“It’s not just a plastic bag.” Actually, it is. I have taken film classes in four different schools… what? I wanted to give them all a glimpse of my genius. Okay, that’s not what this is about. *ahem. These institutions ranged from a tiny community college up the road to an even tinier hippy school a state over to a large university in Florida to a mid-sized prestigious college in Vancouver BC. They were completely different in size, quality, methods and ideals but one thing they all had in common was American Beauty.  

My God, how did anyone make a film before 1999? They even state in the DVD bonus features that the director Sam Mendes looked for as many chances as possible to put red or roses into the scenes in order to build a motif. That doesn’t seem very organic to me. I mean, he could’ve put anything in there right? Okay, maybe not. I digress, people like different things. I understand this. What I don’t understand is the hive mind behind deciding what makes a piece artistic or not. Have you seen American Beauty? It is so boring and pretentious that I actually felt like clapping when Kevin Spacey finally- whoops, no spoilers!

I get it. I understand film theory. I even grasp its relevance and importance to making a film great. I just don’t think it should take the place of story, plot, character, acting, or of anything really. All that a motif, style, or symbolism should do is enhance the depth and clarity of what is already there. Otherwise, the meaning becomes lessened or muddled or just completely fabricated in post.  When someone says, “I want the audience to interpret what they will.” They’re actually saying, “I don’t know. Why don’t you tell me?”  They’re leaving everything supremely vague and open-ended on purpose while waiting for the audience to draw their own meaning which then allows the filmmakers to take and leave what they desire. That’s not being an artist that’s being an opportunist.

When looking at an object or pattern, human beings are naturally conditioned to see a face before anything else. When you stare at the sidewalk long enough and a face emerges does that mean the person who built the sidewalk put a face into it? Probably not but can you prove it? If a construction worker came over and said he did it that way on purpose would you believe him? What if he had witnesses? We see what want to see, what we have seen and what others tell us we should see. Over time that becomes what we think we ourselves have truly seen.

We are told both blatantly and subconsciously over time how to view movies and television. Remember when the series LOST started to stray absurdly from its original storylines that whole character arcs disappeared? (Rose, Bernard, Walt, Libby etc.) Well, fans complained and Jerry Bruckheimer’s first response was “You’re watching it wrong.” Well, shit. It seems to me that blaming the audience or veiling everything in abstract metaphors and pretty scenery (shout out Tree Of Life) is taking the place of making a film that connects with people. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

Call me naïve but movies should say something about life and the people who experience it. They should have heart and give us answers followed by more questions. If art is so subjective, why are there so many rules? Maybe I just have bad taste. That’s been brought up to me before because I believe Ben Affleck is a better filmmaker than Martin Scorsese. Not early Scorsese of course. I’m not that mental. All I’m saying is that you are not a better filmmaker or movie-goer because you do or do not see more than just a plastic bag. I suppose that’s the beauty (no pun intended) in convention. The rules that are in place now came from those who broke the ones that used to be there.

dad
5/25/2012 07:31:27

Wow!
What a range of writing styles you have.
The same author wrote this as the one above!?
You are really good and point well said in this blog, well presented and supported!

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