are film themes and messages overrated?

Discussion in 'Movies, Entertainment & Various Music Genres' started by Brahman, Jan 11, 2007.

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  1. The Jeus

    The Jeus _________

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    Naw, I don't follow the astrology stuff, I believe someone once told me I was a "Gemini", b-day is June 10, so you tell me what's what.

    I know Lynch is into "transcendental meditation", but I'm not sure where he stands on astrology. He calls Kubrick and Franz Kafka(no surprise here) his biggest influences, though the Fellini connection is undeniable
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  2. Brahman

    Brahman Mel Van Peebles

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    wouldn’t that be support for my argument?

    i don’t think you understood my initial argument, or maybe i didn’t make it clear enough.

    i'm not saying that a message has no importance whatsoever. what i’m saying is it’s that “uncanny ability to portray to the message without other conventional tools” that make the films of a director like david lynch notable, not the message itself… however, he often gets slighted and valued lower than many other directors with less talent, because for most (not people who are serious about film analysis and critique) too much is made about his films being “about nothing” (inconsequential, narrower, etc. themes), having “murkiness in communication”, or containing “too much sordid material”. they immediately start referencing other films that have "more substance" to counter with almost total disregard of filmmaking art.

    my complaint is directed mainly towards the general public and award organizations who are fueling what i see to be a growing sameness in movie output, not people like you and me who recognize the value in the work of a director like david lynch... toooo many films geared towards social awareness and heroic feats with predictable schmaltzy music cues and ribbon-tied messages. do these films have worth? yes. do i think they need to go away? no. do i think filmmakers need to challenge themselves more, expand the art, and enrich it rather than catering to the box office and oscar trophies? yes.

    would you have even noticed the message of ‘vertigo’ or david cronenberg’s themes and motifs had the quality of the other ingredients not been there in the first place? any film could be made with them, but without the unique touch of a director like alfred hitchcock or david cronenberg would they mean nearly as much or carry the power to make the film?

    and, why do these sometimes off-beat and unconvential themes and motifs not get enough respect?

    "feel-good" dominates, but i guess that's understandable. most of america's population is working hard check-to-check, so they're looking for a pick-me-up at the end of their day.
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  3. Brahman

    Brahman Mel Van Peebles

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    i agree, and it would mean that it was the story carrying most of the load with the message being a sweet additive… not something that “made” the film or should be pointed to first in defense

    sergio leone loved to read about and research the old west and probably witnessed the railroad metaphor spring up from the stories as he read, but i don’t think he came up with it himself or made any specific planning beforehand to deliver it. with once upon a time in the west... i think most of his focus was on style, reproducing authentic characters & environments, and presenting his love for the genre in the most operatic way with morricone’s music being a main ingredient.

    did he know he had messages in his work? i’m sure he did, because he liked to take messages from other films he loved and use them in his with highly stylized flourishes showing an intense appreciation for the art of filmmaking. and, that’s why i say he surpassed about every other filmmaker he loved.
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  4. Brahman

    Brahman Mel Van Peebles

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    oft-hailed by whom? cinematically learned people who are more likely to respect and pay stricter attention to the art of filmmaking?

    that's my point

    ask most people on the street, and they'd think it was boring and a waste of time

    one of the first things they'd point to is that it's "about some self-absorbed rich guy"

    i'm not saying people in the know are guilty of what i'm decrying… what i'm calling for is a mass movement towards educating and encouraging the public to have more respect for the craft

    very interesting point that i wasn't aware of. thanks for the enlightenment.

    however, even though they grew up with that influence, i think it's time more of them start challenging their readers to think outside of this box

    i get a lot of the motivations...

    all i'm saying is that i don't like them and would like to see a change

    it disagreed, because you implied the possibility of there being no message/idea/emotion/thought being expressed and "empty exercises". I’m saying that that is impossible no matter what is done, because even if the creator doesn't have any specifically in mind the audience will naturally have them formed in their minds. any visual and sonic amalgamation will be filled with messages/ideas/emotions/thoughts that are expressed even if it takes on many interpretations.

    but, yeah, let's leave the nature of art debate alone [funny]

    i don't care what greater mind disagrees... i don't see how any exercise can be termed "empty"...

    yeah, basically what riz said earlier about extracted messages out of metaphors being more valuable

    however, akira kurosawa could have easily had the message be an afterthought as he lovingly reproduced the two short stories. why? because, referring to my block of text above, any story will naturally carry some sort of message with it. first and foremost, he was an artist with the camera. he may have liked and been moved by the messages that were spoken through characters' actions and events, but he didn't have to put too much effort and planning into delivering it.

    so, i think what i said still applies. starting with the motivation to tell a good story with emphasis on cinematic art is ideal.

    i haven't read any camus or voltaire, but i do get a sense of unnatural messaging from a lot of shakespeare. does that take anything away from his work? no. because clever manipulation of language not found in everyday speech was one of the biggest driving forces behind it... this is what gives it its appeal even if the messages/themes were thought of beforehand. with a lot of film, a different medium than literature and stagey theatrical productions, it's obvious that a lot of creators're trying to put together a more authentic and lifelike representation but end up failing... perhaps due to too much concern with the message and not artistic delivery of a story and letting it speak for itself.
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  5. Brahman

    Brahman Mel Van Peebles

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    [funny] [funny] [funny] [funny] [funny], blows my mind...



    yo, honest to god's truth, as i asked you your sign i was thinking, "wouldn't it be funny if you and i shared a libra-gemini air sign fraternity connection like roger ebert and richard roeper"!!! *shakes head*, i should have typed it.

    you're in good film critic company with that sign as roger ebert and pauline kael, one of your noted favorites, are both geminis as well

    start with this summary below & tell me if you think it fits you

    http://www.astrology-online.com/gemini.htm

    if it doesn't, it could be because you have other compensating factors at work (rising, moon, mars, etc.). it gets kind of detailed and complicated.

    i've been digging into and studying this stuff for quite some time, and there's so much pinpoint truth outside the realm of vagueness in it... all seems too fitting to be mere "coincidence". gotta be something to it... the cosmic forces and energy shaping all that's interconnected. left... and... right, i've been making all kinds of star sign predictions and readings it's scary.
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  6. Brahman

    Brahman Mel Van Peebles

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    roger ebert - june 18th
    pauline kael - june 19th
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  7. The Jeus

    The Jeus _________

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    Yeah, that wasn't too bad, obviously all of it doesn't apply, but it's more or less got me pegged.

    On "empty exercises", I was thinking about films like the Method Man-Redman effort How High, or Queen Latifah & Jimmy Fallon in Taxi or Halle Berry's Catwoman. These films contribute nothing to artistically, technically, socially, philosophically, morally, or otherwise to the art of cinema or society at large. There is no point of view nor is there anything personal emanating from them. There may be some merit to them somewhere, but I just don't see it (speaking from personal experience as I have seen all 3 of those films...multiple times)

    Ultimately, though, I think this, "starting with the motivation to tell a good story with emphasis on cinematic art is ideal." is main our sticking point. What is your definition of a "good story"?

    As for educating the public on the artistry of the cinema, good luck.
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  8. Brahman

    Brahman Mel Van Peebles

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    i haven't seen any of the films you bring up, but going off of what footage i have seen i would say their contributions (hoped-for contributions, perhaps) are:

    - how high: a farce in the cheech 'n chong tradition... a simple smoke-and-laugh-it-up good time for potheads
    - taxi: a farce transplanting the solid gerard pires & luc besson work in an american setting featuring characters the american public can identify and have a good, humorous time with
    - catwoman: a comic book film geared towards visceral entertainment

    they are all filled with something... may not have satisfied your standards for what passes as a worthy artistic, technical, social, philosophical, moral etc. contribution, but i don't think it would be fair to term any of those exercises "empty" as they succeeded on their end for some.

    the point i'm trying to make is that an exercise having those same intents and purposes within those three films can possibly be made into something greater than a work backed by a noble pursuit similar to a crash or a million dollar baby. however, in the eyes of many, that isn't true... as if the messages behind the latter automatically secure some kind of position above any such exercise in the former vein without taking into account any other film factor.



    [funny] @ watching them multiple times, though... you are quite the ardent and broad-minded student of film



    the definition of a "good story"? hm, that's a tough one. all i can say is i know one when i see one. i will say that it can on many forms, and some sort of "moral struggle" isn't always necessary. a "good story" can be made out of how high's premise with the simple presence of clever dialogue and funny situations/progression of events.

    what is your definition?

    maybe not a full-scale effort to educate, but writing to gradually get them thinking about more things within a film
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  9. Ignorant

    Ignorant Village Idiot

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    I hear ya, but to me, the actors DRIVE the film... they evoke the most emotions out of me... a well-written line that's not delivered properly will fall flat... bad acting inside of beautiful photography is just beautiful photography with bad acting... the score isn't that important, because it's a device used to keep the audience awake... good acting will keep me entranced... even if the actor isn't saying a word.

    Yes, I'm Konscious.
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  10. The Jeus

    The Jeus _________

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  11. Brahman

    Brahman Mel Van Peebles

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    r.i.p to the aquarius that helped form the famous original air sign critic duo

    [​IMG]

    born an aquarian (jan 26th)
    died an aquarian (feb. 20th)

    :frown:
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  12. The Jeus

    The Jeus _________

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    from an AP article about Rocky winning Best Picture over Taxi Driver, All The President's Men, Network, and Bound for Glory:

    "I think `Rocky' won because it had a good feeling. It was an uplifting film," says Tim Dirks, who runs the "Greatest Films" Web site, http://www.filmsite.org. "The other films were a little bit too heavy or too edgy for the time and `Rocky' was a million-to-one shot — and it went the distance."

    According to Dirks (whose site lists the "Rocky" best-picture win as one of the "worst of the worst" awards), the theme is a familiar one: the academy often goes for less edgy material. There are always many factors in Oscar voting, but examples of cautiousness can perhaps be seen as recently as last year, when "Crash" upset "Brokeback Mountain" — and as early as "Citizen Kane."

    "Even `Citizen Kane' was a little edgy," Dirks says. "It had a lot of controversy over its portrayal of someone who looked a lot like William Randolph Hearst."
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070118/ap_en_mo/film_oscars1977_anniversary_4
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  13. Flow-Joe

    Flow-Joe Annyong!

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    Most awards don't mean anything anyway...


    A lot of the greatest movies of all time never won anything significant

    And as far as Best Actor awards are concerned...You can't tell me that Denzel shouldn't have won for Malcolm X or that he should have won for Training Day. Just like what you like and who you like and don't base things on awards
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  14. The Jeus

    The Jeus _________

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    of course, all you have to do is look back to the output of warner brothers between when they started making gangster movies with cagney and bogey in the early 30's, and the rise of period costume epics when errol flynn and olivia da haviland became big stars with captain blood and the adventures of robin hood. many of those early michael curtiz/william keighley films are considered on par with or better than the message pictures of frank capra and the like.

    today, though, i just don't see the craftsmanship being applied to those "fun" movies. The better directors just seem to be working on movies that are message-laden. the departed is one counter-example. both audiences and critics seemed to love it [i didn't care for it] and it wasn't principally about theme/message, it was just considered a well-made good time. same thing with casino royale.
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  15. The Jeus

    The Jeus _________

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    from David Bordwell, arguably America's foremost cinema scholar
    "Visual style was a major preoccupation of critics, theorists, and filmmakers in the 1920s and thereafter, yet the study of it unaccountably went out of favor at just the moment when it should have been in full flower.

    As film studies entered the Western academy in the 1970s, most scholars turned away from such “aesthetic” concerns. Instead they promoted a cultural/political framework for examining cinema, emphasizing a symptomatic method of interpretation and a metapsychology derived from psychoanalysis.

    Today’s most influential frame of reference, cultural studies, has continued the anti-aesthetic tradition, replacing questions of artistic design and effect with questions about audiences and broad cultural processes."
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  16. Wonk Saggin

    Wonk Saggin Active Member

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    themes...no.
    messages...yes.
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  17. Brahman

    Brahman Mel Van Peebles

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    i'm not calling for one set formula or philosophy for art enjoyment but rather a broadening of what already exists. everyone has their own values and what they can identify with... that's fine. all i hope is that they become more open-minded and don't put too much weight on message/theme preference without developing an awareness of other aspects to the filmmaking art... thoughts similar to what you finished your post with.



    very true

    however, awards do mean something as far as what kinds of movies get made

    notice how those movies that won are having their formulas replicated at a greater rate than those other great movies that lost out?

    they may not mean anything in the realm of determining true greatness, but they do have impact on driving a particular kind of output



    could you elaborate on this please?




    thanks for those contributions, the jeus

    very edifying
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  18. Ignorant

    Ignorant Village Idiot

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    Why do YOU think this happened? Did the advent of "talkies" have something to do with the shift?
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  19. Brahman

    Brahman Mel Van Peebles

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    i don't think teaching art appreciation is a "useless" endeavor

    it doesn't primarily seek to change or create new emotional responses

    on the other hand, it can help to deepen perspective and perhaps even strengthen the emotional responses that already exist. it has in my case... movies i liked growing up as a child resonate even more with me now that i know how to observe and study other various elements within them (cinematography, set design, art direction, etc.) beyond the readily identifiable characters, story, dialogue, etc.

    i don't see anything wrong with opening eyes to the time, dedication, and concentration that goes into t he total effort of producing a motion picture. for example, one of this forum's members said he didn't believe movies should be classified as "art", but he then later conceded that he saw the artistic component that goes into it.

    it doesn't have to be an attempt to "intellectualise" and "explain", for it is a simple act of broadening observance



    as for the world being "perfectly flawed", that's a whole nother debate. i disagree with that notion by the way. who are you to say that your perceived enlightenment:ignorance ratio in the world is at the ideal level?

    don't answer that, though... like i said, it's another debate, but i think it's foolish to say that the world couldn't be in need of some more enlightenment amongst its citizens... even if each and every one isn't able to reach it
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  20. Brahman

    Brahman Mel Van Peebles

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    i know you asked the jeus, but i'll give my opinion too...

    the advent of talkies probably had something to do with it as it offered more comprehensive communication, but i think messages could have been delivered almost just as easily in the silent era.

    i'd say more important was wwi, the stock market crash, the great depression, wwii, and other depressing world events. most of america was in need of uplifting messages and probably had more desire to see/hear them in their entertainment rather than being mildy diverted from their troubles.
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