Archive Journal Entry: 20021218

Here are two interesting online questionnaires: about philosophy and politics – very thought provoking, about religion and belief – this one got me pegged.

Here’s a diary entry I posted on kuro5hin:

I love movies. A movie can be inspiring, enjoyable, challenging, funny, instructive… or it can be depressing, unpleasant, meaningless, boring or deceptive. But either way, a movie can still be “good”. So what makes a good movie? Poll and discussion…

I have personal preferences regarding the genre of movies I like (action, sci-fi, romantic comedy) and don’t like (horror, suspense, most drama, mystery). I have some favorites that don’t really fall into those categories (“Run
Lola, Run
“, “The Last Emperor“, “Crouching
Tiger, Hidden Dragon
“, “The Cook, the Thief, His Wife, and Her Lover“). Please add your own favorites to the discussion. Why did you like them?

But what about qualities? I tend to like films that have good music and sound effects. For example, “Run Lola, Run”, “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “The Cook…” all have music and sound effects that turn good, cool movies into hair-raising excellent movies that I will watch over and over and over again.

My younger brother is a film-maker (no-one famous, yet). He has sensitized me to many other aspects of a film. For example, every good film rests on a good script. If the dialog and story structure suck, or even are just mediocre, then it is difficult to become fully immersed in the story. An excellent script can even make a good movie out of poor actors. Acting quality is important, but lets face it: most Hollywood actors are… actually quite good! Sure some of them have a limited repertoire, but within that range, they are well-honed.

Now plot… one of the interesting things about plot is that it is usually all exactly the same: one character goes through the “hero’s journey” (do a google search) either literally or symbolically. I personally find that I am more affected by a movie when that hero’s journey is represented in a movie at more than one level.

Other factors: I tend to like any movie with cool special effects. But special effects can be over-done (“Attack of the Clones” springs to mind). On the other hand, “Spiderman” was the perfect mix of special effects and story (I absolutely loved how the everyboy’s dream of becoming a super-hero was presented). I really dislike visually dark movies. The darkness (for example in “The
“) seems to detract from my ability to become caught up in the movie. It annoys me and I keep noticing that I’m watching a movie instead of being enthralled by the plot and characters and imagery. Despite its other excellent features, “Blade Runner” is also like this for me.

I also love the pure escapism of romantic comedy, but I’m getting pickier. I still love “Forget Paris“, but some of the others are starting to annoy me. I tend to like the things Steve Martin does but they tend to focus more on the comedy than the romance. FWIW, I tend to watch only Hollywood movies.

So what do you think?

Here are some of the things I would do to clean up the story:

1. Work on the implied hypothesis in the intro (movies can be good even if they are "negative") and emphasize it more in the body
2. A more interesting poll perhaps about the most important qualities of a movie
3. More clearly separate my own personal tastes vs. a discussion of the hypothesis

I was partly inspired to write this because I re-watched much of "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon" last night.

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