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Are we too elitist? 
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Post Are we too elitist?
Considering all the films that are out at the moment for example,
Gi joe,
Die hard,
Oz,
which when reviewed and discussed on these forum and found to be wanting, I ask the questions?
Are we too elites in our view to cinema.
All of the above films will do well, so there is a quite a considerable market out there for them.
So I ask, Who are we to question the taste of the majority?


Sat Mar 30, 2013 4:18 pm
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Post Re: Are we too elitess
I agree, I happen to enjoy those types of films moreso then many Oscar-nominated films.


Sat Mar 30, 2013 5:10 pm
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Post Re: Are we too elitess
I wouldn't say that we are too elitist. Perhaps we are too demanding, but is there anything really wrong with that? Studios bombard audiences with awful movies nearly every single week. (At least, this has been the trend so far this year.) That being said, all movie-lovers are entitled to their own opinions concerning what constitutes good or bad entertainment. I, for one, find Vexer's taste in film fascinating. I may disagree with him about 90% of the time, but I still believe that this forum would be much less interesting without his regular contributions.

I will admit that I hated Olympus Has Fallen as a film, although I did find it fun in a popcorn-entertainment sort of way. Still, as a movie, I consider it lazy, lackluster, abhorrent, and ridiculous.

While I enjoy arthouse and independent films, I am also an unabashed connoisseur (most pretentious word ever) of genre cinema. I am looking forward to Iron Man 3, Star Trek: Into Darkness, Man of Steel, The Wolverine, Now You See Me (is that what it's called?), R.I.P.D., Kick-Bleep 2 (one movie theater in my area censored the original's title when it was playing back in 2010), Pacific Rim, and many other mainstream blockbusters later on this year. I am even a little interested in Michael Bay's latest effort, even though I hate his films with a fiery passion. I am also willing to give Desolation of Smaug a chance, even though I was really let down by An Unexpected Journey.

Therefore, it is possible to enjoy both high-minded and genre cinema.


Sat Mar 30, 2013 5:48 pm
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Post Re: Are we too elitess
I think one can question how popular those movies are anyway. Whether disliking them really goes against the majority. Films like Oz and GI-Joe may fill seats in a theater, but who's to say if people really love them?

I think they make money because they strike people as the type of movies which should be seen in the theater. Burt Wonderstone, on the other hand, looks like a Friday night Blockbuster rental, rather than a trip to the theater. Nothing wrong with that in my book. Blockbuster rentals is what I grew up on. Looper is another example of a film born for home video discovery. I'm not saying that a movie which intends grand theatricality for itself is automatically bad. But the simple truth is that many films, including some genuinely good ones, end up looking a lot better at home, while having a beer with friends, than they do for 10 bucks in the theater. The days of movie theaters are numbered, look how much money is already being spent on individual productions just to ensure a trip to the theater.

All that to say that these movies aren't necessarily being perceived as that great by anybody. They just put butts in the seats. Nothing wrong with being a connoisseur. I personally try to be a connoisseur of both art and dumb fun. Only pretentious thing really is when one feels ashamed of their appreciation for the latter, and over-proud of their appreciation for the former.


Sat Mar 30, 2013 6:28 pm
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Post Re: Are we too elitess
Elitist? No, I don't think so.

As someone who has seen somewhere in the realm of 5,000 movies, I think I'm entitled to say that my palate is broader and I understand what makes a movie work better than someone who only goes to the movies two or three times a year. I don't think that qualifies as elitism, just a statement of fact that I know more about the subject, in the same way a guy like Neil DeGrasse Tyson knows more about quantum physics than I do.

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Sat Mar 30, 2013 7:34 pm
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Post Re: Are we too elitess
Well, NdGT's primary expertise is astrophysics, so he might not be the best example... but still, you're probably right.

Anyway.

It is not elitist to express your opinion honestly. If you like or dislike a movie, that's a matter of taste. It would be a matter of elitism to point to some agreed-upon standard (say, Vertigo as the #1 Sight & Sound movie) and suggest that anyone who disagrees is wrong. I think elitism implies some sort of external criteria by which you might judge someone else's opinion. Judging someone else's opinion in relation to your own isn't elitist... just disagreement.

In response to Sexual Chocolate's point, though, I would definitely give more weight to the opinion of someone who has more experience in the relevant field. But that's a function of what I value in an opinion, rather than a reflection of the nature of opinions. If someone with very little experience states a preference, you can try to give them some guidance and expand their pool of references, but you can't rightly say they're wrong. I know Ebert has verged on doing the latter on several occasions, but I suspect he himself takes his comments less seriously than others do.

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Sat Mar 30, 2013 8:41 pm
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Post Re: Are we too elitess
Ken wrote:
Well, NdGT's primary expertise is astrophysics, so he might not be the best example... but still, you're probably right.

Anyway.

It is not elitist to express your opinion honestly. If you like or dislike a movie, that's a matter of taste. It would be a matter of elitism to point to some agreed-upon standard (say, Vertigo as the #1 Sight & Sound movie) and suggest that anyone who disagrees is wrong. I think elitism implies some sort of external criteria by which you might judge someone else's opinion. Judging someone else's opinion in relation to your own isn't elitist... just disagreement.

In response to Sexual Chocolate's point, though, I would definitely give more weight to the opinion of someone who has more experience in the relevant field. But that's a function of what I value in an opinion, rather than a reflection of the nature of opinions. If someone with very little experience states a preference, you can try to give them some guidance and expand their pool of references, but you can't rightly say they're wrong. I know Ebert has verged on doing the latter on several occasions, but I suspect he himself takes his comments less seriously than others do.

Ebert has admittedly come off as elitist in some of his reviews, for example in his reviews of Transformers 2 and Battle: LA, he basically said that anyone who enjoys those films is an idiot, i'm fine with him not liking the films, but claiming that anyone who likes them is a moron is an incredibly asinine thing to say and makes him sound extremely narrow-minded and unprofessional. Thankfully he dosen't seem to be doing that anymore.


Sat Mar 30, 2013 9:53 pm
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Post Re: Are we too elitist?
I was about to go in Ken's direction. I don't think the elitism strives in enjoying or disliking certain films, but rather in treating one's opinion as superior to others, and demeaning them in the process. And yes, I've seen a fair share of that here. But then again, it's something present in almost every Internet community.

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Sat Mar 30, 2013 10:23 pm
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Post Re: Are we too elitist?
I think the problem lies both ways. Some people who like the mainstream entertainers come across as insecure of their own tastes and end up calling the other group too elitist as a defense mechanism. On the other hand, the other group of people who're drawn towards the more artistic cinema realize that the films they watch may never taste mainstream success, so they put down the other group saying it is their fault that the other set of films get BO success while their's don't.

I am not hinting at general truth here, more like observing the vibe I get from reading both groups on film forums like Reelviews.

Ultimately, Ken hit the nail bang on the head. If you are honest in stating your feelings while watching a film, then nothing else should matter. I've enjoyed a lot of mainstream movies in the past while being thrown off by a lot of critically successful films, but I've tried to state my opinions honestly without a hint of insecurity. It doesn't matter if a film is top of the Sight and Sound list, if you don't like it, you don't. This is one of the reasons I enjoy reading Vexer because although he states his opinions bluntly, I never have to doubt his honesty and sincerity. That is the only thing I will ask of anyone who has something to say about films, connoisseur or not.

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Sun Mar 31, 2013 5:37 am
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Post Re: Are we too elitist?
Agreed with this:

Balaji Sivaraman wrote:
Ultimately, Ken hit the nail bang on the head. If you are honest in stating your feelings while watching a film, then nothing else should matter. I've enjoyed a lot of mainstream movies in the past while being thrown off by a lot of critically successful films, but I've tried to state my opinions honestly without a hint of insecurity. It doesn't matter if a film is top of the Sight and Sound list, if you don't like it, you don't. This is one of the reasons I enjoy reading Vexer because although he states his opinions bluntly, I never have to doubt his honesty and sincerity. That is the only thing I will ask of anyone who has something to say about films, connoisseur or not.


While my taste in films nowadays leans towards dramas, dark comedies and thrillers and lots of character driven stuff, I do not hesitate to admit that I still love Die Hard. I do not hesitate to admit that I grew up with and still enjoy a lot of the 80s Schwarzennegger movies, Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout. If I were to assemble an all-time favorite movies list, it would include Aliens, The Blues Brothers and Ghostbusters alongside Taxi Driver, Apocalypse Now, Boogie Nights, Chinatown and Do The Right Thing.

While I lean towards Independent and art films I do not hesitate to point out that there are many art films that are terminally boring and many mainstream films that are watchable. I don't see anything wrong with the fact that I love Ferris Bueller's Day Off and own it on DVD and found The English Patient to be a bloated borefest.

It goes back to what Balaji said.

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Sun Mar 31, 2013 11:30 am
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Post Re: Are we too elitist?
GI Joe, Oz, Die Hard, are all making money because they're recognizable brands now. I don't know if "average Joe movie goer" has a much higher opinion than those of us here. Maybe the average film goer has felt these were worthwhile films, but I would not use box office receipts as proof that these films were better received by the public than reelviews forum members.

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Sun Mar 31, 2013 2:31 pm
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Post Re: Are we too elitist?
I've reached the point where I just don't see any artistic gap between the two Paul Andersons. They both compose shots, they both compose sequences, it's simply a matter of preference on that level. Characters and themes don't necessarily interest me. I've tried it both ways. I've seen all the Bergman, Bresson, Dreyer, Ozu, some Fassbender, Tarkovsky, Tarr. Pound for pound, I found stuff like Busby Berkeley, the Marx Brothers, Preston Sturges, Anthony Mann, and Noir to be more rewarding. It's the qualties of the latter that I look for in films I watch today. All the blockbuster tentpoles evoke for me are bloated non-classics: Ivanhoe, Samson and Delilah, The Robe, Ben Hur, Hello Dolly, Cleopatra, etc.


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GI Joe, Oz, Die Hard, are all making money because they're recognizable brands now. I don't know if "average Joe movie goer" has a much higher opinion than those of us here. Maybe the average film goer has felt these were worthwhile films, but I would not use box office receipts as proof that these films were better received by the public than reelviews forum members.


Exactly. Agreed 100%. I think many average Joe movie-goers are plenty jaded in their own right.


Sun Mar 31, 2013 4:25 pm
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Post Re: Are we too elitist?
Movies like G.I. Joe make their money because there are incredibly wealthy multinational conglomerates that invest a lot of money to shove those movies into everybody's lives. For the most part, people go to see the stuff that they have the most exposure to, not necessarily what they think will be the most fulfilling experience. For 99% of those people, 99% of the time, that means G.I. Joe and the like.

Those obviously aren't exact numbers... but they're probably not far off.

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Sun Mar 31, 2013 5:32 pm
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Post Re: Are we too elitist?
MGamesCook wrote:
I've reached the point where I just don't see any artistic gap between the two Paul Andersons. They both compose shots, they both compose sequences, it's simply a matter of preference on that level. Characters and themes don't necessarily interest me. I've tried it both ways. I've seen all the Bergman, Bresson, Dreyer, Ozu, some Fassbender, Tarkovsky, Tarr. Pound for pound, I found stuff like Busby Berkeley, the Marx Brothers, Preston Sturges, Anthony Mann, and Noir to be more rewarding. It's the qualties of the latter that I look for in films I watch today. All the blockbuster tentpoles evoke for me are bloated non-classics: Ivanhoe, Samson and Delilah, The Robe, Ben Hur, Hello Dolly, Cleopatra, etc.


Quote:
GI Joe, Oz, Die Hard, are all making money because they're recognizable brands now. I don't know if "average Joe movie goer" has a much higher opinion than those of us here. Maybe the average film goer has felt these were worthwhile films, but I would not use box office receipts as proof that these films were better received by the public than reelviews forum members.


Exactly. Agreed 100%. I think many average Joe movie-goers are plenty jaded in their own right.

That might be the problem. :)


Sun Mar 31, 2013 5:34 pm
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Post Re: Are we too elitist?
Quote:
That might be the problem.


Not a problem for me. I've just seen too many good movies which didn't focus on characters, and too many bad movies which did. I judge Paul W.S. Anderson's shot composition and editing, not his character portrayals. He's an action director, not a novelist. Whereas major blockbusters may have characters people care about (or pretend to), but I don't appreciate the point-and-shoot style of most of them.


Mon Apr 01, 2013 1:52 am
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Post Re: Are we too elitist?
While I wouldn't call it elitist, there is a standard used often on this forum that is not necessarily applied by the general movie going public. That a film will stand up to, or even grow with repeated viewing is an admirable quality, but the inclination seems to be to label any without that quality as disposable garbage. I think a movie can be very satisfying without fueling the desire to own it and live it forever. As with many transient events (graduation, great sporting contests, concerts, etc.) a movie can be a fantastic experience in the moment without the need to stay forever. A quality required for true masterpiece perhaps, but not necessarily a measure that needs to be applied to all. Many very popular movies, even legitimate blockbusters, seem to be easily dismissed as marketing shams pulled off on the ignorant masses.


Mon Apr 01, 2013 10:59 am
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Post Re: Are we too elitist?
Ken wrote:
... G.I. Joe make their money because there are incredibly wealthy multinational conglomerates that invest a lot of money to shove those movies into everybody's lives. For the most part, people go to see the stuff that they have the most exposure to, not necessarily what they think will be the most fulfilling experience. For 99% of those people, 99% of the time, that means G.I. Joe and the like.

Those obviously aren't exact numbers... but they're probably not far off.


Change "G.I. Joe" to McDonalds and "Movies" to burgers and you've got my opinion stated above.
If I'm elitist, which I'll fully admit I can be, it's because I appreciate quality and have limited time and tolerance for garbage.

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Mon Apr 01, 2013 12:18 pm
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Post Re: Are we too elitist?
MGamesCook wrote:
major blockbusters may have characters people care about (or pretend to)


Why is the parenthetical part necessary? Really, why? Seems like an unnecessary shot trying to label your opinion valid and others' not.

MGamesCook wrote:
I've just seen too many good movies which didn't focus on characters, and too many bad movies which did. I judge Paul W.S. Anderson's shot composition and editing, not his character portrayals. He's an action director, not a novelist.


See, now that is great. That's an opinion. I totally disagree with it, but that's not the point. Do you understand those who totally disagree? When I consume any form of art -- film, novel, painting, etc -- I'm not looking for an "action director." I'm looking for someone who cares deeply about character and theme and works to make them serve each other and the story.

MGamesCook wrote:
I've reached the point where I just don't see any artistic gap between the two Paul Andersons. They both compose shots, they both compose sequences, it's simply a matter of preference on that level.


Again, I have no problem with your opinion, but this seems a tad off to me. You've narrowed down two things they both do, but regardless of one's preference, it's the only two things W.S. does. PTA composes shots and sequences, coaxes great performances from actors, crafts meaningful stories with visual themes, creates a litany of believable characters, etc. You certainly don't have to enjoy any of that, and you may think he sucks at those things, but he at least attempts them, something W.S. never has. Again, if all you're looking for is visual pomp and W.S. satisfies that for you, go for it by all means. But when you're limit it to those two qualities and then say they're artistically even while ignoring all the things PTA does that W.S. doesn't even attempt, seems a little unfair, no? Again, you don't have to appreciate or like it, but it's there.


Mon Apr 01, 2013 1:33 pm
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Post Re: Are we too elitist?
Shade2 wrote:
MGamesCook wrote:
major blockbusters may have characters people care about (or pretend to)


Why is the parenthetical part necessary? Really, why? Seems like an unnecessary shot trying to label your opinion valid and others' not.

MGamesCook wrote:
I've just seen too many good movies which didn't focus on characters, and too many bad movies which did. I judge Paul W.S. Anderson's shot composition and editing, not his character portrayals. He's an action director, not a novelist.


See, now that is great. That's an opinion. I totally disagree with it, but that's not the point. Do you understand those who totally disagree? When I consume any form of art -- film, novel, painting, etc -- I'm not looking for an "action director." I'm looking for someone who cares deeply about character and theme and works to make them serve each other and the story.

MGamesCook wrote:
I've reached the point where I just don't see any artistic gap between the two Paul Andersons. They both compose shots, they both compose sequences, it's simply a matter of preference on that level.


Again, I have no problem with your opinion, but this seems a tad off to me. You've narrowed down two things they both do, but regardless of one's preference, it's the only two things W.S. does. PTA composes shots and sequences, coaxes great performances from actors, crafts meaningful stories with visual themes, creates a litany of believable characters, etc. You certainly don't have to enjoy any of that, and you may think he sucks at those things, but he at least attempts them, something W.S. never has. Again, if all you're looking for is visual pomp and W.S. satisfies that for you, go for it by all means. But when you're limit it to those two qualities and then say they're artistically even while ignoring all the things PTA does that W.S. doesn't even attempt, seems a little unfair, no? Again, you don't have to appreciate or like it, but it's there.

One thing that almost no one can deny: Paul Thomas Anderson is a much more creative filmmaker than Paul W.S. Anderson. The latter often takes great novels (The Three Musketeers), films (Alien, Predator), and video games (Resident Evil) and grinds all of the fun out of them. Paul W.S. Anderson practically takes established franchises and staples of popular culture and turns them into cynical action set-pieces. Now, while one might contest the definition of creativity, Paul Thomas Anderson is undoubtedly the more skilled filmmaker. All of his projects are both viscerally (score, editing, cinematography, sound editing and mixing) and intellectually (plot, themes, characters) satisfying. As one of the countless "elitists" who considered There Will Be Blood the best film of the 2000s decade, I can attest to the value of P.T. Anderson's work, regardless of one's preferences when it comes to finding an entertaining movie. He is one of the few filmmakers working today who has never made a bad film before. Once again, this is debatable, but it is my opinion, and as someone with a tremendous love of movies, I often state my opinion with conviction.

Paul W.S. Anderson. Paul Thomas Anderson. Wes Anderson. Can we all agree that there are far too many Andersons in Hollywood today?


Mon Apr 01, 2013 3:43 pm
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Post Re: Are we too elitist?
Quote:
You've narrowed down two things they both do, but regardless of one's preference, it's the only two things W.S. does.


Well, he does it for a series whose conceit has already been long established. And his cinematic devices do have a psychological resonance. The way he sets up the backwards/forwards logic of Retribution's opening scene. And he definitely plays around with the roles of various characters, even if they're not deep. It's hard to really analyze Retribution outside the context of the first four movies, so I can't really expect anyone to take an interest who wasn't already a fan of the series. But he does really interesting things in regards to folding certain elements of the first four films on top of themselves. He does a much sharper job of that than JK Rowling did in the last couple HP books. There's no other fifth installment quite like Retribution. W.S. Anderson put effort into giving the Resident Evil series its own psychology, in the same way that Bond has its own psychology, and I think he succeeded. You have to think of it that way without thinking too much about how RE functions as "action" or "horror" or in any other general genre. It works in much the same way as Chronicle in that it has its own unique conceits that you can't really compare to any other movie.


Mon Apr 01, 2013 8:34 pm
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