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Dancing about architecture - criticism - discuss


#1

I was one of those too but this is very different in my opinion. Prometheus is a flawed movie, even as a defender of it I know that. It tried at the complex plot and dialogue and failed at them in many ways.

Fury Road was a simpler idea perfectly executed. To go back to the comics analogy, yes there are books with good artwork and bad script and vice versa but this was like a silent issue from Morrison and Quitely. It set out to drive the narrative as visually as possible,

Edit to add: By the way I am not arguing that it may not be everyone’s cup of tea and understand the friends that didn’t like it. It was just the initial statement that if you cut out the hectic action it’s terrible, you could make the same argument for a horror or comedy film.


#2

Regarding Fury Road, could the argument be made that we (i.e. comic fans) have taken to it more because we are most used to storytelling in a visual way?


#3

That’s probably a factor. but it is also getting good reviews from many critics.

It’s doing fine with the general audience but it’s not going to make ‘Avengers’ money.

As I said in the other thread, I think the beginning and end work great but the middle section sags.


#4

One thing is clear in the question whether Prometheus, Tomorrowland, Fury Road or White Chicks are good or bad, great or awful, visual, narrative, character or fart-joke driven - and that is that nothing is clear.

The same reasons I like one movie could be the exact same reasons I don’t like another movie. If you’re not big into car chases, apocalyptic settings and bats**t maniac characters, then you’re probably not going to like TOMORROWLAND. And if fantasy science fiction, retro-futuristic gadgets and George Clooney ain’t your cup of tea, then Max Rocketonsky hanging on the hood and spitting gasoline directly into an engine supercharger is not gonna get to you.

Seriously, though, there is no telling why people like any particular movie. All movies are dumb and all movies are genius. Even on the extreme ends, you’ll find movies that everyone lauds or hates that you feel exactly the opposite about. And, honestly, is there ever a good reason? After the movie, you can cite this or that - a few great scenes, a character you really liked, the visuals, the dialog. But even then, after the fact, it’s really impossible to say if any reason you come up with is really the reason you like or hate the movie, or if, more likely, these are the reasons you come up with that fit with the sort of person who you like to think that you are.


#5

Nah, some movies are good and some are bad despite personal tastes and all that.

It’s easier to spot the bad ones though, because it’s easier to spot a problem. For exemple, one of the things that make me say that a movie is “bad” is when there are inconsitencies within the plot… meaning that a movie usually sets rules and I expect the script to follow those rules (unless they’re intentionally breaking them, which should be made clear as well).

Doesn’t matter if you have dragons, zombies, pìrates, ninjas and unicorns in a movie… as long as they follow “the rules”. A prime exemple of this (for me) is Looper: They set some really idiotic rules at the begining of the movie, but hey, fair is fair… the problem being that they spend the rest of the movie ignoring them and contradicting themselves. That to me is a clear exemple of a “bad script”. It’s not a question of taste, it’s a matter of logic and coherence.


#6

Yes but equally you may not care, I can see those issues with Looper but still quite enjoyed it and there are films that may have perfect logic that bored me to tears.

My original point by the way, which I tried to clarify with an edit, wasn’t that I have any issue with someone not liking Fury Road. People like all sorts of things and have different demands and I’ve warned people going in that it’s flat out action and if they aren’t up for that to stay away. In fact I could take Johnny’s inconsistency element further because sometimes you watch a film again and change your perspective that it’s much better or worse than you first thought.

My issue was with saying that if you disregard the visual flair and action then it’s terrible. That’s a bit like saying if you took the scary bits out of Halloween or the witty dialogue out of Annie Hall they’d be useless too.

What would interest me is for all our debate here, has anyone substantially changed their opinion based on someone convincing them of its merits or faults?


#7

Agree with that, you can’t disregard the visual aspect of any movie ('cause they’re visual and stuff =P) and more particularly in films of this kind that really focus more on visual story-telling, even if the story is rather short xD

I don’t think anyone who likes The Raid 2 or something like that liked it for the deep and complex story… sometimes it’s all in the presentation, and it’s as valid as movies that do the complete opposite and are a 100% story driven, like 12 angry men or the sunset limited, that basically have people talking in a room for the entirity of the movie.


#8

That’s a good question. I don’t rewatch a lot of movies these days, but I’ve certainly made the experience of watching a movie with people who immsensely disliked them or liked them and that did have an effect on my own perception of the movie.


#9

I remember changing my opinion of Fight Club quite significantly, after watching it for the first time and not liking it very much at all. Friends who had seen it before I did had raved about it, and after I saw it they tried to explain to me what they had enjoyed so much about it. When I watched it a second time several months later I liked it a lot more and recognised a lot of what they had talked about - it felt like a very different film.

It’s difficult to say though whether that’s partly to do with that specific film being quite a different experience the second time around anyway, and whether I was maybe just in a better and more receptive mood the second time around.


#10

Do not talk about Fight Club!


#11

I think it’s something that’s also slightly driven by the fact that narrative is easier to discuss and criticise in words. When you are asked to do your first review of something in school it’s usually a retelling of the entire story and then a brief bit at the end of whether you liked it or not. Good film critics will avoid that of course but it is often the easiest approach.

As in your Looper example you can to some degree prove an argument when it comes to story logic in a way you can’t with acting or cinematography.

When I was younger the NME used to bug me with their music reviews as they were always dominated by the lyrics, something that can be great but not the most important aspect of music by a long way for me. It was just easier to write about than how a melody makes you feel.


#12

I think writing about melodies and harmonies and structures probably isn’t harder if you’re a musician or a Musicology MA. Maybe those NME guys all majored in English lit.


#13

Based on my recollections of the standard of writing in the NME, I think it’s probably unlikely. :slight_smile:


#14

You have to consider the audience too, who are more likely teenagers who want to know if it will make them dance than experts in the academics of musical structures.

As the famous saying goes, writing about music is like dancing about architecture.


#15

But that audience certainly isn’t interested in the lyrics…

Awesome! I can totally see that!

EDIT: Heh. And of course there’s a massive number of clips if you go looking for “dancing about architecture” :smile:


#16

I don’t know, when I was a teenager it was all The Smiths and various shoegazing bands that were the main features.

The quote there is most usually attributed to Elvis Costello, he made it famous anyway although it’s contested he invented it, he’s not bad with lyrics.


#17

I’d never heard that. Great.

“Dancing About Architecture” should definitely be the title for the next ‘listening’ thread. :slight_smile:


#18

Okay this is fun but off the point so I’m going to split it off into a thread about film criticism or some nonsense like that.


#19

I think the most important thing when you’re criticising any work - no matter what - is to first try and figure out what the work is trying to do. Not what you want it to do, or to be, but what it wants to be. And then the question is, does it do that well?

If a movie has no interest whatsoever in plot, but only in aesthetics and characters, that’s what you judge it on (–> MI:2, John Woo movies in general). And so on.


#20

That sort of delicacy is an art that is often missing in modern reviewing (I’m mainly speaking about movie reviews), which often is just a rehash of the plot plus a star rating out of 5. I read an article by the Irish Times film critic where he bemoaned the fact that people tend to skip to the rating, but not read the substance of the review.