WHAT IF HULK TELL YOU THAT THERE ONE SINGULAR THROUGH-LINE TO THE VERY NATURE OF CRITICISM?
HULK READ LOT OF MOVIE CRITICISM. AND HULK MEAN LOT. HULK POSSIBLY EVEN READ YOUR BOOK/COLUMN/SITE TODAY. AND OVER DOING THIS LAST TWENTY YEARS OR SO, HULK BEEN LOOKING FOR ONE SINGLE THROUGH-LINE HELP EXPLAIN WHY CRITICS SAY THE THING THEY DO. SPECIFICALLY, HULK INTERESTED WHAT CAUSE SOMEONE TO HAVE SEEMINGLY BIZARRE OPINION. IT NOT EASY THING DO. LOTS PEOPLE COMING FROM DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES AND HAVE ALL SORTS VALUES. AND IT ESPECIALLY DIFFICULT WHEN TRYING DECIDE IF IT YOUR OWN BIAS GETTING IN WAY. YET HULK DESPERATE KNOW WHY PEOPLE RESPOND TO MOVIES WAY THEY DO. AND MORE IMPORTANTLY HOW THEY THEN PROCESS AND EXPLAIN THOSE RESPONSES. THE ANSWER NOT JUST RELATE MOVIE CRITICISM, BUT UNIVERSAL CRITICISM. HULK BELIEVE CENTER AROUND ONE THING:
OK. HULK KNOW YOU THINKING “TANGIBLE DETAILS? DUH, OF COURSE! WHAT YOU IDIOT? OF COURSE THE FREAKIN’ DETAILS MATTER!”
HULK KNOW. HULK KNOW. IT SOUND BROAD AS HECK, BUT HULK ACTUALLY TALKING ABOUT VERY SPECIFIC WAY THE OBVIOUS, TANGIBLE DETAILS OF MOVIE DIRECTLY AFFECT HOW THE AT-LARGE CULTURE DIGEST IT. SO ALLOW HULK MOMENT ILLUSTRATE EXACTLY WHAT HULK MEAN… OKAY MORE THAN MOMENT. OVER 4000 WORDS AND LOTS OF TANGENTS. HULK SORRY, BUT VERY SIMPLE CONCEPT OFTEN THE HARDEST KIND TO JUSTIFY.
GIVEN: OUR ABILITY PROCESS THINGS INHERENTLY LINKED TO AMOUNT OF INFORMATION WE UNDERSTAND. MOST OF US QUASI-EXPERTS IN SOME WAY AT SOMETHING. OUR FAVORITE TV SHOW. BEER-BREWING. OUR FAVORITE SPORTS TEAM. WHATEVER, CHANCES ARE IT SOMETHING.
BUT THEN THERE LARGE NUMBER THINGS OUTSIDE THAT AREA WE QUASI-EXPERTS IN. AND MANY OF THESE THINGS STUFF WE ALL HAVE TALK ABOUT IN FORM OF PUBLIC SOCIALIZING. THE PROVERBIAL CAMPFIRE. STUFF LIKE ELECTIONS, THE SUPERBOWL, POPULAR TV SHOWS, BIG NEWS EVENTS, HIT MOVIES, RESTAURANT CHAINS. THE USUAL STUFF. AND OFTEN THESE UNIVERSAL SUBJECTS THROW US INTO CONVERSATIONS THAT WE MAY OR MAY NO HAVE STRONG KNOWLEDGE ABOUT.
IN ONE WAY, IT OKAY IF NOT KNOW LOT ABOUT CERTAIN SUBJECT. THERE ACTUALLY SUBCONSCIOUS WAY IN WHICH MOST OF US ABLE PROCESS SIMPLE GOOD OR BADNESS OF JUST ABOUT ANYTHING: MOVIES WORK ON LARGELY VISCERAL LEVEL. FOOD CAN TASTE GOOD OR NO TASTE GOOD. SPORTS TEAMS HAVE WINS AND LOSSES. PRODUCTS CAN SIMPLY WORK OR NO WORK. THERE WAY WE UNDERSTAND SOME FORM RELATIVE VALUE OF ALL THESE THINGS.
BUT WHEN COME TIME ACTUALLY EXPLAIN THEM, NOT EVERYONE HAVE LANGUAGE/VERNACULAR TO BEST EXPRESS WHAT AT PLAY. SO ONLY WAY CAN EXPLAIN ANYTHING BY PRESENTING EVIDENCE. AND EVIDENCE 100% DEPENDENT ON THINGS WE NOTICE. AND THOSE THE TANGIBLE DETAILS.
… and FOR MOST PEOPLE, IT NOT ALWAYS THE RIGHT DETAILS PER SAY, BUT INSTEAD THE ONES THAT SIMPLY STICK OUT MOST.
THE FILM THAT MAKE HULK FIRST THINK IN THESE TERMS ACTUALLY SPIDER-MAN 3. MOST PEOPLE AGREE THAT SPIDER-MAN 3 PRETTY MUCH SUCK. OK? GOOD. MOVING ON. THE REAL REASON IT SUCK IT BECAUSE IT FORGET MOST BASIC ELEMENTS OF STORYTELLING 101. IT HAVE ZERO NARRATIVE STEAM AND ENERGY. IT CONFUSED ABOUT CHARACTER MOTIVATION. IT SIDETRACK PLOT CONSTANTLY. THESE SIMPLE SCREENWRITING PROBLEMS. BUT WHAT THE ONE THING TONS PEOPLE POINT TO AS WHY IT SUCK?
EMO PETER PARKER.
HULK HATE SAY IT, BUT THE SAD TRUTH THAT THE “EMO PETER PARKER” SEQUENCE THE ONLY ONE IN FILM THAT ACTUALLY HAVE SENSE OF HUMOR AND PALPABLE ENERGY. SERIOUSLY, HULK ARGUE IT THE ONLY “GOOD” SEQUENCE IN FILM. WATCH IT AGAIN BELOW. HULK THINK MAGUIRE DELIVERING GREAT COMIC PERFORMANCE. ESPECIALLY SINCE THE REAL JOKE THAT THIS WHAT A “CONFIDENT” PETER PARKER ACTUALLY LOOK/ACT LIKE. HILARIOUS.
BUT GIVEN THAT REST OF FILM HAVE NO ENERGY + FUN SCENES WHATSOEVER, IT THEREFORE NOT FIT TONE OF MOVIE WHATSOEVER. IT SIMPLY WAY, WAY DIFFERENT. THEREFORE, IT TANGIBLE TO EVERYONE WHO SEE IT. IT BECOME DEFAULT THING PEOPLE POINT OUT WHEN TRYING EXPLAIN WHY THE MOVIE (WHICH THEY ABSORBED ON VISCERAL LEVEL) SUCKED. TRUST HULK, EVEN IF THE EMO PETER PARKER SEQUENCE NOT IN MOVIE, PEOPLE STILL BE TALKING ABOUT HOW MUCH SPIDER-MAN 3 COMPLETELY AND WHOLLY SUCKED. IT JUST THE THING THAT STOOD OUT TO EVERYONE.
OKAY, THAT NOT EVEN THE ONLY REASON. THE OTHER BIG THING PEOPLE POINTED TO THAT “IT HAVE TOO MANY VILLAINS!” NO. NOT AT ALL. IT JUST IT HAVE VILLAINS WHOSE PLOT-LINES GO NOWHERE AND HAVE NOTHING DO WITH EACH OTHER. THE DARK KNIGHT HAVE TWO VILLAINS AND WORK CAUSE THE VILLAINS STORIES INTERTWINED AT KEY POINTS AND CONSTANTLY DRIVE NARRATIVE FORWARD. HULK RECENTLY TALK ABOUT REASON FIRST KUNG FU PANDA WORK SO WELL THAT THE FIVE MAIN CHARACTERS MOTIVATIONS AND PLOT ALL TIE INTO EACH OTHER SEAMLESSLY. AGAIN, IT GO BACK TO STORYTELLING 101. BUT IN SPIDER-MAN 3 EVERY CHARACTER JUST SORT OF DOING OWN THING REGARDLESS OF WHATEVER ELSE GOING ON. AND RAIMI HAD NO INTEREST IN VENOM SO STUDIO FORCED IT ON HIM TO BOOT. AS RESULT, THE SCENE WHERE VENOM AND SANDMAN “TEAM UP” LAUGHABLE IN ITS LAZY CONSTRUCTION. IT COULD NO GIVE LESS OF SHIT. AGAIN, IT NOT THAT THERE ARE TWO VILLAINS. IT THAT THE TWO VILLAINS JUST NOT DONE WELL WHATSOEVER. THE “TOO MANY VILLAINS!” MANTRA SOMETHING NOTICEABLE TO MOVIE-GOING PUBLIC BECAUSE THE PRIOR SPIDER-MAN MOVIES SUCCEED GREAT WITH JUST ONE VILLAIN.
BEING “EXPERT” JUST MEAN YOU ABLE MAKE THE LESS TANGIBLE DETAILS, WELL, TANGIBLE. MANY MUCH-BETTER CRITICS AND HULK SPENT LIFE TRYING FIGURE OUT MOVIES. SO MAYBE HULK CAN TELL WHEN SUBTLE TONE SHIFT AFFECTING AUDIENCE ENJOYMENT. OR WHEN CHARACTER SUDDENLY ACTING OUT OF CHARACTER. OR WHEN DIRECTING DECISION BEING MAKE FOR WRONG REASON. OR IF WRITER’S CERTAIN PERSONALITY TIC COME SHINING THROUGH AND DISRUPT ON THEMATIC LEVEL. OR HOW SOME SORT PRODUCTION HISTORY COMING INTO PLAY. BEING AWARE THIS STUFF THE VERY GOAL BEING CRITIC.
“WAIT A MINUTE” YOU MAY SAY TO HULK. “ISN’T THERE AN OLD SAYING THAT “NOBODY KNOWS ANYTHING” IN THIS BUSINESS?”
EXCUSE HULK, BUT THAT HORSESHIT. LOTS PEOPLE KNOW THINGS. IT JUST THERE MORE PEOPLE THAT NOT KNOW THINGS AND THEY HAVE TENDENCY FUCK THINGS UP. BUT WHEN CAPABLE PEOPLE INVOLVED IN PRODUCING, DIRECTING, ACTING, EDITING, AND THEN MARKETING… THE SKY THE LIMIT. LIKE WITH INCEPTION. THAT MOVIE IN ENTIRETY, EVEN THE CORPORATE NON-MOVIE STUFF, HANDLED PERFECTLY. SO TRUST HULK: SOME PEOPLE KNOW THINGS.
HULK ONCE BRING UP “TANGIBLE DETAILS” THEORY IN ONLINE FORUM TO EXCELLENT FILM CRITIC DEVIN FARACI. HE SEEMED AGREE WITH THEORY AND MUCH TO HULK’S SURPRISE, HE OFFER EXACT SAME ANECDOTE HULK OFTEN USE WHEN PROFESSING HULK’S OWN IGNORANCE ABOUT STUFF: NOT KNOWING SHIT ABOUT CARS.
REALLY, HULK KNOW NOTHING ABOUT CARS. HULK KNOW HULK’S CAR EITHER GO BROOM BROOM OR THE ENGINE LIGHT COME ON AND MAKE FUNNY NOISE. BUT OF COURSE THIS NO STOP HULK MAKING BROAD STATEMENTS LIKE, “THIS CAR HANDLE GOOD”, “THIS CAR SUCKS” , OR “THIS CAR LOOK COOL.” IT USUALLY BASED ON OBVIOUS THINGS LIKE APPEARANCE OR SIMPLE FEEL. MEANWHILE, A REAL GEARHEAD WOULD BE ABLE TO ARTICULATE THE PROBLEMS OR BENEFITS OF SAID CAR WITH, YOU KNOW, ACTUAL ACCURACY.
THIS IMPORTANT BECAUSE HULK NO WANT YOU THINK HULK BEING POMPOUS BOUT THIS STUFF. HULK NOT SAYING PEOPLE WHO TALK ABOUT MOVIES POORLY = COMPLETE IDIOTS WHO SHOULD NO BE ALLOWED. NOT IN SLIGHTEST. IT OFTEN JUST ARTICULATED LESS GOOD.
”]EVEN IF SOME PEOPLE MAY BE SAYING SOMETHING “IDIOTIC” IN TERMS OF CINEMATIC UNDERSTANDING, THAT NOT MAKE THEM IDIOTS. THEY MAKING SNAP DEDUCTIONS ABOUT SOMETHING OUTSIDE THEY FIELD. HULK TRYING SHOW WITH CAR EXAMPLE THAT SOMETHING WE ALLGUILTY OF. WHICH MEAN IT ALWAYS IMPORTANT THAT WE COLLECTIVELY UNDERSTAND WHEN WE GIVING OPINION THAT NO MAY BE WORTH MUCH. SELF-AWARENESS = CRITICAL.
BUT OF COURSE, NOT EVERYONE ACT ACCORDINGLY. AND EVEN MORE PEOPLE LACK SELF-AWARENESS. GOING BACK TO THAT ONLINE FORUM HULK MENTION EARLIER, THE REASON SUBJECT OF “TANGIBLE DETAILS” COME UP IN FIRST PLACE BECAUSE OF WHAT HULK FIND BE FUNNIEST TREND FOR FILM ARGUMENT AROUND… THE OLE’ “WHAT ACTORS LOOK LIKE” ARGUMENT.
FOR SOME REASON, THE INTERNET LOVE FANTASY CASTING. AND THIS ALWAYS REALLY FUNNY TO HULK CAUSE IT SEEM LIKE MOST FOLKS WHO ENJOY DO IT, PURELY BASING IT OFF PHYSICAL APPEARANCE AND NOTHING MORE. AS IF IT ONLY THING INVOLVED IN ACTING AND NOT ACTUAL, YOU KNOW, PERFORMANCE AND SKILL. THIS MOSTLY HAPPEN WITH COMIC READERS FOR SOME REASON (WHICH HULK COUNT AMONG THEIR MEMBERS… OBVIVOUSLY… THAT OBVIOUS, RIGHT?), BUT HULK HAVE SHOCKING NEWS FOR FELLOW READERS: PHYSICAL LOOK HAVE ABSOLUTELY NOTHING DO WITH IT. SO STOP IT.
PUT IT THIS WAY, EVER WONDER WHY THERE NOT LOT PEOPLE OUT THERE COMPLAINING ABOUT GWENYTH PALTROW NOT BEING NATURAL REDHEAD IN PEPPER POTTS ROLE AFTER THE MOVIE COME OUT? IT BECAUSE SHE FUCKING FANTASTIC IN THOSE MOVIES. SHUT EVERYONE RIGHT UP. MEANWHILE HULK SEE ALL THE TIME LOTS COMIC READERS SAY THE REASON JESSICA ALBA NO GOOD IN FANTASTIC FOUR THE “SHE NOT LOOK RIGHT” OR “SHE A BRUNETTE. IT IDIOTIC!” WHY, YOU RIGHT! IT HAVE NOTHING DO WITH FACT SHE TERRIBLE, TERRIBLE ACTRESS.
THIS SORT OF “LOOK BASED EVALUATION” INSANITY HAPPEN ALL THE TIME. REMEMBER THE CRAIG NOT BOND PEOPLE WHO HAD GIANT CAMPAIGN GET DANIEL CRAIG UN-CAST AS BOND BECAUSE HE HAVE BLONDE HAIR. THE HUMANITY! EVER WONDER HOW SAD THAT CAMPAIGN GET? ONCE MOVIE COME OUT AND BECOME HUGE REBOOT SUCCESS EVERYONE LOVE THEY CLING TO FACT THAT HAPPY FEET OUTPERFORMED IT AS “EVIDENCE” THEY RIGHT…
THE BEST PART THAT THIS SOMETIMES HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH ACTORS. THE O.C.D. “LOOKS BASED” TANGIBLE DETAIL THING ONCE APPLIED TO MICHAEL BAY’S TRANSFORMERS MOVIE. IN CASE FORGET, THERE ONCE TONS OF PEOPLE ONCE SIGN BOYCOTT THEY NO SEE TRANSFORMERS MOVIE IF OPTIMUS PRIME HAD FLAMES. THIS HAPPENED. AND IT ACTUALLY KIND OF POPULAR DESPITE NO ONE FROM DREAMWORKS EVER TAKING IT SERIOUSLY. AND THIS MAY SOUND CRAZY, BUT WILLING WAGER MOST PEOPLE SIGNED IT ACTUALLY SAW MOVIE ANYWAY.
BACK TO REA- LIFE ACTORS: THE ACTUAL QUALITY OF ACTING ONLY AFFECT THESE VIEWERS ON SUBCONSCIOUS LEVEL. IT NOT TANGIBLE DETAIL TO THEM. SO TO EXPLAIN WHY JESSICA ALBA RUB THEM WRONG WAY THEY CLING TO PHYSICAL DETAILS. IT HAPPEN ALL THE TIME. O.C.D. COMIC NERDS CLING TO PHYSICAL LOOKS TO EXPLAIN CASTING CAUSE THEY JUST SIMPLY NOT FAMILIAR WITH ACTING.
BUT THE IMPORTANT PART THAT IT NOT LIKE THEY INHUMAN EITHER. VAST MAJORITY CAN GET OVER PHYSICAL DETAILS HEN ACTOR ACTUALLY GOOD. LIKE THE AFOREMENTIONED PALTROW. AND REMEMBER WHEN HUGH JACKMAN “TOO TALL” FOR WOLVERINE? NOBODY GAVE SHIT WHEN HE AWESOME. IDRIS ELBA” TOO BLACK” BE NORDIC GOD? THAT RIDICULOUS CLAMOR DIE DOWN AS SOON AS THEY SEE HOW BADASS HE IN IT. NOPE, IT ONLY COME UP WHEN THESE VIEWERS TRY EXPLAIN BADNESS. HALLE BERRY “SUCKED” AS STORM CAUSE OF HER HAIRDO. RIGHT. IT HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH HER CHARACTER HAVING NO PLOT/MOTIVATION. THE “LOOKS” THING ABSOLUTELY MOST PERFECT EXAMPLE PEOPLE CLINGING TO THE TANGIBLE DETAILS ARGUMENT.
BUT THAT JUST EXTREME EXAMPLE, RIGHT? HA-HA-HA LET ALL LAUGH AT THOSE DUMB COMIC NERDS ALONE IN THEIR MOM’S BASEMENT EATING BOOGERS (HULK HATE THIS STEREOTYPE WITH PASSION OF THOUSAND SMASHES) WHO SO BENEATH THE UNDERSTANDING OF ESTEEMED CINEPHILES LIKE US!
OKAY. HULK RAISE YOU WITHTHE SUPPOSED BELLWETHER-AND-BASTION-OF-QUALITY… THAT RIGHT, EVERYONE’S FAVORITE FILM CRITICISM LIGHTING ROD, THE OSCARS!
UGH. HULK SORT OF UPSET WITH HULK-SELF CAUSE HULK USE THINK OSCARS ACTUALLY MATTERED. OH THEY MATTER IN HOLLYWOOD BUSINESS SENSE. THEY OFTEN GIVE MORE VIEWERSHIP GOOD FILMS AND HELP SPUR CAREERS MANY TALENTED PEOPLE. IN THAT SENSE HULK APPRECIATE THE WORTH. BUT HULK USE THINK THERE THINGS LIKE INJUSTICES AND TRAVESTIES. LIKE WHAT ACTUALLY WON IMPORTANT FOR SANCTITY OF UNIVERSE OR EVEN SOME KIND OF INDICATOR OF RELATIVE QUALITY. IT NOT TRUE.
THERE OLD ADAGE ABOUT OSCARS AND THAT YOU “SWITCH THE WORD ‘BEST’ WITH ‘MOST.'” AFTER SEEING VOTING PROCESS UP CLOSE HULK TELL YOU IT ABSOLUTELY TRUE. MOST ACTING. ALWAYS THE BIG BOMBASTIC PERFORMANCES WIN. VOTERS LOVE TANGIBLE EVIDENCE LIKE ACTOR PUTTING ON WEIGHT OR “GOING UGLY.” EVEN EXTREME EXAMPLES OF METHOD ACTING WILL DO. OR PERHAPS MOST COSTUME DESIGN. PICK YOUR PERIOD PIECE DU JOUR! MOST SCEENWRITING. PICK MOVIE WITH MOST MEMORABLE DIALOGUE, IGNORING CHARACTER MOTIVATION AND STORYTELLING 101 STUFF. JUST THE STUFF AVERAGE MOVIE-GOER KNOWS THE WRITER DID. HECK, EVEN MOST PICTURE WORKS. LOOK HOW MANY FLAWLESS FILMS HAVE LOST TO THE MOST EPIC ONE (MOST OBVIOUS L.A. CONFIDENTIAL VS. TITANIC). AND TITANIC AT LEAST HAVE SOME KIND HISTORICAL RELEVANCY. THERE REASON SO MANY OTHER BEST PICTURE WINNERS NO GO ON BECOME HISTORICAL GREATS.
BUT THE BEST EXAMPLE OF “TANGIBLE DETAILS” THEORY ALWAYS THE BEST EDITING CATEGORY. EVERY YEAR IT GO TO “MOST EDITING” WHICH USUALLY SOME FILM WITH LOTS OF RAPID CUTS OR MULTIPLE STORYLINES. IT SAD REALLY. FIRST OFF, THE BEST EDITING COMPLETELY INVISIBLE. WHEN YOU NO NOTICE IT THEN IT ACTUALLY A PROBLEM UNLESS THERE SUPPOSED TO BE LITERAL THEMATIC DEDUCTION TO BE MAKE BY CUT (THINK THE BONE/SPACESHIP TRANSITION IN 2001). SO HOW HELL EVEN JUDGE EDITING? HULK THINK TOM TWYKER’S HEAVEN MIGHT BE BEST EDITED MOVIE EVER, BUT MOST PEOPLE HAVE NO IDEA WHAT HULK EVEN TALKING ABOUT. YOU MAY THINK TWYKER’S RUN LOLA RUN MUCH BETTER EXAMPLE BUT THAT JUST A MOVIE WHERE THE EDITING/STYLE HYPER-TANGIBLE. MEANWHILE THOSE WHO SEEN HEAVEN SAY STUFF “IT SO SLOW AND BORING!” HULK PLEAD IF YOU EVER WATCH IT, PAY ATTENTION TO THE EDITING. IT KNOW EXACTLY HOW LONG HOLD A SILENCE. GREAT STUFF.
BUT THE EDITING ANALOGY TRUE EVEN WITH MAINSTREAM STUFF. HULK MENTIONED TITANIC EARLIER AND THINK IT ONE OF JAMES CAMERON’S SECRET WEAPONS. NO, HULK NOT TALKING ABOUT LENGTH OF MOVIE, BUT STYLE WITHIN SCENES. HULK GIVE CAMERON LOT OF CRAP FOR OTHER WELL-DESERVED REASONS, BUT HULK ACTUALLY THINK HIS INDIVIDUAL SCENES EDITED WONDERFULLY. HE THE ANTI-MICHAEL BAY IN THIS ARENA. HIS CUTS VERY DELIBERATE AND PACED. HE NEVER RELY ON TWO SHOTS WHEN ONE WILL DO. HIS CINEMATOGRAPHY ALWAYS HAVE GREAT SENSE GEOGRAPHY AND HIS EDITING CONFORM TO KEEP THAT IN MIND. HE NEVER RUIN IT BY CUTTING IN CLOSE TOO MUCH. BUT WHEN PUBLIC INSTEAD WHEN TALKING ABOUT WHY CAMERON’S ACTION SCENES GOOD MOST PEOPLE REFER TO THE “WHAT” HAPPEN, NOT THE SUBTLETIES OF HOW. IF ANYTHING THE “WHAT” OF CAMERON’S ACTION OFTEN 13-YEAR-OLD-ESQUE. “AND THE MECH WARRIOR THING CAN TAKE OUT THE BAYONET LIKE A KNIFE AND FIGHT THE THING!” AND SUCH. OR A DUMB CHARACTER BEING LIKE “I GOT A GUN TOO BITCH!” THAT STUFF INSIPID. HULK ARGUE WHAT THEY SUBCONSCIOUSLY RESPONDING TO REALLY WELL-EXECUTED ACTION MISE EN SCENE.
AND TRUTH = EVEN EXPERTS HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO FREAKING IDEA WHO BEST EDITORS ARE. THERE BEEN SO MANY MOVIES SAVED IN EDITING ROOM BY PEOPLE WHO NOW JUST THANKLESS HEROES. READ PETER BISKIND’S “EASY RIDERS RAGING BULLS” WHICH FULL OF GREAT STUFF ABOUT THE EDITING DECISIONS BEHIND CLASSIC FILMS. THE MOST FAMOUS EXAMPLE WHEN MARCIA LUCAS CONVINCE GEORGE TO EDIT STAR WARS FOR PACE INSTEAD OF THE RHYTHMS OF THE ACTORS. IT CHANGE MOVIE FROM WHATEVER EVERYONE CALLED “A COMPLETE BORE” TO, WELL, ONE OF MOST ENTERTAINING MOVIES EVER. AND SHE CHANGED FUTURE OF EDITING IN PROCESS.
IMPORTANT NOTE AS TO THE IMPORTANCE OF THIS KIND OF CONVINCING POWER: GEORGE LUCAS DIVORCED HIS EDITOR/WIFE MARCIA IN 1983 AND PROMPTLY NEVER MADE ANYTHING GOOD AGAIN.
FINE, HULK WILL DO THING. STAR WARS TANGENT! HULK ARGUE IT MAY BE MOST COSTLY DIVORCE IN HISTORY OF POPULAR CINEMA. IN NEARLY ACCOUNT OF WHY GEORGE LUCAS NOW SUCK IT ALL STUFF LIKE: HOW HE SURROUND SELF WITH YES MEN, HOW HE GOT OLDER/ISOLATED/OUT OF TOUCH, HOW HE REALLY NOT GOOD AT DIRECTING IN FIRST PLACE, HOW HE COME MORE INTERESTED IN THE TECH NOT THE STORY… THE ONE THING NO ONE EVER, EVER, EVER SEEM MENTION THAT HE LOST MOST IMPORTANT CREATIVE PARTNER ON PLANET. WHO ELSE COULD HAVE TOLD MOST POWERFUL/INDEPENDENT PERSON IN HOLLYWOOD, “NO.” NO ONE. AND IF ANYONE WANT CLUE AS TO WHAT KIND PRESENCE SHE HAVE SHE THE REAL INFLUENCE FOR LEIA: SMART, SASSY, DEFIANT, FUN. THIS EXAMPLE OF ANOTHER ONE OF THOSE ANNOYING TANGIBLE DETAIL THINGS. ONLY IT NOT SUBCONSCIOUS TONE THING, BUT JUST RESEARCH BASED (AND GUESS HOW LITTLE RESEARCH GO ON BEFORE AN OPINION SHOUTED THESE DAYS). SO UNLESS READ UP ON HISTORY OF HER INVOLVEMENT OR UNDERSTAND A LOT ABOUT HOW CRUCIAL EDITING TO PROCESS TO THE FILMS THEN AVG. JOE STAR WARS FAN JUST WOULDN’T KNOW (AND NO HULK NOT GOING GET INTO SPECIFICS OF DIVORCE WHICH GEORGE TEND USE PAINT MARCIA IN BAD LIGHT, BUT IT MORE GRAY AREA THAN THAT). HULK ARGUE MOST STAR WARS NERDS KNOW NOTHING ABOUT MARCIA LUCAS AND SHE PROBABLY ONE OF 3 MOST IMPORTANT PEOPLE INVOLVED WITH CREATING WHAT WE KNOW TO BE STAR WARS. HULK IMAGINE EVEN LOT OF FILM NERDS DISMISS HER EDITING ACUMEN AND THINK SHE JUST “THAT LADY GEORGE LET HELP.” HULK CALL BULLSHIT. IT IDEA FOSTERED BECAUSE SHE RETIRED FROM FILM AFTER THE DIVORCE SO IT JUST SEEM LIKE THAT. BUT BY ALL ACCOUNT SHE REALLY TALENTED. NOT JUST FROM STAR WARS ORIGINAL TRILOGY EDITING EITHER. HOW ABOUT HER INVOLVEMENT WITH SCORSESE CLASSICS ALICE DOESN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE AND FUCKING TAXI DRIVER? STARTING TO GET PICTURE NOW? END TANGENT!
OKAY. FORGET MOVIES. HOW BOUT THE MOST POPULAR FORM OF SOCIAL INTERACTION ON PLANET?
FORTUNATELY, SPORTS HAVE STATISTICS WHICH HELP ILLUSTRATE CRITICAL ARGUMENTS, BUT MOST FANS NOT TAKE TIME DELVE INTO ACTUAL METRICS TO UNDERSTAND THE SUBTLETIES. THEY SIMPLY WATCH AND THINK “HE GOOD” OR “HE SUCKS” BASED ON OBVIOUS, TANGIBLE DETAILS. THAT WHY “BIG GAME” MOMENTS SO VALUABLE TO PLAYER’S ESTIMATED WORTH. IT JUST BECAUSE THEY THE MOMENTS WHERE THE MOST EYEBALLS SEEING WHAT REALLY JUST SMALL BITS EVIDENCE IN METRIC TERMS. BUT THOSE MOMENTS MAKE THINGS MEMORABLE AND SHAPE CONCLUSION, RATHER THAN THE 98% OF OTHER EVIDENCE WHICH MAY BE CONTRARY. MOST OBVIOUS AND WIDELY USED EXAMPLE = JETER’S “GUTSY” PLAY AT SHORTSTOP; AN OPINION BASED ON FEW AMAZING PLAYS IN BIG GAMES. BUT ALL ADVANCED SABREMETRICS SHOW HIS RANGE ACTUALLY TERRIBLE. STILL, THE PUBLIC REVERT TO THE TANGIBLE DETAILS.
NO WORRY, HULK WONT GO ON WITH SPORTS TALK EVEN THOUGH THERE THOUSANDS GREAT EXAMPLES (HULK ADORE SPORTS METRICS). THE POINT = NO MATTER WHAT ARENA OF CRITICISM THE MORE KNOWLEDGE, EXPERIENCE, SENSE OF HISTORY YOU HAVE THE BETTER YOU BE AT ACTUAL DIAGNOSIS AND EVALUATION.(1) WE ALL KNOW THIS TRUE OF CONCRETE + TANGIBLE THINGS LIKE BEING CAR MECHANIC OR DOCTOR. BUT FOR SOME REASON, WITH INTANGIBLE THINGS LIKE ART OR MOVIES AND OTHER THINGS IN SOCIAL EXPERIENCE, THE PUBLIC FORGET THIS OR EVEN OUTRIGHT DESPISE THE “EXPERTS.”
SERIOUSLY, LET’S DO THIS. WHY DO SO MANY PUBLIC MOVIE GOERS RESENT CRITICS? WHY THEY THINK THEY “OUT OF TOUCH?” CRITICS SEE HUNDREDS MOVIES A YEAR. THEY MORE “IN TOUCH” WITH WHAT HAPPENING IN MOVIES THAN ANYONE ELSE ON PLANET. THEY SEE EVERYTHING! HULK NOT TRYING PRETEND THEY PERFECT HUMAN BEINGS. OF COURSE SOME CRITICS CAN BE PATRONIZING ASSHOLES. BUT THAT NOT HAVE ANYTHING DO WITH WHAT THEY ACTUALLY SAYING ABOUT MOVIE AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, BEING AN ASSHOLE NEVER THEIR MOTIVATION FOR WRITING SOMETHING ONE WAY OR OTHER. IT ONLY AFFECT STYLE. MEANING THE PROBLEM NOT ACTUALLY THEIR CRITICISM. WE ALL ADMIT ARMOND WHITE = RAGING ASSHOLE AND SEEMINGLY BACKWARD IN EVERY ESTIMATION, BUT WHEN LOOK CLOSE THE MAN HAVE METHOD TO HIS MADNESS.
THAT WEIRD CONSUMERISM/INVERSE PRODUCTION VALUE TAKE = ACTUALLY HOW HE THINK. HE LOVE BRINGING IN RACIAL/SOCIO-ECONOMICAL NON-SEQUITUR INTO EQUATION. ABSURDISH? SURE. BUT IT NOT LIKE HE UNEDUCATED, HE SEEN EVERY FILM IMAGINABLE. AGAIN, IT JUST MEAN OUR PROBLEM NOT HIS CRITICISM, OR EVEN THAT HE TANGENTIAL WITH ARGUMENTS. IT JUST CAUSE HE AN ASSHOLE ABOUT IT. STILL, SO MANY PEOPLE CONFUSE THE TWO. THE BIGGEST ARGUMENT LOBBED AT CRITIC DISSENTERS THAT THEY JUST CONTRARIANS, OR HAVE AGENDA, OR JUST LIKE PISSING PEOPLE OF.
DOES ARMOND WHITE LIKE PISSING PEOPLE OF? YUP.
BUT HULK NO THINK THAT THE REASON HE GO ONE WAY OR ANOTHER ON MOVIE. IN FACT, HULK NEVER MET NOR READ A CRITIC WHO WRITE A PIECE ONE WAY OR OTHER FOR SOLE PURPOSE OF JUST TRYING GET RISE OUT OF PEOPLE. NOT FUCKING ONE. THERE CRITICS WHO MORE ANTAGONISTIC THAN OTHERS, BUT ANTAGONISM NEVER THE REASON FOR THAT OPINION IN FIRST PLACE. TRUST HULK. TO SIT DOWN AND ACTUALLY WRITE REVIEW THAT NOT ACTUALLY WHAT THINK… IT JUST IMPOSSIBLE. YET THE BELIEF THAT DISSENTING CRITICS NOTHING MORE THAN AGITATORS SO INCREDIBLY COMMON. HULK NO GET!
AND WHY EVEN GET ANGRY WITH CRITICS FOR DISSENTING OPINION?
IS IT CAUSE NO UNDERSTAND WHAT THEY SAYING? NOT GET THE REFERENCE POINTS? CAN NO IMAGINE HOW SOMEONE ACTUALLY THINK LIKE THAT? HULK WANT KNOW WHY THAT AUTOMATICALLY MAKE THEM WORTHLESS? TO TURN TABLES WITH FAMILIAR ANECDOTE, HULK SOMETIMES RESENT CAR MECHANICS (LOWER-CASE-R-RESENT. NOT SERIOUSLY) CAUSE HULK NOT GET LANGUAGE OF CARS AND WHAT THEY EXPLAINING TO HULK. HULK FEEL LOST. BUT HULK NO THINK THE MECHANIC USELESS AND “OUT OF TOUCH” WITH CARS, DO HULK? NOT AT ALL. HULK CAN NO GET ANGRY AND ASSUME THEY IDIOT THEY NOT KNOW ANYTHING. THEY AUTOMATICALLY KNOW MORE THAN HULK (AND GETTING “TAKEN ADVANTAGE OF” ANOTHER SITUATION BASED ON ECONOMICS. THIS PURELY CONVERSATION ABOUT KNOW-HOW SO THAT NO RELATED). SO WHY WE DO SAME WITH PROFESSIONAL EVALUATORS OF ART?
ULTIMATELY, HULK REALLY ONLY FEEL TRULY QUALIFIED TALK ABOUT 7-8 TOPICS WITH ANY SORT OF CONFIDENCE. SAID TOPICS IN ORDER = MOVIES/MEDIA/LIT, COOKING, THE EDUCATION SYSTEM, BASKETBALL, HISTORY, SOCIOLOGY, OCEANOGRAPHY (HULK HAD ENCOMPASSING EDUCATIONAL PATH, OKAY? DEAL WITH IT), AND ARMCHAIR PSYCHOLOGY. NOW THERE STILL TONS OTHER SUBJECTS HULK INTERESTED IN, BUT ANYTHING OUTSIDE THOSE 7-8 AND HULK SORT OF TALKING OUT HULK BUTT. EVEN 7-8 SEEM LIKE LOT. AND OF THOSE HULK OFTEN GET IN MOST TROUBLE WITH PSYCHOLOGY (HENCE THE “ARMCHAIR” ACKNOWLEDGMENT). THERE MANY TIMES HULK SAY SOMETHING HULK THINK TRUE OF PSYCHOLOGY AND THEN ACTUALLY QUALIFIED PERSON SAY “UH, ACTUALLY HULK, NO SMASH ME, BUT IT REALLY LIKE THIS.” AND THEN HULK EMBARRASSED AND STUFF AND SMASH SELF OUT OF SHAME.
HULK SUSPECT THE PROBLEM THAT EVERYONE SEE MOVIES. IT BIG SOCIAL COMMUNITY THING AND IMPORTANT ONE AT THAT. MEANWHILE, NOT EVERYONE SITTING AROUND TALKING ABOUT TRENDS IN OCEANOGRAPHY.(2) MEANWHILE ” EVERYONE” SAW AVATAR. PERHAPS IN MORE PROBLEMATIC FASHION, THEY GET SEE EXACT SAME MOVIE YOU DO. THIS MEAN FILM CRITICISM MORE DEPENDENT ON WHAT OTHER FILMS SEEN AND PROCESSED BEFORE IT AND HOW FAMILIAR CRITIC WITH FILMMAKERS. WHICH JUST MEAN ANY INTANGIBLE DETAILS IN MOVIE SEEM EVEN MORE IRRELEVANT TO CASUAL OUTSIDER. BUT OF COURSE SEEING TONS MOVIES = CRITICAL. IT ALLOW CONSTRUCT PERSPECTIVE. A SENSE OF FILMIC TRENDS. NARRATIVE. UNDERSTANDING. ALL THAT GOOD STUFF.
BUT EVEN IF THE “EXPERTS” = THE QUALIFIED ONES, EVERYONE STILL HAVE RIGHT THEIR OPINION ON MOVIES. IT ULTIMATELY JUST A CONVERSATION AFTER ALL. IT NOT LIKE OTHER ARENAS WITH TANGIBLE LIFE/DEATH THINGS WHERE ONLY QUALIFIED PEOPLE ALLOWED PARTICIPATE. YOU CAN NO PRACTICE ARMCHAIR HEART SURGERY. YOU CAN NO “SORT OF” BE DOCTOR…
HONESTLY, HULK FEEL LIKE HULK JUST NOW STARTING GET COMFORTABLE WITH FILM CRITICISM. IT TOOK DECADES REALLY. IT HARD LEARN HOW DIGEST WHAT OFTEN EMOTIONAL REACTIONS. BUT EVEN CONCEPTUALLY, MANY YOUNG PEOPLE THINK JUST CAUSE STUDYING IT THAT MEAN THEY AT HEIGHT OF UNDERSTANDING. HULK WARNING ALL FILM STUDENTS OUT THERE. SORRY, IT TAKE LOT LONGER. TRUST HULK, WHO OFTEN LOOK BACK AT COLLEGE PAPERS AND GROAN. BUT EVERY YEAR HULK GET SHARPER IN ABILITY TO EXPLAIN IDEAS, THE VISCERAL REACTIONS, AND THE SUBCONSCIOUS FEELINGS THAT MOVIES ALWAYS ELICIT. THE EDUCATION NEVER STOP.
SO TAKE IT FROM HULK. WHEN DEALING WITH EVERYTHING OUTSIDE THOSE 7-8 TOPICS HULK KNOW ABOUT (OR WHATEVER CASE FOR YOU), IT AMAZING WHAT GOODWILL COME BY SIMPLY STARTING STATEMENT WITH “MAYBE HULK JUST TALKING OUT BUTT HERE, BUT [INSERT OPINION HERE]”
IN THE MEANTIME, SAME ADVICE ALWAYS:
SEE MORE MOVIES.
(1) AND YES, THERE ALWAYS SOME ADDED AMOUNT POLITICAL OR PERSONAL MOTIVATION MIXED UP IN THIS. THEY EVEN MAY PROMOTE AGENDA (BUT THAT RARER THEN MOST THINK. UNLESS IT ACTUAL POLITICS IN WHICH CASE JUST GIVE UP). BUT HULK THINK THAT THE FOUNDATION. FOR EXAMPLE, IF SOMEONE DEVOTED CHRISTIAN WATCHING MOVIE THEN THINGS THAT BECOME MOST OBVIOUS TANGIBLE DETAILS TO THEM = THE THINGS THAT DEAL WITH OR FLY IN FACE OF THEIR BELIEFS. AND THAT WHY THEY RESPOND TO THEM. IT THE MOST OBVIOUS EXAMPLES OF WHAT “WRONG” WITH THE MOVIE, EVEN IF IT NOT THE LANGUAGE OF MOVIES BUT INSTEAD PERSONAL THEOLOGICAL LANGUAGE.
(2) THIS THE CHIEF PROBLEM WITH POLITICS. POLITICS OFTEN CONCERN SO MANY THINGS THAT SUPER-INTERESTING BUT ACTUALLY HAVE NOTHING DO WITH POLITICS. THEY SEPARATE ARENAS THAT REQUIRE EXPERTISE. BUT BECAUSE SO MUCH AT STAKE IN POLITICS (READ: POWER), EVERYTHING BECOME POLITICIZED IN EFFORT “SIMPLIFY” FOR MASSES. BUT INSTEAD STRIVE FOR CLARITY, THEY GO FOR SIMPLICITY AND THOSE PESKY SUPER-OBVIOUS TANGIBLE DETAILS. LIKE WITH GLOBAL WARMING EVERY COLLOQUIAL CONVERSATION SEEM RELY ON SINGULAR EXAMPLES AS “PROOF” ONE WAY OR OTHER. WHILE EXAMPLES MAY BE “TRUE” IN + OF THEMSELVES, THEY NOT INCLUDE THE COMPLICATED-YET-STILL-COMPLETELY-FIGURED-OUT SYSTEMIC REALITY OF HOW WEATHER ACTUALLY WORK. IT ASININE… AND HULK WOULD SAY “HULK NOT WANT GET POLITICAL FOR FOLLOWING” BUT SCREW IT CAUSE THE FOLLOWING ACTUALLY NOT POLITICAL STATEMENT WHATSOEVER. WHEN TREATED IN PROPER TERMS OF SYSTEMIC SCIENTIFIC EVALUATION, GLOBAL WARMING = SCIENTIFICALLY UNDENIABLE. ABSOLUTELY EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF “EVIDENCE” TO CONTRARY = PURE JUNK SCIENCE. THEY WILL SHOW SINGULAR EXAMPLE OF HOW WARMING TREND NOT HAPPENING IN SPECIFIC SPOT AS “PROOF,” BUT IF LOOKED AT FURTHER EVEN IN MOST CASUAL WAY THEY THEN REALIZE THAT THIS NON-WARMING TREND OCCURRING BECAUSE OF GEOGRAPHICALLY ADJACENT SPIKE IN WARMING TREND. FOR EXAMPLE AN OCEAN TEMPERATURE COOLING IN THIS LITTLE PART OF SEA NOT BECAUSE GLOBAL WARMING A HOAX, BUT BECAUSE THE WARMING TEMPERATURE MELTING THE GLACIER RIGHT NEXT TO IT AND SPILLING COLD WATER INTO THIS LITTLE PART OF SEA. AND IT NOT “EVENING THINGS OUT” BUT CAUSING MASSIVE DEVASTATION TO BOTH THE WARMING LAND AND THE COOLING SEA. AND THEN BOTH REACTIONS JUST MAKE THE CYCLE GROW STRONGER. IT OMISSION OF RELEVANT INFORMATION AND ANY SCIENTIST WORTH DAMN IGNORE IT.*
*HULK REALIZE THIS CRAZY TANGENT BUT IT JUST SO DAMN PERTINENT AND HULK SICK TO DEATH OF HEARING THAT THIS A “SCIENTIFIC DEBATE.” NOPE. IT A MANUFACTURED ONE. DON’T BELIEVE HULK? HULK WAS APPROACHED 30 TIMES BY VARIOUS SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS MASKING OIL COMPANIES AND OFFERED CASH TO WRITE ANTI-GLOBAL WARMING PAPERS… STRAIGHT CASH… 30 FUCKING TIMES… AS COLLEGE STUDENT. GO WORK THAT ONE OUT FOR SELVES. THE POLITICIZATION OF A SCIENTIFIC ISSUE = JOKE.
65 thoughts on “HULK ESSAY YOUR ASS: TANGIBLE DETAILS AND THE NATURE OF CRITICISM”
This is a fantastic article. I get frustrated with some of my friends because they will go see a movie because I hated it or ignore one because I loved it. I’m not nearly as well-versed in film as you, but I do have more knowledge than most people I know and it’s frustrating. Anyway, love the writing and keep up the great work.
HULK SINCERELY THANK!
Thanks for this, Hulk, seriously. It’s been over 3 years since I graduated, and I’ve not really been pushed to think critically about thinking critically since (excepting my grad school applications last year, and to sum up that story, I’ll just say I’ll be trying again this year).
It’s so easy to miss the forest for the trees when you think/write/speak critically (or not), isn’t it? It’s not demanding to stay on the surface, and sometimes you have a lot more fun there. Grappling with the deeper/heavier stuff, well, there’s a reason I used a word associated with fighting there, isn’t it? I burned hundreds, even thousands of words trying to figure out if ‘Avatar’ was saying what it might’ve been saying, or if Cameron cared so much about saying one thing that he completely ignored what he might’ve been saying in other places (but I think that’s a pattern with him, a character trait, that obsessive, exclusionary focus). I also did about ‘Moon,’ but more of my friends saw ‘Avatar,’ so I had more opportunities to refine my thoughts through conversation with one film than the other.
Anyway, Hulk, you got me thinking again about the whys/hows of my thinking, so thanks for that. I eagerly await the next time you samsh us with your insight!
PS – I’ve found myself coming around on Armond White, particularly after reading his essay in the Criterion ‘White Dog’ DVD (and if you want to talk about a great editing job, let’s talk about a movie that turns 5 different dogs into someone who should’ve been a Best Actor contender, in a fair & sensible universe). I’ve begun to move past the abrasive aspects of his personality & appreciate his content. Holy shit, what content.
KEEP AT IT. NO MATTER WHAT. AND ARMOND NO THE ENEMY. SOMETIMES HE INFURIATING AS ALL GET UP (HE TEND BE EXTREME AFTER ALL), BUT LIKEWISE HE RECOMMENDED FEW GEMS HULK LOVED. AND HULK WAS LITTLE WORRIED THAT HIS RISE TO PROMINENCE JUST CAUSE PEOPLE ABSOLUTELY FURIOUS HE REASON TOY STORY 3 NOT GET 100% ON R.T. HULK NO GET. WHAT THE VALUE IN SOMETHING BEING UNIVERSALLY LOVED AS OPPOSE TO 99% UNIVERSALLY LOVED?
Thank you for writing this! This articulates so many things that have been swirling around in my head for the past few years, only more succinctly then I’d be able to do. It’s so telling when the students in my criticism and theory classes spend all quarter either being too afraid to raise their hand or trying to find the answer they think the professor wants, as opposed to offering their own opinion. That encapsulates a big part of it, people looking for the “right” answer, when really, so much of it is subjective. The film prof doesn’t want her students to give her what they think she wants to hear, she wants to hear what they think and then have them back it up with solid examples. So many people don’t get the idea of there not being one right answer/opinion/truth at the center of a given thing (especially a piece of art) and that’s where I think a lot of the name-calling comes in when someone disagrees with their opinion. There’s no sense of being able to have a conversation or a debate because someone has to be “right.”
I’m stealing “tangible details,” by the way, that’s a great term.
STEAL AWAY. GOOD NEWS THAT HULK THINK YOUR STUFF IN GOOD PLACE AT MOMENT. AND ABOUT 5-6 YEARS AFTER SCHOOL WILL BE WHEN THINGS REALLY START CLICKING IF KEEP UP WITH THE CRITICAL THINKING. PLUS WHEN HULK ACTUALLY START MAKING FILMS LOT MORE MADE SENSE TOO.
Thank you, I’m glad to hear I’m doing all right with this. I think learning how to make a film and getting hands-on experience would really help round out my perceptions– things like camera angles, editing, and most of the technical side, I don’t notice that much. I love having conversations with production majors because they do and the things they have to say can be really insightful. Plus making movies seems like a lot of fun, even with the long hours and hard work.
You wouldn’t be surprised how many times I’ve heard nitwits assign sexual preference to a movie as a way of illustrating their scorn. “That movie is gay!”…”That movie sucked”..and so forth. The banal opinion of the everyman on virtually any topic is something every articulate/educated human being is forced to contend with on a daily basis. In the interest of forcing critical thinking on the less inclined, I almost always respond with the question “Why?”…unless, of course, I’m pretty sure the response to my question will be as equally worthless as the original criticism. Fortunately, this is not always the case, and sometimes I’m pleasantly surprised to discover the reason why the initial critique was so weak is b/c the individual was rarely engaged on his opinions. So much of an amateur critic’s response to a film is based on their visceral, emotional response from their initial screening and most people fail to revisit these works to glean further insight into their creative process. I don’t blame them, people have jobs, lives that prevent them from investing the time. I do, however, have no patience for people who mask a racist or otherwise insulting gut response to a creative endeavor as a critique.
That being said, I invite you to check out my latest review on X-men: First Class. Love to hear your thoughts. I’m on twitter @youresoshain
BEFORE HULK RESPOND. HULK WANT KNOW SOME YOUR FAVORITE MOVIES. 10-15 WILL DO. NOT NEED MASTER LIST OR ANYTHING JUST SAMPLE. HULK JUST WANT IDEA WHAT YOU LIKE BEFORE TALK BOUT YOUR BLOG.
In no particular order and in no particular time period or genre:
1) Cable Guy
2) The Truman Show
5) Punch Drunk Love
7) Meet Joe Black
8) American Beauty
9) The Elephant Man
10) Schindler’s List
11) Children of Men
12) Dark City
13) City of Lost Children
14) 80’s Spielberg
15) all coen Brothers
16) The Insider
I moved by blog over to wordpress should you feel inclined to leave any comments:
I love you, Film Critic Hulk.
Pardon the aside here, but this article is such a great example of why I hold this blog in such high regard. It rambles, to be sure, but everything is somehow pertinent. Everything is very insightful and educational.
”RAMBLING PERTINENCE” HULK LAUGH… THAT ONES GOING ON THE DVD COVER.
NOTE: DVD COVER = PROVERBIAL.
Thanks for this, Film Crit Hulk. This is a problem that I encounter often when discussing films on internet forums and such, and it’s a problem I face myself. I have been reading tons of film criticism and analysis for years and writing it (non-professionally) for only a short time, and I absolutely have trouble going beyond the tangible details to get at the heart of how a film did or didn’t work.
To build on what you were saying about why people seem willing to disregard experts on the arts, I think people tend to take that sort of disagreement personally. As you said, everyone saw the same movie the critic saw.
As an example, one time I got into an argument about the film Kick-Ass with someone on an internet forum. He loved it, I hated it. It got to a point where the person I was arguing with accused me of calling him a delusional liar because of how he saw the ending of the film (which of course I had never done). Now, I probably could’ve been a bit more tactful or articulate in the discussion, but I feel pretty confident that I sort of know what I’m talking about when it comes to films. People can be very defensive about their reactions to art, especially a popular form of art like film. For most, the reaction to art is a purely visceral, emotional thing, and so a dissenting opinion might feel like an attack on a person’s feelings, particularly if that person feels ill-equipped to respond to a nuanced argument.
WELL SAID ON HOW PEOPLE TAKE THINGS PERSONALLY CAUSE OF VISCERAL NATURE OF FILMS. GOING OFF THAT, IT SEEM THAT HOW ONE CONDUCT HULKSELF IN ARGUMENT SORT OF EVERYTHING THEN. LIKE WHAT IF THE GUY YOU ARGUING WITH THINK HE KNOW LOTS ABOUT FILM TOO? IT CREATE IMPASSE. MEANING IT INTERESTING AND HOW REGARD THE INDIVIDUAL YOU TALKING TO AND VICE VERSA = CRITICAL. HULK HAD A FEW FILM CONVOS WITH FILMMAKING HEAVYWEIGHTS AND THEY BLEW HULKS MIND (SPECIFICALLY HOW LOTS AMAZING FILMMAKERS RARELY, IF EVER, HATE A MOVIE). SO IN THAT SPIRIT, HULK FEEL LIKE YOU AND HULK (BECAUSE WE RESPECT ONE ANOTHER BASED ON THIS NICE INTERACTION) COULD THEN HAVE GOOD CONVO CONCERNING KICK-ASS FOR EXAMPLE BECAUSE HULK INDEED LIKED IT. AND THOUGHT IT VERY TACTFUL IN HOW IT WENT ABOUT IT. MEANWHILE, MOST INTERNET FORUMS TEND BE PEOPLE THROWING OUT EXTREME STATEMENTS ONE WAY OR OTHER WHICH MEAN THAT THE “RELATIONSHIP” AND “PERSONA” THEY ESTABLISH BEFORE ANY CONVO TAKE PLACE. PERHAPS IT ALL JUST QUESTION OF PRETENSE?
Yeah, it’s absolutely a question of pretense. It’s hard to establish a tone of friendly argument and discussion sometimes, and this problem is multiplied when communicating on the internet. Beyond that, maybe in that argument about Kick-Ass, I wasn’t being self-aware enough to notice my own aggressive tone, and was coming off as pretentious when I was trying to be sincere in expressing my opinions. But the core of it, I think, is that people know how they felt when they watched the movie, and when that reaction is challenged, it can seem like an affront. It’s not a rational reaction, but I don’t think anyone can say they’ve never had similar reactions to disagreements, whether over art or anything else. And as you said, perhaps he (or me or anyone else arguing about art) thinks they know more about it than they actually do, which could make it more unbelievable to them that someone is disagreeing.
I will say that particular argument did prompt me to reevaluate how I express myself, and become a bit more self-aware about my knowledge of film (specifically, the huge amount I still have to learn), and made me grow up a bit with regard to understanding other people’s reactions.
Having read the comic book prior to seeing the film, the two elements that really detracted from the movie was changing the motivation of Big Daddy from a father with no agenda that wanted to give his daughter purpose in a meaningless world to a revenge-seeking cop and the ridiculous and completely unnecessary addition of the gatling gun jet pack. I remember feeling cheated, that a movie so rooted in plausibility felt it necessary to insult us with a completely superfluous action sequence involving an utterly impractical weapon.
The two elements you call detractions I saw as vast improvments for the sake of the mainstream movie going audience. Matthew Vaugn changed Big Daddy from a child-endangering, irresponsible parent to a vengence driven, good man in a bad situation. In both scenarios, Hit Girl is still the victim of her father’s egotism, but vengence is a better and more palatable motivation than “just because…” Second, the addition of the gatling gun jet pack gives Dave/Kickass a fuller and more substantial narrative arc than was seen in the comics. Not only is Kickass’ appearance with that impractical weapon his “Big Damn Hero'” moment, it allowed him to transcend the roots of plausibility which was kind of the whole point in him becoming a costumed crimefighter to begin with.
Those are my 2 cents. Take em or leave em.
Also, I love the blog Hulk!
He was still a child-endangering lunatic, only his motivations were different. With that in mind, I argue the premise he was a good man. Only in the world of comics are men who shoot their daughters in the chest with a handgun considered “good”. The reason the “just because” motivation is more satisfying, for me anyway, is the artistic statement it makes in the context of the overall story. None of the heroes, aside from Hit Girl, had any real motivation to become a superhero. It was a choice, born from the mundane reality of life. There are no radioactive spiders or power rings, no child billionaires with unlimited resources forced to witness the murder of his parents, only the ugly truth that life is what you make of it and nothing more.
As for his “big damn hero” moment, I disagree you need a gatling gun jet pack to make that statement. There is no greater hero moment to me in that film then when Kick-Ass decides to intervene in a gang beatdown, putting himself in between the gang and his victim in defiance of his own meekness and the injustices real world people have to swallow every day.
“ULTIMATELY, HULK REALLY ONLY FEEL TRULY QUALIFIED TALK ABOUT 7-8 TOPICS WITH ANY SORT OF CONFIDENCE. SAID TOPICS IN ORDER = MOVIES/MEDIA/LIT, COOKING, THE EDUCATION SYSTEM, BASKETBALL, HISTORY, SOCIOLOGY, OCEANOGRAPHY (HULK HAD ENCOMPASSING EDUCATIONAL PATH, OKAY? DEAL WITH IT), AND ARMCHAIR PSYCHOLOGY.”
Hulk, surely you are qualified to discuss the topic of smashing right?
SMASHING NOT A TOPIC. IT A LIFESTYLE!
Complete tangent, ’cause all I can really say is that I love this essay and appreciate The Hulk taking the time to make the idea of tangible details into a much less abstract and easy to describe tangible detail in itself, is that I love that you went into sports for a second.
I’m not much of a sports guy (I dig baseball, but that’s it), and something like basketball is always strange to me when it comes to the complexities of the game – it seems like a sport of “get the fastest guys with good reaction time and let them run around until something happens.”
The thing that changed my mind? Video games. All of a sudden, you’re standing around the three point line and you can’t pass into the paint, and you can’t just drive in to the hoop, there’s hella defenders, and they’ve got a plan to counter your plan, especially when your plan is awful, and you know it’s awful, because you’re making it up as you go along, and that’s an awful plan. That’s probably a stupid example, but it feels like another way of agreeing with you, and saying “See more movies, read more criticism, write as much as you can.”
In theory, if you do all of those things over and over and over again, you’ll eventually have a voice.
Right? I hope. My voice at this point in my early life as a critic/writer/person feels like sarcasm grasping for a solid base. I feel more like a professional react-er and mocker than a writer/critic/sortofacademic.
BASKETBALL HULK’S FAVORITE SPORT JUST FOR REASON THAT IT CAN STILL NO COMPLETELY BE FIGURED OUT BY METRICS. IF LOOK AT BASEBALL WE PRETTY SET ON PITCHING/HITTING STATISTICS. WE KNOW HOW MAKE PITCHER INDEPENDENT OF TEAM AND ESTABLISH EXTRAPOLATED WINS (HOW MANY TIMES A PITCHER SHOULD HAVE WON) AND STATS INDEPENDENT OF DEFENSE/BALLPARKS. YET TIME AND TIME AGAIN HULK HEAR ANTIQUATED ARGUMENTS OF HOW A PLAYER “SEEM.”
MEANWHILE BASKETBALL EXIST IN WEIRD REALITY WHERE THE PLAYERS ON COURT DIRECTLY AFFECT BEHAVIOR OF PLAYERS MAKING IT MUCH MORE INTERESTING ON THE “OPINION” LEVEL. THERE STILL MAGIC TO IT.
IN RESPONSE TO YOUR VOICE AT THE MOMENT HULK BEEN READING YOUR STUFF. AND HULK’S ADVICE = ALWAYS STRIVE TO BE MEASURED. YOUR RESPONSE PIECE TO FARACI GREAT STEP IN RIGHT DIRECTION. MEANWHILE THE COMMENTING BACK AND FORTH PIECES BETWEEN YOU AND RAPPE TODAY LESS GOOD EXAMPLE OF WHAT HULK THINK YOU CAN DO. HULK WONT GET INTO SPECIFICS OF THAT ARGUMENT, BUT BE MORE MEASURED!
OH AND AS FAR TECHNICAL STUFF. THIS HARD SAY FROM HULK (WHO OFTEN QUITE PARENTHETICAL)* BUT HULK ADVISE BE LESS PARENTHETICAL. AT LEAST FOR NOW AS GROW AS WRITER THEN COME BACK TO IT. THINK OF IT LIKE THAT PART IN ROCKY II WHERE MICKEY MAKE ROCKY BOX WITHOUT STRONG HAND SO HE GET BETTER WITH WEAK HAND.
ANYCRAP, THERE LOT MORE HULK SAY BUT IT BEDTIME.
I’m new to your site – but I loved your “Best of 2010” list (especially Winter’s Bone, Kick Ass & Inception). Thank you for writing this. Like you, I have been “watching” films for several decades and realized that I am just starting to be able to articulate why a movie works (or doesn’t). You make so many great points – films can be a tough balancing act. They have to work on several levels (superficial to deep) and most people do lack the wherewithal to define WHY a film isn’t working. Tangibility can be elusive (despite its definition to the contrary). Anyway, I’ve used up my .02 – as a big fan, I’ll just say “Keep it up!”
I’ll be reading!
DEAR “YOU’RE SO SHAIN”:
1) HULK RESPECT ALL HULK’S READERS INTENSELY. HULK ONLY MENTIONING THIS CAUSE IT SEEM LIKE MANY WRITERS WILLING ENGAGE READERS IN OPEN WARFARE. HULK GET WHY, BUT HULK THINK IF GENUINE GOAL TO SHARE IDEAS THEN IT NOT PRUDENT OR EFFECTIVE. AS HULK STATE JUST ABOVE, BEING MEASURED WHEN TALKIN’ BOUT MOVIES = CRITICAL. AND JUST KNOW THAT HULK PUT LOTS OF TIME INTO THIS RESPONSE (OVER 1600 WORDS) AND ITS ONLY INTENTION BE CONSTRUCTIVE/HELPFUL. AND MORE IMPORTANT HULK PROMISE ALL READERS TO ALWAYS BE HONEST.
2) ALL HULK’S DEDUCTIONS PURELY GOING OFF YOUR BLOG/ COMMENTS/ ETC. AND THAT IT SO LET NOT PRETEND IT WHOLLY VALID INSIGHT OR BASED ON LOTS EVIDENCE OR HULK KNOW YOU OR SOMETHING. THEY JUST DEDUCTIONS. AND TRUTH BE TOLD HULK LOVE DO ANOTHER PASS AT THIS AND CLEAR SOME POINTS UP AND, LIKE, SPELL-CHECK, BUT HULK HAVE TONS OTHER STUFF WORK ON.
3) SO… HULK THINK THERE MAY BE BIT OF DIVIDE ON WHAT WE EACH WANT FROM MOVIE. FROM YOUR WRITING, YOU STRIKE HULK AS A TEXTUALIST. (IT SEMI-MADE-UP WORD BUT STILL O.E.D.-WORTHY SO THAT GOOD ENOUGH FOR HULK). WHAT IT MEAN THAT THERE DISTINCT THROUGHLINE IN YOUR CRITICISM OF THINGS MOSTLY BASED ON DIRECT TEXTUAL PRESENCE AND LOGIC INFERRED OF THEIR VERY INCLUSION.
FOR EXAMPLE, ONE OF FIRST THINGS YOU SENT HULK = YOUR PIECE ON JURASSIC PARK. HULK ACTUALLY READ IT BACK THEN (HULK READ EVERYTHING PEOPLE SEND HULK) AND IT JUST HULK WAS UNSURE HOW RESPOND AT TIME. SO HULK SORT OF SAT AND THOUGHT ABOUT FOR WHILE. HULK’S PROBLEM WITH PIECE NOT WITH YOUR TAKE ON LOGICAL ASPECTS OF MOVIE. AFTER ALL, JP’S TREATMENT OF COMPUTERS/ GEOGRAPHY/ ALL RATIONAL SENSE AS ATROCIOUS AS YOU INDICATE… THE PROBLEM THAT J.P. STILL TRULY EXCELLENT DESPITE THOSE ISSUES.
WHICH MEAN HULK ESSENTIALLY ARGUING THAT THE SPIRIT OF MOVIE MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE TEXT OF MOVIE. SPECIFICALLY REGARDING J.P, IT TURN OUT SOMEONE ELSE ILLUSTRATED WHY THE FILM WORK WAY BETTER THAN HULK COULD. DEFINITELY CHECK OUT:
JURASSIC PARK JUST DRIPPING WITH CINEMATIC + EMOTIONAL RESONANCE. EVEN THE MOST EGREGIOUS EXAMPLE OF LOGISTICAL FAILURE, THE LITTLE GIRL SHOWING UP AND ESSENTIALLY “SOLVING THE MAGIC COMPUTER THING” WHICH, YES, COMPLETELY LAUGHABLE, BUT AT LEAST THERE CHARACTER-ACCURATE EMOTIONAL BEAT UNDERNEATH IT. MOST PEOPLE, EVEN THEN, LAUGHED WHEN HAPPEN BUT IN MANY WAYS IT A FORGIVING LAUGH. ULTIMATELY, THE LOGISTICAL SHORT-COMINGS A REASON TO BE AMUSED, NOT REASON FOR HATE.
WHICH MEAN THIS ALL HAVE TO WITH MATTER OF BEING LOGISTICALLY “UNFORGIVING” FOR LACK OF BETTER TERM.
YOU MAY THINK THIS SEEM INCINSERE OR SELECTIVE GIVEN THAT HULK WROTE UP THE COMPLETE NONSENSE OF TRANSFORMERS 2, BUT HULK ARGUE THAT MOVIE NOT JUST FULL OF LOGISTICAL LEAPS, BUT HAPHAZARD TREATMENT OF EVERYTHING ELSE ALONG WITH IT. BAY’S CINEMATIC STYLE RANGE FROM GRATUITOUS TO SKITTISH TO DISGUSTING. THERE NO SUBSTANCE AND WHEN THERE IT SEEM LIKE BAY RECREATING HUMAN EMOTIONS FROM PERSPECTIVE OF SOCIOPATH. THERE OFTEN NO DISCERNIBLE TONE. BASICALLY, BAY SEEM AS INTERESTED IN SPEILBERGIAN“EMOTIONAL BEATS” AS HE DO WHAT HE GOING EAT LUNCH THAT DAY. UNLIKE JURASSIC PARK THERE ABSOLUTE NOTHING APPROACHING WHAT FARACI CATEGORIZED AS THE EFFECTIVE “TERROR AND WONDER.” AND WITH HULK’S PIECE ON EAT, PRAY, LOVE THE SMASHING COME FROM A PLACE OF THE MOVIE BEING OUTRIGHT DECIEVING REGARDING THE NATURE OF ITS THEMATICS.
SO WHEN COME TO LOGISTICS, WHAT WILL WE FORGIVE? IN HULKS ONPINION YOU SEEM TOO CONCERNED WITH GROUNDING THINGS IN REALITY. EVEN YOUR MOST RECENT COMMENT ON KICK-ASS. ANYTHING THAT TAKE YOU OUT OF GROUNDED-REALITY PERCIEVED AS FAULT IN MOVIE. THAT FINE HULK GUESS BUT IT GOING MAKE MOVIE WATCHING VERY, VERY DIFFICULT. MOSTLY CAUSE THAT NOT HOW MOST PEOPLE WATCH MOVIES. IT FEEL INCONGROUS TO THE SPIRIT THEY MADE IN. MORE TO THE POINT, IT INHERENTLY ALIENATE YOU FROM MOST OTHER MOVIE WATCHERS. AND HULK NO CAN IMAGINE IT MUCH FUN EITHER.
4). MOVING ON TO YOUR X-MEN REVIEW IT SEEM LIKE THERE SIMILAR OVER-EMPHASIS ON LOGISTICAL FALLACY. YOU SAY, “The most common pratfall in bringing a superhero comic book to life is failing to strike the right balance between our practical reality and what appears on the page.”
THE PROBLEM THAT HULK NOT REALLY SURE WHAT YOU CONSIDER “RIGHT BALANCE” AND IF HULK HAD WAGER YOUR IDEA OF BALANCE THING SEEM FAR STRICTER THAN HULK’S VIEW OF BALANCE. AGAIN AND AGAIN, YOUR REVIEW SEEM CONTRAST THE FILM TO “REALITIES OF HISTORY.” HULK ARGUE THAT WHAT X-MEN TRYING DO WITH THE HISTORY STUFF = NOT STRIVING TOWARD REALISM WHATSOEVER, BUT INSTEAD TO AMPLIPHY HISTORICAL PRECENDENCE INTO LARGER SUPERHERO THEMATICS. THE CUBAN MISSLE CRISIS FIT THIS WONDERFULLY BECAUSE IT A TRUE “SAVE THE WORLD” KIND OF HISTORICAL MOMENT SO IT MAKE THEMATIC SENSE AS SAVE THE WORLD MOMENT FOR THE HEROES. HULK NOT SO SURE WHAT SO EGREGIOUS ABOUT THIS OR WHY IT SEEM DISINGENUOUS. HULK KNOW THERE INHERENT SERIOUSNESS TO THESE HISTORICAL MOMENTS, BUT THIS MORE ABOUT THEMATIC AUGMENTATION AND NOT LITERAL.
AT ONE POINT YOU MENTION FIRST 2/3 OF BATMAN BEGINS OF BEING THE RIGHT KIND OF APPROPRIATION OF COMIC BOOK MOVIE WITH REALITY. BUT HULK DISAGREE. HULK THINK NOLANS SOLUTION TO JUST PURELY GROUND THE FILM IN TOTAL REALITY AND OVER-EXPLAIN ANYTHING THAT CAN BE PERCIEVED AS GIMMICKY/UNREALISTIC. THAT NOT STRIKING BALANCE TO HULK BUT OUTRIGHT DOING AWAY WITH. HULK WOULD THEN ARGUE THE PROBLEMS WITH THE LAST ACT THAT IT INCONGROUS TO THE MOVIE IT WAS, NOT THAT IT JUST OVERTLY COMIC-BOOKY IN IT OWNRIGHT.
HULK ALSO WANT TALK ABOUT ONE OF YOUR POINTS. YOU SAY THE DECISION FOR THE COMMANDERS TO NUKE THE MUTANTS SEEM LIKE COME FROM NOWHERE AND THERE JUST ULTIMATELY SPUR ON DEUS EX MACHINA FOR MAGNETO BUT A) IF HULK NOT MISTAKEN THE CIA DIRECTOR THE ONE WHO COMMAND IT AND HE ALWAYS UNEASY THE ALLIANCE IN FIRST PLACE. B) THE LOGIC COME FROM THEIR WELL-ESTABLISHED AND COMPLETELY OVERWHELMING FEAR OF THE MUTANTS EXTREME POWER (AND IN PURE MACHIVELIAN SENSE THEY ACTUALLY “RIGHT” TO FEAR MAGNETO GIVEN HIS SPEECH TO SHAW JUST PRIOR). C) THERE HOST OF HISTORICAL AND LITERARY EXAMPLES OF USING “THE MONSTER” THEN RIDDING YOURSELF OF IT ONCE IT SUITED PURPOSES. AND D) IT EVEN MORE DIRECTLY ANALOGOUS TO THE HISTORICAL FALLOUT OF BAY OF PIGS INVASION.
BUT GOING BIGGER THAN THAT HULK CURIOUS WHY FILM HAVE TO BE REALISTIC IN ANY SENSE? ESPECIALLY SINCE THE VAST MAJORITY PEOPLE NO WATCH MOVIES IN THOSE TERMS. AND THE “UNREALITY” OF MOVIES NOT A BURDEN BUT A GIFT. IT ALLOW GO FORTH AND EXPLORE DIFFERENT THEMES AS LONG RING TRUE ON SOME KIND OF LEVEL: EMOTIONAL, CONCEPTUAL, ETC.
NOW THING IS HULK IMAGINE YOU HAVE REBUTTAL WHERE YOU SAY OF COURSE MOVIES NOT HAVE BE REALISTIC AND CITE HOST OF EXAMPLES THAT ILLUSTRATE THAT, AND HULK TOTALLY 100% BELIEVE THAT. BUT HULK JUST SAYING THAT IT YOUR WORK THAT SEEM HAVE REAL FIXATION ON PRACTICAL DETAILS. IT MAY BE INTENDED TO COME OFF FUNNY, OR PRAGMATIC, OR GROUNDED, BUT HULK ARGUE IT COME OFF MORE ANGRY AND OVER-FOCUSING ON CERTAIN ASPECTS THAT NOT ANALOGOUS TO THE ACTUAL SPIRIT OF SAID MOVIE. AND PERHAPS MORE ODD COMING AFTER AN HULK’S ESSAY ABOUT THE TANGIBLE DETAILS, THAT A LOT YOUR WORK SEEM OVER-CONCERNED WITH SAID TANGIBLE DETAILS.
LIKE WHAT NOT MENTIONED = THE CINEMATIC ASSUREDNESS OF X-MEN. THE COMPETENT BLEND OF ACTING CAPABILITY, EMOTIONAL RESONANCE, ACTION BEATS, AND CHARACTERIZATION. HULK AND AUDIENCE SEEM GENUINELY ENTRALLED BY THE CHARACTER WORK ON DISPLAY. AND HULK PRETTY SURE HULK NOT ALONE ON THIS ONE AND THE CRITICAL REACTION SEEM BE VERY POSITIVE (THIS OF COURSE NOT TO IMPLY THIS ACTUALLY IMPORTANT BUT CAN GENERALLY SAY IF MOVIE “WORK” OR NOT). HULK NOT SURPRISED BY THIS ASSUREDNESS BECAUSE VAUGHN A VERY, VERY, VERY SMART PERSON. THE COMICBOOK CODE-NAME DROPPING AND ON-THE-NOSE CHARACTER ALUSIONS TREATED WITH SMILING, KNOWING TONE. THE CHARACTERS WHO GIVE THE CODE-NAMES, FITTINGLY, THE VERY TEENAGE AGE-RANGE PREDISPOSED TO DOING THAT SORT OF STUFF. AND THEMATICALLY SPEAKING THERE GREAT MOMENT WHERE CHARLES/ERIK ARRIVE TO CHIDE THEM FOR THEIR SILLY BEHAVIOR SO IT NOT LACKING AWARENESS OF THE SERIOUSNESS EITHER.. THE FIRST X-MEN DO THE SAME SMILING-THING WHERE WOLVERINE LAUGH AT THE “CODE NAMES.” WHY THIS NECESSARY? CAUSE X-MEN INHERENTLY SILLY. BATMAN TRANSLATE THE BEST TO THE NOLAN TREATMENT BUT HULK ARGUE THE NOLAN TREATMENT OF X-MEN BE A DISASTER. THAT BECAUSE THE SILLY STUFF A PREREQUISITE. THIS MOVIE, MORE THAN ANY OTHER, FEEL LIKE MOST “X-MEN” TO HULK. AND CERTAINLY THE MOST IN TERMS OF REALISTIC “HUMAN” EMOTIONAL BEATS.
IN REVIEW YOU ALSO MENTION THE QUESTION OF JEWISH VENGEANCE AT PLAY. HULK NOT REALLY WANT GET INTO SUBJECT CAUSE IT CERTAINLY VALID COMPLAINT, IT JUST ANOTHER CONVERSATION ENTIRELY. BUT HULK JUST WANTED POINT OUT THAT YOU MENTION THAT WHAT ESPECIALLY TROUBLESOME FOR YOU THAT IT STAND IN STARK CONTRAST TO THE REALITY OF THE POST-HALOCAUST RESPONSE TO THE JEWISH POPULATION. MEANING THAT IT ONCE AGAIN FOCUSED ON THE MOVIE-NOT-LIKE-REALITY ASPECT INSTEAD OF THE OTHER THEMATIC REASONS FOR THESE STORY CHOICES.
AND HULK HATE TO BE REALLY SPECIFIC LIKE THIS, BUT YOU MAKE MISTAKE BY ASSUMING LOGISTICAL PROBLEMS WITHOUT RESEARCHING. LIKE THE SR-71 AND NUCLEAR SUBMARINES. SPECIFICALLY GOING SO FAR TO “TAKE YOU OUT OF THE MOVIE”… WHICH YOU BASICALLY ALLOWED HAPPEN ON AN ASSUMPTION. EVEN A SIMPLE WIKI SEARCH REVEALS THEY WENT INTO USE IN 1964 WITH PROTOTYPES STRETCHING 3-4 YEARS PRIOR. THE FILM USES SUCH A PROTOTYPE AND IS SET IN 1962. LIKEWISE, V-TOL EXPERIEMENTAL ENGINES WERE ALSO IN PLACE BY JANUARY 1962 SO CONCIEVABLY THE TWO COULD MIX… VERY CONCIEVABLY. AND NUCELAR SUBMARINES WERE EVEN USED IN THE EARLY 50’S. ALWAYS REMEMBER THAT BIG BUDGET FILMS NOW HAVE ENTIRE DEPARTMENTS DEVOTED TO EXECUTION OF THIS KIND OF STUFF. THERE ALSO A LOT OF “IT NOT FEEL LIKE 60S!” STUFF BUT THE SAME KIND OF DEPTS. VERY CONCSCIOUS OF THE PERIOD-ACCURATE PRODUCTION DESIGN.
5) ONE THING THAT STRIKE HULK THAT MOST THOSE MOVIES FROM YOUR FAVORITES LIST FROM 1998-1999. ASIDE FROM FACT 99 AMAZING YEAR, HULK WANT YOU THINK ABOUT WHERE YOU AT IN LIFE AT THAT POINT. WHAT YOU WERE OPEN TO THEN VS. NOW, ETC. THIS NOT PARTICULARLY RELATED TO ANYTHING. JUST SOMETHING HULK NOTICE AND SEEM LIKE GOOD FOOD FOR THOUGHT. ALSO IT POSSIBLE CONCLUDE THAT MANY THE FILMS ON LIST = FILMS WHERE THE TEXT OF FILM CLEARLY EXPRESS THE THEMATIC CONTENT (SPECIFICALLY: TRUMAN SHOW, AMERICAN BEAUTY, MAGNOLIA, TRAINSPOTTING, ADAPTATION, MEET JOE BLACK, THE ELEPHANT MAN, THE INSIDER, DARK CITY)
6) PERFECT EXAMPLE OF TEXT VS. SPIRIT ARGUMENT GOING BACK TO YOUR POINT ON THE USE OF THE JETPACK IN KICK-ASS. YOU SAY IT “RIDICULOUS AND UNNECESSARY” BUT HULK LOVED THAT SEQUENCE BECAUSE HULK THOUGHT IT GREAT WAY OF PORTRAYING THE TRUE “SUPER-HERO” MOMENT FOR MAIN CHARACTER. AND THERE NO MISTAKING THAT INTENTION AS THE MUSIC SWELL AND HE SWOOP THROUGH THE CITY CARRYING HIT GIRL TO SAFETY. THESE ILLUSIONS TO SUPERMAN, ETC COULD NOT BE MADE ANY MORE CLEAR. LOGISTICALLY? YUP. RIDICULOUS. BUT HULK FEEL LIKE THERE MORE IMPORTANT THEMATIC AND EMOTIONAL “TRUTH” OF SCENE.
7) REMEMBER HULK JUST SAYING HULK USE DIFFERENT LENS TO LOOK AT MOVIES. THAT IT. AND THERE PLENTY OF MOVIES THAT INFURIATE HULK BUT IT DIFFERENT SENSE. BUT AS WISE DIRECTOR ONCE TOLD HULK “NEVER HATE A MOVIE” SO ANYTHING THAT HELP NARROW THAT AMOUNT OF HATE A GOOD THING. HULK MENTION THIS BECAUSE YOUR ENTIRE BLOG, ALBEIT IT JUST A SMALL SAMPLE OF YOUR THOUGHTS, CONSIST ENTIRELY OF NEGATIVE AND SEEMINGLY-ANGER-INDUCING APPRAISALS. THIS THE REASON HULK WANTED KNOW WHAT FAVORITE MOVIES TO HAVE SENSE OF WHAT YOU LIKED.
8) IF HULK BEING PLAINLY HONEST, HULK THINK YOU HAVE SHARP, INCISIVE MIND BUT YOU GETTING TOO HUNG UP ON LOGISTICAL DETAILS AND IT GETTING IN WAY OF ENJOYING OTHER THINGS ABOUT MOVIES. BUT, AND HERE THE MOST IMPORTANT THING, THIS TEXTUAL WAY OF LOOKING AT MOVIES = NOT WRONG. IT VALID. BUT YOU SHOULD BE AWARE THAT IT SEEM TO BE YOUR VOICE AT THIS POINT. AND IF THIS WHO YOU ARE, EMBRACE THAT REALITY AND SHOWCASE THAT THAT HOW YOU APPROACHING THESE MOVIES. AND MORESO IT IMPORTANT ACKNOWLEDGE THAT SHORTCOMINGS OF EMBRACING A MOVIE LIKE THAT (NOTE: THERE SHORTCOMINGS TO LOOKING AT MOVIE IN ANY KIND OF WAY. THIS JUST SPECIFIC TO YOUR STYLE). IF HULK HAD ADVICE? RESTRUCTURE YOUR BLOG TO APPROACH FILMS FROM THESE PERSPECTIVES AND YOUR PROBLEMS WITH THE “UN-REALITY” OF MOVIES.
9) HULK’S LAST PIECE OF ADVICE? DON’T RESPOND TO THIS POST. DON’T FEEL COMPELLED DEFEND ANYTHING. JUST THINK ABOUT IT. ABSORB IT. HULK WILL READ EVERYTHING YOU EVER SEND HULK. AND WE SHALL TALK MUCH MORE ABOUT MOVIES IN FUTURE. THANK YOU KINDLY FOR READING.
HULK HAVE NO IDEA HOW THAT EMOTICON GOT IN THERE…
Just wanted to say how much I appreciated what you wrote here that I wrote a blog essay on it. If you care to read it:
I loved this article. Latching on to details that are in reality trivial just because you can’t articulate the true nature of your problem with something is a problem I often witness (and encounter, unfortunately). The examples you used struck a chord with me. Thank you so much for this!
I absolutely love this post and will from now on show it to everyone who says we don’t need film criticism. And I really wish Kevin Smith would read it.
It also reminded me of a post by Kristin Thomas, in which she points out that many film viewers who do not busy themselves with film criticism have mostly emotional attachement to films they consider to be very good without really evaluating the quality of said films. I know you’ve probably read it and, even worse, her essay sounds so trivial when I summarize it like that but she really does make some very interesting points. And she also links to a curious
by Jim Emerson, who’s written a couple of things on the topic (most notably the one he wrote back when every negative review of Inception was treated with fury and scorn. (Something A.O. Scott’s also written about.) And, best of all, David Bordwell himself has written an essay about the “duties” of a film critic.
I’m sorry for all the links to the articles you’re very likely to have read but maybe some of the other commenters haven’t. And I really just wanted to show that I appreciate your post just as much as those by some of the best film writers there’re on the Internet (if not more–you’re funnier than they are).
A wonderful article. I find a lot of critical writing difficult to read not because of opinion but because of poor explanation of that opinion. For example: one critic felt Captain America was a mediocre film and explained it was due to the titular character not having spectacular powers.
To my view, this is a ridiculous explanation as it doesn’t have any relation to the tangible elements that you accurately point out. If having spectacular powers was the essential element of a film in the genre then all Batman and James Bond films are necessarily awful.
If the sequences which demonstrate Cap’s physical prowess were poorly choreographed, had terrible shot-design or were full of shoddy special effects (Wolverine:Origins being an example of all of those deficiencies) then that would be a criticism that is relevant.
I have no problem with critics I disagree with in regards to their opinion on a film, what antagonizes me (much more than I surmise is rational) is when a film critic is not writing to what I perceive as a competent level. In other words, when a critic does not write critically in the sense of the word that goes beyond simple preference.
Again, thanks for the enjoyable read.
Hey, HULK. S’up? I’ve been seeing you around for a while, on BAD, retweeted here and there, read you’re 3-parter on action with the ATB dude. Good stuff. You’re most recent profile boost brought me back here – don’t play video games but I dug your essay and your response to the comments. So I started going back through your archives and reading your essays. More good stuff. The thoughts on action and structure —right on. South Park— had never put my finger on what it was that I find vaguely disquieting as much as I watch and laugh with it. So, yeah, generally, I dig what you’re doing, I dig what you’re saying. Until I got to this one.
Now, I hope you understand that I’m saying this in the spirit of debate, in hope that I’m giving back something for you to think about as well. Maybe give voice to some people who might not be entirely on the same page without being over-wrought haters.
First, while I get what you’re saying with the auto mechanic analogy, we both understand that it is imperfect at best, right? More pointedly, it’s kinda stupid. Film (or books or painting et cetera) is art, which is, outside of certain qualitative norms, hugely —hugely— subjective. No accounting for taste and all. Auto mechanics, not so much. For instance, my car needs new front wheel barrings and an oil change. Any mechanic I take it is going to tell me the same thing. I might find other work that needs to be done or tell me I can get away with its current condition for a little while longer, or that it will take one shop less time than another to fix it. But there’s not a wide margin for interpretation on a mechanical issue. Same with the doctor you also alluded to. You have diabetes or are going for a yearly checkup, the procedure/treatment is gonna pretty much the same.
But aesthetic evaluations do not hold up to the same kind of agreed upon treatment. Certainly, there are certain structural conventions that over the years have proved to be so useful in constructing a film (or writing a novel, or painting a picture). Conventions that are ignored at the peril of the creator. e.g. If you’re going to forgo establishing shots it had better be a conscious choice. But no mechanic is going to come up with a radical reinterpretation of a lube job on a 2004 Honda Accord. Writers and filmmakers throughout modern time have benefit from first learning the rules and then completely throwing them out in favor of something unprecedented, and all subsequent art is a reaction to this, either positive or negative. Do you want to go dentist who has come up with his own way of filling teeth, ADA be damned? In fact there are artists and thinkers that come out of left field, with no formal training, and have great things to contribute to the culture around them. (Rarer than most claim, I admit, but not unprecedented.)
And the same holds true for those who ‘consume’ said art. Just up thread there are two dudes who have a fundamental disagreement about what does or doesn’t work in Kick-Ass. Find me two mechanics that will have different interpretations of a blown head-gasket or how often to have you car serviced.
So to imply that we punters shouldn’t take issue with film critics because they have a lot more experience watching films, writing about them, is, frankly, just wrong. I’m not talking about AVClub/IMDB commenters who only express their gut reaction, usually in the most base way possible. No, I’m talking about people like you’re readers, or the great conversations you see on any number of other boards and sites, readers that actually have good points to make. These people shouldn’t call out White for being a professional troll because he has some credentials to back up his bullshit? I don’t buy that.
First, the kind of people who read blogs like yours, or really dig Noel & Keith and the team at AVClub or follow Ebert and read Kael, see a fuck-ton of movies. This is not exceptional. This is a culture saturated in popular culture and movies are 2nd only TV as the beneficiary of that collective knowledge.
Myself for instance. I’m not a critic or a theorist or academic. I am not a screenwriter or filmmaker. But I grew up in the 70s fascinated with movies. I several Kael books before I was 15. I read books about Hitchcock. I had the first Danny Perry Cult Movies book when it was released, and each subsequent edition. I watched any movie I could convince my mom to let me see. When videos reached the market I watched the rest. I may have vaguely wanted to ‘be in movie business’ at some point during youthful flights of fancy, but after my late teens this wasn’t something I seriously entertained. I was happy just to be an aficionado. You may call me a dilettante but I’m not without of fair degree of critical chops to back that up. Sure I have chosen or happened into other areas to work in professionally and creatively but I don’t feel I’m outside the bounds of academic protocol to have strong reactions on some bullshit that some professional film critic is peddling.
And I’m not unique. Tons of kids have gone through film school only to end up working in some entirely unrelated job; tons of kids who had strong a liberal arts education and have good critical thinking skills. These kids now have the means to put these passions and proclivities into service through the internet. But we’re supposed to kowtow to the few who are lucky or focused enough to parlay those same passions into a steady gig? Fuck that.
Don’t get me wrong, for many of the reasons you state above, I like film critics and think they are essential to the process of arts in our culture. There are writers who I may not always agree with but bring more to the table than your average intelligent viewer and are rewarded for it with a higher profile, with an actual readership. The AVClub, BAD, The New Yorker —I care about what they say more than some pseudonymous commenter on a message board. But, you know what, fuck Leonard Maltin. Richard Roper can eat a dick. These idiots are not ‘more in touch’ with what’s happening in contemporary film than six of this site’s random readers. And Armond White? I can’t believe you’re defending that guy.
He’s not stupid certainly. At times I suppose he can be an insightful writer. He obviously has seen many, many more movies, met more directors, talked to more contemporaries than I could imagine. Does it make him any more ‘right’? Well, define right. Do I believe *he* believes what he is saying? I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt. But do I think he delights, however unconsciously, in pissing on the collective wisdom. He absolutely has an ax to grind and actual content or results be damned his point will stand. Some examples.
Let’s start with Toy Story 3. I could give a fuck about perfect RT score —I don’t visit that site, ever— but have you read his actual review of the movie? I’m not bothered by the fact that someone didn’t like it (honestly, I didn’t think it was all that, tho’ I’ll probably watch it again and maybe come around to it a bit more). But the way he goes about dismissing is so wrong as to be laughable. He brings up Metropolitan to buttress his argument. I dig Metropolitan —I’d go so far as to say it’s one of my all time favorite movies— but it has fuck all to do with Toy Story 3. Moreover, and more laughably, he completely misremembers and misrepresents the scenes in Metropolitan that he is using to make his point. For a movie that he claims to love he has an obviously tenuous grasp of what is actually in it, forget about its subtext.
This is not new. I lived in NYC back when White started writing for the New York Press and even then, before the internet raised his profile exponentially, it was maddening to read him. He has such obvious preconceived notions of how he will react to certain films the review is a foregone conclusion. One time that stuck out, he was tearing down some probably deserving movie, but to make his case he brought up Spielberg —he is a massive Spielberg sycophant— but any Spielberg, but Always. And the review turned into an essay on how great Always is. Do you remember that movie? Not one of Spielberg’s finer moments. And his writing is just full of the kind of academic bullshit and Latinate verbiage that gives ammunition to those who argue about ivory towers. You can pretty much pick a sentence at random for one of his willfully obscure reviews and it will be opaque to the point of meaninglessness. He thrives on negative attention. He is a troll. Armond White is exactly the wrong dude to bring up if you want to make the case for the critical superiority of professional film critics.
So, yes, I’m with you on allowing those people who are the most experienced, the most learned, the most passionate to lead the discussion on the arts and culture. The strongest voices will win out and we should not discount them out of hand. But the democratization of critical theory has already happened —honestly, you’re a beneficiary of it. To suggest that we should defer to some old guard notion of top-down tenure is a bit willfully stubborn.
Keep on keeping on. I look forward to seeing more of your work. Peace, Puffer @ digitallofi
I was thinking that the generally negative response of the public to critics you mentioned might also have something to do with “tangible details”.
When most people watch movies, they want the same thing: to be entertained. Sometimes, they resort to critics to choose the movie; other times, they read what a critic said about a movie they already watched. And many times, they disagree.
“WHY DO SO MANY PUBLIC MOVIE GOERS RESENT CRITICS? WHY THEY THINK THEY “OUT OF TOUCH?” CRITICS SEE HUNDREDS MOVIES A YEAR. THEY MORE “IN TOUCH” WITH WHAT HAPPENING IN MOVIES THAN ANYONE ELSE ON PLANET.”
When moviegoers say a critic is “out-of-touch”, it is not with the movies, as implied in the text, but with themselves, the audience.
So, the “tangible detail” we see when a moviegoer resents a critic might be that the moviegoer does not understand critic, or simple disagrees with the critic. The underlying reason could be that the moviegoer really wanted to have a good time at the movies and trusted the critic, and was a let down.
“MEANWHILE THOSE WHO SEEN HEAVEN SAY STUFF “IT SO SLOW AND BORING!” HULK PLEAD IF YOU EVER WATCH IT, PAY ATTENTION TO THE EDITING. IT KNOW EXACTLY HOW LONG HOLD A SILENCE. GREAT STUFF.”
Even if movie is very well made, most of the time people just want to have a good time. Sometimes they might be up for other kinds of stuff, but that’s when they want that. So maybe people expect things from movie critics that they should not expect. Or movie critics do not deliver what people expect.
My god, this is excellent.
I am a lawyer. I know a lot about the European Union, and how it really really does insane amounts of good for Europe and how as a highly complex system it works. It is truly fantastic.
And 90% of my friends and 100% of the media cite silly examples of EU regulations on the curvature of bananas, complain about their (inexistent) loss of sovereignty and tell me that Brussels politicians are ‘out of touch’.
This. Article. Explains. My. Rage-inducing. Frustration.
Thank you so much!
HULK GLAD! IT REALLY ABOUT SO MUCH MORE THAN MERE CINEMA!
I know this is somewhat super old at this point (though I see others commented here a couple months ago), but I just wanted to drop in and say I just read this for the second or third time because I sometimes go through these mini crisis of faith/panic attacks because I doubt my own feeble, puny human abilities/knowledge and because I realize I won’t see every movie ever made. But I find comfort in the last part, where it says it takes decades to really get comfortable. I feel like I’ve seen a lot of movies, but then I sometimes realize I’m going to turn 30 in less than 2 years and feel like I should have seen/known more, so I take a breather and realize that it’s all going to be okay. This article helps.
Now for my own tangent, re: tangible details: I don’t think it helps that we have the internet now where these sorts of things become crystalized. The “Emo Parker” thing is a perfect example…I feel like that’s become a zeitgeist, loud moment that everyone can point to because it’s so weird and outrageous (but absolutely, totally in line with Raimi’s mode), when the discussion should center on the other bullshit Spider-Man 3 had to offer, like the absurd expository butler scene and the part where Spidey lets Sandman off the hook so the movie can have a feel-good, Hallmark moment.
But no, by all means, five years later, the dialogue is still “Emo Parker!” and “Venom sucked! (when, in fact, Raimi did Venom justice, given how one-note the character is…er, was when introduced–i think Eddie Brock started taking up the cause of homeless people at one point, but that’s neither here nor there).
These responses are almost Pavlovian at this point.
To me, your explanation of how people only have limited amounts of expertise is the perfect example of why you write so many wonderful posts, but have some truly terrible ones, like the two on postmodernism. Your argumentative methodology is very useful for talking about movies and storytelling. It failed you, profoundly, when you wrote about postmodernism.
YOU HAVE NO IDEA HOW DISAPPOINTING THAT COMMENT IS CONSIDERING HOW MUCH HULK STUDIED POST-MODERNISM UNDER SOME TRUE HEAVYWEIGHTS OF THE FIELD AND IT SEEMS HULK’S ATTEMPT TO CUT THROUGH THE B.S. FELL ON DEAF EARS. AND THE FACT THAT YOU CAN SAY THAT ABOUT THE ARGUMENT IS JUST A TESTAMENT TO HOW INSANELY REFLEXIVE POSTMODERNISM IS, WHICH WAS HULK’S POINT.
Of course me, being me, would say that the reason Happy Feet trounced Casino Royale at the box office was because it was a better made film, all around.
But then, I suppose I have a bias where that’s concerned.
I’ve started reading A LOT (and hopefully all of soon) of your essays since you posted the archive on BAD, and it’s so hard to not start thinking in HULK SMASH talk after reading one.
But seriously, I love your work and related to so much of the ideology in this essay particularly.
HULK SINCERELY THANK SO MUCH!
Hello Hulk, your article was terrific but my comment is a general idea I thought of while reading. It deals with the use of caps, and I won’t be surprised if anyone has said this before. What if, instead of beginning in caps and Hulk grammar, you start with normal punctuation and switch to all caps when you feel strong emotion (either passionate ardour or repulsion)? Then again, As I write this, one party in my congress brain is saying, “But if he did, he would just be another film critic without his idiosynchratic flavor right from the get-go and the hulk passion moment, when it occurs, would become a tangible detail and call to much attention to it, risking the reviled “gimmick” title, but it could also go in another direction. It could layer your criticism with a narrative, with elements of foreshadow, climax, and resolution, to name a few. And you could even get Tarantino/Nolanish in your presentation of chronology. Most of all, it would underline the theme of always present “passion potency?” bubbling beneath the surface of every human being, an idea you discussed on your latest Indoor Kids auralppearance. Personally, I’ll read your brilliant insights either way, but I figured it was worth the shout out.
THE PROBLEM IS THAT BANNER GUY DOESN’T KNOW SHIT ABOUT MOVIES 🙂
This is something I’m bookmarking and going to come back to because it makes clear the key pitfalls on film criticism, which I think extend to music and gaming too to some extent. Very interesting piece of writing and lots to think about.
Big bro Hulk,
Just wanna say that I come back to this literally every 3 months. It’s gotta be canon.