Mamo#141: Pick a Little, Twit a Little

After washing the taste of the late David Carradine out of our mouths, we proceed to a brief recap of how badly, and unexpectedly Land of the Lost stumbled out of the gate ($18 mil for the weekend?, Seriously?!?) but that devolves quickly into just what the term word-of-mouth really means any more. All that and a shout out to Zach Galifianakis, as the comedy mantle is passed on in the latest Mamo.

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Mike Rot
Member

I'm not friends with Adam Lopez (I don't think) but yeah he is so social network saturated that I know of him.

Interesting notion, that word-of-mouth is becoming more instrumental in getting bums in seats because of this ever-pervasive social networking bubble that things like Twitter encourage. Even writing for a blog I am about the worst for actually making an effort to surf the net and find professional critical opinion about a movie, but I am swayed by the bludgeoning of mass opinion I feel around me.

Matt B talks about the paucity of educated reviewers and while I suspect that is true, this is an old world notion of value in my opinion. We grew up supposing importance to a hierarchy of educated opinions that assumes both a meaning to be deciphered and, possibly, a meaning derived from authorial intent. I just don't see it that way anymore and I do not value the 'educated' opinion more than I do any other opinion that renders something new of my observation of a film. This populist revolution has its share of superficial observation but the educated route was capable of just as much superficiality, just different jargon.

It is very easy to say nothing but say it in such a way as it seems like you are saying a lot.

I am more interested in how a film impacts a person, the recognition of intimacy, rather than the sterilized third person reductionism of so many educated opinions.

as for box office, I am kicking so much ass. 🙂

Andrew James
Admin

"It is very easy to say nothing but say it in such a way as it seems like you are saying a lot."

This is so true. And it holds true even for critics like Ebert. Sometimes he writes really well and has a lot of interesting things to say about the movie – he reviews the film. Other times, it is six paragraphs of summarization as to what happens in the movie, and then one or two paragraphs of I liked it because A,B,C. Not always with him, but sometimes.

On the other hand, click on "external reviews" for any film over at the IMDb and just click on one of the more random reviews near the middle-bottom of the list. Most of the reviews are simply synopsis and then, "it was good" tacked on at the end. I hate that!

I might not be the most insightful guy on the planet, but when I review a movie, I try to keep the synopsis to one paragraph. Occassionally two, but usually one. The rest of the review should be about the movie, not explaining what happens in the movie plot detail by plot detail.

rot
Guest

I hate synopsizing a movie, I am almost tempted to just cut and paste whatever IMDB says and put it at the top. I don't want to have to hits the notes for you, I want to convey the music they make.

rot
Guest

To get back to my original point, were you to believe the bulk of "professional" critics, you would think 95% of movies are consumed with an interest in their structure, in how they express their ideas, and not their ideas themselves. Tarantino absolutely makes films that are thinking about their structure, but the majority of films are meta-free expressions that use techniques as a means to an end to tell their stories, yet time and again the 'review' is about how the story is told, not the resonance of the story itself.

We are conditioned to think of films as commodities, I don't know why that is, I do it too.

Mamo is a show deliberately about the commodity aspect, they are true to their intent, but those of us who are intending to qualify what we experienced, what we saw, and then point to the structure as if evidence of something, that is what I mean by this academic way of saying nothing yet seeming like you are saying a lot. That is just as superficial as the guy saying "that's awesome because I like it"… same tautology at work.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

I tend to review the way you complain about rot. I happen to have a real love of structure and form however, and often the form is the film. Often.

rot
Guest

"and often the form is the film."

how depressing.

I'm pretty sure virtually any film if viewed by someone unlearned in the arts of film theory, they would be able to extract meaning distinct from emphasis on form… its just that we are so hyper-sensitive of this aspect from prolonged exposure that we take it as second nature that thats what the film is about. Its our shortsightedness that stops us from seeing more.

I say this as someone who was obsessed with the form of Thin Red Line the first time I saw it, seeing the notes and not hearing the music, but the second time I heard it loud and clear and its like two different films.

Even Memento I would argue is not so much about form as it is about the philosophical ramifications of memory, form merely accentuates this, its not about "telling a story backwards" as a lot of people allege it to be. Form need not be entirely overlooked, just ideally, not overemphasized as it is unless a film is quite literally one formal conceit that is not so much telling a story and giving a lecture.

rot
Guest

Also I have not seen Irreversible, but well done Kurt on extracting the potential meaning of the film in your talk on the cinecast. Andrew started in on the whats the point, this has been done before with Memento argument (and that is what I am talking about!) and actually it would seem they are very distinct films with distinct things on their minds irrespective of form.

Andrew James
Admin

Yeah, wrong thread, but they are definitely two different films with different things on their mind. Memento is an interesting, fun, "what if" kind of movie that weaves a plot of lies and gets you thinking. Irreversible simply wants to punch you in the gut for no reason other than to punch you in the gut. The "what's the point?" argument applies to the whole film, not just the structure; though that's certainly a part of it. – but Kurt gave a reasonable answer as to what the point of the structure is.

Problem is, I didn't give a shit about any of the rest of the film after the rape.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

I find Memento to be very depressing, if you stop to think about it. It isn't what I'd describe as 'fun' even if it is highly entertaining in its execution. The ending (er beginning, er, you know) of Memento is a very sad comment on human nature, denial, delusion and the need for the quest over the meaning.

Given, it's not 1/100th as assaultive as Irreversible, but the philosophy behind Memento is equally nihilistic

rot
Guest

But Memento is an example of a film where the style gimmick is latched onto by 'critics' at the expense of luxuriating in the moral dilemmas and narrative prowess that style is in service of. Its not the film that hits upon the moral dilemma of memory so beautifully, its the 'story told backwards' schtick.

That is exactly what I take issue with, and sure not all films are this problematic, but it happens a great deal. We behave more like film archivists than emotional receptors.

I will get off my soapbox now 🙂

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

Hmmm, I think there were lots of critics who 'got past the gimmick in their take on the film' – lets be fair, in 2002 it was pretty hard to talk about memento without mentioning it.

I think you are reading the wrong Critics Rot.

Try Glenn Kenny, Walter Chaw, Manhola Dargis and Outlaw Vern.

rot
Guest

to be fair, reviewers have a mercantile logic to say what you see and not expound upon the thematic relevance, they are there to recommend what people should see, and that has a lot to do with putting it in context of other films… only the indulgent ones go off script and luxuriate in the narrative elements, and I guess its those people I prefer.

I generally don't read reviews prior to seeing films, if someone is writing about a film I want them to convey the music it makes (like I said before) not take stock of the notes. The Music of Memento is in Lenny's existential dilemma.

Kurt Halfyard
Admin

I tend to avoid reviews until after I've seen any film. I might look at a RT # or glance at the critics blurbs on that page (although I do this much less than I did 4 years ago). I'd prefer to see the film 'uncoloured' other than perhaps a brief conversation with someone who as seen the film (like Andrew/Matt with something like Moon.)

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