Thursday, December 31, 2009

Blog-a-Movie Month Thoughts, Clarifications and Acceptance Speech

Well, another Blog-a-Month challenge has come and gone, and again I have prevailed. Lance and Scott didn't even bother to claim victory, such was the enormity of the gap between us. I'd like to thank you, constant reader, for anointing me champion yet again. Without your comments and support, I wouldn't have been able to complete this most arduous and worthy of tasks.

Many of you have written and suggested different "reviews" for me to write. I'd like to clarify that I wasn't writing reviews, per se. I used to do that for my college newspaper, and what I've written during BAM month wouldn't fly there.

Early on, I wrote about how our own experiences and expectations inform our enjoyment (or lack thereof) of movies. I took most objective film criticism out of these entries and tried to judge them based on what I personally felt about the movie, which depended largely on how old I was when I saw it, what was going on my life, and what I'd heard about the film before I watched it. Proper journalistic film reviews do not and should not be written that way. But it's my blog, and no one's paying me, so I can do whatever I want.

My grading system reflects that. Sometimes, the hardest part of the pieces would come at the end, when I had to give it a mark. Oddly, a lot of times other people's critiques of the film would factor into the grade.

For instance, Taken probably isn't a D+ unless you factor in that it made a ton of money. When crappy movies are financially successful, this makes me angry, and I take that rage out on middling films. Ditto award-winners. Million Dollar Baby won Best Picture. I consider that a travesty. As a film existing in a vacuum, it's probably better than the C I gave it. But film doesn't exist in a vacuum, now does it? Black holes do. I think.

On the other hand, I tried to write about movies that I consider underrated, thus upping their grades. Ironically, I've now increased people's expectations for something like Kicking and Screaming to the point that they will almost certainly be let down. Trainspotting may not actually be an A+, but it came out when I was in college, and I had the time to watch it roughly 27 times.

I'll end the month with two more examples to illustrate my point: My favorite and least favorite movies of all time.

The Empire Strikes Back is the first film I can remember seeing in the theatre. I was four years old, and I don't think I'd seen the original Star Wars (A New Hope). Remember, this was in the days before most people had access to watching movies in their homes, other than on t.v.

I was enthralled (and a little terrified) from the first scenes where Luke is attacked by the snow monster. I was convinced it was the same one that lived at the top of the Matterhorn ride at Disneyland. Then came the AT-AT walkers. They could've ended the movie after the AT-AT attack, and I would've left convinced that there would never be a better one. By the time Vader reveals he's Luke's father, I think it's safe to say that my mind was not just blown. I'd say obliterated is a better term. I spent the next three years driving my dad insane by repeatedly asking the same two questions: "Is Darth Vader really Luke's dad?" (I was still hopefully clinging to Luke's assertion, "It's a lie! It's not possible!") and "When does the next movie come out?"

As I grew, the film grew with me. It's undeniably the darkest of the original flicks, and there are no wasted moments. Every scene either develops the characters or moves the story along (which cannot be said for the unfortunate prequels). It's got one of the greatest ad-libs of all time (Han's "I know" response to Leia's declaration of love), a great cliffhanger ending, plus Boba Fett and Lando Calrissian. Magnificent.

Nolanometer Final Grade: A+

Transformers is the perfect example of a very bad film that has now reached national disaster status because of the reactions of others.

I'm not going to go into everything that's wrong with this excruciating movie because it's New Year's Eve, and I have a party to go to. Lance does it here, anyway, and I'd just be repeating what he wrote.

What really makes me hate Michael Bay's cynical, clusterfuck of a film (and although I haven't seen the second one, from everything I've heard, it's even worse) is that it appeals to only the most base instincts of moviegoers. Actually, it doesn't even appeal to that. As Lance noted, the action scenes are loud and confusing. There's absolutely nothing likable about the film, at least for someone who has seen movies before and cares about the medium of film.

Yet, teenagers and unsophisticated adults (I chose that last adjective carefully- you should've seen some of the ones I discarded) made this a giant hit. Many will assure you that it's one of the best movies ever, if not the best.

Here's where personal bias comes into play. If you don't work with teens, you probably didn't have to hear over and over again how "amazing" this piece of dung is. You didn't see the way Bay and co. were able to market and sell this abortion to the unthinking masses. You didn't have to deal with the fact that rewarding detritus like Transformers with huge box office receipts only means that they're going to make more awful, noisy, plotless nonsense like this, and I'll have to hear about how "amazing" those movies are with every coming generation, while I have to try and convince them that there just might be more merit to, say, Shakespeare.

Anyway, on its own, Transformers is probably somewhere in the D range. But because I'm stuck with all these ignorant admonitions about its greatness, it's currently my least favorite movie ever. Until Michael Bay fucks up some other treasured childhood memory, that is.

Nolanometer Final Grade: F-

Again, thanks for reading all this indignant nonsense. I'm announcing my retirement from any other Blog-a-Month endeavors, as I'm going to have a son near the end of next month. From what I'm told, they take up at least 15 minutes or so of your time per day, so squeezing in mandatory blogs could be tricky. Have no fear; I'm not retiring from blogging in general. As long as you keep reading them, I'll keep writing them. Remember, without feedback, I don't know who's paying attention, so drop me a quick comment whenever you can to let me know you're out there.

As a parting gift, be sure to check out three special edition blogs to start off the new year. I'll be posting my top music and movies of the decade. So you've got that going for you, which is nice.


Lance Christian Johnson said...

You fool. Unlike Blog-A-Day Month, where one becomes the winner simply by declaring it, Movie-A-Day Month is LOST by declaring victory.

Michael Tucker said...

Well-done, Nolan. I too have strong feelings about Transformers, but I can't talk about them because I was lucky enough to do an interview with the sound designers of the films.

They, regardless of how you feel about the movie, did a fantastic job. And I am going to plug the video

(Also Michael Bay has probably watched the video, and it would be ironic if he was my big break).

I look forward to your best of.

Nolan said...

Tucker, I couldn't get through that whole thing because if I had to listen to the slurping noise of those guys on Michael Bay's sack anymore, I was gonna vomit. I already know what you think of Transformers and Bay, but I understand your career need to be diplomatic.

However, if you ever start making vapid, cynical crap like this, I will find you and kill you.