" if you saw Step Up: Revolution and said, “Hey, I don’t think you’re going to like this,” I wouldn’t be offended by that at all."
Step Up: Revolution is da bomb ;)
Is that the chick from Police Academy?
Even if it is, I’m not seeing that film.
I have seen truth in more unlikely places before, though, to play devil’s advocate. Often times true beauty is in the last place you would think to look, aka don’t judge until you’ve seen the film! (Not that I have any intention of ever seeing Step Up Revolution).
I’m not saying Step Up is a bad film. I’m just saying that I don’t want to see it. Now, if some of you told me that you think it’s on par with greatest films of all time, I’d seriously consider it.
Yeah, I’m sorry Jazz, I was in a hurry when I typed that. It should have been two paragraphs, the first about why I think it isn’t a great idea to introduce anyone to a movie like that and the second goes more to my specific issues with the concept.
Ignoring my deal, and assuming this person does trust your recommendations, there is still a problem I have with the idea as unless you can claim absolute certainty on what your friend will and will not like and can assume that won’t change over time, you are basically telling them to never watch the movie as they won’t like it and thereby potentially robbing them of a significant experience if the movie is indeed great and you were wrong in your judgment. Peabody, for example, has said many times he doesn’t like musicals, so with that information I might have said, in the situation you outline, I thought Percival was great, but you wouldn’t like it, its kind of an odd musical. If Robert trusted my statement and didn’t watch it he would have missed a movie he seems to have liked a great deal even though it fit into some general category which he tends not to appreciate. Going forward, his “knowledge” of Percival would be it is a musical and he wouldn’t like it making it more likely that he wouldn’t give it a chance than if I hadn’t said anything at all. And for a movie you find great, that is an odd way to treat the experience. Often I find even the summaries on the back of the dvd boxes to be counterproductive in that same sort of way, they give a description that suggests nothing of the experience of watching the film or why it is “great” focusing on plot instead, which can make the movie sound entirely different than you find it while watching. Better to try and talk about what you liked and let them ask questions or make their own decision than to poison the well for them, otherwise you are possibly making it even less likely they will see this great movie than if you had said nothing at all, and that just doesn’t seem sensible.
Let me use your example of Robert and Percival to clarify where I’m coming from. “Robert, I came across this film, Percival, which I would on par with the all-time great films. However, knowing that you don’t like musicals, I don’t think this is something you would enjoy. Nevetheless, I think there is a lot of excellent qualities of the film—some of which I expect you would appreciate.” Now suppose, given Robert’s tastes (which go beyond just disliking musicals), I’m really confident that he would not enjoy the film. I going to point that out, but I’m also going to be emphatic about that I think this is a great film.
At that point, the decision is his. If the film has qualities that I know will turn Robert off, should I not indicate this to him, at least in some general way? To me, that’s what a friend would do. I don’t think telling him these things is offensive in any way. Note, I’m not telling this to him with a condescending attitude—as in, I don’t think Robert is sophisticated or intelligent enough to appreciate the film. Not at all! Instead, I’m letting him know that there are qualities that I know he doesn’t like. If you know me well, you know I don’t generally like trash movies. Suppose I didn’t know anything about Pink Flamingos. I’d appreciate someone saying, “Hey I think this is a great film, but knowing your tastes, you might have a hard time enjoying it.” And they would have been correct. I appreciated the film and thought it was terrific—but I had difficulty “enjoying” the film. Why? I just don’t like that type of movie. That doesn’t mean the movie can’t be any good or even great.
I guess all I can say Jazz is that your way of looking at these things is very different than my own. I’ve found this kind of prognostication to be unreliable at best and possibly harmful, in a minor way, at worst, but your friends and beliefs are your own and if this works for you and them then everyone’s happy and there’s no problem.
One possible (big) difference is that I’m much, much more limited in terms of finding something that will make a film enjoyable to me. I can find details that make a film worthy of admiration—and that can be exciting and valuable—in other ways. But personally enjoying a film—I mean, just having fun, etc.? Nope—I’m pretty much a prisoner to my personal tastes. And you don’t seem to be, which is cool. But what am I going to do?
The more films you watch, the more your personal tastes will likely expand.
Well, for me, that isn’t as much what I was thinking of in regards to your question as I was the limited basis upon which assumptions of knowledge on taste are founded. I mean even if you are successfully able to predict movies your friend will like, say discriminating between the action movies which he’ll enjoy and those which he won’t, once you move beyond a certain point you are relying a such a small data set that your information is going to contain biases and could start to impose limitations on your friend which otherwise may not have existed.
Of course that doesn’t suggest that he would have watched the film without your input, but that’s why simply talking about the films you like without trying to predict the responses of others can be useful. If your friends are only casual movie fans and asking you for your opinion on whether they should see something for a good time, then they are clearly okay with your process so there is no problem, but if they are really interested in movies more seriously then I would be a little more concerned as getting to know movies requires more experimentation and challenges.
It has. I can appreciate a lot more films than I could, from even five or ten years ago. And if we equate “appreciation” with “personal enjoyment” then I “enjoy” a lot more films. But I’m not comfortable with equating the two. There is a difference between films that I really enjoy personally from films that I appreciate (for a lack of a better term).
Well, the recommendation shouldn’t be given or taken as Gospel—but to me that goes without saying. I almost never speak so definitively. Should a friend not offer this warning because I might take it too seriously and thus forgo seeing something that I would like? No, I don’t think so. I rather have the information and decide for myself. Besides, if I really respect my friend’s judgment and he says the film is on par with the all-time greats—that’ll be sufficient to pique my interest—to the point that the caveat wouldn’t matter—except if the film was Step-Up. ;)
Most friends I know—even the ones more serious about films—want to know if they will enjoy the film or not. I know I want to know that. The quality of the film and whether I enjoy it or not aren’t necessarily the same thing for me.
But even among films you “enjoy,” there’s a range in how much you “enjoy” them, right?
That stance sounds like the ultimate respect for the barrier of being an individual, which is fine. For me though, film is all about breaking down those barriers, reaching through and beyond personal “taste” and personal “bias”, we get to come together and revel in the beauty of a great film, such as Seven Samurai for example. You and I might not even like said film for the same reasons, but who cares, that’s the power of a great film… all kinds of people with all kinds of tastes and for all kinds of reasons get to like the same one film. Completely separate and unique, and yet united under one flag.
And said unto ye, behold, the power of Cinema:
Yes! (But I’m not sure what you’re trying to say.)
That stance sounds like the ultimate respect for the barrier of being an individual, which is fine.
Yours! This whole “I think X film is great, but you prob wouldn’t like it” business.
I’m not sure what you’re saying. Are you sympathetic to my stance? And what exactly are you sympathizing with, if so? (What do you mean by “the ultimate respect for the barrier…?”)
This hypothetical situation is not a problem for me personally because I feel that there is a strong difference between a well-made film and a poorly-made film regardless of its content or style, and so I will watch any film which has been recommended to me as being a great artwork. I also think it a good thing to recommend a film you think is artistically great to your friend who has a narrow “taste” in film outside of that particular style, but this would probably only work if your friend is open-minded enough to firstly sit through the film and secondly listen to your explanation of why you think it great, and then discuss it with you.
For example, last night I had a “movie night” with four friends, and we each picked a film to watch. The films were:
Anvil! The Story of AnvilProblem ChildEternal Sunshine of the Spotless MindBlack DynamiteBlack God, White Devil (my choice)
As can be seen from this selection, most of my friends have little interest in “art” films, and so my choice of a contemplative art film certainly wasn’t geared toward their personal tastes.
But I’m lucky enough to have friends who are happy to sit through my choice of film and then discuss it afterwards. With regards to Black God, White Devil, they were at first confused by the lack of clear motivations and directions of the fanatic preacher Sebastian to the protagonist Manoel, and I could tell that they weren’t liking the film because of this i.e. they were confused and annoyed by the seeming lack of direction the story was taking. But after Manoel was subsequently caught under the spell of the bandit Corisco, they cottoned on to the fact that this film was not so much a tight clear-cut narrative like most mainstream stories generally are, but was more of a loose study of how easily religious fanatics/extremists can dupe lost souls with vague promises of salvation. One of my friends even commented on how the staging and blocking reminded him of a play in certain parts of the film, which I thought a good insight considering his usual taste in film. Though, another of my friends made a joke about how a person could go to the toilet during the “rock carrying” scene and then come back a few minutes later without having missed anything, but we then had a discussion about how “contemplative” cinema is more about immersing yourself into the inner world of the characters rather than about racing through plot points, which was fun.
Anyway, I think that challenging your friends’ tastes in film can only be a good thing so long as your friends are not hostile towards things that are different. This would be preferable to showing them a film which you think they would like because of their tastes, seen as it wouldn’t be very challenging and thus the resultant discussion on the film wouldn’t be as interesting I would think.
Suppose you had a good friend whose taste in film you highly respected.
That seems to be a pretty valid reason for at least being interested in watching whatever films that person considers to be among the greatest of all time.
If I respect his taste in films and he tells me said film is among the greatest of all time, then hell yeah I’d watch it. Even if I don’t like it, as he predicted, I could still find some valuable things in it and it will contribute to my film knowledge.
That is pretty much what I was going to say, along with the idea that even if one did not like the film one would learn more about the friend, first by watching it and then by discussing why you disagree.
Been there, done that.
“even if one did not like the film one would learn more about the friend”
Yeah, that’s pretty much what I had in mind with " . . . for the social factor if nothing else"
Films are very complicated, and taste is very complicated… ever changing and evolving, ideally anyway. So for anyone to say with any kind of totality “this film is great but I know you wouldn’t like it based on X and Y factors” is pretty sketchy. I mean that’s difficult for me to say that about my own taste, much less anyone else’s (even given that I know the person very well.)
There are just so many things going on in a given film, especially a “great” one, it seems pretty arrogant to assume that you “grasp them all” and can reasonably state that although the film is good, there is nothing in there for you. You really never know what a person is going to latch on to in a movie I mean I’ve seen movies that going into it I was sure I was going to hate based on precedent and I loved it, and vice versa.
Commenting on how you feel about any given film is one thing, you get into tricky territory once you start guessing with any kind of conviction how someone else will take to any given film. Lots of mystery, lots of unknowable things involved in film/art, as evident in most “recommendation” systems… taste is a very hard thing to know, especially someone else’s.
The recent responses from Flani, Freddie and Balistik were the ones I expected.
There are just so many things going on in a given film, especially a “great” one, it seems pretty arrogant to assume that you “grasp them all” and can reasonably state that although the film is good, there is nothing in there for you.
As I mentioned, my wife hates love stories that end in tragedy. (There are two exceptions: Bridges of Madison County and Titantic—although she’s not interested in seeing those films again.) Regardless of the film’s other virtues, she’s not going to enjoy the film if one of the people die, they break up or whatever. I know this about my wife. Now, there might be a chance that she’ll like the film, like she did with Bridges (and to this day, I have no idea why she liked that film), but if I knew the ending was tragic, and I recommended the film without a caveat—she would be pissed! Is that arrogant of me? I don’t think so. In fact, it’s considerate of me to warn her and inconsiderate if I don’t.
I feel the same way. I pretty tired of anti-war films or films that depict ghetto life—I’m at the point where I feel, if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. Now, if someone told me that Gomorrah was one of the best film of all time, but also said that they don’t think I would like it because of my preferences, I’d appreciate it. Now, this is assuming they’re not saying this in a condescending way.
I can respect natural proclivities I suppose, my issue is once you start dealing in films of the all-time caliber. To me, a film that is “all-time” means transcending things like genre and plot point expectations, and in fact beating them in spite of all. For example, if someone came to me and said “man I hate samurai movies” my first response would be “Well, have you seen Seven Samurai or Yojimbo?” These “all time great films” are such that in my mind, there is no way anyone reasonable does not at least like them moderately, regardless of all personal bias.
So again, I guess it’s the difference of saying: “Oh, Seven Samurai is one of the greatest films ever, but since you hate samurai films you prob. wouldn’t be into it” Versus: "Seven Samurai is one of the greatest films ever, I know you hate “samurai” films… but watch it. Just… watch that film."
I find myself drawn much more to the latter style personally. After all, call Seven Samurai a “samurai” film is basically an insult to everything going on in that movie, it’s so much more than that, which is precisely why it’s great. I think this is largely the case with great films, they are about so many things that telling someone “they wouldn’t like it because I know you hate movies with X in them” is pretty suspect. This is all of course assuming you are talking about an all-time great film and not just your run of the mill “what movie should I rent tonight” recommendation.
I can’t stand stoner comedies, yet I love The Big Lebowski. War Films I generally don’t get into, but The Thin Red Line is easily one of my all time favorites. Horror films are definitely not my thing, but Audition is nothing short of a masterpiece. I don’t really get “animé”, but Miyazaki is the greatest living filmmaker imho, ect, ect. Great films take you to a place you thought you understood completely, and they show you something new. They take something you thought you knew about yourself, and change it. That’s why they’re great :)
To me, a film that is “all-time” means transcending things like genre and plot point expectations, and in fact beating them in spite of all.
And this means if the film is an all-time great, it will break through one’s personal preferences, interests, biases, etc.—to the point where the person will enjoy the film? I don’t think that’s true at all. You mention Seven Samurai, which is one of my favorite films and a film I happen to think is great (for reasons you mention). But the first time I saw the film (in my twenties), I was expecting an action film, like Miike’s 13 Assassins. Boy was I disappointed. I didn’t care for the “oldness” of the film (the look of the actors, the beat-up film stock, etc.), and I found the pacing slow. The film didn’t “break through” these expectations and prejudices at the time.
You also mention Audition. I have a friend who has an extremely low tolerance for gore. Even if we assume that Audition is a great film, I would warn my friend about it, and I don’t think she would enjoy it very much. She might end up respecting the film—enjoyment? No, I don’t think so.
Great films take you to a place you thought you understood completely, and they show you something new. They take something you thought you knew about yourself, and change it. That’s why they’re great :)
Perhaps many great films do this, but the viewers have to be open to this experience, as well; they have to be open-minded at least to some degree. Even all-time great films can fail to break through a viewer’s close-mindedness.
That’s a good point, I think I’m operating under the assumption that you are dealing with a reasonably open-minded person. All bets are off if you are dealing with a closed mind!