Monday, December 4, 2006

What is it about movies?

Film, movies, cinema, motion pictures. What is it about them that you like? What draws you to them? I think one of the best ways to assess the state of film is to figure out what we like about movies and then see if the current state is making the sort of movies that we like. I know this is a very personal and subjective way to assess the state of film, but personal is good sometimes.

For me, I like films that make me think. I like films that have ideas planted in them that challenge my worldview, or that make me think in a new way about myself. Well, what I like the most is a film that shows me a new way in which the world is beautiful. Now the beauty does not have to be a sappy thing - it does not have to be roses and rainbows. Beauty is sometimes contained within the ugliest of events, the ugliest of acts, the ugliest things that the world has to offer. I like it when film is like haiku: when it makes simple observations on the world around me. When one image could be done a million different ways but the filmmaker chooses this specific way to do it that rings perfectly true.

Do you like films that go for realism, or films that take you away from your cares and worries (IE fairytales)? I think I like both in good doses. Sometimes fairytales, stories that are fantastic and otherworldly, reflect the most on our lives.

I think it is hard for film to be haiku, and hard for filmmakers to be poets. I can't name very many filmmakers who I would describe as poets, working in the US or elsewhere. It is hard when films cost so much to make, when distribution is so expensive, to make a film that simply observes life. Some people would call such filmmaking dull, some would call it foolish. But the best films I have seen have been simple statements conveyed through images, which have stories that are true to the characters and true to the sorts of people the characters are. Compromise is not optional. That is why many of the best films have been made by maniacal, singularly-driven filmmakers. Alfred Hitchcock, for example. The man was the best technically at every aspect of filmmaking, and so he had control of almost every element of his projects. His films are pure statements: simple, effective haiku.

What do you guys like about movies? What draws you in? What do you see in the state of film that appeals to your movie sensibilities?

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