Friday, November 16, 2012

Ranting again

I will never understand why movies are measured on an upward scale, with low-brow humor being at the bottom, and “Shakespeare” drama being at the top. As if “aiming” for anything other than Oscar-winning drama is somehow aiming lower.

Case in point, Dolph Lundgren posted this review for The Expendables 2 on his Facebook today:

"The Expendables 2 is far from a perfect film, but it at least has the benefit of knowing what it wants to be, aiming absolutely no higher than being a good old boy romp through various places with all sorts of nifty, mayhem wreaking toys. This Blu-ray looks and sound great and comes with some good supplements. Recommended."
- Jeffrey Kauffman, BLU-RAY.COM
Ok, that sounds like a good review, I suppose. It praises the movie, generally, and points out some good strengths. Fair enough. But why start with “…is far from a perfect film”? What the fuck is a perfect film? I can point out plot holes, bad acting and weaknesses in just about any film, so IMHO there is no such thing. And what about that little “aiming absolutely no higher than being a good old boy romp…” part? What a back-handed compliment. What a condescending pat on the head. As if to say “Yes, you’re a fun little movie, but you’re not real art.”

The problem is that film critics (both formally trained and couch commando types) measure films on a single scale. Invariably, this scale will measure acting ability and artistic relevance, but only in the context of genre. If a movie is a drama, the performances are given more weight. Conversely, in an action movie, the performances are automatically assumed to be lesser. Because if they were really acting, they’d be in a drama, right?

Oh, and of course, if the movie features some kind of melodramatic love-story it gets extra points. And bonus kudos if the male lead sheds tears. Because that is ACTING! That’s high art. That’s class and sophistication. Oh, those explosions and well-choreographed fight scenes and violent death scenes are just…fun. But they’re not real art.

Here’s an idea - why don’t we judge movies based on how well they represent their genre? For instance, if an action movie has a hero that is believable, fight scenes that are exciting and well-choreographed, and a narrative pace that keeps the audience on the edge of their seat, let’s just call that a good movie and be done. No need for qualifiers, no need to place it in the context of it being “only an action movie.” And the same standards can be adapted to other genres. Did that comedy make you laugh? Was the plot logical, the characters relatable? Yes? Oh, then it’s a good movie. Period.

Nothing grates my nerves more than to hear someone give me a laundry list of things they like about a movie, and then finish up with “But I wouldn’t call it a good movie.” Why not, you pretentious prick? Get over yourself. You’re probably not nearly as sophisticated or as smart as you think you are, asshole.

Yeah, I get a little irate about this kind of stuff. Sue me.


Paul R. McNamee said...

Not much different from the literary snobbing directed at sword-&-sorcery.

Tom Doolan said...

Very true!

Keith said...

I think we have this type of snobbery because a subset of people with inferiority complexes and fragile egos are either afraid or unable to create. Therefore, they cover up and make themselves feel important turning their noses in the air. Maybe they didn't receive enough attention as children or something, but the older I get the less their opinions matter to me.

Charles Gramlich said...

it's human nature to look down upon something or other. And for many, perhaps like Dolph, it gets to the point where even those who like the stuff feel they must apologize for it. It's one of the nice things about having a degree for me in that I can make fun of their tastes just as easily as they can mine. It's also one reason why I've often bashed so called literary fiction.

Ali Muslihan said...

Hi Tom, I agree with you. and keep posting Commonwealth Life Perusahaan Asuransi Jiwa Terbaik Indonesia
3D LED Smart TV