Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Razhumikin (sp) Razzmatazz Guide to Enjoying Movies

It has come to my attention that I watch movies. And I am, in my opinion, better at watching movies than most people. And the reason is that I watch them with an agenda. I watch them with questions in mind that help me to evaluate the successes of the film. I'd like to share these questions with you, so you, too, can watch movies and enjoy them.

A caveat: It almost goes without saying if you've seen an overly crass or gory movie with me that I very often dislike movies that I consider "gross"-- if a movie is overly crass or gory, I probably will not enjoy it and will very, very likely stop watching it before the ending credits, so this guide does not apply to those movies.


Does the movie appear to have a populist theme? I appreciate movies with populist themes because it's so ironic. Yeah, we're a big movie company, but it's the little people who matter! Especially since little people watch so many movies!

Does the movie have Neil Patrick Harris? Extra points if it's Doogie Howser-era, a la the TV production of Cold Sassy Tree.

Neil Patrick Harris can't redeem all of his movies, but if you're stuck in class watching Starship Troopers... well, you're stuck in class watching Starship Troopers, and every little bit helps.

Does the movie invite the invention of new catchphrases, either by possessing a memorable script or inspiring its audience to yell at the screen? For example, my vocabulary has been vastly different since I saw Peter Pan in French. And I'm working on turning Northanger Abbey into the new and improved Rocky Horror Motion Picture Show.

Can you analyze the movie's philosophy and religious themes for hours? It has been my experience that talking about a movie for hours makes it more fun. And I don't have to agree with its philosophy. For me, the movie's perspective can be drastically different from my own outlook. As long as it promotes deep thoughts and not crazy ones, I'm fine with antiheroes or funky theology. Carousel is a really good example. I love the music and dance of the movie. However, Julie seems to be a-ok with domestic abuse. I am not a-ok with domestic abuse, but I can still watch most of the movie. It also seems to suggest that you can give people stars after you're dead. This is not my view of the afterlife at all. This invites instant debate, because my sister doesn't agree. And there you have it! Stimulating discussion!

Can you turn the movie into a rock opera? The answer is always yes, so turning a movie into rock opera fodder is a foolproof method of enjoying many films.

Is there something unique about this film that you can appreciate and/or make fun of? The answer is not always yes. Example: most movies with Pauly Shore do enough making fun of themselves without including anything to appreciate. Once the environmental science club at my school showed Bio-Dome. I left before it was over... I just couldn't appreciate its "uniqueness" (see caveat about overly crass movies.)

Can you crochet/knit/sort socks while watching this movie? The answer is mostly yes. Crocheting is the reason I watch so many movies now. I just can't bear to just crochet.

I will readily admit that many movies are intolerably stupid. But many movies are also entertaining. Several movies that I've seen recently have been particularly good to crochet to. I have liked Lives of a Bengal Lancer (in which--catchphrase--"Gary Cooper goes postal"), Stalag 17, Mr Deeds Goes to Town (ok, I have not seen it recently, but it is one of my favorite movies of all time, and Gary Cooper goes a little bit postal)... and I haven't watched Witness for the Prosecution yet but I can tell you that I will like it because I will crochet to it, Billy Wilder directed it, and it would make a killer rock opera. Now if we could just find someone for the Charles Laughton part....

Because I can tell you right now that my brother's approach to watching movies differs widely from my own (since he doesn't watch girly movies) I would love to invite comments. How do you know if you're going to enjoy a movie or not? Is it imperative that the movie supports your worldview? Did you like Napoleon Dynamite? More importantly, would you like it if it was a rock opera?


Beth Nell said...

Wow! Do you really ask all those questions for each movie? I've never even thought of some of those questions. Needless to say, this was a fascinating post.

I love movies that you can iron, fold laundry, sort socks etc.. while watching, and crochet! There are alot of them out there that you can do that to.

I got your letter on Christmas Eve, and I was SO excited! It made my Christmas to get your wonderful letter! :-) Thanks and see you in just a few days!!!!! Yay!!!

Anonymous said...

Claire, Neil Patrick Harris is WAY too gay to be your homeboy. I know you already knew that. However....

Also, coming as stars after death is a classic Hollywood device. Are you trying to challenge Classic Hollywood devices???

John A said...

Well, I watched The Lives Of A Bengal Lancer with dad tonight.

I forgot how absolutely BEZERK Gary Cooper went with those machine guns!!

And the snake-charming scene is still a classic, just as suspenseful as ever.

I guess any film where the desert legion is forced by the head of British intelligence to hunt wild pigs is an awesome movie.

Makes me want to storm Gt-mo with pig hides.

Anonymous said...

My personal guide, by an ADD boy [aren't we all?] ..

1. Try to finish a movie you started, even if it seems boring.

Oftentimes the movie is a setup for the twist ending.

2. Don't demand too much from a secular/pagan movie.

NOTHING, and I repeat, NOTHING bugs me more than when Christian movie reviewers not only want a movie to be CLEAN, it mus directly or INDIRECTLY promote Christian values or have the leading man or woman's actions and overall character be admirable or heroic.

Real people aren't always like that. Real people are fallen, and I am perfectly OK with movie-makers depicting that.

I think it is good and actually refreshing to have good guys be depicted as being innocent and virtuous.

But to demand that the title characters be idealized or role models is a bit much to demand from film makers. Not that I think it's healthy to show a glamorized view of immorality in a way that children would want to mimic.

I have noticed, and I don't watch much movies so I am just judging from other reviews to an extent; that
a lot of movies aimed at 8year old boys tend to have a focus on gross-out humor and bullying, while girls have a 'sassy', sultry and 'mean girl' equivalent. And MUCH of that is depicted as a positive thing.

Also, if a Christian film reviewer decides to view any mainstream Anime, he shouldn't be surprised at the screwed-up spiritual view. Or act like all kids are undiscerning with how it penetrates many cartoons,movies, and even video games.

There are some media imports with positive themes, and are often overlooked because of the Eastern elements. I guess nobody notices some of the Disney animated films too (Lion King, Pocahontas, Mulan, and to a lesser extent, Alladin), and I think a lot of those parts of the otherwise MOSTLY clean films are fastfowardable.

I also disagree with the web sites that talk about only the bad content of movies. When you do that, no movie seems worth watching!

And don't get me started on all the movies with illegitimate/unwarranted criticisms. It REALLY ticks me off.

3. Pay attention to the screenplay. It often propels the OK movies into GREAT movies.

4. Keep a mindset for the audience the film was made.

A lot of things in some of the old movies were shocking back then, and aren't now, and vice-versa. Oftentimes, what seems generic now, was different at the time.

5. Just because a film was culturally impacting, doesn't ALWAYS make it that good.
I'll just leave it at that..

Anonymous said...

"It also seems to suggest that you can give people stars after you're dead. This is not my view of the afterlife at all. This invites instant debate, because my sister doesn't agree."

I don't agree about what? I'm so confused...

John A said...

I think what Claire meant to say that she herself is OK to watch a film that suggests domestic abuse is alright, while yuu hate those kind of films with iffy messages.

This dialog takes place after the main character visits his family from beyond the grave.

Louise Bigelow: I didn't make it up, Mother. Honest, there was a strange man here, and he hit me hard. I heard the sound of it, Mother, but it didn't hurt. It didn't hurt at all. It was just as if he kissed my hand.
Julie Jordan: Go into the house, Louise.
Louise Bigelow: What's happened, Mother? Don't you believe me?
Julie Jordan: I believe you.
Louise Bigelow: Then why don't you tell me why you're actin' so funny?
Julie Jordan: It's nothin', darlin'.
Louise Bigelow: But is it possible, Mother, for someone to hit you hard like that - real loud and hard, and it not hurt you at all?
Julie Jordan: It is possible dear, for someone to hit you, hit you hard, and it not hurt at all.
[they embrace]