10 Qualities of Great Film – Part 2

Bismillah ir Rahman ir Raheem

So. On to the next few things I think are awesome – you’ll find Part 1 here.

This exercise has been profoundly useful because I’m aware almost before I watch a film why I’m going to like it or hate it. This is because the way films are marketed today, they leave absolutely nothing to the imagination. I always know exactly what I’m getting. Not saying that’s a bad thing.

And it provides an additional, much more nuanced layer of culling when I decide what I’m going to do next myself.

Which helps.

It helps to know that you’ll remember why you love something three years later when you’re weeping over rejection letters.

I wish human beings were like that.

Anyway, onto more serious but fun stuff.

6. Great structure.

World War Z performed as advertised. It had plenty of action sequences since it was an action movie. In between sequences, there were a few moments of breathing space as the protagonist worked out the problem. It took place in three or four different countries and managed to not feel bewildering. If I ever take it into my head to write an action movie (I might do just to entertain my husband) – I hope it’s as well structured.

7. Weirdness used to explore the quotidian.

My current two favorite examples of this:

    1. The One I Love
    2. The Future.

Both of these films used science fiction/fantasy conceits to explore a run-of-the-mill relationship milestone – where is this relationship going?

The Future is a little more absurdist than The One I Love. You’d have to approach it with a more of a film-school, liberal-arts sort of mindset. Basically, anything goes.

The sci fi aspect of The One I Love is much clearer and more pronounced. It never loses track though – the emotional through-line remains pretty clear. The partners in both movies are asking themselves the same question and exploring the answer largely separately and in different ways – ‘should we stay together? Do we have a future?’

8. Honesty/authenticity = BRAVERY

I find myself not being able to describe or define authenticity accurately. It just sorta is. Something in the story resonates with some deeply buried part of me. Deeply buried and never acknowledged. And the movie dredges it up to the surface and puts it on display for everyone to see. Liberating rather than embarrassing.

I’m sure my mother would rather I keep my mouth shut and act dignified even if it – literally – kills me. Yes, my mother has walked sedately across a pedestrian crossing as a truck careened towards her, horns blaring, refusing to break her gait even it meant certain death.

Me, I hoofed it. To heck with dignity.

(In case you were wondering, the truck missed, thank God.)

That’s why it’s called a generation gap, I guess.

My example for this was yet again Obvious Child. I’ve racked my brains trying to figure out what it is about that movie that resonated with me.

Of course, Shaula Evans managed to figure it out for me, disguised as a humble writing prompt.

Jenny Slate told the truth in Obvious Child. And there’s something in us that punches the air when someone tells the truth even if – especially if – it’s painful and not pretty.

At the risk of angering feminists – that doesn’t just apply to women, though Lord knows we need the truth. That applies to everyone. I’ve found myself resonating with some of the oddest movies and TV shows. Because they seemed true.

Maybe this is where the real power of cinema lies. In the truth.

And next up: my two favorites. POC/Women/Underrepresented characters winning, or not in stories about how awful it is to be underrepresented. Dueling philosophies. 

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