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What makes a bad film "bad"? 
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Post Re: What makes a bad film "bad"?
Mark Kermode once told an anecdote about the critical reaction to Joel Schumacher's Batman & Robin. Schumacher was having a conversation with Woody Allen, and he said "I've made for the worst movie of all time!" Woody responded, "No, you haven't. That would have been an achievement. You haven't even done that." I have no idea whether that story is true or not, but it kind of speaks to the idea that truly terrible filmmaking can leave just as much of a lasting impression as truly great filmmaking.

I think just about everything to be said has already been said, so I'll just agree with the earlier thoughts that the worst kind of film is the one that is neither exceptionally good or bad, just average in every possible way. It's the bell curve idea, where the truly exceptional examples, both positive and negative, reside on the sides in relatively small numbers, while all the average and ultimately forgettable examples reside in the much larger middle:

Image

To borrow from Kermode again, because it's something I agree with, I think part of what separates the "good" bad films and the "bad" bad films is sincerity. Films like The Room and Plan Nine From Outer Space are remembered fondly and still watched to this day in part because their creators actually thought they were making something great. There's a sort of misguided enthusiasm to those productions that people embrace, in an affectionate rather than a mean-spirited way. On the other hand, in recent years there have been fairly big-budget films where it's clear the filmmakers have set out to make an intentionally bad product. There's a cynicism and smugness to those films that I really have a hard time embracing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZWyMxRrNsw

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Tue Jan 08, 2013 3:30 pm
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Post Re: What makes a bad film "bad"?
Blonde Almond wrote:
Mark Kermode once told an anecdote about the critical reaction to Joel Schumacher's Batman & Robin. Schumacher was having a conversation with Woody Allen, and he said "I've made for the worst movie of all time!" Woody responded, "No, you haven't. That would have been an achievement. You haven't even done that." I have no idea whether that story is true or not, but it kind of speaks to the idea that truly terrible filmmaking can leave just as much of a lasting impression as truly great filmmaking.

I think just about everything to be said has already been said, so I'll just agree with the earlier thoughts that the worst kind of film is the one that is neither exceptionally good or bad, just average in every possible way. It's the bell curve idea, where the truly exceptional examples, both positive and negative, reside on the sides in relatively small numbers, while all the average and ultimately forgettable examples reside in the much larger middle:

Image

To borrow from Kermode again, because it's something I agree with, I think part of what separates the "good" bad films and the "bad" bad films is sincerity. Films like The Room and Plan Nine From Outer Space are remembered fondly and still watched to this day in part because their creators actually thought they were making something great. There's a sort of misguided enthusiasm to those productions that people embrace, in an affectionate rather than a mean-spirited way. On the other hand, in recent years there have been fairly big-budget films where it's clear the filmmakers have set out to make an intentionally bad product. There's a cynicism and smugness to those films that I really have a hard time embracing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZWyMxRrNsw

You mean films like "I'm Still Here"?


Tue Jan 08, 2013 4:23 pm
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Post Re: What makes a bad film "bad"?
NotHughGrant wrote:
Fucking hell, that is seriously inept. It's like amateur soft porn minus sex!


Yeah, you pretty much nailed it. I have no idea how the dialog sounds to someone who doesn't speak/understand german, but I'm sure the unbelievably inept "acting" (the characters even use their real-life names) and ridiculous lensing/framing is evedent to everyone. Check how the female "lead" frequently looks into the camera and the pompous overacting talk of the male "lead".
There is a history to it all though. This was made in 1970 (released 1971), when the first gay men openly went out of the closet. They had a rough time before that. No need to further elaborate it. Suffice it to say that the "gay" element is not the laughing stock, it is how ineptly this movie has been made. Unfortunately the bad grammar cannot be translated into subtitles (to say nothing about dubbing!!!) and the accents are just hilarious: the woman has a Cologne-ish accent and the man has a spot-on Mannheim accent. Truly hilarious!


Tue Jan 08, 2013 5:44 pm
Post Re: What makes a bad film "bad"?
Blonde Almond wrote:
I think just about everything to be said has already been said, so I'll just agree with the earlier thoughts that the worst kind of film is the one that is neither exceptionally good or bad, just average in every possible way. It's the bell curve idea, where the truly exceptional examples, both positive and negative, reside on the sides in relatively small numbers, while all the average and ultimately forgettable examples reside in the much larger middle:

Image



Well I don't think it is a bell curve, because that would mean: just a little worse than "mainstream/mediocre" would be better. I think any mathematical model should be at least three dimensional (please stay with me here):

It is not just about the quality, it is also about the intention. There are a lot of movies which are simply bad. there are also movies which "know" they are bad, and they are still bad. I think the circle of "so bad it's good" can only be closed by movies which don't toy with this idea. There must be some sincere attempt at making a great movie combined with true lack of talent. There should be some "innocent" aspect to it. I think low budget movies are easier to evaluate, because the team behind it is smaller and the main spirit is usually about making a movie as opposed to making money.
High budget movies (Michael Bay anyone?) are harder to evaluate, because we are talking about a business model and people who invest money in it. The more people involved in high budget trash, the harder it is to pinpoint the true motivation (or perhaps: the easier = money).

P.S. I do not intend to let this great thread slide into a discussion about politics. thank you.


Tue Jan 08, 2013 6:32 pm
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Post Re: What makes a bad film "bad"?
I would be wary of the idea of taking "intent" into account when evaluating a movie. The danger there is that the film will be judged on things other than its own contents.

That's not to say that intent is inherently worthless or should never be taken into consideration, but an argument about what the film intends to do ought to be formulated from the film itself, rather than interviews, gossip, etc. I'd use my own argument about Street Fighter as an example. A lot of people characterize it as unintentionally funny, but by examining the scenes themselves, I think a case can be made that much (or most) of the humor is deliberate. It's not a conclusion I arrived at by reading interviews with the cast and crew or from other extraneous evidence.

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Tue Jan 08, 2013 10:11 pm
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Post Re: What makes a bad film "bad"?
Vexer wrote:
For me the worst sin a film can commit is being incredibly dull, Battlefield Earth is a bad film yes, but it's also a pretty fun one. Whereas films like Alexander and Troy are just plain tedious to sit through. With comedies it depends on your sense of humor, what one person finds funny someone else will find excruciating, like most people seem to hate "That's My Boy" though I personally thought it was hilarious and a lot more enjoyable then Sandler's early efforts like The Waterboy, which I did not find very funny by comparison.


I generally agree with you, except for Battlefield Earth. That movie is goddamn atrocious.

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Wed Jan 09, 2013 10:35 pm
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Post Re: What makes a bad film "bad"?
Dullness is bad, but it means something different depending on who you ask. Oftentimes, the dullest movies are the ones which try to overcompensate by being anything but dull (Die Another Day). I like a movie whose director isn't afraid to express some jadedness with what he's doing. Jadedness is natural, especially when directors these days are asked to do pretty much exactly the same things that other directors are doing, over and over again.


Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:28 am
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Post Re: What makes a bad film "bad"?
Are you talking about dynamic flatness? It is true that a movie that stays at one energy level all the time, even a high energy level, is going to get awfully boring and numbing after a while.

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Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:35 am
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Post Re: What makes a bad film "bad"?
MGamesCook wrote:
Dullness is bad, but it means something different depending on who you ask. Oftentimes, the dullest movies are the ones which try to overcompensate by being anything but dull (Die Another Day). I like a movie whose director isn't afraid to express some jadedness with what he's doing. Jadedness is natural, especially when directors these days are asked to do pretty much exactly the same things that other directors are doing, over and over again.
Die Another Day glides by for me on Brosnan and Berry's charms(being the first Bond film I ever saw helps too), but your statement describes exactly how I felt about "Immortals", it tried to overcompensate for terrible acting and a lousy story with lots of violence, but it was still a total borefest for me, the battle scenes were very ineptly staged and not remotely interesting in any way, I was surpised JB gave it a positive review.


Thu Jan 10, 2013 1:43 am
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Post Re: What makes a bad film "bad"?
Ken wrote:
Are you talking about dynamic flatness? It is true that a movie that stays at one energy level all the time, even a high energy level, is going to get awfully boring and numbing after a while.


This is what I meant, yeah. A lot of it is about pacing beats. Too many dramatic beats is like having no dramatic beats; they just cancel themselves out.


Thu Jan 10, 2013 2:05 am
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