I always talk about The Shining since it’s in my top 10, in English, and most people have heard of it…
Also, Terrence Malick is awesome!
To answer the initial question, I find it impossible to talk ‘film’ with anyone, “cinephile” or not. In fact, I’d much rather listen to what other people have to say than talk about something myself…
That’s enough for me. Since art has no objective quality, any discussion on a work is ultimately about the people sharing their opinions (their reactions, preconceptions, expectations, etc), and not about the work itself.
Too many people on here see the role of the ‘cinephile’ (or whatever you want to call yourself) as some kind of messenger or missionary, bringing enlightenment or education to the natives. I’m happy enough to talk to someone about why they like a specific film (be it Twilight or anything else) without trying to force my own point of view.
//If you’re looking for a grand, unified ‘aboutness’, you’re not going to find it. I just don’t think ‘aboutness’ is as important as the beauty of the conjured emotions.//
Truthfully, I haven’t seen Days of Heaven in years…all I remember (all I ever remember) is beautiful cinematography.
All the emotions that I conjure from watching Malick usually involve thinking what I could have been doing with my time…pretty images do not a movie make. Those scenes with Sean Penn were superfluous…I didn’t care about his character because, as in all Malick films, you never do…they are “types” and not fully fleshed out human beings.
@ Drunken Father:
//Also, Terrence Malick is awesome!//
Stop drinking the Kool Aid. I think sometimes people like Malick because it’s fashionable just like it’s fashionable to bust on Spielberg. I just can’t jump on the bandwagon…every time the guy releases a movie I try to go with an open mind and I usually come away slack jawed and agape at the pretentiousness of it all.
I saw that you rated The Godfather one star….seriously man….what’s up with that?
I agree with what you’re saying in general, but I think if you’re always adjusting to everyone else and being tolerant of everyone else, shouldn’t you also expect them to adjust to you and be tolerant of you? Respect for other peoples’ opinions is a two way street.”
People should be many things.
Unfortunately, all people are are people.
You either work with what you’ve got or you don’t work at all.
Alternative Answer #1
Be the change you want to see in the world.
Alternative Answer #2
It is pretty well documented that human beings will not exert energy if they don’t need or care to. To direct someone’s energies toward your own interests, you have to convince them that they are earning something valuable themselves. Unfortunately, by definition of not being a cinephile, they don’t value the same things you do. So a film is not, to them, a valuable experience in and of itself. It has to be somehow applied to their own values.
If that sounds weird, consider what is to be gained for you the cinephile the opposite way. You want someone to respect the films that you enjoy. However, they want you to respect the [enter interest here] that they enjoy. Fact is, if you open yourself up to their interests, you are going to find things that are going to help you think differently about film, see old films you love in another light, from a different point of view. Your own interests become even better when you have a fuller life to interact with them.
Otherwise we lock ourselves in an ivory tower and cannot tell the difference between the subject of the film and the film itself. As Cocteau said, “A barber is going to watch a movie about a barber and complain about how he holds the scissors. It is not a filmmaker’s concern to have the character of a barber hold the scissors right.”
Alternative Answer #3
People are not going to change their mind unless they decide to, and if they’ve decided to they’re already asking you questions and you need no extra work to convince them. The easiest way to make them decide to is not to argue against them, which only causes resentment (see: this board), but to make them think that you and they agree so that your opinions seem to be coming from them. Another way to win arguments, as far as arguments can be won, is by showing, not telling.
Both of these are but two ways that refer to the same phenomenon acknowledged time and time again by anybody who bothers to do a sociological or psychological study on the matter: facts and logic don’t convince. Rhetoric does. The best way of all to convince anyone of anything, is to make them feel like they came to the conclusion themselves.
Think that’s cynical? Look at Odilonvert and me. We get along famously, working on the Ergodic Cinema Project together and talking about movies’n’stuff and generally kidding around on these boards and enjoying the chatter despite being different generations, genders, and living in two completely different parts of the world, and yet I cannot convince her that a dollar traded to another and then traded to another and then traded again is accounted for four times, and this is worth four dollars. She does not care. I do. Should I be frustrated? No, I should change the subject back to funding the Ergodic Cinema Project and/or move on with my life. Somewhere out there, however, is someone on an economics Internet forum saying, "Goddamn it’s so frustrating how I try to explain these economic matters to people and they just don’t care… how do you all talk to a non-economist? "
Alternative Answer #4
One thing I am always interested in is who my audience may or may not turn out to be, as I develop as a filmmaker and seek out methods of communicating myself clearly to others in that visual medium. As a filmmaker, I have a whole lot less to offer than I have to receive, because I must pay attention to the world around me and how it plays out and what is the what and why people care, and I have to reserve judgment as best I can (and it’s difficult, to be sure). Otherwise, my movies will be so detached from real things, that I might as well not make them at all. Now, I am 10x the fantasist than the documentarian, so as far as “real things” go, I have to settle on the “emotional” area of the truth spectrum, rather than realism. But if I don’t see how people react to true events, I won’t really intellectually understand how they would feel if something truly bizarre happened to them. The world is full of stories, personalities, and people, so if I don’t spend more time paying attention to them, they won’t spend a dime paying to see anything I create. And I’m not going to convince them to by writing some mission statement artistic manifesto about reclaiming the world of cinema from the evils of commercialism and marketing. I’m going to convince them by showing them something they recognize, even if it’s not recognizable in the genre/rules of filmmaking/market shares, and if I’m not following those commercial principles, then the only thing they’ll recognize in my movies is themselves.
Alternative Answer #5
And the goal is, theoretically, to have fun watching movies, right? Fun not necessarily in the escapism or entertainment sense, but to enjoy or derive pleasure from the experience of participating in the viewership of an artform. So if I’m going to sit my ass down with other people and watch a movie with them, I really want to make sure they are enjoying it too, or else the whole thing will be uncomfortable for them and me. So yes, it is a two-way street in the sense that if somebody is outright not digging it, and are the anti-Joks who will even mock you for what you enjoy, then you need to develop a tough enough skin to send them packing. They don’t appreciate what you offer so why expend that amount of energy? Perhaps you have friends who are friends for non-cinema related reasons and it’s frustrating that they just will. not. watch Solaris with you, but it’s easy enough to accommodate the knowledge in yourself that they are simply non-Solaris friends, and you use them for something other than enjoying Solaris. But if they’re not even your friends, they’re like coworkers or classmates or whatever, feel around, see what bait they’re nibbling, and if they won’t budge move on. There are worst things in the world than not convincing someone that Nosferatu, albeit somewhat crude, still shows resoundingly more technical skill and character than all four Twilight movies combined.
Alternative Answer #6
Because movies may not be as important as the specialist interest that they have to offer anyway. I mean art in and of itself is important, and movies are an artform, and movies have definitely shown themselves to be important from an historical perspective, but being a cinephile is really not all that significant in the grand reckoning of things. I mean really. We’re geeks. Deal.
To sum up all of the different answers above, I woke up one day and realized that very few people give a flying fuck about my opinions about anything. More importantly, I realized that that was entirely okay. Who the hell am I to tell anyone what they should or should not think, feel, or believe anyway?
RGrimes: “I’ve had people leave DVD’s on my desk to watch. I try to be respectful and watch the film if I can.”
Absolutely. My personal rule is that if they really want me to watch it, they have to provide me the means to or sit down with me and watch it themselves, because if I don’t feel like getting around to it then I am going to expend neither money nor energy acquiring the means to see it (including downloading, which in the case of the type of movies we’re talking about, DVD-available favorites of mainstream movie buffs or lay audiences, is not sticking it to the man so much as just being a cheap bastard). People take me up on that sometimes, and the thing is that it usually does take a real heartfelt commitment to a movie to do something like that, so you can at least learn something about the person who lent it to you if you ask them afterward about why they thought it was so important for you to see it.
And if they just have a stupid amount of disposable income and really think that Bridesmaids is going to change your opinion and make you realize that black and white movies with subtitles are boring, offer to do an exchange. “Okay, I’ll watch Bridesmaids if you watch The Marriage of Maria Braun first, and then we’ll talk about them afterward.”
BRIDESMAIDS and MARIA BRAUN = almost equally good.
Though BRAUN does have a better ending.
bridesmaids really is good, ben? so maybe i should just watch it, hmm. or perhaps u just don’t like maria braun LOL
i doubt i’ll convince anyone to watch maria braun but i guess i could make time in my busy film watching schedule to honor the wishes of my friend. i’m sure redbox has the film. the problem is, what if i hate it? i suppose i can always lie…
i admit i had a bias against the film as some token female version of the hangover and my previous bad experience with apatow.
I dunno, in what category would you put people who post in internet threads just to mock the premise and scoff at everyone? Hrm…
It’s not just about the visuals, though they are nice. And I strongly disagree that Malick’s characters are not fully fleshed out characters. Just, they don’t explain the characters through formative events like most films do, they explain the characters by showing you how they feel and act in the situation they are in. What they show us of Gere in Days of Heaven is more specific than the usual ‘Catalyzing childhood trauma’ most films like to show us.
1) Doesn’t that philosophy though imply yourself in the superior position? “They will act unreasonably so don’t bother reasoning.” You sound a little bit like Grace from Dogville, calling other people arrogant. I don’t expect people to sit down and watch a four hour low budget historical drama from Indonesia with me, but I sure as hell expect them to let me talk about it without automatically labeling me pretentious, just as I let them talk about big budget action flicks without automatically labeling them philistines. And I do think for most people, there do exist obscure films they would enjoy if they saw them, it’s just a matter of cracking the implicit relationship between saturation and relevance.
People are not stupid. Ask me fifteen years ago I might have said something like “If it was that good a movie why are so few people seeing it.” The only difference is I had an experience that changed my mind and they did not.
2) Have you tried bringing up the idea that something doesn’t have to be tangibly in your hand to be valuable? The physical object of money in your hand is not valuable: The power to spend it is.
I suppose we might have to agree to disagree on Malick……and it’s not that I don’t like slow moving fiilms…I love the Ozu films I’ve seen….they reveal character in small ways.
Tree of Life starts out with nothing less than the creation of the universe…..Malick really thinks his film is THAT important? Those scenes make no narrative sense nor does the scene with the dinosaurs.
I’ve included some of my original thoughts on Tree of Life…this is after having just seen it and writing about it on my blog:
//Terence Malick seems to forget that when he is making a film, that it is going to be shown to an audience at some point. Experimentation is the lifeblood of creative artistic achievement in cinema. However, when that experimentation becomes a self absorbed, pretentious, audience insulting travesty than it ceases to be relevant.
I was wary of this film from the get go but the subject matter, the accolades and the hope that Malick had managed to reign in some of his pompous self aggrandizement so evident in films like The New World and Thin Red Line got the better of me. Curiosity killed the cat so they say…I think it killed a little bit of my soul today as well.
The film tells the story (marginally) of a Texas family in the 1950′s. Stern father Brad Pitt and kindhearted mother Jessica Chastain are the parents of three young boys. Pitt is a rigid disciplinarian bordering on the abusive and Chastain is a gentle woman bordering on the insipid. Nobody in the family is fully fleshed out…we spend the 2 and a half hour run time watching a bunch of actors used as scenery.
Sean Penn plays the oldest son later in life trying to come to terms with….well…it would seem just about everything from the death of his brother (which is never fully explained…my suspicion is that he died in Vietnam but knowing Malick he probably tripped over a daisy and cracked his head on the sidewalk) to his relationship with his father to the meaning of the universe. It hardly matters as Penn has about 10 minutes of total screen time and about 5 lines of dialogue.
The film pretty much offers two options in living life….the way of Nature and the way of Grace. The parents represent these two options (Pitt is Nature and Chastain is Grace) and spend the film battling existentially for the souls of their boys. It appears that Grace ultimately wins in the end.
While the themes are big, the film never is, and Malick is saying nothing new about the meaning of life, man’s questions about existence, and the fact that bad things happen to good people. In this amalgamated mess of themes we get sequences involving the creation of the universe, complete with dinosaurs…and even they are pretty simplistically boring. He should have got Spielberg in here to give him some tips.
My biggest gripe with Malick, though, is the apparent lack of respect he has for his audience and for his subject matter. He dangles scenes that are pregnant with meaning and potential emotion in front of us, and then cuts away at the penultimate moment to shots of rain drops on leaves or a field of sunflowers….it’s manipulative because we never get the catharsis the scene sets up…for that matter, neither do the participants in the film.
So the real message of Tree of Life is that self important films can suck too….//
Rgrimes: “Stop drinking the Kool Aid. I think sometimes people like Malick because it’s fashionable”
Well aren’t you just soooooooooooooo smart! Maybe I rated the Godfather 1 star because I’m not drinking that Kool Aid! I’d say it’s pretty fashionable to like the Godfather…
Also, this is the song I sing to all non-cinephiles:
You only have to listen to the first 10 seconds to hear the punchline.
OK..I shouldn’t have made the Kool Aid comment….sorry.
“Films should be fun? No, films should be good. Baseball and X-box should be fun.”
This proves my point. ’Nuff said.
“I find an equal measure of close mindedness among casual moviegoers and cinephiles.”
I agree with you completely. It really just depends on the person.
“This proves my point. ’Nuff said.”
If you have a problem with what I say you could at least have the intellectual fortitude to not run-and-hide on another thread to try and prove a point in secret.
You disagree with me? Then at least have the guts to place what you disagree with in context, if you’re not going to confront me on it.
Or if you’re going to ignore me at least have the ability to really do it.
First, laugh at them.
Second, brand your cinephile creds on their forehead.
Third, ascertain if they give a shit or not (they don’t)
Last, rinse and repeat.
I got the impression that the creation of the universe was in the film to cast relative irrelevance on the characters and their own situation, and to show patterns of human behavior mirrored in dinosaurs millions of years ago.
I think you’re seeing the lack of a completely fleshed out character arc and taking that for lack of character detail. Most films show us the important dramatic moments of the characters’ lives, Tree Of Life shows us slices of in between the dramatic moments. In my opinion we learn more about the characters through that than we would if we saw the big dramatic moments. Tree Of Life doesn’t spell itself out as it goes along. It shows you images from the oldest son’s life as a stream of consciousness, and it shows them to you too fast for you to logically process them, leaving you only to interpret the scenes emotionally.
It does not show you how he died because we do not need to know how he died. It has the same impact on his family whether he died in Vietnam or tripped on a daisy: He’s dead, and they’re left analyzing their role in his death.
“or perhaps u just don’t like maria braun LOL” Aaaaah, but Ruby, I said that BRAUN is indeed good. VERY good, even, though I didn’t stress that (even though I’ve only seen it in a fairly washed out 16mm). The fact that BRIDESMAIDS is also good plays no part in the quality of the Fassbinder, as they are, as you might have guessed, very, very, verrrrrry different. Incomparable, probably (maybe not, but it would be a stretch).
I totally understand your aversion to it based on THE HANGOVER, though, since I too initially said to myself upon seeing the poster: “No way in hell will I go see that movie. THE HANGOVER blewwwwwwwww. A desperate, rushed, exploitative, female version rehash of it will of course be even WORSE.” Only through actually watching BRIDESMAIDS due to the recommendations of almost everyone I knew could I come to realize my hesitations, though not unfounded, though logical, were in fact irrelevant in the face of the final product. The key distinguishing factor between HANGOVER and BRIDESMAIDS being that HANGOVER is terrible while BRIDESMAIDS is good. Aside from, as I said, the disingenuously (within the rules I felt were established in the movie) fairy-tale ending. Unlike BRAUN which concludes Maria’s journey through the “economic miracle” on the most dire of notes…bursting the bubble.
Anyways, I guess BRIDESMAIDS made me reconsider that when talking with non-cinephiles, I can afford to take their recommendations more often than I might have at first presumed.
hmm ok it’s time to immerse myself in current popular cinema as i feel i might be slipping into film snobbery :(
tmrw i will see hugo, and then i will rent bridesmaids and hanna at my local redbox (hanna looked interesting in previews and my mubis tended to like it). it will be my first experience with redbox—exciting! thx for the info :)
Haha, no pressure! And no accusations of snobbery…Sometimes you crave ROAD WARRIOR and some times you crave FOREST OF BLISS. And neither of them would be stuck in my craw as exceptional unless I’d just happened to finally take someone’s recommendation to check them out.
yeah, since i’ve been active on this site and SMz i’ve been on a binge. there’s so much to see!!!!!
I can not for the life of my like Bridesmaids. The first 2/3 were great and the last ~30minutes of that movie fall flat. And i’ve watched it several times.
WHAT AM I DOING WRONG?!
I hear you. You are doing nothing wrong. You can not reconcile the greatness with the deflating conclusion while I can. I am not as hard on the last 30 minutes as I understand one might be. But I think it’s also fine to content oneself that the first 2/3 are great.
“Doesn’t that philosophy though imply yourself in the superior position? “They will act unreasonably so don’t bother reasoning.” You sound a little bit like Grace from Dogville, calling other people arrogant.”
Every conclusion I have made about human nature came from observing myself. Most of my friends are huge music buffs; I am not. Thus I think about how my interest in movies comes across to them like their interest in music comes across to me. I am perfectly fine rocking out to a bit of Lady Gaga amongst all the other stuff they share with me, is what I’m saying.
“I don’t expect people to sit down and watch a four hour low budget historical drama from Indonesia with me, but I sure as hell expect them to let me talk about it without automatically labeling me pretentious, just as I let them talk about big budget action flicks without automatically labeling them philistines.”
Exactly what I’m saying. If they are going to be rude and call you pretentious, then why waste your time? It’s better to feel out the people who will maybe check out the Indonesian drama and admit that they don’t like it and talk about why, than to assume that everyone will just call you pretentious and as a result call them philistines.
" And I do think for most people, there do exist obscure films they would enjoy if they saw them, it’s just a matter of cracking the implicit relationship between saturation and relevance."
Right, we are in agreement.
“People are not stupid.”
Nor did I say so. I only said that it’s been pretty well shown that facts and logic do not convince as well as rhetoric. This has been shown again, and again, and again.
“Ask me fifteen years ago I might have said something like “If it was that good a movie why are so few people seeing it.” The only difference is I had an experience that changed my mind and they did not.”
And some people won’t, but it’s always worth trying just for the few that will.
“Have you tried bringing up the idea that something doesn’t have to be tangibly in your hand to be valuable? The physical object of money in your hand is not valuable: The power to spend it is.”
I don’t know what this implies about what you’re getting from my use of the word “values”, but I don’t think many people actually consider values to be a matter of materialism despite materialism in our culture. I’m talking like how you and I value cinema, and other people value sports; that some really intelligent people out there think movies make people stupid, and some people on this board think sports make people stupid. Those aren’t just interests in, but values for and against. ‘Swhat I’m meaning.
I have a question that’s kind of related to the OP:
this may have been covered, i kept up with the thread and just skimmed through it again to make sure it wasnt already brought up and i didn’t notice anything but if it was discussed, my apologies:
How do you engage in conversation with someone who considers him/herself a cinephile (i.e. they know everything about Coppola, Tarantino, etc. but know nothing of Kurosawa, Truffaut, etc. and don’t want anything to do with them) but doesn’t want to explore old or foreign films. I have many friends that are avid film lovers, and consider themselves movie-buffs, but when it comes to referencing someone as common as Godard or Kurosawa, they are completely in the dark and couldn’t care less. In one friend’s eyes, who gave me a chance to show him world cinema—Breathless was a boring piece of shit and could never hold a candle to Shawshank.
my friends and i love to talk about film, but if it gets into anything deeper than the most popular American independent films, the conversations ceases. There’s only so much to critique in Quantum of Solace.
I was wondering if any of you have this problem with friends, and how do you deal with it? (This very reason was why i joined theauteurs.com in the first place!)
^^My honest opinion? I don’t take cinephiles that only watch English language films too seriously, with few exceptions. There is a big world of cinema out there just waiting to be discovered. American cinema is undoubtedly important—or at least was—but they weren’t the only country making significant contributions to the art form, and many would argue their contribution isn’t even as great as some other countries(at least as far as the art form is involved anyway).
I wouldn’t go as far to say that they aren’t real film buffs, but i think they are operating from a position of profound ignorance, and i’m sure that most of their favourite American directors would agree with me on that, at least to a certain level anyway.
They aren’t cinephiles but movie lovers….there is a difference. I have loads of friends who are movie lovers but I can think of only one who is a cinephile.
How do I handle it? Simple….just watch what they are willing to watch and realize that when it comes to films like Army of Shadows or Battle of Algiers I’ll be watching alone.
I can talk with most of my movie loving friends about Tarantino but I can guarantee that none of them have seen a single Kurosawa….a few of them saw Pan’s Labyrinth but only because of it’s huge popularity. I took that as a small victory.
the people i’m referring to are my best friends. so when we hang out and they rant and rave about a film that comes out and i tell them i didn’t like it that much and i compare it to a foreign film, or explain how some of the sequences could be better, i’m the one that gets all the shit for being a “wanna be movie buff” and “taking movies too seriously”
this coming from a friend who’s favorite actor is Nicolas Cage for the sole reason of his role in Adaptation. which blew my friends mind. Jonze/Gondry and Refn’s english language films are about as deep into cinema my friend’s get.
However i have turned them on to Irish cinema. and i showed all my friends Oldboy when they were really stoned; all they had to say was “that movie was badass but i didn’t really get it.”
being the cinephile of my friends is a double-edged sword bc they give me shit, as i said before, but then when we go see a film they expect me to dissect it and explain every little thing to them without thinking about it themselves lol.
@Joks, I think that America has, and continues to make great contributions to film, but i dont think you could ever really say which country is the BEST when it comes to that. I love all world cinema, and every country has films as unique as every filmmaker. I think every country that’s produced cinema has given something special, important, and significant to the medium.
^^i got a friend of mine recently to sit through In Vanda’s Room. and he didn’t hate it. To me that was a big victory ;-)
But he is more open minded than most of the guys i know that watch films regularly. They only watch a film with subtitles if it’s 1)highly acclaimed, or 2)an action film. and even then they won’t go out of their way in most cases.
“I have many friends that are avid film lovers, and consider themselves movie-buffs, but when it comes to referencing someone as common as Godard or Kurosawa, they are completely in the dark and couldn’t care less.”
I don’t really pay too much attention to this. Yeah, Joks might be right and it might be easier to dismiss someone for not liking foreign films. And maybe they’re not true cinephiles. But how is that any different than cinephiles that only watch subtitled films and don’t watch Hollywood films? Is this behavior really any better? In my view, a cinephile is someone who likes all kinds of films.
For me personally, I like all kinds of cinema. But I don’t expect everyone to approach cinema the way I do. And whether they discriminate against Hollywood films or Italian films, they’re limiting themselves.
“and many would argue their contribution isn’t even as great as some other countries”
It’s funny – I heard QT say this a couple years ago. That the more important filmmakers working today were not coming out of Hollywood.