There’s nothing a film fan loves more than engaging in meaningful, in-depth conversation about their favorite topic. Critiquing, discussing, analyzing, debating...it’s all good, at least when the one you’re talking with seems to possess cinema-smarts comparable to yours, even if you don‘t see everything eye-to-eye (sometimes especially if you don‘t see everything eye-to-eye).
But alas, how often do we come across somebody who obviously has no idea what they’re talking about, yet think you two are on equal ground simply because you both frequent the cinema more often than others? The more they speak, the more you realize this person doesn’t know much about movies at all.
Sure, part of the problem might be you, whose love of film extends beyond the multiplex and goes back further than a few decades. You actually read all the credits and know the creative success of a film is due more to its director or screenwriter than whether or not it stars Tom Cruise. And when you aren’t watching movies, you’re reading about them.
If this applies to you, you’re probably already aware that truly engaging conversions with another equally-fanatic film lover are few and far between (even on the internet). More often than not, we’ve suffered people like these…
“Well, this is not a boat accident. And it wasn’t any propeller, or coral reef, and it wasn’t Jack the Ripper…it was Jaws!”
Of course, most of us know that’s not exactly how the line goes. In fact, the word jaws isn’t mentioned once in the entire film. But even today, scores of folks continue referring to the shark as Jaws. The shark doesn’t have a name (though the mechanical beast used during production was nicknamed Bruce), yet how often have we heard people say something like, “I love the part when Jaws leaps onto the boat”?
At least in the case of 1931’s Frankenstein, one can sort-of see how people can incorrectly associate the name with the monster’s iconic image. But aside from a Bond villain, a few loudmouth sportscasters and the occasional aquarium fish, nothing has ever been named Jaws.
9. Those Who Declare All Remakes Inferior To The Originals
Blanket statements like these can superficially make one appear well-versed in film history. While initially impressive (if not a bit snobbish), the fallacy in this thinking indicates they actually know very little about movies, because remakes and reboots have been a huge part of the film business since it became a business. What do such classics as The Ten Commandments, Heat, Scarface, The Magnificent Seven, A Fistful of Dollars, The Fly, Heaven Can Wait, The Thing, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, The Maltese Falcon, The Departed, Ben-Hur and The Wizard of Oz all have in common? They were remakes of previous films.
Sure, many remakes (perhaps most) are vastly inferior to the originals, but the next time someone of a different generation poo-poos the latest Hollywood remake without having seen it, respectfully remind them that sometimes first doesn’t always mean best.
To say a film has good graphics is like saying a newly-built home is well-hammered. While your hammer is a valuable tool, you still can’t build the whole damn house with it.
Graphics, as it applies to film, refers to the use of computer technology to create certain special effects images. Computer graphics are one special effects tool, but that doesn’t mean all special effects are graphics. Yet the term has been tossed around as though the two are synonymous, even before anyone ever heard of CGI.
When these same folks praise or ridicule a film’s ‘graphics’ (especially those produced prior to Jurassic Park), it’s a sure sign they don’t know what the hell they are talking about. Unless a computer is used to create an image, no graphics are involved, so someone using the word as a blanket term for all special effects is likely trying to sound more knowledgeable than they really are, especially those ignorant enough to scoff at the ‘graphics’ of such groundbreaking older films like King Kong and Forbidden Planet.
Speaking of which...
7. Those Who Ridicule The Special Effects Of Older Movies
The special effects in 1933’s King Kong are nothing less than spectacular. The same goes for 1927’s Metropolis, 1940’s The Thief of Bagdad, 1956’s Forbidden Planet, 1975’s Jaws and 1988’s Willow (one of the first films to utilize CGI). Are they as convincing to the eye as, say, Jurassic Park or The Lord of the Rings? Of course not, but that doesn't mean the special effects suck either. It's these old classics that made today's FX extravaganzas possible.
Still, scores of hapless idiots will simply make fun of these films - if they even bother to watch them - without appreciating how groundbreaking they really were. In fact, the antiquated special effects (which they'll inevitably call graphics) impact whether or not they like the movie at all.
True cinema lovers don’t laugh their asses off when Kong first picks up Ann Darrow in his fuzzy paw, because they are in awe of what Merian Cooper & crew were able to accomplish in 80 years ago with the budget and resources given to them. Even in this era of anal-retentive behind-the-scenes making-of documentaries, most of us still don’t know how some of the effects in the original King Kong were accomplished.
To put this in perspective…we live in a culture where our cell phones can do more than our computers once did twenty years ago, but do any of us poke fun at Alexander Graham Bell, who invented the fucking phone in the first place?
Speaking of which...
Frank Darabont wrote and directed The Mist from a novella by Stephen King, and it's widely considered one of the best mainstream horror movies of this new century. Darabont originally wanted the film to be released in black & white because, while color tends to create a sense of realism for the viewer, he knows the true artistry of a film isn’t its realism…it’s the mood created by the images. We were able to put that to the test ourselves when the original DVD release of The Mist included a stark black & white version. And indeed, this already-disturbing film is rendered even darker, more surreal and fatalistic. Ironically, even the ample use of CGI looks more convincing.
Believe it or not, color technology has been around for over a century. Sure, in cinema’s infancy, shooting a film in black & white was usually a financial decision, as it was far easier (and cheaper) to process. But it wasn't long before it was just-as-often a creative choice. Hitchcock knew this; just try to imagine Psycho in color. Then there’s such modern films as Young Frankenstein, Schindler’s List, The Artist, Nebraska, Frankenweenie, Sin City, Ed Wood, Clerks, American History X (flashback scenes, which is over half the film), Wings Of Desire, Zelig, Raging Bull and The Elephant Man. Does anyone truly believe those movies would have been better in color?
Those unable to enjoy a film simply because the real world isn’t black & white are obviously too ignorant to grasp the artistic intentions of some of the greatest directors of all time, who sometimes choose black & white as the most effective way to tell a particular story.
5. Those Who Retro-Condemn Older Films
“Gone With The Wind is racist and justifies rape.”
Yeah, perhaps Gone With The Wind is guilty on both counts, but what exactly is the point of reassessing the entire worth of a 76 year old film with a 21st Century mindset? People obviously thought differently back then. We can scoff at their overall ignorance, when political-correctness wasn't even a term, but why do so many folks act as though a film made by these less enlightened individuals is a current crime against humanity?
Of course a lot of older films are going to seem racist, jingoistic and sexist, but none of us currently living in this Utopia of Tolerance (which is debatable) are able to travel back in time to set them straight.
People need to stop retro-condemning old movies made during a time when attitudes and values were far different than they are today. It doesn’t make them any less groundbreaking. If you are unable to appreciate a movie in the context of when it was made, you sure as hell have no business judging it.
4. Those Who Don’t Accept Contrary Opinions
Have you ever engaged in a conversation where the other individual is praising a film they love, but you make the mistake of sharing a different opinion and they get all up-in-arms? You’re not sure why they're so worked-up, since your view is no reflection on their tastes, but they act as though you’ve personally insulted them. Or worse yet, they think you're the idiot.
You see a lot of this on virtually every movie-related website (including this one), where an author states their opinion about a particular film, and is then inundated by vicious replies from people obviously angry that their own assessment of said-film isn’t shared by all, completely ignorant to the fact that no movie ever made was universally loved by everybody.
Differences in opinion is one of the very things which make movie conversations great to begin with, whether you’re an art-house snob or one who can’t wait for the next Fast And Furious installment. Your opinion is valid, but so is that of everyone else. To condemn others because they don’t share your assessment makes you a troll.
And yes, I hated Man of Steel.
3. Those Who Hate Subtitles
“I shouldn’t have to read when I’m watching a movie.”
Is there anything more ignorant than someone who rejects a film, regardless of the genre, simply because it was shot in a different language? A subtitled film doesn’t automatically mean it’s geared toward the European art-house crowd, though theatrically, they are usually relegated to such venues.
Folks who believe this are ignorant boobs and missing out on some great shit from around the world. Even if your personal tastes lean toward explosive action, English-speaking countries don’t necessarily have a monopoly on the genre. Indonesia’s The Raid and The Raid 2 are two of the best pure action films since Die Hard.
A good foreign language film will make you forget your even reading subtitles within just a few minutes, as opposed to one dubbed into English, which is nothing but an annoying distraction.
2. Those Who Offer Their Opinion On Films They Haven't Actually Seen
It’s one thing to say a film doesn’t look like it would be your cup of tea, but quite another to condemn it sight-unseen. Sure, it’s safe to say there was always a 95% chance Transformers: Age of Extinction would suck (especially since the previous three all did), but until you’ve endured the movie yourself, you have no business debating its merits with anyone who has. After all, there's always that 5% chance could Michael Bay surprise you with a complex, thought-provoking, character-driven epic (hey, stop laughing).
Speaking of which, bashing a particular director is a great source of amusement among more pretentious movie fans, especially on the internet. But even some of Hollywood’s biggest hacks have knocked one out of the park on occasion (Bay’s The Rock & Paul W.S. Anderson’s Event Horizon subjectively come to mind). Similarly, some of our greatest directors have been known to screw the pooch on more than one occasion. Francis Ford Coppola helmed some of the 70’s greatest classics, yet we tend to overlook the sad fact most of his films since have been critical or commercial duds (often both). So to blindly condemn a film you’ve never seen, strictly because of a director’s reputation, is ridiculous.
1. Those Who Equate Box Office Performance With Quality
“It must be good…look how much money it made!”
It doesn’t help that the media regularly presents weekend box office reports like sports statistics. But what's equally sad are the number of moviegoers who view these stats as gospel, basing their decision whether or not to see a particular film strictly on its box office performance, as though financial success or failure is an accurate indication of whether or not it's any good.
The ignorance of that logic must mean they'd rank such recent cinema suppositories as Transformers: Age of Extinction, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Grown Ups and the Twilight saga among the greatest films of 21st Century. Ergo, they must also believe Star Wars Episode I is the second best film in the series and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is better than Raiders of the Lost Ark. And Eddie Murphy should have been Oscar-nominated in 2006 for his performance in Norbit, not Dreamgirls.
These people are mindless sheep who probably don’t realize The Wizard of Oz was a box-office flop when initially released. So was It's a Wonderful Life, Blade Runner, The Thing (1982), The Shawshank Redemption, Bambi, Fight Club and A Christmas Story.
Anyone citing profit as an indication of a film's greatness isn't worth talking to.