Tuesday, October 9, 2012

What do we look for in movies anyway?

I like Liam Neeson and it makes me happy to see him become a box office star as he enters his sixties. But, as Taken 2 tops the box office with an almost $50 million weekend, it does makes me wonder about what people look for in the films they go to see.

With a good movie that gets praise, it seems that when your average moviegoer comes around to it, the film will have to do backflips and handstands in order to make a positive impression. But, when it's a sequel to a familiar franchise that takes absolutely zero risks in style or substance, the standards seem to be different.  Looper seems to be doing ok business in the box office but certainly a film with Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the leads can do a bit better. I found Looper to be original, daring, and a fun movie to watch. Many audience members liked the film, but when I see criticisms, I often see words "overrated" or "overhyped." thrown in there. As if a well-reviewed movie can't just be good or liked by a lot of people.

It seems like people try harder to defy critics than let the movie speak for themselves. I, for one, don't give a rat's ass about rottentomatoes or metacritic. I'll look at them as reference points when awards season comes around, but other than that, I don't let that guide my movie watching. I do have a bias though. I tend to flock to movies that have interesting directors attached to them, that's what draws me as a film watcher. Not everyone goes that route, in fact, many couldn't care less who directs anything. That's weird to me though. I look at great directors the same way I look at great bands. Why wouldn't you care who sings your favorite song? It just seems illogical to me. You like a good movie for a reason, why not seek out movies made by the same people involved?

I feel that, for myself, the difference of opinion between me and a well-respected friend or family member is becoming a bit too noticeable for me. It gets to a point where I'm afraid to even discuss "The Master" with someone I know no matter how much I love that film and regardless of whether or not that film has many things worth discussing. I don't care if someone dislikes films that I like, but I often find myself unable to have a well-rounded discussion about this or that film. It always seems to devolve to the point where it's no longer worth discussion.

Fact of the matter is that too many people just don't give a shit. More often than not, people just want turn their brain off when they watch a movie. For me, that used to be fine every once in awhile, but does it really have to be that way all the time?

Part of the problem is me, I know that. For some reason, I seem to respond positively to films that I can sense will wind up being divisive. I loved The Master, Drive, and The Tree of Life... films that the majority of critics like too, but there's a huge disconnect between critics and audiences with those films. Heck, The Tree of Life has a paltry 6.9 rating on imdb for crying out loud. People really dislike that movie. I really loved that movie. Is there something wrong with me? Or with them? Or does anything have to be wrong with anybody? I don't know, but I feel like there used to be a time when the discrepancy between what was good and what people thought was good wasn't so damn different.

A great film used to just be a great film. Sure, some might not like it, but at least people used to have a worthy explanation of some sort. Difference of opinion is always welcome, but I often find myself scratching my head and asking "why" when I hear some dissenters of my favorite movies of recent time.

Anyway, I don't mean to come across as pretentious or as an asshole with this post, I'm just getting frustrated. It really seems like fewer people are interested in seeing original movies anymore and are instead flocking to more sequels, blockbusters, etc. 2011 was already a bad sign and 2010 is looking more and more like an anomaly. Argo, Lincoln, Django Unchained... more original movies, but will they gain any traction with the general movie going audience? God I hope so, I don't wanna live in a world where people ignore Tarantino and Spielberg in favor of films with an already established audience that took hundreds of millions of dollars to make. More than ever, this is an issue that's becoming important to me. Why can't we embrace movies that are different? Bold, rambunctious? Films that test people's patience. Why can't we embrace variety? Why does it all have to be done the same way or have the same movie title but with a "2" or "3" next to it? I'm running out of answers.

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