Thursday, December 18, 2008

My two cents


Though none of us can apply a strictly objective set of criteria to judge this or any movie’s specific value, my own inclinations are to think about what the movie tries to do and decide whether or not it follows through.

This movie promises to be a couple of things (dramatic, funny, explosive, some sort of political statement) and doesn’t necessarily accomplish them. Things do explode and do so in an epic, utterly compelling sort of way. That I’ll give it. But the other things just don’t play out for me. Therefore, to follow Gaston’s criteria, I wouldn’t watch it again, nor would I recommend it to someone. It has, of course, evoked responses, and I myself did review it upon watching it (see my myspace blog ).

I base it’s rewatch-abilty, be it my own or a proxy’s, on the things the movie can do (tell a story, tell a joke etc), the things T AZ has laid out. And rewatch-ability is linked up with what I already prefer, right? Not just some objective reaction that occurs upon my watching it the first time. Would I watch Tombstone a zillion times? Yes. Do I argue that it’s aesthetically solid film? Not really. I’d watch it any day of the week because it accomplishes what it promises (being a Western), it’s got some zingy one-liners, and I think Val Kilmer is hot. Part of what I’m arguing is that we have to be aware of what we already prefer and recognize that must factor into a movie’s rewatch-ability status.

I think we also need to think about the watcher’s pleasure. None of us (I hope) would argue the Cougar selections are good movies. Yet you people watch them because you derive some sort of pleasure from seeing a bad movie being bad. So, that has something to do with a film’s aesthetic value. Perhaps the watcher’s reaction might be a better measure—There are films that I consider terrific that I cannot watch again because they were too overwhelming. I found little humor or pleasure in TF, though I delight in the juvenile, as my penchant for Pee Wee’s Playhouse and Friday indicate. I also like watching things blow up. Somehow, though, the anti-freeze as pee-pee joke in TF didn’t work for me and the fighting scenes weren’t enough to carry it. The pleasure I derived from watching it had far more to do with the company rather than anything the film tried and failed to do.

I’m glad to see that box office draw and money made have been tossed from the criteria. By that logic Mariah Carey is the best female artist ever. Lastly, in regard to Michael Bay—the best thing he ever did was direct Meatloaf’s videos


Gaston Monescu said...

Wait a minute...

I'm not saying that Box Office and Critical Reception should be ignored...

I AM arguing that the following two questions are as interesting as trying to find some objective criteria for determining what is "good" or "bad"...WHY has Mariah Carey sold that many albums or WHY has Michael Bay managed to make a shiteload of money time after time with films that are critically panned?

Ultimately, those questions are just as subject to this crowd (read: re-readability or ability to provoke responses/thought/reactions) as particular movies are. Transformers is doing something if it's getting Kenny that riled up AND it's making 600 million dollars.

What good does an appellation like "good" even mean if you won't watch it, talk about it, or recommend it? I would argue, Britt, that Tombstone IS good based on the things you've listed. If you've got three pluses that motivate rewatching it 1000 times, WHY do things like plot etc. outweigh those things to make it bad?

Thanks for joining the conversation!

Britt said...

A) I'm not sure it's Transformers specifically that gets Kenny riled up. I think he's living in a powder keg and giving off sparks, if you know what I mean. By that I mean, he's apt to argue/get riled up about anything. Which is one reason this blog exists, no?

B) And yes, I argue Tombstone is good, because I like it, because I say so. But I'd be willing to bet most critics don't. Maybe they like Kilmer, but that's as far as it goes. I contend the reasons I like it, and the reasons why 600 million dollars can't be wrong are far more SUBJECTIVE reasons evaluate a movie. Why is Mariah Carey so popular? She has a nice ass and can make that screechy noise and lots of people have bad taste. One may say the same about Michael Bay, though I have no idea how nice or un-nice his ass is.

C) My final point: things like plot, performances, direction, following through on what it "promises," etc. are far more objective criteria to evaluate a film. Blue Velvet, to my knowledge, after twenty-plus years hasn't made 600 million bucks, displays reprehensible characters in morally outrageous situations. Yet, one could say, one would say, that this is a good film, because of these more objective criteria, and the conversations it's engendered.