“if someone is always complaining about everyone else, the one constant that ties those complaints together is that person him or herself.”
@ Polaris -
“I have criticisms against both, but really Scarface’s problems would not bother me nearly so much if it weren’t for the fact of the people who watch it.”
It would be interesting to have seen your reaction to the film when it came out. I don’t know how old you are but assuming you were alive and of age when Scarface came out, how would you have responded to the film at that time, before it’s recent connection to rap and the such?
When I first saw Scarface, it was the mid to late 90s when I was in my late teens. I think this is when the film really started to pick up cultural significance because I don’t really remember hearing too much about the film being so popular. I saw the film when I started getting into Pacino, not rap, and I found the film interesting but not all that great amongst some of Pacino’s other roles. But my opinion wasn’t much influenced by the obsession some hip hop artists feel toward the film.
“See the movie and run away from that person.”
Escape is underrated, Santino.
“I am still open to seeing a couple more of his movies, not more recent ones but earlier ones, just to give him one more chance, but I’ve seen a handful of his movies and I don’t like them.”
I understand your feeling about Bay and that’s how I feel about Michael Mann. I love Heat, The Insider, and Collateral but he’s done nothing but crap ever since. I will not pay to see his movies anymore. So I’m being discerning. However, if Mann makes something in the future that everyone raves about and says is a return to form, I would definitely check it out.
As for your von Trier example, this is exactly how I felt about Malick. Before The Tree of Life, I did not like ANY of his films even though I respect his unique voice as a filmmaker and I’m grateful there are people like him making movies. And I was open to seeing The Tree of Life (in fact, I was looking forward to it because I was hopeful that at some point he would make something I liked). And you know what? I loved it. I don’t know why is spoke to me so strongly where his other films didn’t but I consider it one of the best films of the year.
Maybe someday I’ll appreciate Von Trier but first I need to hear that he’s stopped pretending he’s a punk (and yes, he does that in his movies as well as out).
@ Joks -
“and who goes to a proper restaurant to eat burgers anyway? BAH!!! I’m talking fine dining my dude, there are no burgers involved ;-)”
I guess you haven’t heard, burgers are now fine dining!. Fancy burgers are all the rage in upscale restaurants in LA and NY.
If you haven’t heard of Umami Burger, you will soon. :)
Fine burgers in fancy restaurants are like big budget, hardcore porno in cinema.
“Fancy burgers are all the rage in upscale restaurants in LA and NY.”
only in America ;-)
which means the rest of the world will surely follow
“He knows the art of language, which some of the MUBI users fail to master by posting stupid pics which dilute this discussion.”
Except this is a forum about cinema, which is a visual medium. “Show, don’t tell” anyone?
“By the way, Tyler, we’ve had enough discussion of variations on this topic that it’s already quite diluted to the regulars.”
“I need to read some more into this concept and term itself, because I have to fully admit I don’t really know what it means.”
I had never even heard of the word “philistine” before I saw The Squid and the Whale. So I credit Baumbach for teaching me a new word.
“or really is he supposed to sit and watch Winter’s Bone which on this very board has been called “poverty porn””
hahah – I had never heard that term before. I love it! “Torture porn”, “depression porn”, “hipster porn”, “poverty porn”. These terms are just getting ridiculous. lol
“(And this, people, is what you get when you get a bored DiB at his worst).”
I think DiB needs another poll thread to count. :)
I am not old enough to have seen Scarface when it was first released, but I was able to see it in something of a cultural vacuum. I discovered that movie around 2001, while I was still in the middle of my Bible College years, and was just then stepping outside the Evangelical cultural bubble. I had no idea that the film was connected with rap or anything like that. I chose to see it because I had heard of Brian De Palma and Roger Ebert had put it on his great movies column. My reaction to the movie, inside this vacuum, was that it was sort of like a strange version of Macbeth. Found it entertaining and fairly smart, but nothing that I’ve really wanted to return to since. Only later did I discover that people looked at that movie as some sort of life blueprint. And when I did find that out, I thought WTF?
On a related note, how do you feel about GoodFellas, Polaris? The same people who think that Scarface represents some sort of ideal life also tend to place GoodFellas in the same category. For my money, GoodFellas is both the subtler and better of the two films, so I find myself a little more sympathetic to the person who thinks that Henry Hill is cool. But, yeah, it annoys me to death that some people have no idea about what that movie is actually saying.
^^Blame that on Scorsese’s flashy movie style Nathan. There is a reason it’s commonly ‘misunderstood’. It’s not that he is being subtle at all—-is Scorsese ever really ‘subtle’?—it’s that his style conflicts with his ‘message’(for a mass audience).
It’s the exact same reason that Taxi Driver was also misunderstood.
Polaris – If you haven’t seen Melancholia, check it out. Jirin isn’t a big von Trier fan either but he (I’m guessing Jirin is a he) didn’t mind Melancholia. Of course I loved it, but I’m a big fan of his so I suppose that’s to be expected. :)
““Fancy burgers are all the rage in upscale restaurants in LA and NY.”
only in America ;-)"
I think you just proved my point. Don’t knock it till you try it!
I’ve had burgers that are as good as any filet mignon. Yep, I said it.
Joks – Given that Henry Hill lives, protected and unpunished, I’d say that it’s more subtle than Tony Montana getting pumped full of bullets at the end. To me it would be way easier to mistake GoodFellas for a tacit endorsement of crime than Scarface. Part of that is the style, but I think there are valid narrative reasons as well.
^^mate, we have gourmet burger joints here too, but they aren’t like fancy restaurants(the burgers cost a lot more than they do at mcdonalds).
To me this just another example of trying to take something base(whether it’s hamburgers, comic books etc) and trying to jazz it up to be something it is not.
Yeah, what Joks said. Some people find Joe Pesci’s characters in GoodFellas and Casino funny, which they are, without acknowledging how they’re horrifying, which they also are.
Another point about philistinism, sorry this is a somewhat slightly new sort of topic for me so my mind is going over different aspects:
Philistine is also a derogatory term. It’s the art academic way of calling someone an idiot the same way “compelling” is the art academic way of calling something entertaining. So yes, philistines exist the same way assholes do—in an unpreventable, that’s life and get over it sort of way.
There was something else I was thinking about but I forgot it.
“For my money, GoodFellas is both the subtler and better of the two films, so I find myself a little more sympathetic to the person who thinks that Henry Hill is cool.”
No, no, no. I’ve met Henry Hill and he is anything BUT cool.
I was shooting one of my films in Venice Beach and Hill approached my crew and started talking to them. My gaffer recognized him (I guess he used to be on Howard Stern a lot?) and Henry asked me if he could be in my movie.
It was pretty sad and a little creepy because he apparently has become a homeless junkie. At least Tony Montana died is blaze of violence.
“To me this just another example of trying to take something base(whether it’s hamburgers, comic books etc) and trying to jazz it up to be something it is not.”
C’mon, you’re from Australia. Haven’t you ever had ostrich burgers?
and worth every penny.
And mrr mrr mrr comic books Marjane Satrapi and Maus so on and so forth…
“Given that Henry Hill lives, protected and unpunished”
Yes, and actually there’s even another layer to that because living la vida WITSEC is actually a kind of purgatory for Henry because he’s no longer able to live “the life.”
Didn’t they use to say the same thing about “moving pictures”. :)
^^Sure, but can you blame them, after decades of Hollywood crud? ;-)
“Yes, and actually there’s even another layer to that because living la vida WITSEC is actually a kind of purgatory for Henry because he’s no longer able to live “the life.””
Yes but all that is outside of the film world presented though, isn’t it? You are bringing that knowledge from the outside. Most people watching the film do not know that, and are therefore more likely to be seduced by the presentation.
Nobody would walk away from Gomorrah thinking crime was cool though, would they? Or The Funeral, or LIttle Odessa, for that matter(just to level the playing field here and not reveal a European bias). Again, it’s Scorsese’s fault that they do. There is just no way out of it. It’s his style that is the problem as far as that interpretation goes.
don’t get me wrong, i like the film(as well as Casino), but there is just no way around it. It amazes me that Marty gets pissy at people missing the point without realising that he is part of the problem.
“Philistine is also a derogatory term. It’s the art academic way of calling someone an idiot”
That’s what I’ve always interpreted the word to me. But like I said, I was taught that word from a snooty Park Slope elitist.
Everything is Scorsese’s fault.
Including Ostrich burgers.
“Yes but all that is outside of the film world presented though, isn’t it?”
No, it is absolutely in the film. You’re forgetting perhaps “I get to live the rest of my life like a snook” monologue in which Scorsese has Henry break the forth wall during the trial.
Oh yes, I remember.
I was chatting to my friend at the same time as writing that long exegesis, and she pointed out that her concept of “philistine” is someone who has been introduced to art but chooses to reject it. I still think that area is messy because the art may not have been framed in the right context for a variety of reasons, they went in expecting to dislike or misunderstand it, the whole thing about how convincing someone is harder than making them think they came to the conclusion themselves.
On this board are several threads that ask for stories on how we got “into” film. The answers on those threads are of two genres: 1) I was raised into it, and 2) One day I discovered…
Notice that that means. There is some vast amount of uncalculated people who probably made similar “discoveries” to those in the second genre but were not compelled into a new interest—for instance, my “discoveries” for film was Fight Club, Requiem for a Dream, and Lost Highway, which sometimes other people (like my friends, through me) stumble upon and maybe don’t like so much, or like but not enough to explore further (common complaint here, right? All those people who love Fight Club but don’t watch foreign films?). Within that concept is an assumption that that passionate feeling of discovery occurs within all viewers, and a philistine rejects it. I find this concept difficult to swallow, as maybe the philistine simply was not compelled by it. The other maybe is that the philistine did not understand it.
Which brings us to genre 1: “I was raised into it.” “I watched movies growing up with my parents, and they showed me…” is how that goes. But actually as this site shows, almost all of us are much more than just interested in movies, we are highly discursive in our speech and analytical. I may not have been raised into movies, but one of the reasons why is because I originally thought movies were stupid in comparison to books. And if you think that “Oh geez, silly DiB, what an elitist!” (or is it philistine? Hmmm? HMMMMMM?) let me redefine the terms and say that when I “discovered” cinema, I was literate. As in, I was already practiced in reading into and analysis, or how some people define “critical thinking.” Thus, I WAS in fact raised into cinema—the critical perspective of cinema, which not everyone else in society has as a tool when being presented with art for the first time, and thus their rejection albeit “ignorant” by technical definition, is not fully realized as their own fault because of their lack of education in critical thought—i.e., they are more uneducated than ignorant. They do not possess the tools to comprehend art, or they do, they just haven’t developed practice with those tools.
That switches the definition of a philistine back to the person who actively and intellectually rejects art. Clearly pop culture would stand as the first evidence. But is Hollywood making shitty movies to actively destroy good ones? No, they’re actively making shitty movies in lieu of making good ones, and they do so because of the uneducated masses that sum up the “lowest common denominator” because they are the easiest to sell to. It’s not in Hollywood’s best interest (yes, financial) to expend substantial energy and time making something that their targeted audience would not understand. They could—they have the resources—but again, we’re talking mass media and the pluralized representation of anybody and nobody. And the fact is that historically cinema itself was considered “low-brow”, so it’s genesis was helped along by being the spectacle medium of the dirty immigrant masses who understood pictures and not words (or at least could have the words retranslated into their language, if they read at all), so that even though that era has passed, the fact remains that cinema is still lauded precisely for being more massively understandable than a book, just by it’s imagery nature. Would you say that is a bad thing that images speak wider and louder than words? Of course it’s not a bad thing, but it still helps keep movies stupid by providing an economic opportunity to make stories easy to consume for a wider audience. Even today the success of many Hollywood movies really depends as much on foreign sales than domestic, which means the movies must be simple and understandable for more cultures than just America, which means they don’t really, technically, represent “the United States”.
Whereas Bollywood films are just as commercial but targeted specifically to Indians. Is that better or worse?
“^^Sure, but can you blame them, after decades of Hollywood crud? ;-)”
NO. Them “moving pictures” were considered low-brow and base because dirty illiterate immigrants enjoyed them, before Hollywood was fully solidified as a thing. Classist attitudes defined film as you define comic books, Joks. That’s film history.
“There is nothing more vapid than a philistine petty bourgeois existence with its farthings, victuals, vacuous conversations, and useless conventional virtue.”
Anton Pavlovich Chekhov