actually a failed art film often does the thinking for you.
Every film is worthy of discussion. After each film in theaters, I go off with whoever I saw the film with (except when I go solo) have dinner and discuss the film for an hour or more (Winnie the Pooh had a very lively discussion, so did New York Minute and Black Dalhia)
It’s like saying you can’t discuss a book by Nagib Mahfouz but you can with Rosamunde Pilcher…that doesn’t make sense, pardon me..
Film snobs have blinders on. Eh, their loss, what do I care. Who knows what recent films will be remembered 25 years from now.
how many people on here actually think Bay is a good director? Generally i’m quite lenient towards mainstream directors with an individual style, but in his case, it’s more that a collection of film making errors resembles a style that is completely in bad taste.
At least guys like Burton and Del Toro have a more ‘personalised’ style, regardless of what you may think of them.
I’d take Boll over Bay.
Actually, blockbusters are by definition studio-controlled films that are churned out for the primary purpose of making money. According to Wikipedia, “In 1975 the usage of ‘blockbuster’ for films coalesced around Steven Spielberg’s Jaws, and became perceived as something new: a cultural phenomenon, a fast-paced exciting entertainment, almost a genre…Jaws is regarded as the first film of the so-called ‘blockbuster era’ with its current meaning, implying a type of film. It also consolidated the ‘summer blockbuster’ trend, through which studios and distributors planned their entire annual marketing strategy around a big release by July 4.”
And the specific example of Transformers 3 cited by Jazz in his original post is the very definition of this kind of film, which as Wikipedia mentions has almost become a genre in itself. The examples you cite of a QT film that turns a hefty profit isn’t by definition a blockbuster as used in the industry now.
I’d disagree on your statement that "nothing is worth (I think you meant “worse”???) than a failed art film. One might find an art film difficult to watch for many reasons, but one always has to remember the context. Blockbuster films always go for the lowest common demoniator because they face the pressure to turn a profit. By definition, they cannot touch controversial topics or present ideas that challenge the staquo and so on. And of course, good art is which provokes thought, challenges conventions, embodies a fiercely independent personal vision and so on. In other words, films that are meanto be art, even when they “fail”, always have what could be called “soul.” On the other hand, blockbusters have no soul.
Terminator 2, I admit, is a highly watchable entertaining film. It might be more watchable than Black Swan—I don’t know, I haven’t seen the Aronofsky film. In fact, T2 might be more watchable than a lot of films by filmmakers who strive to create a work of art rather than a product of commerce. But that’s irrelevant. Commerce is commerce, art is art. A lot of people might find a Danielle Steele novel more readable than Shakespeare’s Merchan of Venice because of its anti-Semitic elements. But that still doesn’t mean the Danielle Steele novel is art. Crap is crap, art is art, and never the twain shall meet.
Even a “failed” (subjective) work of art > the most well-polished piece of commercial product.
Uh ‘art for art’s sake’ is an extremely new phenomenon.Commerce and art have long since intersected one another and will likely continue to for centuries to come.
Uh no, actually, “I’ll give you a shitload of money, you make me anything that makes me even more shit loads of money” is even a newer phenomenon. Many artists had patrons who finanicially supported them. Of course, they had to answer to the patrons, but it’s one thing catering to an individual who believes in your inherent worth as an artist and entirely another to make watered down soulless nothing that entertains millions.
Hundreds of years of art commissioned by churches disagrees with you. Sometimes the watered down soulless nothing can be good oddly enough. We just hate ours because Hollywood is relentlessly in our faces. I’m sure there are many Chinese who feel the same about their mainstream cinema’s constant stream of comedy.
Of course. Who says the mainstream commercially oriented Chinese films are good? Not I.
And churches are hardly the only institutions that commissioned art. Kings and wealthy aristocrats did too, many of them giving the artists total creative control. And pleae let me know when you run into a Hollywwod blockbuster film that has the artistic merit of the Sistine Chapel. Let’s not even go there.
I don’t understand the notion that true art can only be made under the most ideal conditions. Even if a filmmaker isn’t noble enough to turn down an offer for a buttload of money I think he could still make a great movie even with lots of restrictions. Many artists, when given more artistic freedom have gone to make worse films. Even under terrible conditions, something great can happen, like life.
“Even a “failed” (subjective) work of art > the most well-polished piece of commercial product.”
Thought only dim felt this way, a little too elitist and one note for my liking. It also makes me find Shin-ok and yr round 2 choice particularly interesting.
Hitchcock and Chaplin were considered popular and artists, Hawks is. Woo is. I see little difference between Cameron and Aronofsky (who almost directed Wolverine).
Name a Hollywood “blockbuster” as defined by the industry (as can be seen in the wikipedia entry that I linked to) that can be considered great art. I don’t mean watchable or entertaining. Something that you would actually consider art.
And to address Jazz’s question in the op, yes, I’m sure making a Hollywood blockbuster is very difficult. But not all entertaining things that are difficult to do qualify as art. I once saw a woman in Bangkok who could shoot a banana out of her vajayjay with pinpoint accuracy. Now I don’t have a vajayjay, but I’m surmising that is a pretty difficult skill to master. But is it art? I don’t know. One thing I do know is that I’d rather watch that over a beer than Transformers 3.
^^He turned down Wolverine Den.
" I once saw a woman in Bangkok who could shoot a banana out of her vajayjay with pinpoint accuracy. Now I don’t have a vajayjay, but I’m surmising that is a pretty difficult skill to master. But is it art?"
shot it in black and white an attach Tarr’s name to it and many would make the case for it and you and some of you would argue it is better than the most well polished commerical product.
I know joks I mentioned that he turned down Wolverine. He wants to be a success and is as career minded as Cameron I would wager. I would also wager he also got a bit of Black Swan from Argento’s (a popular artist) inspiration
Fair enough, Den. But I’ll tell you why I disagree with you about the elitest aspect of it. To me, art is about the intent. It’s not about whether someone went to a prestigious film school like NYU or whether they’re a high school dropout. It’s about whether or not someone has something to say without regard for marketing. I’d say that the overwhelming majority if not all of the shorts in MUBI Garage for example qualify as art. But Transformers 3 is not art, regardless of the fact that Michael Bay is an intelligent guy who graduated from Wellesley.
Why do people keep referencing Wikipedia on this forum? It’s not exactly the most reliable online resource. It’s kind of like saying “pixies told me”.
thanks for the explaination.
guess I am more interested in outcome than intent. One can intend anything. I honestly think at some point the intent of Lucas was to make a great film, not just a great popcorn film, same with Bay and Boll for that matter
Because Wikipedia is a perfectly reliable source when it comes to facts. It is of course not particularly eloquently written in comparison to the Britanniaca or some other encyclopedia. How is Wiki’s definition of “blockbuster film” wrong?
I wasn’t referring to Wikipedia’s definition of “blockbuster films”, and I’m not questioning the facts behind any of the citations. I’m just pointing out that Wikipedia is generally unreliable. This is due to it being a public domain encyclopaedia – whereby anyone can alter data on any subject – which makes it prone to error.
I’m constantly finding (and correcting) factual errors on there, as well as the more common deliberate fudging of facts (usually for comedic purposes, but also for ideological reasons). This is the main reason that academic institutions ban their students from referencing the website. The facts in these citations may actually be correct, but sourcing them from Wikipedia makes them suspect.
1. There’s no definition, industry or otherwise, in the text you posted. It says that Jaws was the first blockbuster, and that studios plan their summer release schedules with potential blockbusters around July 4th. Neither of these sentiments is a revelation and neither defines the term “blockbuster” as you have.
2. If we’re going to play the “cite a generic website” game, from Dictionary.com:
“1. an aerial bomb containing high explosives and weighing from four to eight tons, used as a large-scale demolition bomb.
2. a motion picture, novel, etc., especially one lavishly produced, that has or is expected to have wide popular appeal or financial success.
3. something or someone that is forcefully or overwhelmingly impressive, effective, or influential: The campaign was a blockbuster.”
Obviously, only the second and third definitions apply here. I’ll point out that, like your wiki article, neither defines “blockbuster” as you do (i.e. “studio-controlled” or something synonymous). I’ll also point out that either definition CAN be achieved by a film without studio control as you’ve described it.
3. I don’t disagree that studio-controlled films exist, or that the vast majority of them are terrible. Transformers 3 meets both criteria.
4. “And of course, good art is which provokes thought, challenges conventions, embodies a fiercely independent personal vision and so on. In other words, films that are meanto be art, even when they “fail”, always have what could be called ‘soul.’”
I disagree with this, but only the latter portion and only because you’ve clearly singled out “good art”. By saying that, you’ve put a thick line between “good art” and “failed art”. Whether you did this consciously or not, I don’t know, but, on some level, even you recognize the difference.
5. This argument has turned silly.
“And pleae let me know when you run into a Hollywwod blockbuster film that has the artistic merit of the Sistine Chapel. Let’s not even go there.”
The “artistic merit” or the art decorating the Sistine Chapel has been predigested for us, though. Hollywood films not so much. Check back in 500 years.
“Check back in 500 years.”
Not that i’m a huge fan of Peter Travers but he is right:
From the first page, never responded to:
@ Uli Cain, re: “what all films really come down to is working with actors.”
News to me. Where does that put Fuller, Neo-Realism, and experimental film?
Now if you are saying “What all BLOCKBUSTER films really come down to is working with actors,” as regards the topic, carry on though I’m not entirely sure. Monetarily speaking its definitely not so, as blockbuster movies make their money off of “big name” actors, many of which are hard to work with and often not very good. Artistically speaking blah blah rest of thread what is art what is the intention art grr commerce rowr mumble mumble fuck people who have money ‘cause they’re obviously evil and so on.
Michael Atkinson back in February:
“What’s to be done? If most of us could agree that big-ass Hollywood movies simply suck nowadays, and I think we can, then we need to simply boycott them. Do what loads of people did this past three-day weekend to would-be-franchise-ripoff I Am Number Four – don’t go. Use Facebook and Twitter – if we can ‘Net-organize enough to overthrow ironclad dictators, we can certainly join forces and resist the wailing crescendo of publicity, marketing and advertising that accompanies movies every week that everyone, even the slowest Slovenian teenager or laziest Wisconsin cellar-dweller or geekiest Japanese schoolkid, knows will just suck. Don’t go. Don’t go. This summer, Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Kung Fu Panda 2, The Green Lantern, X-Men: First Class, The Hangover Part II, Transformers The Dark of the Moon, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Smurfs, Conan the Barbarian, Spy Kids 4, Final Destination 5? Don’t go.”
Kung Fu Panda 2 ?!?
So sad cuz you know how kids luv Kung Fu…
Matt, how many of those have you seen?
I’ve only read JazzAloha’s initial post so my comment is to the original post only.
I actually think this is an interesting question (although I’m sure many will take offense to any serious discussion about populist cinema). I think that making well made blockbusters is incredibly difficult and this summer is a good time to bring up this point.
I enjoyed Super 8 a lot (along with X-Men First Class, it’s the best popcorn movie I’ve seen this summer) and it was a great reminder of how entertaining a summer blockbuster can be. I thought Abrams did a nice job of creating a throwback film that appealed to a wide audience. Having said that, one unintended consequence of Super 8 is that it really showed how good a filmmaker Spielberg is. Compared to Spielberg’s earlier films, Super 8 pales in comparison (Jim Emerson on Ebert’s website wrote a great article detailing Super 8’s shortcomings when compared to Spielberg’s films).
My point here is that we all mock and disregard Spielberg’s movies as sentimental, manipulative, and over-simplified. This is totally true and I’d never put Spielberg in the same category as Haneke or Kubrick (or whoever). But in terms of the genre and mode of filmmaking that blockbuster filmmakers are working in, what guys like Spielberg, Cameron, and Ridley Scott are doing is incredibly difficult (and this is continually proven when hacks like McG, Zack Synder, and Peter Berg try to imitate them).
In the case of Spielberg, who is probably the biggest and most obvious blockbuster filmmaker, having a specific style that is so recognizable that it’s created it’s own phrase – Spielbergian – is proof enough that he’s doing something unique. I don’t much care for his recent films but of his earlier work, that sense of innocence and chlidlike wonder that he creates is unmatched. People have tried to replicate this but rarely do they achieve the kind of effectiveness that he does.
So to answer your question, yes I think blockbuster filmmaking is difficult – especially if it’s done well (which is rare).
Now that I’ve skimmed the comments (which were about as surprising as a Michael Bay lens flare), I think it’s interesting how the topic went from “Are blockbusters difficult?” to “Are blockbusters art?”. Of course just because something is difficult doesn’t mean it’s art – but what does that have to do with anything?
I find it infinitely confusing when people are so insecure about their own beliefs that they are incapable of admitting something because they’re afraid it means they are conceding something else.
The narrow mindedness that suffocates this forum reminds me of why I left.
“Matt, how many of those have you seen?”
Heh heh. Why, all of them, of course.
Here’s the thing, at this point, collectively, Hollywood blockbusters are a hydra, you don’t slay it by cutting off one of it’s head, another will just grow back in its place. People not going to a Martin Campbell film doesn’t mean more people go to a (insert whatever “artistic” director here you like), it means more people go to see a Michael Bay film.