Two good discussion points form Frances Morgan. One is a matter of increased understanding in the tools and decision making of production. How important is it for lovers of film to foster a greater awareness of the process of making; (especially as) a reiteration of the fact that a film is a thing made by people.
Also one for the cinemaphiles – Frances suggests that the cinema, aside from the big screen is the best place to hear a film and experience the soundtrack. How much do we privilege image over sound when discussing film?
Mike Everleth reiterates this first thought, when expanding on why he believes underground culture is enhanced by fostering relationships with filmmakers. How important is it for critics and cinephiles to be part of a community?
Sound is undervalued in film. I honestly can’t remember how often sound is discussed when talking about movies from any sector unless people are commenting about film score, which is completely different. The most recent, positive, example of great sound design is in Malick’s The Thin Red Line where I better understood certain sections with the characters being overwhelmed by their surroundings with how muted and how the sound faded in and out of characters perspectives. Any great film with a battle scene almost always has brilliant sound design.
The most recent negative example of poor sound was Michael Mann’s last film Public Enemies where the noise was so painfully muted that we I couldn’t hear a damn thing the characters were saying despite it actually being necessary information for the audience to hear. And it then alternating to being absurdly loud for some ungodly reasons.
On a more general level, sound (the absence and presence) works best for me in horror films and is often far more frightening than the kills or seeing the monster. I like everything else being dulled (scene being dark) because what we hear is the only thing to be focused on. Unfortunately, there are a lot of cliches in horror films so these tense moments accented by brief sounds (cat playing the piano, squeaky floor board, etc.) now only induce eye rolls instead of shivers.
An overused sound that I still love is silent hallway where we hear the woman walk across the floor in heels.
I wouldn’t say a cinema auditorium is the best place to hear and appreciate sound design, considering it’s full of other people making noise by being biological entities, if not just by being rude. You can create better sound venues, even in your own home.
I love that you guys are aiming to increase the awareness of the film making process. A few years ago I decided I was only going to write about movies that I like or respect. Too many critics, both non-professionals like me online and the paid folks in traditional media, have become like The Comic Book Guy in “The Simpsons.” Their thoughts are rarely more insightful than “Worst. Movie. Ever” or “FAST 5 is the best FAST & FURIOUS since the 3rd one!” They seem infinitely more capable of expressing disdain or dismay than they are at appreciating or understanding. I am endeavoring to be an active participant within the audience; one who seeks out the strongest aspects of a movie, rather than damning an entire movie for a plot hole or a few weak performances or a slow (read: boring) editing pace.
There is a notion that “no one sets out to make a bad film.” I wish this were 100% true, but I still think it has a ring of truth. A writer may bang out a script that they have no personal investment in, simply trying to break into the film industry by appealing to the lowest common denominator, but there may be a director who sees potential for something new and imaginative in that script. Even if director is doing less than their best, an actor may be giving that movie his or her sincere best effort. By focusing on the person/people who are giving everything they’ve got to make a movie as strong as possible, I found myself appreciating aspects of films that naysayers don’t even notice. I don’t know if this makes me a cinephile, or just another fanboy blogger, but I’m trying.