Sunday, March 18, 2012

Clive still likes movies

"During the week, I joined my little granddaughter for one of her regular viewings of the first Toy Story movie and I was reminded all over again that some of the programmes which television people would like to think wonderful are not so wonderful compared with the movies."
More here.


Tulkinghorn said...

When 'the movies' are twenty-year-old Pixar movies, universally beloved, one could agree. More recently, though...

Only made it through about 45 minutes of "Hugo". Charmless and odd -- especially question the use of bright shiny computer graphics to explore the wonders of the analog. The 'views' of a made-up Paris at sunset had all the charms of those photographs they sell at car washes.

At least it didn't have Leo DiCaprio in it.

David Chute said...

My guess is you were gunning for it. When you're on record as the guy who doesn't like like movies, there's gotta be a temptation.

Tulkinghorn said...

I'm always willing to try.. and often do. If someone can convince me of the merits of this movie without using the words 'love song' I'll listen.

David Chute said...

Quite a few little things, like the way S.B. Cohen adapted his already pinpoint timing to. the extra oomph of 3D.

The big point is the use of the most current "move magic" to celebrate the movie magic of the past (literally, created by a magician). Do you doubt that Melies would have used 3D if it had been available?

And of course there's the critical aspect: promoting Melies to the status of founder along with Griffith et al to make the pint that realism may not be as close to the essence of cinema as some believe.

Tulkinghorn said...

Good stuff.

"Celebrate" is close to the dreaded "love song", but I'll grant it to you.

I'll admit to a certain amount of curmudgeonly knee-jerk dislike of celebrating something that has left the culture because it's (to be blunt) not capable of affecting people anymore.

Nobody has to 'celebrate' Jane Austen because, after all, thousands of people read the books with pleasure.

My own taste runs more to "Greed" and less to "From the Earth to the Moon"... I can watch the streetcar ride from SF to Oakland (IIRC) in Greed with something like awe, while I wouldn't turn to Melies for anything but mediated pleasure.

Tulkinghorn said...

Regarding your very interesting point about realism: I think I would have liked the version of this movie that Truffaut would have made in about 1963 or so.

Real streets, real train stations, better kid actors. a tougher kind of sentimentality.

David Chute said...

You've earned an extra high-ranking curmudgeon merit badge for the crack about love songs. That's most of popular and folk music and quite a bit of classical. Guess it makes the CD collection easier to organize

Of course, "Hugo" is also a propaganda film on behalf of film preservation. It says we can't possibly know how good these guys were if all we're seeing are ruins. The proof is right there: The restored Melies clips in "Hugo" make a strong case for him. I'd have thought his creaky antique mechanical version of fantasy cinema would be right up your alley.

Tulkinghorn said...

Misunderstood as always: I was referring to the critic's cliche that the movie is a "love song to the early years of movies." see also, "The Artist." (occasionally called a "love letter"...)And of course "Midnight in Paris", which is a love song to the Paris of the twenties..

David Chute said...

The Artist" I liked less, actually. But it is made almost entirely without special effects -- a shame, since Hazanavicius did some witty things with Hitchcock-era back projection and fist fights on giant statues in his OSS 117 spy film parodies.

Christian Lindke said...

"And of course there's the critical aspect: promoting Melies to the status of founder along with Griffith et al to make the pint (sic) that realism may not be as close to the essence of cinema as some believe."

Stanley Donen -- my favorite director of all time -- has famously said that "I think film lies at 24 frames a second."

Film is a medium where the narrative is entirely crafted and designed for the manipulation of the audience. When done well, it is beauty beyond compare. A well made movie is like a well crafted short story. It is filled with exactly what it needs to convey its tale, and no more.

Television is the medium of the serial and the novel. Film is the short story or novella. One can wander a bit in a novel and be forgiven for indulging, but a short story must be compact.

As for Hugo...I'll let you know my thoughts and will try to refrain from the term "love letter."

I save that for films that are actually love "John Carter" and "Spy Kids 2".

David Chute said...

"Sic," huh? Just you wait. Someday you'll be walking quietly down a peaceful street...

Christian Lindke said...

It's funny...I have the same reaction to the value of film when I watch "In the Good Ol' Summertime" and think about "Jersey Shore."

In all honesty, film is a wonderful medium. "John Carter" was loads of fun. I watched "Immortals" and the 10% of my brain that critiques things like acting, plot, and structure was deeply offended. The other 90% of my brain quickly walked over and went all Tito Ortiz on that side of my brain.

The moment in "Immortals" when Zeus lays down the law for the gods disobeying his orders, or when Poseidon (who has the worst helmet of all time -- of all time) creates the tidal wave, those were moments of magic. Pure magic. I got that tinge of Harryhausenesque joy out of them, a joy lacking in the remake of "Clash of the Titans." Both used CGI in abundance, but one did it in an "epic" manner.

"Tintin" -- as problematic as parts were -- had some genuine sparks as well. It had a set piece with dueling shipping cranes FGS!

I hate it when people say "films are worse today than in the past." It's as if these people have never watched any of the old AIP films. I mean, if you think "Drive Angry" is worse than "The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini" then you've got problems.

Even the best films of today compare well with the films of the past. "Catch Me if You Can" is a wonderful film that channels Stanley Donen-esque film making techniques (as does "Down with Love" BTW) in a sincere and straightforward way. Critics who disapproved of either merely prove they only like older films because they are "old."

To like "Charade" and not "Catch Me if You Can" is bizarre, as is liking "That Touch of Mink" while despising "Down with Love." It just doesn't make sense. What has changed is the amount of wonder the critic brings to the theater.

They say that the Golden Age of SF is 10. I don't say this as it is completely dismissive and pretentious, but "they" say it. Sometimes it seems that with films it is true.

What came out when x critic was 10 is what is good, and what is new is "bad."

How else can you explain why audiences enjoyed (61%) "Speed Racer" while critics lambasted it (38%)?

FGS --some critics thought Speed Racer didn't have a coherent storyline. Really? It was as simple and formulaic as a childrens' book. A to B to C. It is a freakin' railroad of linear narrative. That's pretty coherent.

David Chute said...

I've given Tulk so much grief over his "I don't like movies" catch phrase that it pains me to admit I do sympathize with his attitude somewhat.

Apart from just finding the theatrical experience irritating in the age of texters, loud talkers and no ushers in sight, the odds of stumbling across something that isn't drearily familiar get worse every year. The old guy's jaded, IOW.

What can still on occasion bring me out is the element of pure spectacle, a term that for me encompasses the icky sexy stuff as well as SFX, vast landscapes, violence, and so on. ("Prometheus," for example, seems likely to touch all the bases, but then, so do the "Resident Evil" films.)

Which I guess implies that my taste in movies has been growing more primitive as I've gotten older rather than less. Strange, indeed.

Christian Lindke said...

It's funny that you mention "texters" etc. as if it is the young that make movie going irritating. The only people my wife and I have ever had in a theater that made the experience annoying were Boomers. The constant chattering...asking each other what it "means"...and the snide sighs make Boomers the worst movie goers in my experience.

By and large I have found teens and the 20 something set a pleasure to watch movies with. They are there to enjoy movies, not to "see what's important" or to "keep up with the market." They're there to have fun.

I should add that I find more people in their 50s texting "during" movies than those in their teens and 20s.

David Chute said...

What can I say? That has not been my experience.

Christian Lindke said...

When was the last time you watched a film with an audience and not a screener?

I went to Hunger Games last night. Great experience with Tween and Teens.

Watching a movie as a communal experience is how they are meant to be seen.

Can't imagine going to see Shakespeare at Globe without the penny seats. Would prefer the penny seats and their laughter at fart jokes, to the money seats asking "Why is Hamlet talking to himself?"

I remember watching "Magnolia" -- no teens/tweens in audience -- Boomer woman loudly asks her husband "Why does this film keep referring to Exodus?" Then later "Why are there frogs falling from the sky?"

Second time I went to see John Carter? The young 20s crowd was immersed in the film. The Boomers behind me kept talking about how the film was losing money...very loudly. Teens in front of me told management. Made me laugh.

David Chute said...

Good story.

You're right, of course. I mostly avoid going to the movies, now, because of what I expect it will be like. OTOH, I'm surrounded by Millennials at work and find it hard to imagine their manners would improve much just stepping through the door of a movie theater.