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What do you look for in a movie?

Discussion in 'Anything goes' started by novelist_wannabe, Aug 20, 2012.

  1. novelist_wannabe

    novelist_wannabe Well-Known Member

    I've been reading the Last Movie You Watched thread as long as it's been up, and I always find it striking how differently people take the same movie.

    The latest is the Hunger Games, which seems to have no middle ground. A couple of us loved it (I thought it was great fun even though I'm way outside the target demographic), a couple others just killed it. It's no the first movie to generate such divergent opinions, and it certainly won't be the last.

    Anyway, this set me to wondering: What does it take to hold your interest? And, what are you in it for when you go to the movies?

    Me -- Interesting imagery, some tension in the story telling, a few good lines. Some action, the occasional explosion. Generally, I want a two-our escape, and I'm often willing to suspend disbelief. I don't have to be intellectually challenged, but that's a bonus when it happens.

  2. spikechiquet

    spikechiquet Well-Known Member

  3. Bubbler

    Bubbler Active Member

    I defer to Potter Stewart for this question ...


    I don't think it's definable. If you try to define your tastes, you end up being hemmed in by them.
  4. Bradley Guire

    Bradley Guire Well-Known Member

    I have an odd collection of DVDs at home. I'll watch popcorn fare like "Avengers" or more serious fare like "Apollo 13." I'll watch crime dramas as good as "L.A. Confidential" or as low-budget as those Jesse Stone movies Tom Selleck makes for CBS.

    Then I have shit like "Super Mario Bros." and "DC Cab." I also have everything John Carpenter has done, for when I'm in a nihilistic mood.
  5. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    I could probably write a book about this, and some - like Roger Ebert - have.

    If I had to boil it down to a couple of words, it would be this: Don't cheat. Same as with any fiction I read. No deus ex machinas. No withholding key information in a non-believable way just to serve the plot. I know it's a TV show, but "LOST" did this all the time, and it drove me crazy - characters would fail to ask questions that any normal person would clearly ask. On film, an example would be "Up in the Air," a solid movie otherwise that cheated because it laid no foundation for the big plot twist regarding Vera Farmiga's character.

    For the most part, I like movies that have something to say, but it doesn't have to be profound, merely well-told. Take David Lynch's movies, for example. "Mulholland Drive" is about Hollywood delusion, a simple enough idea - but incredibly well-crafted. "Blue Velvet" is about, among other things, the non-profound idea that our perfectly manicured suburban havens are not what they seem. But, again, it is impeccably and compellingly put together. Compare to "The Hunger Games," a movie with, seemingly, a lot of interesting and nuanced things to say about our entertainment consumption that is, in execution, a hot mess.

    For the most part, with plenty of exceptions, I tend to like the small better than the grandiose. I absolutely love when the small is used to illuminate the grandiose. So I like something like "Melancholia," where the end of the world is viewed through the window of one isolated family, better than something like "War of the Worlds" or "The Day After Tomorrow." But not too small. I don't love movies like "Hard Candy" or "Carnage," which feel like you're watching a play. ("Carnage" also represents one of my biggest pet peeves - movies where people don't talk like they really talk. Although there are exceptions - like "True Grit" or "Clockwork Orange" or even "Brick," which is probably a swing and a miss for me, where the odd diction is stylized and serves a purpose. It is, admittedly, a fine line. But I think there's an internal logic - I don't think I'm arbitrary.)

    I despite voice over narration or overly expository, on-the-nose dialogue. It is time to abandon the Greek chorus. If you can't convey to your audience what is going on in a less clunky manner - looking at you, Christopher Nolan, director of "Inception" - then you need to re-examine your screenplay.

    For the most part, pure escapism does not do it for me, and I understand that this annoys the ever-living piss out of some of my fellow posters. But so be it. I want to learn something or feel something or think about something. I do want to be intellectually challenged. Or emotionally challenged. What do I look for in a movie? Resonance. That probably best describes it. Resonance.
  6. 3OctaveFart

    3OctaveFart Guest

    A dash of humility.
    Nolan is like the child who scribbles a picture of a tree and tells you, no, it's really a giraffe. Because I say so. And it's my artwork.
    I can't abide by that shit.
  7. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    I think the most important thing is a good script and I think the movies that are based on books are light years ahead in this category. Nothing pisses me off more than some $100,000,000 action flick where they spared no expense on casting, effects, or anything else, but the script is God-awful.

    I remember hearing the story about how George Lucas let Ron Howard read the script for Phantom Menace and Howard said, "You really need someone to punch this up. Let me give you the name of my guy, who is the best in the business." The guy wanted to do it, but Lucas only offered him scale to do it and the guy told Lucas to fuck off...

    The result is a horrible movie.
  8. Dick Whitman

    Dick Whitman Well-Known Member

    I almost never watch action movies at this point and, when I do, rarely enjoy them. It's just too difficult for action as practiced today to advance or provide real dramatic tension or character development. I usually just want it to end already so we can get back to the movie.
  9. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    Action movies have been awful for quite some time. I think the demise started when everything had to be PG-13 and stuff wasn't as funny or graphic. You can't do a Lethal Weapon or a Beverly Hills Cop or Die Hard and have it be as good if you're trying to tune it down.

    I love a good mindless action film, something like Last Boy Scout or Commando or Out for Justice or anything with Van Damme in it, but they just make movies like that anymore.
  10. Gehrig

    Gehrig Active Member

    Could not agree more with you.
  11. Azrael

    Azrael Active Member

  12. Mizzougrad96

    Mizzougrad96 Active Member

    What was the last great action film? Spy thrillers (Bourne, Bond...) don't count. I wouldn't even really count Sci-Fi or Adventure films either...

    Expendables was OK/mediocre. Die Hard 4 was better than expected, but I'm talking about a great popcorn movie. I'm sure there have been a couple in the last decade, but maybe not...
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