Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Objective Viewing

I was hoping my post would get a little discussion going, Brandon; thanks for the response.

I'll start with Tim Burton. I love the guy - Edward Scissorhands, the two Batman movies, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Ed Wood, Mars Attacks, Big Fish, Sleepy Hollow. That's quite an impressive/established resume, and one would have to be a fool to deny him auteur status; we all know a Burton film when we see one.

My problem with Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice In Wonderland is that they look and felt more like studio duds than something that had the Tim Burton stamp on them. I remember feeling really excited at the respective announcements of both projects.

* Finally, we were going to get a dark version of Alice in Wonderland. I couldn't have been more wrong.

* Tim Burton making a dark, slightly-demented version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? That sounded like a cool idea to me, but when I watched it the movie felt dull and unnecessary.

So admittedly, I did go into both movies with that bit of subjectivity. I had higher expectations for both and envisioned them to look and feel a certain way. So I do put that on myself as well as Burton; I'm still a fan and won't give up on him. But at the same time, I think it's okay to single out a few of his films as being crap, without resorting to hyperbole. It feels wrong to turn on the man and suddenly label him a bad director or someone who's "lost it." Although I think Tarsem might be a different case altogether.

I will grant Charlie and the Chocolate Factory some aesthetical points, but nothing more. You do get a sense of Burton's style, but it isn't enough, in my opinion. And it's interesting to me that post-Pirates Johnny Depp is in both movies (CatCF and AiW). Maybe style and substance were sacrificed slightly so that the studio could potentially do better at the box office?

And you're right, it was silly for me to say that I won't give Corpse Bride and Sweeney Todd another chance; I'm sure I will. They were both really well done, even if they aren't favorites of mine.

Moving on to objective viewing, bad buzz can sometimes curb my enthusiasm for a film...but if I'm interested/invested in a project from the start, I usually see it no matter what the critics and fanboys say. I wasn't at all aware of the Dark Shadows TV show, so the movie wasn't really on my list of things to see anyway. But sure, after all of those critics tore it apart, I started to reconsider giving it a shot - a feeling that only lasted a month or two. It's the old 'see it in the theater vs. rent it' argument.

So largely it has to do with my own interests; if everyone had trashed The Master, I still would've been there that night at Cinemapolis. And because The Master was a strong contender for "best film of 2012," I did measure it while watching it, as you did with Anatolia. To me it makes sense to do that for the biggest films of the year. Every scene and line of dialogue needs to be put under the microscope, it would seem. And I think we try do that with quite a bit of objectivity. But depending on who and what we've read about a film, outside thoughts/words can sometimes creep in and alter our viewing moods.

I almost prefer to see a "big" film twice - the second viewing occurring a week or so after the first. For that first viewing, I want to break down and measure every scene and line. With the second viewing, I want to relax and focus on letting the film entertain me or having whatever affect it's trying to achieve on me.

I wouldn't say that Jason, Adrienne, and I are more honest than you, John, and Jeff but if there is a difference between those two groups, I think it might have something to do with the fact that you guys spend more time reading reviews than we do (here's me putting words in Jason and Adrienne's respective mouths). I hear and read little snippets, but I often avoid full reviews...except for the CR5FC ones ;)

Obviously reading the reviews isn't a bad thing. I respect the hell out of the work you, John, and Jeff and do. Your posts are smart (contrary to your own beliefs) and I always enjoy reading them. And I'm sure that from reading other critics, it helps to get the ball rolling.

And really, I'm pretty lame because I almost always avoid the movies that I root against. Mostly I play it safe and watch what I know I'll feel, at the very least, lukewarm about. I'll probably never watch Ted, but I'll continue to rip on it. But I would definitely root against that movie if I were to watch it - same with Project X and this Red Dawn re-make. Political reasons do play a role. And right, there was the Mel Gibson discussion we had. It's easy to root against someone if he or she is an awful human being. Gibson is an awful person, in my mind. Woody Allen is an awful person in the minds of many, but not mine...even though I don't necessarily support what he did. So there's that.

Lastly, I just want to say that we should never condemn anyone for wanting to go against the grain. In some cases I admire it. But just being a contrarian is lame. Consistency in one's convictions is a hell of a lot more admirable, especially given how hard it is to work at and achieve.

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