A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

2 12 2010

Here we go! This is Rear Window Viewing, a blog about movies (or film, if you’re fancy). I love movies, I love watching them, talking about them, writing about them, and watching them again. I’ve recently began studying film (we’re fancy in college) and for the past few months I’ve been really wanting to have legitimate, interesting conversations about movies. My only hope for this blog is that I can start some sort of conversation. What makes something a good movie (tough to answer) or what makes a bad movie (sometimes even tougher to answer)?

I am going to try and stick with some sort of set format, otherwise I’ll go all over the place and/or never blog. I see this going in two directions, for now:

1) I’ll definitely be writing about some of the more interesting film theory I come across in my different classes, and I’ll surely be drawing plenty of inspiration from the films I study and the assignments I do for those classes. I want to talk about the medium of film itself. It is amazing in it’s simplicity, film is simply flashes of light projected on a screen, but also incredible in its complexity ans it forms a unified whole. I find film theory fascinating and I feel like most people hear very little about it. So we’re going to talk it.

2) Reviews! What would a blog about movies be without reviews? I want to be looking at all kinds of movies though, not just recent stuff. I’ll certainly be writing about the movies I see in theaters (great timing to start this blog with the awards season kicking off this week) but I am, of course, going to be revisiting my favorite (and not so favorite) movies of the past. And from here I think we can get to some really interesting stuff. These reviews of older movies I’d love to see act as conversation starters. Right now I’m really interested in who makes a great film a great film:

  • Is it the director? There are plenty of movies that I specifically associate with outstanding directing. A new Tarantino movie is exciting because we know his very distinct style as a director, but was 2008’s Doubt praised for its direction? No, I don’t even know who directed it, but I know that Meryl Streep acted the heck out ever scene she was in and Phillip Seymour Hoffman was at the top of his game.
  • Is it the actor? So many movies are highly praised for a single performance rather that the directing and that is what carries the film to greatness. Al Pacino won an Oscar for his amazing turn in Scent of a Woman (1992) and nobody talks about who directed that.
  • What about the writer? For this blog writing will include screenplay and story. Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981) certainly had good performances, and Steven Spielberg is always great, but what made that movie great was its story. It was fun and creative in that way and we all remember it and love it for that. Similarly, something like Joel and Ethan Coen’s The Big Lebowski (1998) is more about them as writers and their amazing dialogue than it is them as directors.

I think that’s the direction I’m headed. I’m excited, and I hope I actually keep this up. And before the first post is done I’ve got to give credit to Chris Ashley for inspiring me to start this as he started his own, very interesting, blog on music. Check that out here. So that’s it for the first post! I hope y’all enjoy!

Coming Attractions: I’ll be reviewing two movies in the next few days, one’s a new one I just saw in theaters that is sure to get James Franco his first Oscar nomination, and a very cold classic from the ’90s.

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2 responses

5 12 2010
Tony Puccinelli

In response to your “Who makes a great film a great film?”, one of the most interesting things I thought about during my “Meta-cinema and the Hollywood Novel” class was just how amazingly collaborative the creation of a movie (or videogame, or musical, or tv-show, etc.) is. We’re human; we oversimplify things so we can make sense of them (perhaps movies are a great example of this, telling messy stories often meant to resemble “real life” through discrete sequential frames), so it’s easy to try to pin one person as the “source” a work and view all the passionate underlings as expendables doing grunt work (fun fact: in programming, these expendables are known as “code monkeys”).

I guess what I mean to say is that even a movie very clearly driven by a specific director’s vision is a messy thing composed of a host of different parts that get affected by tight schedules, budget constraints, the demands of studios/actors, etc. (and I guess this brings to mind Chris’ “product” vs. “art” debate in music. When movies are funded more and more by a studio that wants to sell, how does that compromise the “art” of that movie?)

End Ramble

5 12 2010
matthewmccleary

For me, that messiness of the collaboration is what makes movies so interesting to me as art. After everything is said and done there is a final, artistic work that was created. But unlike painting or a poem where a single person is fully responsible for what is produced, a film is truly a collaboration and that inevitably changes the original vision. Collaboration aside, I still think that there is a specific person or element of the film that makes it a great film. The collaboration effort makes a film, but I think it’s the director, actor, writer, .etc that pushes it to greatness.

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