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xx So... what are we currently watching?
« Thread started on: Aug 20th, 2012, 08:24am »

This topic? A shameless ripoff that's years late. This may be a good segue to Bryan Singer's Superman Returns, except once was already too much if you had already seen Superman: The Movie or II. Like watching Singer watch those movies as a "new" movie, then pornographically subverting Superman's iconography wherever his personal life and politics pointed him; I'd probably be a lot more interested in the film's cynicism-wrapped-in-nostalgia if the pierces didn't make for such a crashing bore when put together, starting with a manikin as Kal-El (shades of George Lazenby replacing Sean Connery). I guess that's my review six years in.

Oh. Tangent? Of course.

Something I've actually watched recently?

Carol Reed's iconic noir The Third Man. A film about chiaroscuro and tilted angles as visual tract for a broken post-war society. Welles' Harry Lime dominates the film even while offscreen for so much of it. It's all about Lime, but Lime himself is a result of the film's beautiful, ugly and broken environment; characterization and psychology dominating both from Welles' performance and the expressionist production design of Vienna as an orphaned city being further ransacked by corrupt governments that are not its own.

Shadows thrown on jagged or half-there walls, lensed with dutch angles, consistently visualises the idea of a world thrown into chaos and subjectivity rather than guiding morality. It's a clinic of visual storytelling and tone-through-surrounding.

Lime's lair is the sewer, largely untouched by bombing, which also seems an apt metaphor as far as focused and larger corruption. Here's an opportunist, sociopath-megalomaniac, and charming cosmopolitan working the angles created from an amoral occupation by Soviets, Americans, Brits and French. Joseph Cotten's Holly Martins is an appropriate mix of American cliches from the period: brotherly, cynical and naive. He ultimately sees the shadow that Lime throws but not the full nature of those shining light on Lime, creating that shadowplay after having created this broken city.

On some level, no matter truth versus rumor, this is Welles' second masterpiece.
« Last Edit: Aug 20th, 2012, 08:32am by Will » User IP Logged

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xx Re: So... what are we currently watching?
« Reply #1 on: Sep 3rd, 2012, 02:49am »

Yesterday I watched a movie I had not seen in five years and it was equally impressive as the first time I saw it. My girlfriend and I watched Paprika, a 2006 anime that revolves around the invention of the DC Mini. The DC Mini is a device that allows people entrance into other people's dreams. The DC Mini is invented by Dr Tokita and Dr Chiba and is to be used for psychotherapy. Several DC Mini devices are stolen which can (and will) lead to all kinds of disaster. I will stop right here with the set-up because going further would start to spoil the movie.

This anime features amazing visuals, from character designs, their animations and expressions, through backgrounds and settings, all the way to the lush colours used in this visually appealing movie. I really loved the animation and I wasn't surprised to see Production I.G. during the credit roll.

I watched the English dub and I thought the voices sounded odd at times, especially of main character Dr. Chiba. Sometimes I felt her voice actress was unsure of what emotion to portray. Maybe that was the intent as that would fit with the film. Still, it hindered me from getting absorbed completely by the movie. I have to say the (very few) instances this happened, were easily looked past.

I highly recommend this movie and rate it 8.5/10. The story is interesting, the ending is really good and the visuals are a sight to see.
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xx Re: So... what are we currently watching?
« Reply #2 on: Sep 23rd, 2012, 4:20pm »

I just now watched the French film Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amelie Poulain. It's a lovely, sweet film, its characters are all distinct, its story is funny, sad, true, and a fairy tale, the visuals and shots can be stunning, and the music sounds perfect. Stop reading this and watch it. I fell in love with Amelie Poulain (played by Audrey Tautou) when I was 16 or 17, and you need to too.
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xx Re: So... what are we currently watching?
« Reply #3 on: Sep 24th, 2012, 05:11am »

Boardwalk Empire is back. And judging by the first episode of season 3, it's drowning in last season's fallout; season 3 may be a long walk off a short pier, AKA a show that killed itself by accident.

[Spoilers]




It's perhaps the best work on television so far as production value, framing and implication/storytelling through those standards and edits.

But as far as overall goals through character arc(s) and thematic exploration the show is rudimentary, caricatured and dull.

It's a, sometimes embarrassing, case of a show that is pretty but dim. Specifically a set-design production that only wants to look like an era rather than presenting characters that inhabit it. As it becomes more grand guignol in its grotesque mob cliches it also reveals itself to be a politically correct, stultified example of feminist cliches.

Try to imagine The Godfather: Part II dedicating a third of its running time to Kay's incipient desire to march for reproductive rights. Can you picture it? Now you're starting to *get* Boardwalk Empire.

Apropos, the season's opening act hangs on a feminist-tract-as-throughline: a woman takes flight as a psychological cue vis a vis Margaret Thompson's conflicts (see, she wants to Take Flight or Spread Her Wings. Ugh). the problem is not only how reductive, self-obsessed and modern these thematic elements are, but how badly they play thanks to the show's miserable characterization from the prior season. Margaret was revealed to be little more than an opportunistic whore, manipulating men and condemning them when convenient, only feeling enough guilt to truly harm others rather than herself.

This wouldn't be so problematic if not for the carryover in tone. Margaret is very serious in her hypocrisy, and the show doesn't really contradict that in its presentation of her conflicts: we're supposed to sympathize with her self-interest, particularly as a modality of proto-feminism. Thus, an ostensible gangster show is showing us "so much more" by presenting Margaret's discomfort and discomfit over women's reproductive rights in 1923; it seems every show on HBO is aimed squarely at a woman's crotch. With time spent and the composition of shots in/as such sequences, we understand that we're supposed to be wrapped up in the latest subplot in the story of The Little Shrew That Could.

The true conflict and contrast -- the show's gaping wound -- is in how characters like Margaret (and oy, Van Alden) remain, but somehow Michael Pitt's Jimmy Darmody was jettisoned. From the standpoint of shock tactics it may have been efficacious to abruptly (and incoherently) kill the show's secondary lead, but it was clearly not planned as a clean thematic or narrative build for that season or the show's ongoing arc.

What started out as a show about fathers and sons, the blood on the boardwalk versus the whiskey in the water, has somehow devolved into a soulless series of tics -- Mobster Money Shots and Relationship Conflicts+Sensitive Explorations of Early Women's Rights "for the female demo" -- posing as a serious, male-driven drama.

Thus we have a main character, Nucky Thompson, that does nothing for an entire season (2) and a writing team that can only create any drama, first (last and always?), through the Darmody character, only to have Nucky kill him (as a way to shore up Nucky's value). Yet the story that built to such a point made very little sense as an ongoing psychological standard: Darmody's issues with his biological father and Nucky conflate to create the initial conflict of season 2, yet the show's retroactive profile tells us that Jimmy "had died in the war" which is what drives him to give into and allow Nucky to play his executioner. Pretty clearly, personal issues with an actor drove the storytelling somewhere very different, and damaging, for the producers than what was originally outlined.

Though the operatic Freudian build of Darmody's death was commendable intertext on a dramatic pivot, it was so obvious in those allusions as to be visual exposition reminiscent of a kid working on a white wall with a box of red crayolas. Filmed incest, the son killing his father, therein penetrating his mother sexually and his father violently, and the revelation that he destroyed himself in a meaningless war because of the aforementioned sexual conflict. Every scene of the last two or three episodes might as well have had one subtitle running at all times: OEDIPAL!!!!!!

Worse, though, is that it borders on an unforgivable tangent structurally. The show wants us to somehow believe that Darmody so thoroughly betrays (really!) Nucky that he not only has it coming but that it makes sense for him to do everything he can to shore up Nucky's power before allowing Nucky to murder him. All that while he's leaving a young son orphaned, to be taken care of by a mother he feels almost complete antipathy towards and doing nothing to avenge his wife's murder (further implication is that Darmody takes the blame, psychologically, for that as well). And according to Terence Winter, this is Jimmy's way of "making things right".

Since when does Boardwalk Empire have any moral center?

And that may be its biggest problem, or close to it. Not so much the lack of morality but instead its inability to find any emotional depth without Darmody. It's bordering on emotional nihilism as the most interesting threads were built from Darmody's relationships, including both Nucky's complicity in his existence and what it meant to be a "son" to a man that took over his father's town.

Likewise, Darmody's bohemian, bisexual wife was a far more organic character so far as commitment to feminine interests and politics. When they realized that they wanted Jimmy off the boardwalk, it was time for Angela to go as well. Does this make sense relative to thematic explorations at the outset of season 3? No. But that's Boardwalk Empire's consistent theme(s).

One might think that the show would become harder at the beginning of season 3, but instead it's pushing a feminised mise-en-scene; literally the last shot is Margaret's exhilaration at seeing the female aviator fly over the beach. Clearly this will be an ongoing narrative piece that will take its fair share of time. Yet the one believable feminist figure the show had is dead. Well, ok then.

The gambit of Nucky killing Jimmy is one where the best outcome is a strengthened protagonist. Perhaps that can still be the case, but the surrounding characters and character pieces are largely weak so far as Nucky's sphere. Margaret's shrewish hypocrisy is much less interesting than Gillian's Darmody's ongoing machinations, or Richard Harrow's emasculated and lonely presence. How telling that both characters are important through Jimmy Darmody.

Season 3 seems to be headed for a conflict that sees Nucky as collateral to Capone's rise in Chicago, which is redundant as historical value and a further example of the show's lack localised of dramatic conflict now that Darmody and The Commodore are dead. Boardwalk Empire as a tableau and setup may become beside the point.

Though on the plus side, it becomes easier all the time to write a long treatise on Nucky Thompson's Rise and Fall as a Feminist Studies term paper.

Richard Harrow, the emasculated man that can only find virility through more violence, may be the show's greatest creation. And a microcosm that explains exactly what has become wrong with it.
« Last Edit: Sep 24th, 2012, 06:27am by Will » User IP Logged

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xx Re: So... what are we currently watching?
« Reply #4 on: Sep 30th, 2012, 12:53pm »

I just watched Drive, the 2011 movie directed by Nicholas Winding Refn and starring Ryan Gossling.

You have to watch it. It's a film that brings just about every forte of the medium.

I won't waste with the plot. It's actually pretty simple so trying to summarise it might spoil a large part of it. Let me just say that the film has intriguing characters, the situations and scenes are tangible, the music is phenomenal (Angelo Badalamenti, Brian Eno, Cliff Martinez and Kavinsky) but the actual shots... The shots are what makes this movie so enjoyable. The colours, the length the director takes, the slow-motion, the subtle zooms -- it all brought about a beautiful visual experience.

I really love this movie. Like I said, I felt that this movie finds its strength being a movie. There's not too much talk because the creators expect the pictures to tell the story. Like it should be. Gossling does a fantastic job portraying a character whom you never fully understand but you get glimpses of something more.

And the elevator scene. How awesome was everything about that? The lights, the pacing, the music and everything that happened in that tiny, little death trap.

Go watch it.
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xx Re: So... what are we currently watching?
« Reply #5 on: Oct 13th, 2012, 04:47am »

I watched Moon, the 2009 film. I didn't like it as much as I would have hoped. It's about a man (Sam Rockwell) stationed at a station on the Moon, harvesting energised rock, powered by years of exposure to the sun. It's the energy for the future! It's a lonely existence with only a robot companion (Kevin Spacey) at the moon station and a little contact with his wife on Earth.

I don't think the story was worth watching, actually. It looked like a set-up for some interesting, pseudo-philosophical insight into humanity, yet I did not see any of that. Just a sort of 'corporations exploit humans -- can't trust 'em!' message, I guess? Boring to begin with and, more importantly, it does not justify the setting. Why make it take place on the Moon?


I also watched Melancholia (2011, by Lars von Trier) yesterday evening. Again, I feel this was a bit of a let-down, although the enjoyment of the film was marred by the loud music of my obnoxious upstairs neighbours.

I wasn't expecting anything because my girlfriend choose the film and I had never heard of it. I fear I did not get caught up into the story. What I liked were the highly stylised opening shots, depicting scenes we would later encounter in the movie. The characters were all right, I guess. I don't really understand the need for the father and mother role but I suppose not every movie needs puzzle pieces that fit and tell a complete picture (and nothing more). A story might have some left-over pieces just like -- In fear of sounding incredibly cliché -- real life.

Too bad I'm too old to ignore obnoxious adolescents playing subwoofer dance music after 10 PM, and too bad I'm too old to be saved by two Kirsten Dunst naked boob shots.
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« Reply #6 on: Oct 15th, 2012, 5:09pm »

I watched Bronson (2008), another film by Nicolas Winding Refn. This one featured tom Hardy as England's most violent criminal. It's a very interesting portrayal of the man. I do not know anything about him so I would not know if this film is in any way accurate. It does not detract from the enjoyment of the film.

In fact, when watching this film it's obvious it's not meant to be a balanced documentary about the prisoner. This is supposed to be an artistic representation of Bronson. And it's artful all right. I loved the imagery used in this film and the use of classical music was strong as well. I found the stardom Bronson receives and thinks he should strive for interesting.

And the movie is just plain funny at times, despite the brutality of Bronson's actions. Tom Hardy really pulls of the brutality of Bronson (no surprise if you've seen his Bane in The Dark Knight Rises) but also stage acts during this flick. The fun and enjoyment as Bronson receives recognition in prison, or during the human bait scene when the dog charges for him, are apparent in his eyes and face. It was really enjoyable to watch.
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xx Re: So... what are we currently watching?
« Reply #7 on: Oct 24th, 2012, 09:53am »

on Oct 13th, 2012, 04:47am, TheMidnighter wrote:
I watched Moon, the 2009 film. I didn't like it as much as I would have hoped. It's about a man (Sam Rockwell) stationed at a station on the Moon, harvesting energised rock, powered by years of exposure to the sun. It's the energy for the future! It's a lonely existence with only a robot companion (Kevin Spacey) at the moon station and a little contact with his wife on Earth.


I liked it.

Overtly I agree that its philosophical base seems to exist as setup more than any type of depth as far as epistemology, etc. It's a look that exists as simplified intertext: it exists as contradiction to iconic elements from Kubrick's 2001, perhaps most chiefly. Thus the computer; you're supposed to expect him to be the film's antagonist as cinematic baggage, and the film is likewise supposed to surprise by having him be the clones' ally. The film is built from other sci-fi films' larger thematic concerns; man creating man, manipulating life and corporatizing space are all very Ridley Scott circa 1982.

As far as 2001 retreads, I don't know if its much worse or much better than the something like Roddenberry's original Star Trek film (the Enterprise as sperm, its destination a man-made ovum in the form of a space probe, and the film ending with a man and robot [blowup doll[ "joining" in a Big Bang; Roddenberry's debased humanism pretending to be thoughtful, revealing itself as little more than paramasturbatory self-congratulations).

So yeah. Um, Moon was watchable. It had decent tonal value, that may not amount to much thematic content. I could be wrong, and perhaps if I'd written about it right after I'd watched it I'd have more to say about its thematic worth.

Regarding outright crap, it's interesting how willing I've been to watch it while feeling like...crap emotionally. My mind totally vedged, it's amazing what I've been willing to sit through.

Case in point, one of the not-altogether offensive movies I sat through recently was Cowboys and Aliens. It's actually rather odd, considering its placement as a summer special effects blockbuster. It's almost dour and regretful, and somewhat of a dumbed down, politically correct variation on John Ford's The Searchers. After the degradation of the Western through quasi-New Wave attempts like Butch and Sundance's self-aware statements on the end of the outlaw, and even the genre, as a modern attempt to be a classic Western it makes a sort of sense. Ironically the postmodern western operas of Sergio Leone during the same period truly elevated the form, and even are suggestive forebears of the music video a decade-plus before MTV

Since the simplistic "other" can no longer be the Indian, the only way to make anything approaching the values of the genre at its peak is to produce a sci-fi movie. Thus, the irredeemable, soulless antagonists are now CGI aliens, while the Whites and Amerindians ultimately band together.

The posse is what makes the movie rather dull in my opinion. Yet there it is as thematic cliche of both the Western and alien invasion models: this idea of homogenous community and post-national heterogeneity, now conflated as one.

Even the title gives away the film's problem and pitch. Cowboys and Indians? No. Cowboys and aliens, It's typical of the schizophrenic Spielberg model, both nostalgically obsessed with the 50s and accusatory. That he was one of the film's producers is no surprise.

Craig's fine as the mysterious loner, though he's no Man With No Name. Harrison Ford's character is partially derived from John Wayne's in The Searchers, though he mostly reminded me that it was time they do a big screen version of Matlock.

As far as crap goes? It could be worse. It's not anywhere near the misery of Wild Wild West...I'd assume. I've always avoided WWW like the plague. It doesn't feel like a film built around marketing tropes and tie-ins, which is commendable to some extent.

It isn't very narratively interesting, instead it's stuck between two standards: the height pf the 50s Western and the self-critique of the New Wave onslaught.

The Western is dead, just as intended. A piece of Americana that wasn't agreeable post-McCarthy. And the truth may be that the only Western that has really succeeded within this structure and stricture in the last 20+ years is Eastwood's The Unforgiven, artfully and intelligently working as a thematic deconstruction of storytelling versus truth, and idealism versus real-world debasement. Perhaps the only positive graduation since Leone's joyful, mournful odes to anarchy in the 60s.

But in the end, at least Cowboys/Aliens wants to be a decent film.
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xx Re: So... what are we currently watching?
« Reply #8 on: Mar 4th, 2013, 04:00am »

Watched a bit of Aronofsky's Black Swan. I don't know what I was expecting, but I doubt even my subconscious thought this film would be a third act homage to Kafka. The All About Eve portions? A little more obvious.

It's also a good bookend to The Wrestler, matching it well as far as the idea of intense drive towards a goal and the director's stagecraft in expressing these ideas; The Wrestler) explores becoming a used-up piece of meat, past-prime, whileBlack Swan's about wasting away while going out on top. The need for a role -- for stardom -- at all costs.

Both end with an audience, a leap and implied death; visualising Kierkegaard's Leap of (to) Faith? The narrative puzzle seems to fit That is, in Black Swan the leap either to sin or faith, each being separate and contrary; thus the leap, visualised in the film, as metamorphosis either to light or dark. The film is certainly about black and white as polarizing points of persona.

Both films are operatic. But while The Wrestler is culturally deracinated -- American pop culture equating to a neo-opera in a wrestling ring -- Black Swan is dignified and refined, and thus more directly able to visualise itself, simply, as old world, European Opera.

These films understand their forms as a mix of sport and art, even if one is simply known as a bad act. The idea of stage performers as either puppets or prostitutes runs in the two films as well. I suppose that's an unsurprising viewpoint for a director.

"The transparency of thought in existence is inwardness."
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« Reply #9 on: Nov 21st, 2013, 07:31am »

Not that I needed confirmation but Cloud Atlas is an inside-out minstrel-campfest. That might be a recommendation.

Cinematically, the Wachowskis have felt negatively-deracinated post-Matrix (Trilogy<wink. There's a distinct lack of texture and grit to the work.

But losing themselves to one side works perfectly as an auteur statement, however counterproductive and intuitive that would be for other filmmakers. Here? It's a sublimated tonal confession -- ideas of gender, race and persona-as-identity unmoored and yet biographical. The Story of Larry, now Lana Wachowski.

The earlier stuff -- Bound, The Matrix, Revolutions -- is inundated with this assumption (longing) as well. Hiding in plain sight. Becoming powerful through either overt or underlying transmutation.

Oh. Right. Allegory. Or supra(not sub)text. Ever-present. Inherent. What's within, what's without.

Look at The Matrix. On the most basic level, binary. Binary as key visual guideline in the Summer of Leibniz (see Star Wars: Episode 1 and its obsession with the Monad). An Eastern/Western mashup of action films, science fiction films, science fiction and fantasy books and philosophy.

But when you're making a film that owes its understanding not just to Philip K. Dick, but in a longer, larger purview, Rene Decartes, how debased is the underlying notion of gender and racial identity? How far off the path you (they) started from?

The other side of it, is the 99% before Occupy Wall Street. The Matrix as soulmate to Fight Club, at least for the year (Brad "marriage isn't forever" Pitt would get it, believe me).

So green represents at least three things: the cliche of a DOS-era computer interface/of hacking, of the true "nature" of reality (green=nature) and as an expression of power through capital(ism).

Thus, Agent Smith. All the Agents are programmed. All look the same. And all are white males. They are "The Man". They could have come straight from America in the homogenous 1950s, always a Hollywood Bogeyman (aka "McCarthy as the second Hitler").

On the other side, the polydiverse tribe of Morpheus. White,s blacks, asians; men, women and the androgynous. All come together to stop the evils of The System.

The narrative construct -- yet again, Joseph Campbell's Hero's Journey -- is a very specific throughline toward the thematic and personal concerns of Larry/Lana. Keanu thought he was Thomas Anderson. But as we discover, that was his slave name. His "real" name is Neo.

Very Nation of Islam. But then, so are the X-Men.

By the end, Thomas transforms into the "One" (oh look, the most obvious anagram in history). He transforms into, well, something new (Neo). He sheds his prior identity, all within a landscape of post-racial tribalization.

Then there's the gender front. The first time Neo sees Trinity he remarks "I thought you were a guy". Her response: "Most guys do".

Subtle.

Soon, we understand that Thomas is Alice -- the film can't just visualize this, of course, it must *tell* us -- and by the end he's both Christ, resurrected, and Sleeping Beauty, awoken by his prince (Trinity). The role reversal in the framing is complete: he's the beautiful maiden, while she stands over him, holding the power, both sexually and spiritually. Love conquers all. Especially The System.

If nothing else, I love the look of the film. It's very well mounted. And very cleverly shot. The intertext -- particularly to Vertigo early on -- is pretty great.

And without it, there'd be no Cloud Atlas. Maybe The Matrix has more going against it then for it, put that way?
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xx Re: So... what are we currently watching?
« Reply #10 on: Jan 17th, 2014, 08:44am »

So NetFlix (perhaps 95% an expression of the Dreck of Cinema) has Days Of Heaven, perhaps the best film Malick has made (I vacillate between it and Tree Of Life). Cinematically, it's as close to an expression of The Divine's existence as you can get -- I may be talking about Yahwah, or I may just be talking about Terrence Malick.

What's its star rating on NetFlix? 3 stars. 3 fucking stars.

Meanwhile, The Avengers gets 5; a film that doesn't aim any higher than to be a fanboy wet dream -- aspirations of being more than its junk subgenre are nonexistent (and yes, I believe there are comic book films that are actually great films, without reservation). Not that it isn't enjoyable in that pathetic context, mind.

The hoi polloi exist, and they frighten me. Elitist? Yeah. So?

There has to be a line, otherwise linearity is just another form of subjectivity, and we might as well be in the Mesolithic.

Art is subjective. True. But these people aren't even viewing art in the first place, instead they're "watchjin one o' them good flicks". Screw thematic detailing by way of mise-en-scene. Actually, in order to say 'screw it', first you have to know it exists...

They also gave The Conversation 3 stars. But Thor gets 4 and a half....

Semantically, star ratings -- as a measurement of value so far as any work -- are about as worthless as a backlog of Oscar Winners. But what these star ratings say about those making them...that's the real value and irony.

Wow.

I suppose the real point is knowing the difference between liking something and understanding its technical, artistic value -- crap can be very enjoyable, and something technically proficient in every way may, simply, not appeal emotionally. Which is the "better" way to rate something? That's one problem. The other is that most of these people are only viewing film through the former prism. And the problem with Star Ratings is that, even as they are a baseline for quality, they don't exist outside of emotional subjectivity.

People hate Leni Riefenstahl. That doesn't stop them from continually ripping off her technical mastery and aesthetic. But when people watch Star Wars, how many notice that its visual language recalls Triumph Of The Will?

Anyway. These people suck, and NetFlix is a First Year Anthropology Course in the same way watching monkeys fling shit in a zoo is a baseline for Psychology.

The image of thoughtless knuckle dragging chimps could be The NetFlix Logo.

In a world where The Avengerss is more respected than Days of Heaven, what should be said is: consider the source. Then understand that people are animals.

Oh well. Net Neutrality has been officially gutted. NetFlix is now a lot weaker and is at the mercy of monopolistic, anti-consumer multinational "service providers". So I guess the problem will solve itself, and things will suck a lot more than they do now.

That's what happens when 90% of your audience are knuckle draggers. No wonder we have The Fed.

I don't know if I tied that together. But I tried.

Also. The irony of railing against morons and how they view & rate films they don't understand, rather than really talking about those same films in a detailed manner, isn't lost on me.

The end.
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xx Re: So... what are we currently watching?
« Reply #11 on: Jan 18th, 2014, 06:55am »

Mean ratings for any kind of entertainment do not impact me in the long run. I think that - would I truly care - I would actually prefer just grabbing a mean of everyone's rating. In other words, the rating you now so hate. However, this type of rating as least is a representation of the entire viewership (using this platform to view on, given they want to vote, but still it's available to everyone).

You say hoi polloi and maybe I agree. But I don't necessarily think the opinion of the masses hold less value or have less meaning than the value of professionals within the industry, professors of film studies, or the like. What makes the opinion of the Screen Actor Guild (SAG-AFTRA, I suppose) true/fact? Why is it wrong to rate, for example, The Avengers five out of five stars if you loved every second of it?

Is it action-packed? Sure is.
Does that make it a popular popcorn flick? Hell yeah.
Aren't popcorn flicks first and foremost supposed to be highly enjoyable? I suppose.
Isn't enjoyability the fundamental aspect of entertainment? Fuck you, Dirk. Don't twist my words/intentions.

Sorry, but my point is: why shouldn't a movie that provides so many people with a couple of hours of pure enjoyment get five out of five stars? You can say it lacks nuance, 'deeper meaning,' development, non-cliché characters, or some other supposed detractor. My question is: does the movie need it, or do you need it in a movie?

There's nothing wrong with hating The Avengers just as there should be nothing wrong with liking the movie. I just don't agree that hating it is correct and loving it is a faulty opinion.
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xx Re: So... what are we currently watching?
« Reply #12 on: Jan 20th, 2014, 08:56am »

I don't know how much we disagree. Do I care about aggregated ratings? Obviously enough to complain, or enough for the complaint to be a conceit or throughline for a message on here. Do they bother me in any meaningful way? Meh.

That is, I don't equate them with any type of "truth"; a collection of subjective thought, after all. What disturbs me, at least on one level, about these types of ratings is projected, and/or the give and take: the knowledge -- a posteriori or a priori -- that there are many people that do equate these numbers with fact. The sense that they're often the ones voting. I think about these people, and then, yeah, for a moment I become annoyed.

Does that sound crazy? I might regret asking that...

As a side note, you mention industry votes. There's little that means less. The history of the Oscars, as perhaps the example, is clearly the history of political votes within the industry; basically, what cause was being supported in a given year or which people they wanted to elevate or continually punish, not for artistic reasons but as both a control mechanism and, often, petty public statements against powerful actors/directors that (too) many resented.

Back on point. It's a sociological schema. On a 1;1 basis maybe I'd be more annoyed, maybe I'd be less annoyed -- again, subjective -- by certain, subjective (squared; the beginning is the end) conclusions or beliefs, as opposed to a mass outlook. Culture becomes the issue.

These things bang against each other. But if a group of teen girls were to even know who Tchaikovsky was (humor me), then asserted that Selena Gomez made better music, would they be wrong? What are the limits, what's the worth of the argument and, if one takes it far enough, what's the worth of the art?

And yet, as much as art is technical, it is perfectly halved in the subjective, and is as much emotional. It's an argument that I feel like fumbling about with rather than attempting to win, assuming I even have an opponent.

It's the great irony of The Dictionary, in a way: if enough "ignorant" people "misuse" a word then, inherently, this same ignorance transforms into technical truth. The Dictionary is a Record of Culture, and over time illiteracy simply becomes an Era and those words become neologisms and new entries: what was illiterate is, inherently, literate if the scale is large enough.

Then, again, the argument goes somewhere else: the worth of folk art, The Renaissance, Romanticism, The Fauves, Dada, the explosion of postmodernism...what are the limits? What is the limit and when does the point turn on itself, RE: The Romantic Era and its bastard progeny Postmodernism.

The other, extreme, danger in an argument like this -- the antipode to subjectivity (but not really, obviously...it's just a dictator's subjectivity as "truth") -- is, for example, Soviet Constructivism. All "art" as an expression of the State rather than the individual. All art approved, assembled factory-like and the same.

But that's also our modern Zeitgeist, as much as it isn't (and yet it is): mass appeal stemming from soft controls in an ever-present media. It's They Live. Pop Art as the New Folk Art -- debased consumerism as the ultimate good. Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup Can, itself stemming from Dada (anti-art art). And yet, what could be more technical, at least from very flawed humans, than the celebration of assembly line product?

It's not automatically about me railing against people liking "the wrong things", as it is about how so many people believe that liking something is automatically conflated as that work being "great". It's the line of thinking -- how the conclusion is preordained because of it -- that disturbs me as much as the selfsame (because it is...) and aforementioned conclusion. But maybe I'm jumping to conclusions. tongue

But who says anyone should watch the film with a certain standard? Who (me?) says they should watch it to my standard? Who's to say what the Five Stars stand for? Should it be entertainment? Or should it be for technical expertise?

For me this is all implied as far as my argument. What is the worth of technical proficiency in the face of Subjectivity? As much as as its a reductive, sarcastic question it's also an expansive, earnest query.

Another side of assumptive thinking is those who would automatically condemn The Avengers[/i[ based on that same factor: its subject matter. I disagree with that (but if someone told me they were working on a "serious" [i]Care Bears movie, what would my reaction be?). My -- subjective, as starting point -- reasons for...not loving it are in its inability to execute beyond hero poses, moments and a generally bland structure on both interaction and setup. The film doesn't execute well or, rather, it works exactly the way you'd think it would (as opposed to should). Exactly. The structure is not challenging, and the irony becomes that as these films become more ubiquitous in the culture they also become safer in their construction. Are they films or IP? Does anyone even care to explore this?

Diversity is inherent, but managed diversity is an oxymoron. People loving The Avengers means there will be another avalanche of these things, because that's also zeitgeist, which is also consumerism. The market dictates, but the market is so controlled and limited from the outset.

Not that this is an automatic criticism of film like The Avengers, so far as being limited to it. The fine line between ripoffs and clever, tasteful homage that graduates the form. But if genius was common, would it be genius?

Zack Snyder can rip off Terrence Malick as many times as he makes another tentpole, odds are he'll still be a hack. Then, the question is whether it can even be said with any certainty that Malick is a great technician and, from that, artist while Snyder is just a gun for hire that does poor impersonations of great directors? If someone characterized the two in an inverted manner, would they be right or wrong?

Again, the limits of subjectivity...and the limits of knowledge.

And that's also the gift of the macro-argument-as-ethos: as much as people are allowed to assert that The Avengers is a Five-Star Film, I can assert that they are clueless hoi polloi. if they can't be characterized as wrong, then, by that standard, how can I?
« Last Edit: Jan 20th, 2014, 09:42am by Will » User IP Logged

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xx Re: So... what are we currently watching?
« Reply #13 on: Jan 23rd, 2014, 02:24am »

on Jan 17th, 2014, 08:44am, Will wrote:
So NetFlix (perhaps 95% an expression of the Dreck of Cinema) has Days Of Heaven, perhaps the best film Malick has made (I vacillate between it and Tree Of Life). Cinematically, it's as close to an expression of The Divine's existence as you can get -- I may be talking about Yahwah, or I may just be talking about Terrence Malick.

What's its star rating on NetFlix? 3 stars. 3 fucking stars.

Meanwhile, The Avengers gets 5;


The ratings on Netflix are unique to each user's account. For example, Days of Heaven has a 4 on my account. Netflix bases how much they think you'll like a movie based on your viewing history and the films that you, personally, have given high grades.

So start watching more movies like Days of Heaven and stop watching movies with guys in spandex.

What does it say about you, William, that this is how Netflix sees you?
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xx Re: So... what are we currently watching?
« Reply #14 on: Jan 23rd, 2014, 08:06am »

on Jan 23rd, 2014, 02:24am, midLfinger wrote:
The ratings on Netflix are unique to each user's account. For example, Days of Heaven has a 4 on my account. Netflix bases how much they think you'll like a movie based on your viewing history and the films that you, personally, have given high grades.

So start watching more movies like Days of Heaven and stop watching movies with guys in spandex.

What does it say about you, William, that this is how Netflix sees you?


Ugh. That post was terrible. Good riddance. Now the real post.

First, what does it say about me? Meh. NetFlix has a large selection of crap. If I was looking for quality, why would I be on there in the first place?

Second, what does the algorithm prove? Chances are, if you're watching NetFlix, you're going to start watching crap. Especially when they feel the need to push crap like The Avengers at every turn, starting with the buy-in and carrying through to assumptions about their broad user base, which is correct.

They didn't read me right.

Third, you're kind of missing my point. I never denied watching The Avengers, nor did I deny watching other crap on NetFlix. The issue isn't in the watching, it's in the understanding. Just because you watch something -- even if you like it -- doesn't mean you see it as a quality work. That was my point, after all.

And come on. I've never asseverated that I dislike comics -- aka spandex (wait, not like...) -- or that I automatically look down on the medium's major properties. Is disliking The Avengers conflated with disliking comic book properties and all films adapted with those properties?

It's more important than I realized.
« Last Edit: Jan 24th, 2014, 07:00am by Will » User IP Logged

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