Any classic is worth watching, even if it’s not any good.
I agree, and the reasons (some of which you have listed) are not hard to understand. But what about contemporary Hollywood films that are bad—say in the past ten or fifteen years? I’m partly interested because I avoid a lot of mainstream films, and I’m wondering if I’m missing out by not seeing some of these bad films.
If you’re overly-attentive to avoiding bad films, chances are you’re missing some good ones in the process.
Matt, could you name a few?
Bad films? Or good ones that one would miss by try doggedly to avoid bad films?
Parks hasn’t dropped the Tony Scott bomb yet?
Boom goes the dynamite!
Bad films that were good……wait, films that one would miss because they were overly-attentive to avoiding bad films.
I don’t think there is a cost benefit trade-off there that works.
I’m talking about filtering loosely so that one doesn’t get stuck in a confirmation bias loop.
It would depend on one’s initial conditions of “good” and “bad,” but . . . Domino, De Palma’s Femme Fatale, Joseph Lewis’s Gun Crazy and Terror in a Texas Town, The Honeymoon Killers, Joe Dante’s Matinee, Alex Cox’s Repo Man, Jarmusch’s Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai, Verhoeven’s Hollywood films, Neil Burger’s Interview With the Assassin . . .
Yeah, so the next question is how many bad films did i watch with the loose filter before I got to those.
I watch by director so I might have missed quite a few – exceptions would be De Palma & Jarmusch. Gun Crazy, Terror in a Texas Town, and Leonard Kastle’s The Honeymoon Killers aren’t contemporary Hollywood films and I’ve seen those but would say they could have been skipped at the time of release.
Oh and Sirk… one can skip Sirk.
Even though “The Hudsucker Proxy” doesn’t work since it is miscast (All 3 leads!), and over-scaled, it still is fascinating. You can see what the Coen Brothers are reaching for and why they can’t get there. Some moments do achieve what the directors must have had in mind and, as always, Charles Durning is superb. You can sometimes find good things in bad films.
Well, Robert, given what appears to be your personal taste for, um, “big game”, in Rosenbaum’s analogy, I can’t blame you for choosing to not watch most movies and wait around for those that have been given some sort of seal of approval suggesting a movie might reach the status you seek, but I would also remind you that finding those films requires someone does the winnowing, and that means there needs to be people out there searching the land for hints of the kind of game you seek. After all, films or filmmakers don’t show themselves as more brilliant than their kin at first blush, there has to be someone out there making those sorts of potential discriminations. Even then, as appears to be the case with Sirk, there is going to be disagreement over what is worthy prey and what isn’t, and that, often, comes down to differing values between trophy hunters as those more interested in the lay of the land will also be more interested in a wider variety of experiences, or, at least, will have decidedly different ways of tabulating them.
So, I could suggest films I find of interest, but as is so often the case here, I tend to decline knowing that my sort of appreciation doesn’t quite gibe with that of most others who post here, or if it does, it does somewhat randomly. That’s fine, I respect the different approaches or perspectives people have here, and I personally try to get something out of all of those deeply held, as long as they seem to have some guiding principle behind them that involves some history, belief, ideology, or passion. I think there is something to get from each of those varying approaches as is evident from the devotion exhibited by those, whom I respect, who have it. If Apursansar, Blue or Kenji, for example, seems to feel a deep connection to some hithertofore unknown, to my knowledge, “foreign” filmmaker that alone is enough of a seal of approval to warrant my attention. Their tastes or knowledge aren’t the same as those of, say, Salem or Grey, who might be celebrating a more transgressive filmmaker, or one who comes from an entirely different school of filmmaking, yet their enthusiasms are also, in themselves, enough to suggest something worth examining.
I could go on and list a large number of members here who I am familiar with and whose tastes are all significantly different, but “clear” and informed enough for me to be unable to deny without also denying some larger aspect of experience itself. Now, some may have no problem in doing that, in asserting their preference as a more defining one, but I prefer not to do that and, instead, wander the movie landscape trying to understand its layout, taking what pleasures I can where I find them. The search, and reflection on it, is as much its own reward as finding a trophy. Sometimes it excites to find an elephant, sometimes a rare snail, or sometimes even just a patch of land where there is only the suggestion of hidden game. such a thing isn’t a lack of discrimination, it is discrimination towards a different end.
My guess is the chances are so slim as to be negligible. I agree about De Palma’s Femme Fatale and maybe even Cabin in the Woods—I would have definitely passed on those. But I’d say for every Femme Fatale’s there are twenty Gothikas. Besides, I saw Femme Fatale because of you guys, so I now have a fool-proof filter to catch those good film. :) (Speaking of “fool-proof,” I still don’t agree about Domino—although at least we had an interesting discussion about it.)
(Verhoeven is another interesting choice. I need do a “movie festival” with my friends.")
But, just a reminder to all, we’re talking about bad films—not films that seem bad, but turn out to be good.
“Speaking of “fool-proof,” I still don’t agree about Domino—although at least we had an interesting discussion about it.”
Heh . . . you ain’t the only one around here :)
See, to me it’s not so much a particular film or group of films that I’d be worried about missing, but somewhere out there, there is a film that works for you that you’re not seeing because it’s setting off your badness detector.
“talking about bad films—not films that seem bad, but turn out to be good.”
Is that cat in the box a good cat or a bad cat? . . . isn’t good/bad sorta up in the air until you open the box? We’re sort of booby trapping the experience with words here. Wouldn’t it be easier to just say worth seeing = good, not worth seeing = bad?
Wait, what’s the difference between the first and second parts of the sentence? I’m hoping you guys will help me avoid the second part. :)
Basically, Matt is asking how you’d know if a movie is good or bad until you watch it, and suggesting that any film deemed worth watching is, at least in some manner, good, otherwise it wouldn’t be worth watching. Given your appreciation, in the face of much opposition, for the film Crash, for example, I would think this notion would strike somewhat home for you Jazz.
“My thoughts to your thoughts. Your thoughts to my thoughts…” This isn’t woorrrkking! :)
I feel like we’re on really different wavelengths that I don’t even know where to begin. Ugh. (Btw, I didn’t see the diagram until after I posted—but I think I’m still lost.)
Hey now, I was just trying to translate there, though I believe I do agree with Matt on this as well. I’m going to assume that your point is in trying to find films which you think are bad but which you also felt were somehow worth seeing although they don’t meet your definition of good. I’m taking Matt’s point to be about taking any suggestion along these lines more than as being about something purely after the fact in the head of the single viewer, and he is suggesting that a simple modification of a definition would remove any issue between “worth seeing” and “bad”, which is quite probably how it works for some around here which makes you initial question difficult to respond to given we don’t all share your particular thoughts on designations of “good” and “bad”.
I can see the potential appeal of attaching one’s film watching to some exterior source of “good”, Jazz, in that one might expand one’s horizons, so to speak, but I can’t for the life of me fathom attaching one’s film watching to an exterior concept of “bad” without at least some sort of “. . . but good” payoff at the end. Otherwise you’re just watching bad films.
(and things to Greg for translate my earlier thoughts into English . . . I struggle sometimes :( )
Not at all Matt, I prefer your version. Besides, it might explain why I like watching so many different kinds of movies, I want my cats to live.
Heh . . . me too.
(By some neurological pecularity, I tend to get stuck in thinking in metaphor and then having to work backwards to literal language)
Man, I feel silly and dumb, but I’m going to take a stab at this.
Greg said, I’m going to assume that your point is in trying to find films which you think are bad but which you also felt were somehow worth seeing although they don’t meet your definition of good.
This is basically correct—although I would add that I don’t only mean “bad” in an intersubjective sense, but bad in a subjective sense as well—i.e., a film that one doesn’t personally enjoy or suit one’s taste. What kind of film could this be? And what would be the reason(s) for seeing them? I can only think of films that might help you appreciate the larger culture or maybe films and filmmaking in general. For example, you might say that American Pie isn’t a good film (intersubjective sense), and you might NOT have enjoyed it at all (and you may also think the person you’re recommending the film might not enjoy the film), but you might still recommend it because it started a trend, or spoke for a generation, or….you see what I’m getting at. (I have no idea if this was helpful at all.)
…without at least some sort of “. . . but good” payoff at the end. Otherwise you’re just watching bad films.
I don’t mean to be annoying, but I was with you until this part, especially how you got to the last sentence.
OK, so more like bad art, but “good” in the sense that it has some sort of sociological value or some sort of other value not directly related to aesthetic quality?
I think I understand you Jazz, you are kinda looking to see if there are any cultural touchstones people deem useful to watch even though they’re bad, and we’re just wondering what the use could be if one knows its bad as even if it is significant to the culture, all you are doing is positing yourself outside the culture by your disapproval, thereby suggesting that the suggestion would be, assuming someone else responded as you, to look at why society is wrong. That doesn’t seem any more helpful than simply giving the film a pass and letting those who like it like it without your having to judge them for it, if only indirectly.
Jazzaloha asks a good question; “What would I understand about popular culture if I see these films and what exactly would I fail to understand?”
The answer could be a forum topic in itself with multiple possibilities but I don’t think trying to understand pop culture is a reason to watch bad popular movies.
I will first suggest that the following reasons to watch bad popular movies are primarily beneficial for the film student, filmmaker and critics of media. The reasons are
(1) to study the techniques of propaganda used by Hollywood to keep the masses entertained and uncritical.
And then (2) with that knowledge, immunize themselves better (although not fully) from unthinking mass culture propaganda and subvert the techniques to make more engaging and provocative entertainment.
That said, I recommend the following bad popular films to watch for the 2 reasons I’ve stated:
any Tyler Perry movie
The Last Airbender
any Star Wars movie
The Boondock Saints (it’s appeal as a fan favorite eludes me — and it’s not cuz I hate action movies)
(there’s more but that’s it for now… if I come up with more, I’ll post them up here_
Or to put it another way, to try and forestall what I think will be some of your objections, you can also frame the question as “Are there any films you consider having been worth seeing even though you didn’t find them personally worthwhile.” This assumes then that you have already seen a movie and didn’t like it but might have found some value in what it revealed about something larger. In this case, the assumption is that one’s attitude towards the film is fixed, it is bad without question, and that there is some other issue at play which still made the film worth attending to, likely its popularity with others. At this point one has to wonder if this would be a rationalization or simply a way to say this film exemplifies some attitude in society that I also have issue with, since the fixed nature of the rsponse doesn’t allow for review of one’s own attitude towards the movie, otherwise the movie wouldn’t be considered bad as a definitive, but something more neutral or open to alteration. Isn’t this still a statement of preference for alienation, even though potentially moderate? And if it is just cultural response to which you are claiming the value of having seen the film, why would this vary from one popular film to the next as each should be more or less as revealing as the last?
Does my question really signify that I’m judging people and the culture—in a sneering sort of way? I don’t think I feel that way at all. To me, this question is an interesting one. If I don’t think I’ll personally enjoy a film and think it will be any good in an intersubjective sense, I have no interest in the film. But in this thread, I thought I’d question this position. Are there films like this that I should watch—for some other reason. Can’t this be asked in a benign way? Or do you think the one who asks this question must automatically be judgmental and snide?
Hey, i never said snide or sneering, but the question does imply separating yourself from the culture at large, either in hindsight or intentionally, and that has repercussions, or is at least suggestive of what is going to be taken away from the encounter. If one watches something one is sure is “bad” and knows that a large amount of other people think it is good, then a sort of wall is built between your definition and theirs, and that can almost certainly carry some larger implications if pne is going to sit down and try and analyse why others like the movie as you clearly don’t feel as they do, so you are going to have to attribute some beliefs or attitudes towards them. It may be that you simply say that people have a different sense of humor than you do, but if that is all that was at stake, then why was this bad film worth seeing? Wouldn’t that suggest there has to be something more allegedly illuminating in play, and if this is the case, then how are you going to think about that if not with at least some degree of negativity as your position is fixed, the movie is bad? If one were to question one’s own response, “is the movie as bad as I thought?” then the definition of bad wouldn’t be resolutely in play which would then deny the premise of the question.
And, just to be clear, I do not think of you at all as a snide or sneering kind of guy Jazz, one could think of the response being more one of disappointment, to pick just one of numerous other possibilities.
This is an interesting topic because when a cinephile with more discriminating standards watches and rates and berates “bad” Hollywood films, they are often attacked with the “why do you watch these films when you will trash them” argument.
Of course, there is no such thing as a bad film that one has to see. There’s no such thing as a great film that one has to see. One doesn’t have to see a single film in an entire lifetime.
The only answer I can provide to Jazz’s intriguing question is just a list of personal reasons as to why I might end up watching a “bad film”. Many have already mentioned this, but it does behoove a literate person to keep up with cultural trends at large. Forrest Gump, for example, is a bad film in my opinion, but I’m intrigued by the enormous appeal of the film. It obviously says something about the zeitgeist, and I’m interested in how and why the film appeals to so many.
There’s also just the simple social aspect of moviegoing. Most of these terrible films do get shown in theaters, and you might just end up going to see them with your family or friends. Sometimes I end up taking my little nephew to something like Transformers. I think that whole franchise of movies is utterly worthless shit, but I’m not going to let my personal opinions preclude a 10-year-old child from enjoying something that all the kids at school will be talking about. In such instance, the quality time I spend with someone I love triumphs the utter shittiness of a movie.
I agree with Blue on all points here, but I emphatically agree with the idea that the issue becomes more complicated once you add in other people. Two fun examples.
Should anyone feel obligated to see Transformers? No.
- Recently my wife and I have become foster parents to a 16 yr old girl. This has changed my viewing habits quite a bit. Where I would normally never want to see Puss in Boots or Megamind, I am making the concession based on her interests. I’m not going to be a dumbass and refuse her choices based on my personal preferences. Though one night she could not sleep and she came downstairs just as I was about to start a movie. I told her she could watch with me, but that I was not changing any plans. Shockingly, she sat through all of The Naked Island and didn’t complain once. I’m pretty sure she was bored out of her mind, but was quiet because she knew she was on my turf.
Is she obligated to see The Naked Island? No.