As I was browsing at a bookstore today, I realized that I have greater difficulty finding a novel that really satisfies me—especially the more entertainment type of novels (e.g., thrillers). This has been the case with film, too, and the situation is sort of depressing and disappointing. (Some may view the situation as a point of pride because it may indicate that a person is more discriminating. I don’t feel that. I’d much prefer having an easier time enjoying films than the opposite.) In any event, I think the situation stems from seeing many different films. I think by seeing many films (especially within a relatively short period of time), I’ve grown tired of certain conventions or story-lines. This largely explains the reason finding truly satisfying films is much harder.
On the other hand, I believe that seeing a greater variety of films has expanded my taste and appreciation of films. Because of a greater diversity in my film viewing, I’m able to appreciate a greater variety of films.
In this thread, I want to discuss the way one’s enjoyment and appreciation of films have changed as a person sees more films and gains greater understanding of films and filmmaking. As you see more films and gain more knowledge about films, has that made appreciation films easier or more difficult?
Oh, so much easier in that my vocabulary of film has greatly expanded, and more difficult in that I’m seeing much more challenging films now, and happily so. But I find satisfaction in the challenge, so I’m even more happy than ever.
Having the context of the history of world cinema (even the limited context that I’ve acquired so far) enriches not only my experience of film, but of my experience of art and my entire life.
Yeah thats interesting because I do find it incredibly difficult to 1) find a film that I’m completely satisfied with and 2) still try to enjoy films that dont live up to my own personal standard of quality. Its a double edged sword i think. A higher “film vocabulary” as Leaves put it means that I have less patience for ‘common projects’. It is hard. I find myself scrolling through what feels like mountains of netflix library movies unable to decide on what to watch because i dont want to pick the wrong movie and waste my time. Its kind of funny actually. But what I’ve also found interesting is the fact that movies that i watched when i was still “young” in my film studying I still enjoy even with my keener eye. But i think the payoff is when through all of the laboring i find a true gem—a really great film—its the best feeling and it ends up being totally worth the hunt.
I’m only 22, but I’ve seen and read about a lot of challenging films. An increase in film knowledge has hindered my ability to enjoy summer blockbusters, and mainstream American films I may have enjoyed otherwise.
Expanding your horizons can be extremely satisfying, and it has been for me these last few years, but it’s easy to lose the simple pleasures that a mindless blockbuster or stupid comedy can bring. It is as Ysk says a double edged sword. Mubi has enriched my film watching experience as a rule and opened me up to appreciating a different kind of film, but it has severely damaged my ability to fully enjoy, for example Quentin Tarantino’s films as I used to.
If when talking to someone who has a ‘normal’ interest in films I mention something like Stalker, Jeanne Dielman or even Citizen Kane as being worthy of their attention I get eyes rolling heavenward and the word ‘boring’ won’t be far behind. Their loss, you might say, but think about it this way; these same people have no trouble finding movies that satisfy them – there’s no shortage of the films they like in the video stores, at the multiplex and on TV. Ignorance is bliss?
There seems to be three different concepts running here.
Mood (boredom), technical ability (vocabulary), and taste (social status).
…it has severely damaged my ability to fully enjoy, for example Quentin Tarantino’s films as I used to.
Suggesting that would have more to do with social status than an increase in your technical ability (vocabulary) to appreciate films.
@ Jazz I’ve grown tired of certain conventions or story-lines. This largely explains the reason finding truly satisfying films is much harder.
finding truly satisfying films = unconventional story-lines?
I would bet there are people who never get bored with a genre – people who make a career of a specific thing, for example, thrillers – how do they do it?
…Suggesting that would have more to do with social status than an increase in your technical ability (vocabulary) to appreciate films.
I think the reason a lot of people enjoy Tarantino films so much is the feeling that they’re seeing something fresh and original. What I meant was the increase in my technical ability and breadth of experience of the films that have influenced him has hampered my ablity to be impressed by Tarantino’s work as something innovative.
I can’t think of many people who’d grace a film like Jackie Brown with the adjectives “fresh”, “original”, or “innovative”, even those who like it.
Depends on the film. Michael Bay, decreased. Andrei Tarkovsky, increased. Quentin Tarantino, push.
As I have gained more knowledge of film, and have been able to articulate why I like a film, or any work of art, i’ve been able to fully engage with all art, and because there’s so much great art, I never worry about not enjoying rubbish art.
It helps one reach the truth of the thing.
Sorry, I think it’s a kiddish question. It’s like questioning growing up, and asking if it has caused you to understand more complicated things about life, and is it good or bad? It’s damn inevitable.
@ scampi …..seeing something fresh and original.
Not sure those are good attributes to be concerned with for art, let alone someone working in the post-modern time. I think ‘strangeness’ he got with his early films.
Not sure if this different or if I don’t understand:What I meant was the increase in my technical ability and breadth of experience of the films that have influenced him has hampered my ablity to be impressed by Tarantino’s work as something innovative.
Is it knowing his appropriations made, that makes him seem less innovative?
…Is it knowing his appropriations made, that makes him seem less innovative?
Quoting SuperKal: An increase in film knowledge has hindered my ability to enjoy summer blockbusters, and mainstream American films I may have enjoyed otherwise.
In my opinion, this is a good thing, since I tend to promote those more “challenging” films that others have alluded to above. Occasionally, even a mainstream summer blockbuster challenges some aspect of its genre or rises above the formula in some cinematic way.
As for the larger issue and original post, I’d like to advocate for READING and STUDYING film in a more formal way, not just seeing them. I’ve seen many film students, for instance, miss a golden opportunity to expand their horizons by just watching tons of movies without learning more about them, discussing them (beyond “I liked it” or “I didn’t like it”), and systematically exploring the nuances of the art form (and entertainment vehicle).
I suppose I do enjoy some films less than I might have if I’d seen them as a kid, though I wonder how much of this is just a natural result of my own changing perceptions of the world rather than simply eating from the tree of cinematic knowledge, Jazz. On the other hand, I’m absolutely certain that I enjoy many films far more for having benefited from, as Frank puts it, " systematically exploring the nuances of the art form (and entertainment vehicle)."
But i think the payoff is when through all of the laboring i find a true gem—a really great film—its the best feeling and it ends up being totally worth the hunt.
Yes, absolutely. For me, it’s exhilirating. However, for every ten films I see, I’m lucky to get this sensation with one or two of them. It can be depressing to see a string of so-so films.
Not necessarily. I think I’ve grown tired of certain conventions and tropes (unless the filmmakers do something creative with them). The example I use is the obligatory chase-shoot-’em-up scene in thrillers. This scene happens after the detectives have figured out the identity of the killer, and the scene usually ends with some fight on a tall structure with the villain falling to his/her death.
Of course, there are some conventions that I haven’t tired of. Also, films aren’t dissatisfying simply because they use conventions. For example, I’m a lot pickier and sensitive to acting; I definitely harder to please when it comes to this. Along the same lines, suspension of disbelief doesn’t come as easy at times.
I suppose I do enjoy some films less than I might have if I’d seen them as a kid, though I wonder how much of this is just a natural result of my own changing perceptions of the world rather than simply eating from the tree of cinematic knowledge, Jazz._
FWIW, I don’t think the growing cinematic knowledge is the only hindrance. It’s more the amount of films one has seen—especially if you see a bunch of these films in a short period of time. If you watched a 100 thrillers in a few months, I’d expect that finding a satisfying thriller would be really difficult. See what I’m saying?
Ignorance is bliss?
Well, I don’t know if I would say that. Like what I said above to Matt, I think experiencing more films makes satisfaction more difficult. I think the same applies to food. The local Indian restaurant may be great, but once you start trying a lot of different great Indian restaurants (say in a major city), the local joint may not longer satisfy you. However, while finding a satisfactory Indian meal may be that much more difficult, you’ve really experienced and enjoyed better Indian food.
On the other hand, if your experience was limited to the local Indian restuarant and you loved it, does the person with more experience actually enjoy the food more? I’m not sure about that. (Damn, so maybe ignorance is bliss?)
Helped, of course. That’s like asking if a blind person enjoys a sunset more than someone who can see. The more you know, the more you can appreciate it.
Cinema is much more satisfying, a much deeper experience, having since studied it. Prior to that, it was a shallow, hollow experience. I think this is what cinema is to most people; it certainly explains why Transformers makes $400 million worldwide opening weekend.
But that isn’t to say that once you become more experienced, you can’t enjoy popcorn movies. Sure, initially that seems to be the case. After a couple film classes, I hated Spielberg. But I think you eventually get over that (or should I say, get over yourself) and you can enjoy both deep, meaningful films as well as fun popcorn movies.
…sort of just made me more of an asshole though…
Not myself personally but when I get into discussions with friends/family about a film we both saw, I feel like it hurts my ability to get into the conversation I want to articulate with this person without the other person feeling like they are being talked down to or are in the presence of a total snob. It sort of is an inside joke among my friends that I am the person who drops film/TV references to stuff they have never seen.
The film that I really felt close to the original post is Super 8. I just thought on a homage level to the 80s sci-fi/alien movie it was sub-par, it practically felt like another film from the first half that I thought did an excellent job capturing the children’s point of view that also fell apart in the second half. I also thought it fell on an homage level and this may be my expectations from seeing some actually well done homage films of an era that even in a post-modern critique (like Todd Haynes’ Far From Heaven does with the Sirk films) was more seamless than what was supposed to represent 1979 in Super 8. I may have found one other person who felt this way on one level. Most of Super 8’s audience, a lot of people born or grew up with the films JJ Abrams paid homage to, loved it.
“but once you start trying a lot of different great Indian restaurants (say in a major city), the local joint may not longer satisfy you. However, while finding a satisfactory Indian meal may be that much more difficult, you’ve really experienced and enjoyed better Indian food.”
Well, the other thing at play there might also be that if you started eating Indian food four nights a week every weak, whatever novelty value the experience might have for you will eventually probably be deadened.
To put in in terms of an exaggeratedly empirical metaphor, Jazz, think of it like exploration. If you’re surrounded by unknown lands, at first you may only have to go a mile or so to discover new lands, but eventually you have to go out further and further to find unexplored territory.
I like the metaphor^—although it doesn’t really cheer me up.
But in my experience, greater knowledge and experience doesn’t only affect my enjoyment of rubbish art; it can also take away from my experience of high (or at least not "rubbish) art as well.
What I have read regarding French New Wave cinema has greatly added to my appreciation of that genre, as well as other film genres.
i still don’t really consider myself a true “cinephile” in the sense that there are a lot of classic, archetypical narratives and films that i have yet to see (ie. i think i have a fairly good knowledge of the nichés of films that i like most, ie. surrealism, queer cinema, etc., particularly from the late seventies to now, but i wouldn’t consider myself very knowledgeable about other styles or genres such as melodrama, noir, or westerns, even though some of my favourite films fall into those categories, or in general most filmmaking prior to 1970, which comparatively i have seen little of) . however, i have been increasingly watching more and more films in the past few years at a more rapid pace, expanding my palette, and i find that my ability to understand the language of film is evolving and growing. films i saw only a year ago and didn’t much care for are already occupying a different space in my head – i find that i am understanding entire aspects of them that i didn’t before – especially a lot of seminal films that deal with subject matter i don’t find myself emotionally engaged with on first viewing. it’s a lot easier for me to like a film immediately if the plot or style are suited very directly to my more obvious tastes.
my short answer: easier. but i don’t know if i’m the right person to be answering this yet.
It’s a form of enlightenment.
When you have a golf ball sized consciousness you have a golf ball sized understanding of movies.
“As I was browsing at a bookstore today, I realized that I have greater difficulty finding a novel that really satisfies me—especially the more entertainment type of novels (e.g., thrillers). This has been the case with film, too, and the situation is sort of depressing and disappointing.”
God I just don’t understand this. As I’ve grown older and more knowledgable I have found more value and enjoyment out of more types of movies, more types of books, more types of music, and so on. As I learn more about film I begin to find more to look at in films, from its technical qualities to the critical ones we mostly discuss here. I rarely feel like I’m wasting my time, but I am also pretty secure in knowing now and then that there are certain films I just don’t feel is all that important to watch—so I find many of the plethora of other available films in the ever increasing expansiveness of filmmaking out there.
Back to the book store example. When I was little I’d run straight to the horror/sci fi section, inevitably buying a Dragonlance or Stephen King book. But as I learned more about literature now I have an unending list of stuff I probably will never have time to get around to. This isn’t hard for me, it’s liberating. If there’s nothing in the store I can always special order—or, anymore, I just go to the library and do inter-library loan if necessary.