Mamo #324: Blind Spot

What if your own emotional baggage is getting in the way of your ability to enjoy a film? After some quick news updates from the movie world at large and some words about Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, Matt Price puts forth a theory about his longstanding dislike of horror films – and resolves to do something about it.

To download this episode, use this URL: http://rowthree.com/audio/mamo/mamo324.mp3

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Rick Vance
Guest

So unless I completely misunderstood the content I categorically disagree with your definition of what a Blind Spot is because it posits that every film is made for everyone and I have found over my life of consuming media that the stuff I always love most of all is stuff not made for a wide audience but for a very specific audience.

In a way I do not want pieces of entertainment that everyone should love.

Matt Price
Guest

It’s okay, Rick. You completely misunderstood the content.

Sean Kelly
Guest

It’s hard to explain why exactly I like horror films. Since I’ve grown accustomed to the tricks horror films use to scare people, it is very rare that I actually get scared by a horror film these days (and they get extra points if they do). However, even if I’m not scared, there is still a certain “fun” factor to watching these films.

Also, since horror is such a fragmented genre, it would probably be difficult to find people that like ALL types of horror movies. I for one have a love for haunted house movies (hence why I really enjoyed OCULUS). However, I stayed far away from the so-called “Torture Porn” films, since I’m not a big fan of gore for gore’s sake.

Even I’m not immune. The Toronto After Dark line-up was just announced yesterday and, even though I’m going to still see them to review them, there are a few selections in this year’s line-up, which has me feeling a bit uneasy.

It’s all a matter of taste really.

Ryan McNeil
Guest

Best. Mamo. Ever.

Kurt
Guest

How long before the Marvel Universe is more hamstrung by its self-generated CONTINUITY issues than a Star Trek writer’s worst nightmares?

Matthew Fabb
Guest

Continuity should be handled like it is in the longest running sci-fi show, Doctor Who, which is use continuity when it helps a story, then ignore it when it isn’t helping and let the fans argue and come up with crazy possible solutions. Of course, having time travel as one of the main elements of a story is one of the more easier ways of explaining away things, or as the Doctor explained why something was happening in one episode: “Wibbly Wobbly Timey Wimey… Stuff”.

That said the majority of the audience is not going to notice or care about continuity issues, unless it’s something incredibly big.

Courtney Small
Guest

The way Price feels about being scared publically by a film is exactly how I feel about crying in theatres. I tend to associate showing that type of emotion in theatres with that same childhood sense of weakness. This is especially true if I am surrounded by people I know. At TIFF this year, I was fighting extremely hard to keep my composure at the end of 12 Years a Slave. Though the film hit me extremely hard on a personal level, I still had that childhood voice in the back of my head saying “you can’t let them see you cry”. The “them” in this case were the people in my row, including my wife (who was fully in tears), Bob and Ryan. It is fascinating how certain childhood experiences (e.g. not letting bullies or cool kids see you cry) never seem to shake from our subconscious.

Thanks for the Mamo film-therapy session, really gave me a lot to think about (especially in regards to what I need to work on).

Kurt
Guest

I cry all the time at movies, crowded or not, I’ve lost any form of dignity in the cinema these days.

Kurt
Guest

To me a ‘good’ (‘real’? ‘quality’?) horror movie is one that offends my sensibility or challenges notions of society or its norms and plays for emotional keeps. (There are of course exceptions to this rule) but I would say about the same thing about Science Fiction films (as opposed to space-fantasy or laser gun movies). It is amazing how many good horror films are kind of science fiction films too.

Some of my favourite horror films: Don’t Look Now, The Wicker Man, The Devils, Alien, Jacob’s Ladder, The Thing, Carnival of Souls, The Shining, Dumplings, Night of the Living Dead, A Tale of Two Sisters, The Devil’s Rejects, Day of the Dead, Pulse, Cannibal Holocaust, Audition, The Brood, The Fly (1986), Dead Ringers, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), 28 Weeks Later, Come and See, Possession, The Serpent And The Rainbow.

For the upcoming MOVIE CLUB PODCAST, THE DEVILS and POSSESSION are neither tradition or modern horror films in that they don’t have a lot of gore or monsters or ‘chase’ but are far more personal/existential things. Arthouse.

Thomas Wishloff (of Big Kahuna Podcast) will be joining Price, Myself and others for the next MovieClub.

Matt Price
Guest

Agreement in BOLD

Don’t Look Now, The Wicker Man, The Devils,Alien, Jacob’s Ladder, The Thing, Carnival of Souls, The Shining, Dumplings, Night of the Living Dead, A Tale of Two Sisters, The Devil’s Rejects, Day of the Dead, Pulse, Cannibal Holocaust, Audition, The Brood, The Fly (1986), Dead Ringers, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978), 28 Weeks Later, Come and See, Possession, The Serpent And The Rainbow.

I’d add: The Exorcist. Videodrome. The Tenant. The Orphanage. Cronos. The Innocents. Hellraiser. Candyman. Angel Heart. The Devil’s Backbone. Peeping Tom. Let The Right One In.

Matt Gamble
Guest

I should have Price on Cabin in the Woods. You and Angela can yell at the movie and in terror and then at me once it is all over. It’s very cathartic.

Kurt Halfyard
Guest

MMM. Calibration. I figured you’d like THE WICKERMAN. If you haven’t seen it, Matt, there is a new print in limited release that will hopefully make its way to Canada in the next few weeks, but is curiously not at LIGHTBOX for some reason.

rot
Guest

I would say experience is not a zero sum game, we are not all starting from the same place when we come to view a movie and while we tend to parcel differences as aesthetic tastes, that might be giving too much credit to our free will in these matters. We are all responding to different frequencies in a particular film (there is a tacit cinema always occurring outside of the schematic beats of plot), we all have different thresholds to immersion, different analytic barriers, different agendas, some of it is habitual but a lot of it is intrinsic to our person.

Price somewhere had mentioned not understanding the purpose of blindspot reviews… maybe it was in reference to me fawning over The Big Chill, which I finally watched last month. And to me, the point of them is not to learn something new about the film, it is not about documenting the film per se, but using it as a standard by which to accentuate the peculiar deviation of the reviewer.

Rather than adjust my perspective towards some standard viewpoint, I am more interested in following through with my convictions and try and assess why I feel this way (the normative is less interesting unless you want to psycho-analyze, which requires pitting us against each other). Aesthetic tastes are not a combat sport, there is no winning, a disagreement of opinion over a film need not be thought of as a personal attack (rather it is saying we like different things)… that sometimes gets lost in the online conversations.

I am interested to see where my opinions fall within a group of people I have come to know one way or the other, because what the fuck else am I going to do with my time? 🙂

rot
Guest

Short form: when it comes to film culture it is about the people, because the experience of film is personal and nebulous and is richer for being that. Coming together to talk movies is not to correct, enhance, enrich this untranslatable thing that happened to you but to bullshit about the things we love so as to make the full dimension of the experience less lonely.

At least I think so.

Rick Vance
Guest

Also

Every single film I have yet to see I consider a Blind Spot there is no film on that list that is automatically higher for any specific reason. It is also a VERY VERY long list growing longer by the day.

Rick Vance
Guest

This comes at a perfect time with EVOLUTION starting in a month.

Matthew Fabb
Guest

SHIELD was certainly okay, but not great. That said Firefly is the only Whedon show that was great from the very beginning. Every other show Whedon has done, it took time to become interesting. That said, Whedon is only supervising the show and it’s Whedon’s brother Jed Whedon and Maurissa Tancharoen who will be the show runners. So it will be interesting to see how they pull it off.

That said, Whedon has continuely said that he doesn’t want the show to be about the heroes, but the other people living in that world. That the show needs to survive without these kind of camoes. So I’m not sure Thor or anyone else will appear on SHIELD, at least in season 1. That said, I wouldn’t be surprised if they still refer to events from the movie without giving any plot points away.

As for characters referring to the events in Avengers, I would image that it would have been a world changing event, to have aliens appear above New York city and cause mass destruction. So, it wouldn’t make any sense to ignore it in their stories.

Sean Kelly
Guest

I missed a post-credit Nick Fury cameo last night. I had to watch it on YouTube.

Jandy Hardesty
Guest

I was glad to hear Matt articulate his desire to tap into an experience that’s been somewhat closed off to him – I didn’t start watching horror films myself much until a few years ago, and I still kind of hold myself at arms length from them, but that’s okay with me. I enjoy horror films for their more superficial pleasures, and I’m okay with them not usually reaching my more visceral fear centers (my guess is I’m more like Matt Brown in this respect, that movies generally just don’t reach me on as deep an emotional level).

I also appreciate his sense that if we don’t enjoy something that lots of other folks do, it may be something in us rather than a fault of the film/genre or its fans – I don’t think that’s always true, but I’m a big supporter of at least trying to understand what they see in it. Some other forums I post in regularly are almost militantly for the subjective experience, suggesting that we should never listen to anyone else’s opinion. I figure if most people think something’s awesome and I don’t, there’s got to be at least some possibility that I missed something. So I read up on it, see what they thought, what they saw, and I watch it again, and if I still don’t like it, fair enough. I’ll stand by my opposition opinion. But sometimes I realize I did miss something, and as a result, I like the film better. I think that’s only fair. It’s not that I feel some compulsion that I “should” feel a certain way, only that I’m willing to entertain the possibility that I was wrong or obtuse on a first viewing.

We’ve only watched the first episode of Shield so far, and it was okay. We’ll keep watching. I did find the hacker girl irritating as all get out and was a little disappointed that she’s apparently going to be on the team instead of, like, killed. Oh, well.

Bob Turnbull
Admin

Can confirm…Price is very touchy.

I very much loved this show guys – to be able to break down your personal reactions to film like that is something I strive for. I have a much better understanding of your reaction to horror now Matt. Mine’s totally different (I love the build-release of tension in horror where – after being scared or filled with dread – you can take that step back and realize you’re safe), but I have a new perspective on other people’s reactions. I don’t think I have that reaction to any particular genre, but I think I may have it to ideologies – when certain ideas seem to be expressed through a movie, I tend retreat away from it.

As for Blind Spots, it’s not so much about covering films that everyone else likes, it’s about pushing yourself to see those films that YOU think you need to see. Granted, most will be “classics” or critical faves, but the whole idea is to catch up with these films and see if the reasons you felt you should see them pan out. In many ways, it’s an exercise in self-indulgence (I enjoy trying to write about them), but I also like reading others people’s first meetings with films that I love/hate.

Of course, I feel a bit like Matt B when I get zero comments on them…B-) My view is that I’ve encapsulated them so very well that there’s simply nothing left to say…

Sameer Vasta
Guest

Hi — thanks for recording this episode. I listened to it last week and then decided to re-listen yesterday because it was a little too much for me to process all at once.

See, I can somewhat understand what Matthew Price was talking about; that past experience can cloud a film-going experience to its detriment. After the events of 19 months ago, when I had to extricate myself from an abusive, not-healthy relationship, I stopped watching movies — all of them.

I lost my love, my best friend, and my self-esteem at one fell swoop, and it soured me on the whole idea of inter-personal interaction, friendship, relationships, all of it. Since that kind of emotional interaction (whether intimate or not) is at the core of every good film, I divorced myself from cinema because watching a movie made me feel inadequate, and triggered my panic attacks that had recently emerged.

I stopped watching movies (and television) for a long time.

I’ve returned now, but still, I tend to only watch puff comedies or political dramas because their human interactions is less troublesome for me. That doesn’t mean that I discount the merit of a particularly powerfully-emotional film, but it does mean that I don’t have the ability to process them effectively — all I want to do is leave and can’t seem to appreciate what’s on the screen. I have a blind spot towards them.

I’m working it out. Like Price, I’m forcing myself to engage with film genres that I once loved but now causes me to have a visceral reaction (often, an actual panic attack), but I’m doing it in the company of people who understand and can support me. It’s true: sometimes you just need a hug and reminder that everything is okay.

Demetre E
Guest

Gentleman,

I was fascinated by your recent Mamo on the subject of horror movies (so were many, as evidenced by the comments on RowThree).

Price – I thought it was pretty awesome that you would open up about how exactly horror movies make you feel. I don’t think there are many that would do that. [UPDATED – although the comments above do showcase some powerful honesty]

I was also immediately reminded of Matt B’s reaction to the explosion in Iron Man. Image my glee when moments later Brown brought it up.

I wanted to clarify my perspective on that moment though. As I recall the explosion happened and I was definitely startled. However, that was NOTHING in comparison to Matt’s reaction. There was some great theater in that reaction! We laughed about it at the time and I do bring it up to this day but I wanted to add two points.

1. Watching Matt lurch out of his seat (it’s possible I’m exaggerating but it’s also possible there was a somersault involved) greatly added to my experience of that moment. Not only was I startled at the film but also at the guy next to me.

2. Part of my reaction and my fondness for that viewing experience is the fact that Matt responded PERFECTLY to that situation. The moment of explosion was definitely meant to illicit surprise and shock. Part of filmmaking as an art form is also the art of manipulating the audience. Imagine how pleased Jon Favreau would have been if he had been in my seat. So there was a bit of… I don’t know what to call it… envy, glee when I saw that Matt was in the exact headspace to receive that moment perfectly.

Not sure why this was necessary to bring up except to say that there are multiple ways of interpreting the reaction of those around you. In a theater setting there’s an extent to which we’re all in this together. Price, there’s a good chance I would laugh if you screamed bloody murder beside me in a horror movie, but that would probably also be a way to also relieve my own tension. And there’s also a good chance that I would want to see EVERY horror movie with you.

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