlike most film critics, I tend to use my film criticism to find the reasons behind why I enjoy certain movies, rather than fault every bad point. For example, I loved Star Wars as a kid, and as an adult, I can enjoy it even more now because with each subsequent viewing I discover more and more.
    I wasn't sure, but I felt this was more appropriate for the movies section than polls.
     
  2. Edwin-S

    Edwin-S Producer
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    1) I still like some Hollywood blockbusters
    2) As a kid I really thought "Battle of the Bulge" was a good movie. When I saw it again (as an adult), all I could do was shake my head and wonder what ever made me think it was a good movie. Absolutely stupid film.
    3) Having pedestrian taste doesn't bother me because I still have pedestrian tastes.....otherwise I wouldn't like Number 1. [​IMG]
    I still marvel that anyone thinks that "Magnolia", "Being John Malkovich" and "The Pledge" are good movies. It must be a movie snob thing. [​IMG]
     
  3. Stephen R

    Stephen R Stunt Coordinator

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    I don't think it's so much that someone stops having fun at the movies when they decide to take an active interest in the technical and artistic aspects; it's that filmgoer's definition of the word expands. Fun can be watching something relatively brainless but visually and viscerally stimulating like Star Wars or The Matrix; or fun, in another sense, can be examining what exactly makes Breaking the Waves so damn powerful; in yet another sense, fun can be delving into the philosophical pontifications of a Tarkovsky movie.
    Someone might find that the first option satisfies their need for entertainment. The next person might only be interested in watching more challenging films and thus finds movies like Star Wars unrewarding in the final analysis. Others, like myself, enjoy all three options on different levels, but I'd be lying if I said that I didn't enjoy watching Breaking the Waves just as much as I did The Matrix, and vice-versa. [​IMG]
    I think it ultimately comes down to a relative question: what constitutes fun for any given film watcher? For example, I might have fun examining the intricacies Kubrick's 2001. The guy next to me might feel an urge to take a nap during the same film, or perhaps even decide to walk out from sheer boredom (but not without my being angry about his reluctance to attempt to appreciate it, though; "I'm sorry, sir, was that my foot in your walking path?" [​IMG]).
    Basically what I'm trying to say is that I've never given up one kind of filmic fun for another, and I feel sad for people that do. I try to enjoy any given movie that I see. I go in with an open mind and if a movie stimulates me in any way, be it on an intellectual or surface level, I usually respond positively to it. What my appreciation of film as art has given me, though, is harsher critical sensibilities with regards to Hollywood film. A purely escapist movie has to be pretty darn entertaining for it to make an impact.
    (I do remember when I began liking more than the Hollywood standard fare. Conveniently, I have a somewhat old article I wrote about that experience on the internet, if anyone would care to read it: Humble Beginnings)
     
  4. Josh_Hill

    Josh_Hill Screenwriter

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    I still love a good popcorn film, but like when I was a kid, I still would have and did love films like Citizen Kane or Lawrence of Arabia. My tastes havent really changed all that much.
     
  5. Artur Meinild

    Artur Meinild Screenwriter

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    I guess when Army of Darkness is one of your favorite movies, then there's only one answer to your question... [​IMG]
    However, some hollywood films simply get so lame that they're actually a pain to watch (when everything has to be explained in detail, when laws of physics are broken all the time etc.)
    In that case, I don't like them.
    But movies like Aod, Starship Troopers and Big Trouble in Little China - great fun! [​IMG]
     
  6. BrianKM

    BrianKM Stunt Coordinator

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    I think my appreciation of film as an artform really began with Aronofsky's commentary on Requiem for a Dream. He opened my eyes up to how much directors manipulate visuals, sound, actors, and the script to form a cohesive whole and tell their story. I became increasingly interested in how camera movements and sound cues add to storytelling in the cinematic form. I have become so fascinated by the process that I have started down the filmmaking route myself, in my own half-assed way. [​IMG]
    I still like some Hollywood movies (Black Hawk Down, Fast and the Furious, and Ocean's 11 come to mind), but I find that indies have to make less compromises and therefore cultivate greater creativity and originality - with the obvious exception of David Fincher flicks.
    I am ashamed to admit that Navy SEALs was a favorite as a kid, but I still love a good popcorn flick (see FATF reference above). I'm not bothered that my tastes have changed - it's a fact of life - but it annoys my friends when I can't sit through Scary Movie 2. [​IMG]
    Artur, I consider Starship Troopers to be a sly commentary on many facets of American culture in the same vein as Series 7: The Contenders and would thus put it above standard popcorn fare.
     
  7. Dan Brecher

    Dan Brecher Producer

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    Well, as a child I lived in a household where film and media were big parts of everyones lives. My mother used to work in television, and my brother and sister studied film and media at college (as did I when my time came).
    With them at college when I was about the age of nine or ten (when I was already overwhelmed by filmmaking as a storytelling medium) I found myself watching really great films at a very young age as when, for instance, my sister would study the works of Hitchock or Kubrick, I'd be sitting right there with here watching their films.
    Having been brought up that way I really never took to deeming a movie like The Rock (which I think is incredibly stupid fun!) the best movie I ever saw. As a child I kind of missed the whole thing were Commando, Robocop and Predator were thought to be the best things ever. [​IMG] I did and still am able to love silly movies though, because at that young age I'd already developed different expectations for various genres and from various directors which I continue to carry to this day.
    In response to there being any movies I loved as a child that I look back in shame at liking, I don't think so. May have helped that the movies I took too as a child were good ones of course, Star Wars, Indy, ET, Back to the Future and numerous Disney movies. I recall enjoying Masters of the Universe which I've not seen in over a decade (thought about getting the DVD just for the hell of it), and Flash Gordon was always cool, yet I don't watch Flash Gordon today and hang my head in shame. I see more of its faults now, but the spark that made me enjoy it then is still with me now.
    Here's something a bit interesting though, The Goonies I HATED when I was younger. I never got the praise the movie got from my friends, it was just something I never got. When the DVD came out, I got the disc and had an absolutely great experience watching it. The only reason I can think of is that I'd only ever seen it pan and scanned to buggery and censored on TV until last year. I sat there thinking how could you NOT like this as a kid.
    Intersintgly enough though, I can't help but think of Schindler's List when I think about how to answer this question best. I'd grown up on Spielberg movies and when I saw this it seemed as much a turn around for my outlook on what's posisble in filmmaking as it was a turn around for him as a filmmaker. Even having seen a lot of classics so young and taking to them then, I wouldnt quite see films like Citizen Kane, Vertigo, North By North West, 2001...etc as groundbraking until a later date. Schindler was really the one that did it then I guess, prior to that Reiner's Stand by Me comes to mind....
    No idea if I answered well or not. Sorry...
    Dan (UK)
     
  8. Mark Pfeiffer

    Mark Pfeiffer Screenwriter

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    I don't think the two are mutually exclusive. One can watch movies for, as you put it, fun and artistic enlightenment.

    Probably the point where I started to evaluate films in a different manner came in college. I studied and participated in television productions, so I learned how things are put together. You become much more sensitive to the filmmaking process when you have a better grasp of how they are made.

    I suppose you could also say there was somewhat of an "independent film renaissance" in the early to mid-90s that opened up a whole other world of films to me. Whit Stillman's Metropolitan andBarcelona and Kieslowski's Three Colors Trilogy, along with Tarantino and some of the other directors who broke around that time, were very revelatory.
     
  9. Jason Seaver

    Jason Seaver Lead Actor

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    First, I'd take issue with the whole idea that I ever stopped watching movies for fun. I wouldn't be paying for them if I didn't think I was going to be getting some amount of fun out of it; I'm the original guy who never started eating his vegetables.
     
  10. Tom Rhea

    Tom Rhea Second Unit

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    As a lot of people have said, it's not an either/or situation; it's both/and. Last night, for example, I watched 8-1/2 for fun. Last weekend I watched Pitch Black, also for fun. How I decide what's going to be fun at any given moment, however, is a mystery to me. It's like what Justice Powell said about pornography -- I know it when I see it.

    Years ago, however, I would NEVER have considered watching a movie like 8-1/2 for fun or any other reason, and I know exactly when that turning point occurred -- it's when I started watching Hitchcock movies about 3 years ago. Watching his movies taught me that movies are more than just the story, or that they can be, and that a story can be told in a visually exciting and intersting way that does not involve explosions or lasers. In his Citizen Kane commentary, Roger Ebert points out that CK is just as special effects heavy as Star Wars, it's just that they aren't as obvious.

    Perhaps that makes me a movie snob; if so, I'm comfortable with that label (and it's much more fun than being a movie philistine). The only problem is, it means there are so many more movies I have to spend money on.
     
  11. Kenneth

    Kenneth Supporting Actor

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    I also don't think enjoyment of art and enjoyment of popcorn flicks are mutually exclusive, but I like Hudson Hawk so what do I know [​IMG]
    I was exposed to many of the classics as a preteen because my mom and aunt liked to go to a revival theater we had in Albuquerque that showed old movies on the big screen. Because of this I got to see the big screen versions of Citizen Kane, The Maltese Falcon, Ben Hur, Lawrence of Arabia, The Robe, The Ten Commandments, Laura, Freaks, It Happened One Night, Gone with the Wind, and many others. I took a film class in college to fullfill my token humanties credit and enjoyed it immensely since it was there I experienced "Mr. Hulot's Holiday", "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari", and others of a more artistic bent.
    Now I kind of float between genres. I still enjoy the big popcorn movies but I also will watch some of the artistic movies. I don't go in for intense dramas very often, though, which a lot of the indies tend to be. I still prefer lighter entertainment over intense drama about 80% of the time.
    Cheers,
    Kenneth
     
  12. Dome Vongvises

    Dome Vongvises Lead Actor

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    I'm surprised somebody read my whole blurb over at the Citizen Kane thread. I only threw that in there to see if anybody actually read my reply. Oh, don't get me wrong, I actually watch Army of Darkness during that time period, and yes I do like the movie quite a bit. [​IMG]
     
  13. Grant Degs

    Grant Degs Agent

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    It's all about feelings!!!

    I like a movie based on how or what is makes me feel.

    This feeling could be happy, sad, mad, etc.

    I like Hollywood blockbusters if they are done right.

    For instance, Titanic was done very well and I enjoyed

    it but Planet of the Apes 2001 sucked!!!!

    I also loved Magnolia and The Pledge. Some of the

    dramatic scenes in Magnolia had me glued to me

    seat. Same with The Pledge. How about some of

    Nick Nolte's scenes in The Thin Red Line. Awesome.

    The only other reason why I like movies has to do

    with history. Some times watching an older movie

    gives you a feeling of or knowledge about that time

    in history or the event that happened. I'm always

    searching for knowledge.

    One movie that had it all was Doctor Zhivago. I learned

    a bit about the Russian Revolution and the story was

    so emotional and filmed so beautifully.

    I loved this movie!!!

    Anyway, that is why I can like The Pledge and still

    like Titanic or Armageddon. (Yes, I was moved by

    Bruce Willis' speech at the end)
     
  14. Kenneth English

    Kenneth English Second Unit

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  15. Mike Broadman

    Mike Broadman Producer

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    I think this thread does apply to me, in a way.

    As a male teen, I enjoyed movies that had martial arts, explosions, and T&A. Still do, sometimes. But I think I never really expected movies to offer more than that.

    As I became an avid reader, studied history and discovered older films, my recreational time was spent discovering stories and characters. As I a matured, I came to appreciate powerful literary fiction. Until I started watching Hitchcock and Kubrick, I didn't try to get it from film.

    All that sort of sucked away my interest for shoot-em up action flicks. Oh sure, I enjoyed Fast and the Furious and the battle sequences in Lord of the Rings, and I'll still watch Terminator 2 anytime. I also love Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee. But in general, if a movie doesn't offer interesting characters and a solid story, I won't care for it.

    And it doesn't mean movies aren't fun. Of course they are. Watching the dynamics of the leading ladies in All About Eve is lots of fun for me. I'm not a movie snob or expert by any means. I guess I just feel that when it comes to shooting and blowing stuff up, I've seen my fill.
     
  16. Scott Weinberg

    Scott Weinberg Lead Actor

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    Good question. I suppose it was around high school that I realized I didn't just want to enjoy movies. I also wanted to analyze, dissect and truly appreciate them. It was really important for me to see examples of truly BAD acting, directing and filmmaking overall. (Note to future film freaks: you learn a LOT more watching bad movies than you do watching the Oscar winners!)
    Fortunately, I've been able to temper my "expertise" with my all-powerful love for the medium. I'm very likely to give a "bad" flick a break in my reviews if the "kid" in me is touched in some way by what happens onscreen. (Case in point: I recommend Armageddon to people, despite everything my experience and education tells me.)
    I recently revisited a childhood favorite (Willow) and guess what? I realized for the first time that it's a pretty bad movie. Bah, so what? It makes me feel young again to watch it. For ME, Willow is a good flick and I'd be certain to mention my realization if I reviewed the film.
    Movies are like old photographs in a family album. With hindsight, the photos may be faded, embarrassing or downright awful, but only a fool would junk good memories.
    But even as a kid, I'd have vomited sitting through Patch Adams, I am Sam or Double Jeopardy.
    My tastes haven't changed that much. I just have more experience, more knowledge, and I can articulate my opinions a lot better than your average 12-year old.
    Sometimes. [​IMG]
     
  17. Stephen Orr

    Stephen Orr Screenwriter

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    Let me preface this with some info: I'm 42, closing in on my Navy retirement (8 months!) and a movie NUT. My DVD collection is made up mostly of animation and special effects driven films (Princess Diaries was a concession to my wife, and most of the musicals are for my son...)

    I've been interested in film and visual effects since I was a young pup, and in fact, created stop motion films during the mid 70's for many of my school projects. Harryhausen was my hero(You should see the notebooks of photostats from Famous Monsters and other mags that I have that go back to the 50's. I got most of them from a guy who used to star on the Edge of Night, after we had a long conversation about Ray and his movies. I'm currently scanning them into PDF files for permanent archiving!).

    I was reflecting the other day about how, as a 6 year old, I ran around my yard with a tree branch, pretending it was the claws from that awful buzzard puppet from "The Giant Claw!" I found that I spent a lot of time studying a film's special effects, trying to pick apart how they did it. It did not help that I had a job in 1978 with a company that did the color separations for photos that appeared in Cinefantasique magazine (I used to have an excellent collection of four-color separation cells from Close Encounters!). I am an original subscriber to Cinefex magazine, and religiously read every new issue at least twice before I put them put on the shelf.

    Up until the early 80's, I fully intended to live on the west coast and apprentice with IL&M, or at least try to get a job sweeping their floors or something. I was finishing up my first tour of duty in the Navy and had to make a decision about my life, whether to pursue my dream of being a special effects tech or supporting a family. I stayed Navy, and don't regret it for a moment.

    Getting to my point, as the special effect era really started taking hold (2001 was a step, but it was Star Wars that really marks the beginning), I found myself, more and more, analyzing films to death rather than enjoying them. This went on for almost 15 years.

    It was only after my son was old enough to really appreciate movies as a form of art that HE taught me how to really enjoy a movie, instead of being a constant analyst. He enjoys a good special effects movie as much as I do, and can pick out a blue or greenscreen composite as well as I can, but he reminded me how to actually be moved by the story and performances.

    My wife, on the other hand, picked up some of my bad habits. Continuity problems drives her nuts, and was actually ticked by the large plot problems in "Kate and Leopold!" Her remark to me? "I've been living with you for 20 years. I can't help it."

    Great thread. Thanks for the chance to reflect...
     
  18. Derek Miner

    Derek Miner Screenwriter

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    This is a topic I think about regularly. I consider myself somewhere in a movie limbo. I haven't fully developed into someone who prefers movies as "art," but I am very willing to see just about anything.

    I have a harder time watching formulaic films than I did as a kid. I recall rewatching Superman III a few years back and just being so annoyed by it, whereas I loved it as a kid.

    I've always found it amusing how close my developing tastes in movies parallel Kevin Smith's experiences. There's a story in John Pierson's book (Spike, Mike, Slackers and Dykes) on how Smith went to see The Dark Backward because it looked so different and interesting. I went out of my way to rent it on tape based on a preview on another tape. He didn't like it, and neither did I.

    Then there's the fact that Smith saw Richard Linklater's Slacker on his 21st birthday. Slacker was definitely the first independent film I got to see in the theater, and it led me to follow Linklater's career. While I was in college, I was very excited to see Dazed and Confused and Before Sunrise, both of which I liked a lot. I was very impressed by the very realistic and natural performances in these films, which really raised the bar for me as far as how I expected characters in movies to behave.

    Around the time I saw Slacker, I just happened to be seeing a lot more films in general, which certainly affected my attitudes. I really jumped into seeing many movies on home video (and buying used tapes), and I was introduced to laserdisc as well, which opened up the "behind-the-scenes" world to me.

    I am actually quite proud of the fact that I can usually choose whether to look at a movie analytically or just lose myself in it. Sometimes I get sidetracked, and sometimes I see a movie completely different by watching it again. But most often than not, I really enjoy going to movies.
     
  19. Joseph Young

    Joseph Young Screenwriter

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    From 'the thinking-too-much school of film interpretation,' I submit some ideas to ponder (or ponderous ideas, if you prefer).
    [​IMG]
    It helps me to categorize the films that respectively inspire and entertain me.
    1. 'Fun' films: Either way, I'm not expecting to be enlightened or enriched by these movies, but I do expect them to be savvy, with confident and clever scripts. Some films (as discussed in the Predator appreciation thread) appear to be timeless with a lot of people.
    Films like this can also be 'stupid' and still be good films, and others can be stupid and simply bad (which, I repeat, is subjective). If I say 'check your brain at the door,' I don't ask myself to forgive a bad script (I really disliked Armageddon). The trick is, the criteria for judging this is not universal and should never be. We all walk into the theater with varying kinds of 'baggage' that will ultimately color our enjoyment of a film.
    As an example, there are engineers are scientists who cannot enjoy big actions films that break the laws of physics or insult scientific method, and I respect that, but sometimes being a luddite [​IMG] helps to enjoy these 'fun' flicks a little more. I enjoy films that take you for a ride and do it in a somewhat self-depreciating or wholly confident fashion. How much mindlessness am I willing to forgive in these films? How much of that mindlessness is balanced out by a literate script?
    2. Enlightening Cinema: This must be emotionally satisfying, if anything. The emotions in question can be rage, fear, sadness, joy, or anything in between. The ones I prefer tap into any one of these deep emotions and do so directly and honestly, with very little manipulation. As a rule these films are usually understated but in some cases (Magnolia comes to mind) they are emotionally over the top and still manage to work for me.
    Again, to subcategorize: all of these films are thought provoking, but some of them don't feel 'genuine' to me. If I see a film as a very deliberate and manipulative attempt to tap into emotions, not for the sake of enlightenment but simply to get a reaction (coughcoughvontriercough) then I will walk away feeling cheap and used, the director's puppet. However, if the writer or director has genuine affection for the audience and the characters and the emotions 'feel' real to me, then I will walk away feeling genuinely changed and enlightened.
    And if the film has something to say and says it by causing a deep emotional reaction... needless to say these are my favorite types of films.
    If you get a message or meaning out of a film - whether intended by the filmmaker or not - then it will be an enlightening experience.
    I walked out of Mulholland Drive with a very clear sense of what the movie was saying. I loved it. The people who disliked it couldn't get past the cliched 'Lynchisms' and felt he was saying nothing new. I respect that. The theses I walked away with after MD came from personal questions I had about human nature that Lynch actually helped me to answer through that film. I walked in with baggage that the film sorted through for me. Seeing as we all carry different biases into the theater, it's justifiable that some of us will walk away affected and some of us will walk away wholly apathetic and unmoved. It's like any art form, you know?
    Obviously there are several shades in between (like Dark City which I felt was wholly entertaining 'fun' and yet surprisingly thought provoking. Some historical epics "Ghandi, Dr.Zhivago, Lawrence" are highly entertaining and yet (although not always historically accurate) do cause you to consider another culture, another time and place.
    Ok, rambling over...
    Joseph
     
  20. Seth Paxton

    Seth Paxton Lead Actor

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    My tastes haven't changed that much. However, I do evaluate more and more each day. This doesn't affect my ability to enjoy films, and in fact I evaluate the films I love MORE because I am sucking every bit of greatness out of them. [​IMG]
    I'm not sure when I went into major analysis mode, but I have been pretty critical since I was about 12-13 regarding films (my mom reminds me of how I love to watch Siskel and Ebert as a kid). So that is 20+ years ago.
    One high school example - I LOVED (and still do) Chariots of Fire, not exactly blockbuster material.
    Of course blockbusters are just another genre of film at this point and like all genres, not every film in the genre is "good" no matter what genre it is - film noir, sci-fi, or blockbuster.
     

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