Mamo #261: Don’t Hate

With no big news out of Comic Con yet, we briefly discuss The Hobbit‘s 48fps woes before diving into an off-the-cuff discussion of suspension of disbelief, haters, and whether we’ve all just become too cool for movie school, before tying a bow on it with thoughts on Shorts That Are Not Pants, the Shinsedai Film Festival, and all the other soldiers bringing light to the screen out of nothing more than their pursuit of bliss.

To download this episode, use this URL: http://rowthree.com/audio/mamo/mamo261.mp3

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antho42
Guest

My theory is that people only start to nitpick if they do not like the property or it covers a profession that the viewer has vast knowledge upon.

My second point is that there has become a “vs” mentality. Either you match my taste or fuck you. Nowhere is this more evident than the people that commentate on rotten critics review at Rottentomatoes. Throughout the summer, there has also been a Team Avengers and Team Dark Knight Rises. Just enjoy life, fanboys.

antho42
Guest

This is a recent, popular phenomenon:
“HateWatching — when you repeatedly watch a show, even though you can’t STAND it! ” TVGuide

Goon
Guest

I wonder how much of this stuff stems from politics, watching Sean Hannity or Rachel Maddow to get angry (depending on your side)

antho42
Guest

I disagree with your postmodern, nihilistic critic that all art is subjective. There are objective principles in aesthetics. Don Quixote is part of the World Literature Canon because it was the first novel, and quite possibly, the first modern literature work.

Andrew James
Admin

I tried to explain this before. To no avail. I can’t remember which episode it was. But YES, there are objective principles to things in art that can make something good or bad.

Beethoven was an objectively AMAZING composer. You can dislike the music or not appreciate it. But to say it is “bad” is simply a fallacy.

[/commenting without context]

Rick Vance
Guest

When people talk about objectivity or subjectivity in that way they are talking about liking / favorites not intrinsic quality.

Jericho Slim
Guest

Not only is all art subjective, but I would say that subjectivity is a prerequisite for art. How could something that is done – at least in part – for enjoyment be objective?

No matter how good a work or composer is, there will be those who don’t enjoy it. A teenager is probably not going to find Beethoven incredible. And a lot of classic works were met with contempt by contemporaries.

But, taken from a different angle, there are experts in any field that differ on how good works or artists are. I’m sure there are those that think Mozart and others are much greater composers than Beethoven; so, by comparison, Beethoven is not amazing. I bet that you could find people in that community who hold that opinion – who think Beethoven is overrated and lapped up by us “lay-people” or “plebes”, or whatever name they call us.

I know it sound “post-modern” and wishy washy, but in reality it is common sense. How could any piece of art not be completely subjective? If it wasn’t subjective, it couldn’t be called art.

Antho42
Guest

Well, I disagree. I just don’t like postmodernism. I hate you, Michel Foucalt.

Jericho Slim
Guest

The primary aim of art, as I see it, is to invoke pleasure, or at least appreciation. If this fails to do so for an individual, then it has failed for that individual.

Are there important works of canon that have helped to guide western (in this case) culture and should be taught? Yes. Well that just means that they are important, and it’s important to know these works to converse knowledgeably in the western world; to be aware of the west’s intellectual landscape.

But if these works are objectively good, how come so many of them (or even just one really) weren’t fully appreciated until years or decades later? They should have been appreciated immediately and whole-heartedly. How many times have you heard of great artists dying broke? Impressionist painting was jeered at by the much of the art world in its time.

And if I have a 15 year old girl, and want her to grow to love reading over her lifetime, I’d give her a Twilight book before I’d give her Shakespeare, no question, if those were my only two choices.

Jandy Hardesty
Admin

That’s the primary aim of entertainment, but is it the primary aim of art? I would say art has deeper purposes as well – not just to invoke pleasure, but to teach us what it means to be human, inspire us to strive for greater things, remind us of our failures, take us outside ourselves and into the experiences of another person (or persons), and embody for us the stories and histories of our (and others) culture. I wouldn’t say that every piece of art has to do those things every time for everybody to be considered art, but I think saying that every piece of art is first and foremost meant to give pleasure is reductive. It’s not pleasurable to me to read John Donne’s poetry because I don’t personally like poetry that much, but I become a more well-rounded, thoughtful, understanding, and humane person when I do. The very struggle I have with it, as well as the words themselves, is part of that process.

Rick Vance
Guest

To me it is Immersion not necessarily pleasure. I can list works of art that were reprehensible, terrifying or harrowing that still kept me so engaged that the outside world surrounding them meant nothing.

Jericho Slim
Guest

By “appreciation” I mean what both of you have pointed out – acknowledgement of its worth or some type of connection. You all just said it a lot better than I did.

Jandy Hardesty
Admin

Fair enough. Then we largely agree on that, anyway. My personal tendency is to give weight to “canon” or critical opinions over pure subjectivity, but I know too much about critical history to be willing to take objectivity too far, either. As you say, most of the things that are considered great now weren’t when they were initially made, and cultural tastes change over time.

I think I still would hold to some sort of collective subjectivity, though, that lends an authority (if not quite objectivity) to overall criticism at any specific time. That is, if a majority of people who know something about music have thought for centuries that Beethoven is pretty amazing, then there’s probably something to the opinion that he’s pretty amazing. Not that everyone will or has to like his music, but the fact that so many knowledgeable people do should at least suggest that maybe they’re on to something.

MovieViewer-Man
Guest

I usually don’t enjoy musicals because most of the time I’m not a fan of the music in the movie, not because I don’t believe any character would spontaneously break into song and dance. I’ve never heard that argument before.

For example, I enjoyed The Blues Brothers and Rocky Horror Picture Show and even Grease, because that’s the type of music I enjoy. It has nothing to do with the fact of whether I believe someone would actually do that in real life.

On the other hand, I’m not that big a fan of The Sound of Music, because it’s not my kind of music.

Matthew Price
Guest

Fair point – but the most common complaint I hear about the traditional musical is that they are “silly”. And this has everything to do with the ability to leave behind the literal and progress directly to the emotional core of the characters – at least when the musicals are truly what the art form can aspire to.

And I loathe The Sound of Music, BTW. It’s a saccharine pile of goop. 🙂

Matthew Fabb
Guest

My own biggest problem with most musicals is when the musical numbers don’t move the plot forward. Rather they just go over the exact same plot points that happen in dialog but with singing. Then it feels like a 45 minute story stretched out over 2 hours. I think musicals work when new information and big changes happen in the middle of the singing and dance numbers.

Matthew Price
Guest

Completely agree with this – my fave musicals are generally those of the sondheim/hammerstein variety – where music and book work together to advance plot and character. The other type I like would be something along the lines of Sweet Charity – where music doesn’t move the plot, but it does, by virtue of its perceptivity and musical mood illustrate character in ways that dialogue could never do.

Matthew Price
Guest

All of which could apply equally to action filmmaking, and to superhero movies (see below).

Kurt
Guest

Dennis Potter for the win.

Jandy Hardesty
Admin

My problem with applying the “suspension of disbelief” issue to the dislike of musicals is that the same people who dislike musicals generally like fantasy and/or superhero films. How is it more believable that an alien/god from Asgard falls to earth and joins a group of heroes (including a guy who can turn into a giant green monster and a guy who was dethawed after crashing into an iceberg during WWII) to save the world than to believe that someone might burst into song on the street? It’s not. It’s less believable. But for some reason, people are willing to go along with one and not the other.

My husband generally says he doesn’t like musicals (though he makes similar exceptions to MovieViewer-Man for Grease, Little Shop of Horrors, Moulin Rouge, etc.), and he says it’s because he doesn’t like it when the staging is too stage-like, as it often is in older musicals, when they’re based on stage plays and tend to carry over a lot of stage-bound elements in the way song and dance numbers are set-up and filmed. When they’re done more cinematically and integrated organically into the plot and characters, he likes them better.

Rick Vance
Guest

Isn’t that just because Musicals are taking place in the real world and Lord of the Rings is taking place in Middle Earth?

Suspension of Disbelief doesn’t apply to the fantastic or incredible but the lack of seams at least to me.

Also I think a musical number breaking out in the middle of a crowed street spontaneously is as bizarre as any of the magic or science fiction out there.

Jandy Hardesty
Admin

The Avengers, my original example, takes place in Manhattan, which last time I checked, is a real place. It’s a fantastic version of a real place. Why not assume a musical is simply taking place in a fantastic version of a real place, where people sing and dance on a whim? It’s the same thing.

Of course, many musicals include the justification for their characters singing and dancing – they’re in show business, and that’s their life. Every musical theatre person I know in real life breaks into song at the drop of a hat for no reason whatsoever. They may not do it with original songs, but still.

Rick Vance
Guest

Well ‘Marvel Universe’. As to why people do not automatically assume they are some fantastical world I am not sure.

Jandy Hardesty
Admin

I dunno. I guess I see all movies (except documentaries, and even those are manufactured to some extent) as fantastic to some degree. None of it is real life – it’s just a question of degree of removal from real life. As long as it’s consistent within that world, I’m fine. Musicals establish that this is a world in which people sing and dance. Therefore, it’s not unrealistic when people start singing and dancing. (Of course, that’s why Umbrellas of Cherbourg is so jarring at first, because it doesn’t immediately announce stylistically or semantically that it’s in that world of singing. Incidentally, my non-musical-liking husband really liked Umbrellas of Cherbourg.)

Jericho Slim
Guest

To be blunt, I think that a lot of guys don’t like musicals because they consider them feminine. “Regular” guys, not necessarily Row Three commentors.

Jandy Hardesty
Admin

Sometimes I feel like a lot of girls don’t like westerns for the same, but opposite, reason.

Matthew Fabb
Guest

Neil Gaiman is returning to Sandman for 6 issues next year for the 25th anniversary of the first issue. While not film news, I think this is as big and crazy of the news from SDCC as you can get. Also interesting to see how the world has changed, this news was reported everywhere from USA Today, Hollywood Reporter, Variety, Forbes and more. Basically, this is big mainstream news and news from places that wouldn’t normally talk about comics. However, the last time a new Sandman came out around 9 years ago, it did debut in the New York Times Bestseller List, which was the first for any comic or graphic novel.

Also interesting is hearing from Joss Whedon that he is not sure if he is going to do Avengers 2 or any more Marvel movies. However, interesting enough he mentioned that if he did something that wasn’t Avengers he would be interested in doing a Black Widow movie, sticking with tales of strong women kicking ass.

Also there was a Firefly 10th Anniversary reunion on Friday and crazy fans started lining up the night before at midnight. At around 2 am, Whedon showed up and went down the full line signing autographs and taking pictures for everyone in line. Which is so incredibly awesome of him, but I bring this up solely because of the fact that a number of fans had already passed out in lawn chairs trying to get what sleep they could get. They were woken up by Joss Whedon telling them to go back to sleep that nothing is happening here. 😛

Today, all I’ve seen is the new Iron Man 3 armor and that Guillermo del Toro has said he’s going to start pushing for a Hellboy 3, despite no studio attached and him busier than ever. However, there are 3 hours behind us, so the day is still young right now in San Diego.

Rick Vance
Guest

It is cool that Gaiman and Williams are working together but personally Gaiman’s last two comics works (Wednesday Comics Metamorpho & Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader) were a waste of some pretty great art which is a huge shame.

Also it is just a prequel explaining stuff that we don’t really need explained.

Matthew Fabb
Guest

I never read Gaiman’s Wednesday Comics, but I thought his Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader was pretty good but not great. Which I think in part sums up my thoughts on Neil Gaiman writing superheroes, they are generally good but not great and don’t stand up to his other work. His Miracleman issues were quite good, but most of those stories didn’t focus on the superheroes.

Sandman has a number of great stories, but even the not so great ones, still seem to enrich the whole overall story, like little puzzle pieces contributing to something bigger. I think in part that’s what made Sandman great and so I’m just expecting something new to add to the whole.

I don’t remember when I first read about Neil Gaiman talking about what happened to Sandman before issue #1, however it was many, many years ago. (I wonder if it is as far back as interviews on TVO’s Prisoners of Gravity?) He seemed to always have a story there that he didn’t manage to tell. It’s not like with some prequels goes back and looks for whatever lose end to tell a story just to milk the success of it. Especially since these days it looks like Neil Gaiman could more likely be making more money working on novels or Hollywood scripts or any other thing other than comics, despite at how well Sandman sells.

Rick Vance
Guest

I don’t think people are getting more cynical or more nitpicky in general (certain people go overboard for various reasons). I think what is happening is that people have more and more to occupy their time with so when it is being wasted for 2hours and it feels like that they get rightfully pissed because there are countless other things they could have been doing at the same time. Just between entertainment options between books, comics, movies, TV, video games if you are going to fill in 2 hours of that time and cost an exorbitant amount for it (especially when I am hungry) it better be worth it.

The people who continue to follow things they don’t like, I do not understand. The internet has only made me seek out GREAT more than GOOD and if that makes me jaded about things that don’t excite me then so be it. Also I can very easily separate people on twitter from stuff so all the bad word that exists doesn’t touch how I see something.

Rick Vance
Guest

Having seen Beasts of the Southern Wild I was wondering what you guys would make of this:

http://mubi.com/notebook/posts/notebook-reviews-benh-zeitlins-beasts-of-the-southern-wild

Ignatiy is one of my favorite critics on the net, and not having seen the film he seems to make a pretty good case for his point.

Matthew Price
Guest

Unless I totally missed his intent, a big part of the point seems to be that the film is bullshit because it resembles advertising. Ridiculous, and also the exact same complaint leveed (see what I did there?) at a whole bunch of great movies. The Hunger, Henry and June, etc. It’s what people always say when a movie is more visual poetry than literary work.

MOVIES AREN’T BOOKS.

Rick Vance
Guest

You guys should have waited a day and you could have talked for an hour about the implications of these.

http://marvel.com/images/gallery/story/19067/sdcc_2012_guardians_ant-man_films_on_the_way/image/926481

WINTER SOLDIER
Guardians:comment image
And what it seems to be Thor travelling more Realms.

Matthew Fabb
Guest

Also I’ll point out that Peter Jackson bringing Hobbit footage that is not in 48 frames per second, makes perfect sense but not for any reason mentioned on MAMO. As this isn’t Peter Jackson bringing in footage to be seen in a movie theatre, but this is Hall H. Having been there myself now, I can say that it is not anywhere close to being the ideal place to watch movie footage. It’s serviceable to for showing small clips but it’s a huge giant hall with 6,500 people which is a bloody giant sea of people, security guards and volunteers walking up and down the isles, people coming and going. It’s not too bad when you are closer to the front with just the main big screen ahead of you. However, only a few hundred people get that privilege that often comes getting to Hall H early and then making do by never leaving the hall (it does have it’s own washrooms). People further back generally have multiple screens in their field of vision. I think there are at least 5 screens, the 1 big one at the front and 4 small screens further back. If you can position yourself lined up with one screen that’s great, but once again, often you have multiple screens in your field of vision.

I could go on, but you get the point that this is not the kind of place to be demoing new technology like film at 48 frames per second.

James McNally
Guest

Thanks so much, guys, for the kind words. It means a lot. And I can’t take full credit for the programming. We’ve been screening the Future Shorts pop up festival slate, with a few of our own additions. But I really do appreciate the support (both here online and your actual bums in the seats!).

Voncaster
Guest

This is my first post at row three. Hello all.

Prometheus is clearly the starting point for stirring this conversation. I thought Prometheus was excellent, and to dismiss the entire movie over lesser (to me) aspects seems wrong to me.

But I’ve felt this way before. I watched Avatar and was blown away by the fx and the 3D world of Pandora. I remember being exhilarated coming out of the theater. I wanted to take my mom and dad to the theater just so they could experience the same spectacle that I just witnessed.

Then I went on the message boards to check reaction. The detractors were numerous: this movie was overly long and boring. Its nothing more than giant smurfs and Cameron promoting his environmental views in clumsy fashion people would write.

I have a hard time seeing how people could take the glass half empty view of Avatar, Prometheus and lot of other films.

The nitpicks or extreme negativity resonated with me.

***

Another problem I observe is that sarcasm works well on message boards. Its also en vogue in pop culture. See Colbert, the Daily Show and Onion.

So you have a host of people sniping at pop culture because its easy and the sarcasm works on the internet.

I’m increasingly tired of sarcasm and I find honest discussion resonates more with me than Colbert style jab. But the jab is much easier.

Jericho Slim
Guest

I agree that the Prometheus nitpicking was the worst. It got so bad that people were nitpicking even the parts that displayed good movie-making.

rot
Guest

Let us not take any of our conversations about film too seriously. We play at meaning, and sometimes we forget that and assume greater authority. We can talk up to a certain point about the quality of craft but inevitably interpretation of meaning is thrown into the mix and it corrupts everything. The art quality of a film is not really up for debate, it is just sometimes fun to pretend it is.

Matthew Fabb
Guest

Can people still suspend their disbelief and enjoy a movie in this day and age? I say most definitely yes. The biggest movie of the 2012 so far is about bunch of superheroes fighting off an alien invasion of New York city. The top grossing movie of all time, Avatar mainly takes place on another planet, where a large part of the cast is made up of humanoid aliens. The breakout comedy of the summer is about a talking teddy bear with a foul mouth. Just look at the list of all time blockbuster and they are mainly sci-fi and fantasy movies.

People might have had problems with Prometheus, but I don’t think it’s because they couldn’t suspend their disbelief. For one reason or another, it just didn’t work for them like other movies have.

Matthew Fabb
Guest

Also speaking of crazy San Diego Comic Con news, Peter Jackson is talking about breaking up the Hobbit into 3 movies?!?! Shoot more, make extended editions, make another Tolkien based movie adapting other stories from Middle-Earth, but there is no reason for the Hobbit to be stretched out into 3 movies.

Sean Patrick Kelly
Guest

From what I read, Peter Jackson wants to shoot more of the appendix’s, which expands THE HOBBIT and ties it together with LORD OF THE RINGS.

Voncaster
Guest

I was excited for the Hobbit specifically because LOTR felt bloated to me. I’m not a fan of breaking the Hobbit into three (or two) films.

Is he thinking about dabbling with the Similarion? I might watch that, because I’m certainly not going to read it. Let someone else parse it and put it on screen.

Matthew Fabb
Guest

Peter Jackson has mentioned that the Tolkien estate still owns the film rights to the Similarion and that they apparently are not fans of the Lord of the Rings movies, so there seems to be no chance in that ever happening.

Voncaster
Guest

Interesting.

I assumed that “the appendixes” Sean referred to was the SImilarion. Is there additional Tolkien beyond the LOTR, the Hobbit, and the Similarion that Jackson could use?

I used to be massively into Tolkien. But I grew out of or grew tired of fantasy novels at some point and have not kept up with Tolkien.

The Hobbit is easily my favorite of the four main books though. I’m looking forward to the movie.

Sean Patrick Kelly
Guest

From what I gather, the appendices were included at the end of Return of the King

Matthew Fabb
Guest

There are 6 appendixes at the end of the Lord of the Rings that are somewhere over 100 pages long. Some of it is about languages used in Middle Earth, but there also a lot of pulling together various loose ends.

Out of curiosity, I just looked it up and The Silmarillion has about 20 pages dealing with the events around the Lord of the Rings titled “Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age”. Movie rights can be a tricky thing, so I have no idea if Peter Jackson is allowed to use any of this material, or if it is just the stories taking place earlier in the Silmarillion that were off limits.

Beyond that there is Unfinished Tales and the crazy long 12 volume of The History of Middle-earth. The History of Middle-earth mainly documents the various writings and different drafts of JRR Tolkien’s work, however it apparently does have some new material. However, similar to Unfinished Tales, a lot of it is well… unfinished with various inconsistencies from other Middle-Earth stories.

No idea if there is anything there to use as I never read any of those or if Peter Jackson is allowed to use any of it.

Sean Patrick Kelly
Guest

I think The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings were the only truly complete Middle Earth tales released before J.R.R. Tolkien’s death.

Both The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales were edited and released posthumously by his son.

Voncaster
Guest

Yeah I don’t know if better editions have been put out since I last tried reading it. But I got about 10 pages into the Similarion, had a notebook next to me to jot down who was what character, so I wouldn’t have to flip to the appendix in the back. I decided to stop reading it, but I think a wiser person would have stopped a when getting notebook out was involved.

That being said, if some Tolkein disciple like Jackson wants to try and convert it to film, I’m interested.

Sean Patrick Kelly
Guest

Here’s something that’s come out of Comic-Con.

Kevin Smith take’s a question about critical analysis and turns it into a rant against film criticism and how critics shouldn’t make it their job to trash other people’s work (and they should try making films themselves).

Since I have a degree in film studies, I didn’t take his criticisms about criticism kindly.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jYaIMyEoqic

Jandy Hardesty
Admin

It seems Smith’s understanding of criticism is saying “here’s all the stuff wrong with this thing I saw.” I could only watch about half of the video.

Sean Patrick Kelly
Guest
Matt Gamble
Guest

Not really, Scott is just rising to the bait and not coming off all that well.

Goon
Guest

^agree

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