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long log about movies

no editing. that's a feature. really!

Invisceo (6:28:11 PM): totally disagree
curi42 (6:28:34 PM): w/
Invisceo (6:28:42 PM): the reason most disney (live action) movies are uninteresting is cause there's very little content
curi42 (6:29:07 PM): they have about as much content as other movies
Invisceo (6:29:40 PM): take your cell phone rockstar movie: compare that to like the Lion King, where the runaway Lion has to do the morally responsible think and overthrow the hyenas in a violent battle to restore the circle of life
Invisceo (6:29:45 PM): i'll watch the lion king any day
Invisceo (6:30:08 PM): pedestrianism in films is a very bad phenomenon; people like to see big, epic things resolved cuz big, epic things are the most important kind of thing
curi42 (6:30:09 PM): ummm
Invisceo (6:30:30 PM): i might be misremembering lion king its been a while
Invisceo (6:30:44 PM): but i do remember some business about evil hyenas and the lion running away
Invisceo (6:30:50 PM): heh
curi42 (6:30:54 PM): lion king has song and dance, light plot, light combat
Invisceo (6:31:01 PM): sure
Invisceo (6:31:20 PM): but it still has way way more content then your cell phone movie (i'm betting, i haven't seen it but i am going by your description)
curi42 (6:31:33 PM): how are you determining this?
Invisceo (6:32:08 PM): because there's important stuff that actually gets resolved through dramatic action on the part of the protagonists
curi42 (6:32:20 PM): as to big epic things being more interesting -- one of the great things about winnign the war on terrorism, and any subsequent wars, and being done w/ them, is we won't have to think about such things if we don't want to. they only
curi42 (6:32:42 PM): seem interesting b/c today they are a necessary part of our life, and to cope w/ that many of us come to like them
curi42 (6:32:52 PM): but even so, day to day life is still a larger part of our life
curi42 (6:32:59 PM): but, oddly, the part most ppl are worst at
Invisceo (6:33:59 PM): people will still write war novels and play war games and see war movies etc long after the last rifle is put down; the analysis and simulation of conflict is a useful and interesting part of our culture
curi42 (6:34:14 PM): the last rifles hasn't even been put down
curi42 (6:34:18 PM): ever
curi42 (6:34:45 PM): one day it will be a great hobby for some people, and unknown to most
curi42 (6:35:04 PM): (unless b/c of enhanced brains we all have a billion hobbies)
Invisceo (6:35:07 PM): i doubt that
Invisceo (6:35:15 PM): our very history is defined by our wars
curi42 (6:35:23 PM): yeah but our future won't be
Invisceo (6:36:06 PM): any student of our history will have to have lots of war knowledge to be insightful though
Invisceo (6:36:26 PM): the causes of and occurences during and aftereffects following wars are just too important a part of history to be ignored
curi42 (6:36:41 PM): they won't be forever
curi42 (6:37:00 PM): and regardless, how to live day to day is a bigger part of our lives even now
Invisceo (6:38:00 PM): the fact that most people suck at day to day stuff has nothing to do with our culture's fascinating with struggle though
curi42 (6:38:13 PM): it's fine to be interested in struggle (today)
curi42 (6:38:30 PM): but it shouldn't be totally dominant
Invisceo (6:39:24 PM): well its not
curi42 (6:39:48 PM): name 3 movies targetted at adults not full of strife
Invisceo (6:39:56 PM): there's plenty of comedies and light hearted romances etc etc in our cinema culture
Invisceo (6:40:06 PM): any comedy or romantic comedy
Invisceo (6:40:22 PM): unless you're using a ridiculously overbroad definition of strife
curi42 (6:40:28 PM): ok fine. 3 *serious* movies not.
curi42 (6:40:29 PM): ..
Invisceo (6:40:32 PM): heh
Invisceo (6:40:42 PM): well erm
Invisceo (6:41:06 PM): dude
Invisceo (6:41:19 PM): if a movie is serious its dealing with some serious issue or topic, right?
Invisceo (6:41:34 PM): almost certainly involving a clash of moral theories
curi42 (6:41:36 PM): *shrug* just not a humour or unrealistic plot
Invisceo (6:41:56 PM): it sounds like you want me to name a serious movie without moral content
Invisceo (6:42:03 PM): i dunno of any
Invisceo (6:42:27 PM): strife and conflict can be wonderfully uplifting and inspiring dude
curi42 (6:42:34 PM): you can have moral theories clash w/out any violence or any sadness
Invisceo (6:42:50 PM): like there's this moment in Schindler's List where Ben Kingsley holds the list and goes "The List is Life!"
Invisceo (6:42:55 PM): that just about made me cry
Invisceo (6:43:58 PM): well i mean you can have them clash without any violence or any sadness
curi42 (6:44:00 PM): schindler's list is about what to do when you're a victim, right?
Invisceo (6:44:07 PM): but who wants to like watch you and me argue? nazis getting fried is way cooler ^_^
Invisceo (6:44:43 PM): its about a man who did just about the most moral possible thing under the most difficult circumstances that have ever existed on earth
curi42 (6:44:47 PM): almost all movies about what to do, meant for adults, are when you're a victim. most of the rest are what to do when you want to marry someone.
curi42 (6:45:06 PM): difficult circumstances make what to do clearer!
curi42 (6:45:16 PM): it's harder to figure out what to do when there is no pressing problem!
Invisceo (6:45:52 PM): the point of the movie was that a man who wasn't really what you'd call a morally pious man winds up doing this awesome and wonderful thing
Invisceo (6:46:11 PM): how you can not see the value in that is...confusing
curi42 (6:46:31 PM): i'm not saying ur kinda movie is value-less
Invisceo (6:46:37 PM): mmm
curi42 (6:46:45 PM): i'm saying it's not super godly
Invisceo (6:47:04 PM): lol
curi42 (6:47:08 PM): my type should exist, and be at least somewhat popular, if not the most popular kinda movie
Invisceo (6:47:26 PM): well i mean
curi42 (6:47:39 PM): if you think the disney cellphone movie is boring, b/c the stuff they do is not interesting enough... well can you tell me what they were supposed to do instead? i think that disney's answers to waht they should do are some of the
curi42 (6:47:59 PM): best that exist. and that there should be effort put into finding better ones
Invisceo (6:48:02 PM): i'm not saying they did the wrong thing curi
Invisceo (6:48:11 PM): i'm saying i'm not interested in the movie's *premise*, its *problem*
curi42 (6:48:12 PM): and that seeing the best we have should interest everyone interested in progress
Invisceo (6:48:17 PM): i don't give a damn what girls meet what rock stars
Invisceo (6:49:23 PM): show me George C Scott chomping on a cigar and turning the nazi divisions around, or Jim Carrey shaking his fist at a god like paternal oligarch on his flimsy sailboat though, and you've grabbed me
curi42 (6:49:33 PM): watch it as one of the rare examples of a movie that gives an open-ended situation, not defined by some pressing problem, then shows people acting well to succeed
Invisceo (6:49:44 PM): mmm
Invisceo (6:49:54 PM): well
Invisceo (6:49:56 PM): i'm thinking
Invisceo (6:50:29 PM): what's primary in my kinda movie isn't always so much the moral action but the cleverness and dedication with which the action is pursued
Invisceo (6:50:43 PM): like "man that was a brilliant strategy" or "jeez this dude really stuck it out against all odds" etc
Invisceo (6:50:56 PM): admiring competence is important too
curi42 (6:51:20 PM): how to fight better is fine, but there ought to be a growing desire here to move past that and start living well in freedom too
Invisceo (6:52:29 PM): i liked lost in translation
curi42 (6:52:41 PM): me2
curi42 (6:53:07 PM): i mentioned it in comments as one of the best movies of my type, but it's still hugely lacking
Invisceo (6:53:13 PM): heh
Invisceo (6:53:14 PM): yeah i saw
curi42 (6:53:27 PM): and is also romance themed
Invisceo (6:53:27 PM): bill murray is hysterical in it too
Invisceo (6:53:40 PM): the romance was fairly underplayed though
Invisceo (6:53:47 PM): by Hollywood standards
Invisceo (6:54:11 PM): hey if you ever want to post us discussing movies to your website feel free
Invisceo (6:54:16 PM): ;)

Elliot Temple on July 26, 2004

Messages (13)

ok - how about - "My dinner with Andre" - isn't that about, like, two guys having a conversation at a restaurant? (haven't seen it, probably never will ;-)

recent Gus van Sant film "Elephant" mostly just follows various kids around a high school all day, there's basically no strife whatsoever... well until the end that is ;-) (this paragraph was a joke - movie's about a school shooting)

again "Slacker" seems the best example (unless I'm totally misunderstanding). Camera follows a bunch of people around a college town, stupid pseudo philosophy and various gratuitous conspiracy references, no main character, no real strife.. no plot either. (I've seen it about 6x)

your example of "Clueless" was confusing. doesn't that end with Cher getting together with the guy? I'm guess you consider that a secondary part of the movie somehow (ok but then hard for me to judge what movies will qualify despite having secondary aspects that don't qualify)

you might like the first 2/3rds of "In America"... they are poor but not much "strife", a big climax part of the movie is how the dad tries to get an air conditioner for their apartment... course, it culminates iwth a crisis involving endangered pregnancy and some movie mystical nonsense involving their AIDS infected neighbor... if you're like me you'd be irked by that but could overlook...

I dunno. Maybe the solution is that strife-full movies should just contain scenes about good normalcy living TOO, but they don't concentrate so much on writing those scenes because they're not the "important parts" of the movie...

For example I'd say that the Shyamalan movie "Signs", take away all that alien jazz (or imagine it to be something less serious - like a rainstorm) and maybe it would be close to qualifying for what you're after... ;-)

then again, i may be way way off.. who knows.

Blixa at 9:10 AM on July 27, 2004 | #1040 | reply | quote

oops forgot in Signs that he's mourning a dead wife and struggling with his faith. you'd also have to ignore that stuff too. (so between aliens, faith, and dead wife that eliminates like 99.999% of the movie) but *seriously* there are some nice scenes with his kids and stuff! :) at least IMO

Blixa at 9:12 AM on July 27, 2004 | #1041 | reply | quote

i'm like not familiar with any of your movies. the convo one i would find hard to call a movie, though. but my complaint stands about other media too, mostly. i expect there are a decent number of qualifying books, but the fact i've never run into one says something.

clueless she gets the guy, but she doesn't spend the movie having huge angst about him, and they don't have scenes where they fight and almost break up, then get back 2gether, etc etc and the movie would still be there if they took the hooking up at the end out.

the solution IRL must be many people changing, then movie makers responding (and this change in movies will matter very little next to the change in people). how to reach lozza ppl and be persuasive to them? still working that one out...

Elliot at 10:25 AM on July 27, 2004 | #1042 | reply | quote

To be clear, I don't actually recommend any of the movies I mentioned to you (except the first 2/3 of "In America" like I said). "Slacker" is a parody of what you're asking for - literally no plot. Most of the people the camera follows, are idiots of one stripe or another. "Elephant" is just disturbing, a truly unpleasant movie watching experience. "Signs" is one of my favorites but from what you've written here and elsewhere I infer that you would not like it (could be totally wrong).

re: Clueless - nod, I thought that would be your explanation. No argument.

About "people changing", seems likely that people *do* change but in the wrong direction from your point of view. As people get more and more wealthy/pampered/comfortable, the small things in life no longer excite and they need Action/Adventure/Fantasy. This does not seem to bode well for more movies coming out which focus on what (as far as I can tell) you're asking for. People may *need*, in a moral sense, movies showing examples of strife-free niceness (or whatever this is that we're talking about), but they probably don't crave it and won't pay for it.

Blixa at 12:38 PM on July 27, 2004 | #1043 | reply | quote

well, if i'm right, bad people will be unhappy, despite being rich, and some who want to be happy will be interested in moral ideas.

Elliot at 12:44 PM on July 27, 2004 | #1044 | reply | quote

I think what I was getting at is that the moral ideas people want to see explored in movies will move more and more towards the "strife" direction, not away from it.

example off top of my head - the recent "Father of the Bride" (w/Steve Martin) compared to the original w/Spencer Tracy. two movies are similar in setup etc and there's really only one semi seious Dramatic Problem in either film, when the bride (Liz Taylor in the original/forget who in later one) and groom get in a stupid little tiff and momentarily "the wedding's off".

Here's the point - in the original, IIRC they have a tiff over *where the honeymoon will be* (the bride wants to go to Niagara falls or something). Obviously this seems kinda silly nowadays, no one would really buy cancelling the wedding for *that* (or, no one would really buy the groom not just picking whereever she wants...). So in the latter, the fight is (mostly) because-he-gave-her-a-blender, which-symbolizes-how-he-thinks-of-her-as-a-traditional-housewife. See how they had to make it all involved with some "Issue" in order to make it interesting for people? Now it's not just a silly pre-wedding jitters tiff, it's all wrapped up in feminism and stuff...

I don't see that type of thing receding much. With so much less *actual* strife in their lives, people are gonna need more trumped-up/universalized "strife" in order to stay interested.. IMO

Blixa at 3:04 PM on July 27, 2004 | #1045 | reply | quote

Here's my point more succinctly: our lives are becoming progressively more defined by internal, not external, problems. We are more free than ever before, and don't have to live our lives fighting badguys, or dealing with the same huge problems our family did for generations. We don't have to combat an oppressive government, put lots of energy into protecting our stuff and family, don't have to spend hours a day hunting, building/repair house, etc

We can and should instead begin to focus, in our personal lives, more on things like how to parent better, how to have better romantic and platonic relationships, how to find a job we like better, how to be creative, etc There is much less need to know how to be a hero or somesuch.

And yes I know there's a war on, but honestly all we have to do is say "go get 'em" and our army would take care of it. Fighting this war, for most of us, requires only some good ideas.

Anyhow, movies ought to get with the program. That they haven't reveals that most *people* haven't either. That's scary.

Elliot at 3:52 PM on July 27, 2004 | #1046 | reply | quote

First I wanna make it clear that I do think you have a point here, as I've said all along. (And it's an interesting one even if I myself still favor "strife-full" movies. ;-) My position just amounts to saying it *won't* happen not that it *shouldn't*.

I think an impediment to what you seek is that generally people don't go to movies to "learn" in the first place, they go to be diverted and indulge in fantasy about things their real life does not or cannot give them. As life gets easier/ problems fall away/ people get wealthier, it will take *more* not less fantasy etc to keep them interested.

A twin factor is this: as the "problems" which *do* afflict peoples' everyday lives get more trivial, people will feel a bigger need to see them as part of some larger drama (see my "he gave me a blender -> affront to my female independence and the feminist spirit" example above), so they will have to be blown all out of proportion and "strife-ized" in the types of films that will appeal to people.

In fact there's your City Slickers example. Midlife crises, who gives a rat's ass, really?? So you make these guys COWBOYS on a QUEST and it becomes something interesting and validates the Serious Strife involved in having a midlife crisis (not that they don't joke about it, but still, it's presented as a reasonable response for these guys to run with the bulls, go to fantasy camp etc in response to what these guys are feeling).

They could have in theory written the movie in such a way that these guys never go cowboyin' at all, they stay home with their families and friends and talk out/have fun through their problems in some healthy way or whatever, but no one would have wanted to see that movie - an ACCURATE portrayal of a good way to deal with such a thing - because no one would want to be reminded how frickin trivial such problems as these (the problems which people experience in everyday life) really are. That would just be no fun :)

Blixa at 6:41 PM on July 27, 2004 | #1047 | reply | quote

Ferris Bueller's Day Off is the closest thing I've seen to what you're talking about.

Alan Forrester at 7:28 PM on July 27, 2004 | #1048 | reply | quote

Hey, good call Alan. That movie is |337.

Elliot at 7:29 PM on July 27, 2004 | #1049 | reply | quote

A day late and a dollar short, maybe, but I wanted to say that I think your point, Elliot, is like saying we should be concentrating on the problems of getting along with the rest of the universe rather than the problem of how to travel in space to the rest of the universe. Yes, the former is a much more important issue and yes, how to travel to other galaxies might someday be a fairly trivial issue, but *today* we need to solve that problem first before we can solve the more important ones it will create (for the sake of this example, assume there *is* life in the rest of this universe).

Today, most peoples lives are filled with personal strife and conflict. No one yet knows how to permanently solve this problem. It is very rare for anyone to have a life entirely absent of fighting with anyone, never coming upon aggression to defend themselves from, while having a life rich with good relationships.

This is why movies about strife, and how to respond to it is more interesting to people today, and more popular today, and more important today, because we need to solve that problem before we can focus entirely on how to have more interesting lives in the absence of conflict.

Stephen at 7:56 PM on July 28, 2004 | #1050 | reply | quote

Would you give a few examples of the sort of strife/external-problems you're thinking of, and how a few current movies address them?

Elliot at 7:59 PM on July 28, 2004 | #1051 | reply | quote

The Truman Show: Other people sometimes control parts of our lives and it is sometimes imminently and massively important to battle them at every turn if necessary even if we need to leave behind comfort and security, to become the directors or our own lives.

Platoon: War is hell, the same acts that are clearly wrong in society are not clearly wrong in war, sometimes we must become as violent as our enemies and other times we must rise above our enemies with more moral, less violent means.

Mask: Bullies prey on shy retiring nerds who sometimes by their inaction and ineptitude attract aggression, but shy retiring nerds can find something good and right and strong within themselves to defeat bullies and act to improve their lives.

Pulp Fiction: In a world of violence, sly intelligence, organization and creativity are eminently useful.

Stephen at 8:46 PM on July 28, 2004 | #1052 | reply | quote

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