Amph How do you tell if a movie is really deep or just pretentious?

Discussion in 'Archive: The Amphitheatre' started by Jabbadabbado, Oct 15, 2011.

  1. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 7
    I think the key to any great art is some sort of emotional resonance for the audience, but I think you're wrong to quantify the audience's emotional investment in a movie with the degree to which the primary artist has "suffered immensely." I mean, don't you think that an artist might suffer deeply over some kind of existential question and then make a movie that is awful about it? Or that someone might begin to investigate some theme or perspective and make a very good movie based on that theme without having to go through the pit of despair to get there? I certainly do.

    I mean, I see your point, but I think it's dangerous to go down the "authenticity" road to quite the degree you're positing there. I mean, I do not think that I need to know whether a director or a screenwriter suffered over a movie in order to know whether the movie is any good or not. I think you're opening the door to letting in too much extraneous information. I mean, the key elements in deciding whether a work of art is any good or not are still actually in the work of art itself, and not in the biography of the artist. In my opinion.
  2. The_Four_Dot_Elipsis Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2005
    star 5
    Merlin, casting aside the technical aspects of a film, I think everyone who watches a film deep down has a good grasp of how story functions and how visuals form the narrative. I think on that level, without bringing in technical elements about specific instruments, lenses, and lighting set-ups (which I don't even know nearly enough about) you can talk about how a film works, with a bit of poking and prodding, and provided that whoever you're talking to is interested. Even on that level, I wish there was more discourse.

    A thousand times this. No work of art exists in a vacuum, but what is contained in the work itself is what should be assessed. I don't think David Fincher broke a sweat over The Social Network, but it's pretty much his masterpiece. Larry Olivier found directing The Prince and the Showgirl so taxing and painful that he gave up directing, what he called "the best job in the world" pretty much forever, with one (minor) exception. And that film is a piece of junk. I know those aren't quite the emotional and intellectual perils that Bergman put himself through, but still.
  3. Merlin_Ambrosius69 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 2008
    star 5
    I agree, with the proviso that there is a degree of subjectivity in a given filmmaker's solution to "how story functions and how visuals form the narrative", and in a viewer's response to those choices. Some directors (vonTrier, Herzog) arguably reject traditional story structure altogether. One filmmaker may find a certain kind of story structure more appealing than another. So even this aspect of the medium is not entirely objective.

    But narrative structure and "visuals" seem like a good starting point for having more involved, "deeper" exchanges on the subject of film.

    I'll throw my lot in with this too. Good writing and directing comes from life experience, which includes suffering but also joy, and the full range of human emotions. Greater orders of pain and suffering do not guarantee or even decide film quality, comprehension or craftsmanship.
  4. The_Four_Dot_Elipsis Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2005
    star 5
    Absolutely to the first point, but... yeah, the second thing you said.

    I must say though, I'm continually amazed at how people don't notice the look of a film. Probably because a lot of popular films in this day and age are kinda hideous (but there are certainly many purdy ones out there. I submit that Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is perhaps the most beautiful looking franchise film... ever? Certainly in the last 10 years.) But... it's what's right in front of you! You don't even need to be an expert on photography or anything, and it's informing your mood and thoughts but... people still don't notice. Shame.
  5. Merlin_Ambrosius69 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 2008
    star 5
    As a lifelong visual artist and erstwhile art teacher, I can only say that some people have an eye -- and a heart, perhaps -- for visuals/photography/imagery, and some people do not. We all have our aptitudes.

    So, Half-Blood Prince, eh? In the theater I was disappointed with its lack of vibrant color, the brilliance of which had made the photography of Phoenix such a delight for me. I understand the producers muted Yates' robust hues in post. I thought Deathly Hallows 2 was a cinematographic return to form, restoring as it did (in places) the rich colors of Phoenix. So now, when I watch HBP on DVD, I crank the color up to like 98. It's just so much richer to my eye that way.

    There's a little objectivity in my subjectivity this time, I think. ;)
  6. The_Four_Dot_Elipsis Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2005
    star 5
    Normally I'm disappointed by the muted look of a lot of these films, but what Delbonnel does with contrast and light and framing makes the whole film look like it was shot on parchment or something. As though it was 100 years old. It's an amazing look that I've never seen anywhere else (Delbonnel's most recent work, Faust, looks pretty similar in the trailers I've seen).
  7. KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus

    Member Since:
    Nov 6, 2001
    star 8
    Deathly Hallows saw a new cinematographer, in the form of Eduardo Serra. Taken together, the two films are a masterwork. He had far and away the best camera work of the series.
  8. The_Four_Dot_Elipsis Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Mar 3, 2005
    star 5
    I like Serra's work, I like it a lot, but his best moments are kinda aping Delbonnel (the super washed-out confrontation between Snape and Harry), and I wouldn't even put it ahead of Michael Seresin's exceptional wide-angle work on Prisoner of Azkaban. The moments that floored me visually in Deathly Hallows were typically heavy on special effects.
  9. Nevermind Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 14, 2001
    star 6

    It's a giant irony to hear you say this, Rogue given the arguments you and I have had on 'reading out' and 'reading in' in modern art.
  10. Rogue1-and-a-half Manager Emeritus who is writing his masterpiece

    Member Since:
    Nov 2, 2000
    star 7
    "Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself. I contain multitudes."


    :p