“Suppose for a moment, that we define a virtuous act as bowing in the direction of Mecca every day at sunset. We attempt to persuade everyone to perform this act. But suppose that instead of relying on voluntary conviction we employ a vast number of police to break into everyone’s home and see to it that every day they are pushed down to the floor in the direction of Mecca. No doubt by taking such measures we will increase the number of people bowing toward Mecca. But by forcing them to do so, we are taking them out of the realm of action and into mere motion, and we are depriving all these coerced persons of the very possibility of acting morally. By attempting to compel virtue, we eliminate its possibility. To be moral, an act must be free.”
When I ignore what I’m told, and “nerd out”, I’m much happier, and my work is better. I hope I can retain this confidence to “choose my words carefully”, and be “overly descriptive”, because it actually makes me happy. With that being said, here’s the topic that I wish to discuss using said hope.
I can’t stand action movies because of their improbability, especially considering the sheer number of action movies out there.
I get that art is a “heightened” sense of reality, but come on now…
The “explosions” are so saturated in film that I am uninterested in them. “Oh, would you look at that. Yet another explosion. How original.” I suppose I’m an idiot, because I’m superficially talking about explosions in movies instead of stories in movies. But I’m not much of a “movie” person (I guess because of all of the EXPLOSIONS).
It’s the same thing with shootings in movies. Most of the bullets miss. I already know this “going in”. I can’t suspend my disbelief enough to care about the “inherent danger” of those in the bullets’ path.
I feel the same way (most of the time) with “good guys” and “bad guys”. I expect the good guys to win. I can’t believe that the bad guy is any real danger because I’m certain he’s going to lose. I prefer the “bad guy” to win at the end because it is an unexpected suckerpunch. It’s kind of like watching a sporting event where the “underdog” loses. Most people want to see the underdog “win”. But in movies, the “underdog” is the villain. I can’t believe that a hero in a movie is an “underdog” (even if the script tries to describe him as such) because I’m sure that he’s going to win. The villain is the underdog in movies, in my mind. I usually want the villain to win. I want the unexpected, and I want to be excited and a little depressed at the end. I don’t want the telegraphed “happy ending”. There’s exceptions to this rule (usually when the movie is about a historical war), but this is generally the case for me. Movies (particularly “action” movies) are mundane to me. I need some twists that I can’t see coming. I want very little predictability (unless it makes me laugh). I think I should do some in-depth movie reviews to try to illustrate what I like and dislike about specific films I have seen to make this easier.
I’ve always been one to care more about why and how movies were made than “enjoying” movies in the typical way most people do. There, of course, have been many exceptions to this. But generally, I have always been more interested in why there was so much money involved in movies, and why and how the movies were made, as I have already said.
Almost every time I watch a movie, I try to predict what will happen. Sitting there, “waiting” for it to unfold when I already know what is going to happen is so excruciatingly boring. Why would I watch it if I know what is going to happen? It’s like a scientific experiment that has been done forever: sure, when you first have a theory, you need to test it experimentally. But expecting me to “shut up” and “just watch it” is expecting way too fucking much from me. The formula is played out, even if the details vary. I need to experience something else. I recall being younger, watching a movie in school (I forget which one), and I said “Such and such is going to happen.” I was bored to tears, and I kept doing this. Someone finally said “I know, but shut up.” This person was intently watching. Why watch if you know exactly what is going to happen? I never understood it: especially something “serious”. Romance is disgusting (of course). Action movies are boring. Comedies are good, historical movies are good. Drama is a mixed bag. Most of the time, it falls flat on its face to me. A movie like “Jack” starring Robin Williams is an example of a drama done really fucking well. I cried when I first saw it as a teenager. It wasn’t cliché (it seemed very original to me, but I’m no expert). It was incredibly moving. So many dramas seem to be of the romantic variety, so perhaps that’s why I have such a problem with them. It is also just so fucking easy to become melodramatic. It is hard to create a compelling drama. And it is hard to get me to suspend my disbelief (especially with drama).
But I do enjoy the “horror” genre of movies. The more extreme, the better. Why do I get tired of explosions, but not blood? I don’t know the exact statistics, but is murder less “probabilistic” than explosions “in the real world”? Why do I care more for blood than explosions?
I should specify that I’m still not an avid “movie watcher”. I don’t gorge myself with horror films. I’m not really a “movie guy”. But when I do watch a movie, I want it to either be a comedy or a horror film. (Or a Batman film. I’ll have to leave him for another piece).
So why do I love blood in movies so much more than explosions?
I guess it’s because I enjoy purposeful, evil darkness more so than accidental explosions (even if the explosions are purposeful. I want to see some fake blood where the tone is more “dark” than “exciting”. To me, “dark” is “exciting”. “Exciting” is “boring”. It has become cliché).
Couldn’t it be said that murder is also cliché and boring? How many stabs and slashes can you watch? Once again, I repeat, I’m not a big “movie guy”, but murder films are more refreshing to me (believe it or not) than “The good guys always win and the horror doesn’t even look that bad” films. A guy robbed a bank. Who cares? Why should I be invested? Does he have a hostage? How bad does he treat the hostage? A “bad guy” is selling drugs. Who cares? I want his reason for being bad to be almost incomprehensible. Why does he kill? He just does. Or something traumatizing happened to him. I don’t want it to make any sense. Money makes too much sense to me. If a villain is going to be a villain because of money, he needs to be a really fucking brutal villain for me to care. (Color is also a big deal to me. I want everything to look dark and dirty: not bright and flashy).
If people are racing in a movie, and there’s an explosion (or a chase scene leading to the same thing), the “accident” doesn’t feel real to me because I know it was scripted. There’s just a certain tone that movies have to have for me to like them. A guy walking away from an explosion in slow-motion while rock music plays makes me want to blow my brains out. It is possible that I found the character compelling before that moment, in which case, his previous circumstances may make his “badassery” interesting. But I hate explosions for their own sake. I just, more often than not, can’t find explosions compelling. It depends on the characters and the tone of the film, but most of the time, it feels like explosions are the reasons why movies are created. “People are gonna pay to watch shit blow up. Nothing else matters, but let’s have some really fucking fast cars in there as well. We need to have something to happen in between the explosions, and people expect to see a movie that’s at least an hour and a half, so let’s make it happen!” I don’t watch a lot of movies, but I get the sense that so many movies revolve around explosions, and I find that quite lazy. Once again, I’m probably wrong, because I don’t watch a lot of movies, but that’s just my impression of them. There probably needs to be some parody involved if I’m going to care about explosions. Or, ironically enough, some drama surrounding them. Not action. I’m fucking tired of “action”.
When I first saw the movie “Atomic Twister” as a young teen, I was hooked. The idea of a tornado hitting a nuclear power plant was fucking terrifying to me. That was, really, all I needed: the fact that it could be real, and be really devastating. And it was original: sure, there’s the movie “Twister”. But this was “Atomic Twister” (lol). Yes, I was younger, and I know this affected my perception of the movie. But it wasn’t “Cars drive real fast – anti-hero – drugs are involved – bang-bang shoot ’em up” movie. Most of those make me want to fucking vomit.
However, when you have a very sadistic killer, I feel like the writer of the script is trying to understand these killers on the deepest level possible (besides going out and killing someone in real life), and that attempt to connect humanely with something so inhumane is appealing to me. “Why does he kill?” “No one knows.” That is a compelling story to me.
When you can move past the fear (at least the nearly-religious fear of being so afraid of it that you ignore it and try to get away from it as much as possible, including not attempting to empathize with it in any way to humanize it), it becomes a deep, heartfelt, gut-wrenching journey between trying to relate to those so despicable. It is, in my opinion, one of the most humane things one can do. If you can try to understand a serial killer, even if you are trying to empathize with someone who has no empathy (which may or may not be possible: topic for another time), to me, that’s as empathetic as you can get. It may or may not be possible, and I certainly wouldn’t say that you should go out and kill people to know what it feels like, but all the same, I think that, at least for me, and through art, connecting to that type of human is exciting. Conflict is extremely important when it comes to art and storytelling, and there is no greater conflict (in my opinion) than extreme life and death; peace and suffering; humanity and complete evil in human form (which, it could be argued, isn’t even human AT ALL. A very interesting discussion).
All I can think of, when real tragedies happen, is sadness. And I try to move on from them quickly, and I don’t try to waste my time trying to understand it, because I don’t think that I could.
But through art, I believe that one can empathize, ponder, and try to relate to these (as they are called) “monsters” in that way that is less angry at their actions (which is understandable), and turn that into tragedy, in trying to understand why they did it, and, perhaps, forgive them for it. It’s a great philosophical topic to think about: empathizing with the unempathetic. It’s too complicated for me to analyze it here, but there’s a deep part of me that wishes to understand human-created horror (I don’t think I’m any different from anyone else in that regard), and I think that the type of art that I create is my way of doing that. I don’t know for a fact if this is correct, but it certainly feels that way…
Also, I think another reason (a potentially BIG reason) that I am “obsessed” with “offensive“, “violent” art has to do with the fear of being one myself, which, no doubt, was greatly influenced by religious preachings of wariness, lest we sin every possible sin, and become a murdering, incestuous, raping, homosexual thief…
I, also, feel the same way about choreographed fighting as I do explosions. I get that to people that enjoy these types of movies, they are some of the more “exciting” parts of these movies. But choreographed fighting (usually) bores me. No one takes a good, solid hit for the first five minutes of fighting (both sides block every blow, or the strikes just completely whiff), and then either the good guy or bad guy gets hurt. They stop, look at their wound. If it’s the bad guy, he gets more angry than he was before, and the good guy can barely defend himself from it. If it is the good guy, the movie makes you think he’s going to lose. But, by some miracle (either from a compromised structure due to earlier in the film, or another character, or whatever), the good guy wins. I know it sounds like I’m always against good guys winning. (Most of the time, I am). But I want the good guy to be compelling to me. Most of the time, this just isn’t the case. I’m rarely invested in the story, because I’m not a “movie” guy. “Dur, then why are you writing about movies, huh?”
I also want to bring up one more aspect of acting in general: dialogue. Maybe I’m being overly-critical here, but the way dialogue is delivered today drives me mad. Cop shows on television are fucking terrible for it. Detective walks in, almost power-walking, throws a folder down on the counter of the “main guy in charge” talking in this low “serious” voice. A question is asked. The dialogue is delivered in the same monotone voice. Guy asks another question. Detective asks a question back in a higher tone. Lead guy answers with a “Well blah blah blah blah.” I can’t fucking take it. I can’t fucking sit through that shit. (The only exception to this was “House”. It was a “detective” show, but it wasn’t a “cop” show. House was a very interesting character. The formula worked for that show. It was like they combined a detective show with a hospital show. It was quite original, and very well done). I have problems with dialogue in action movies, too. They just don’t sell me. I’m not buying into them. Once again, admittedly, I’m not a “movie” guy. But it’s not like a movie or a show can’t capture me. Most of them just don’t, though. The formula is played out. The tones of dialogue are so predictable (as is almost everything else about the movies) that I can’t bring myself to watch them. But, they sell well.
I enjoy movies that are a little weird. A movie like “Teeth”, for instance. A vagina with teeth. Fucking beautiful. Hilarious. Now that is original. It’s got comedy and horror: two of my favorite things.
“Rubber”. A fucking tire that blows shit up. It’s so dumb, and that’s why I love it so much. It’s so “absurd”: “out there”. I find that refreshing. I don’t need to find it believable, or emotional. Give me dumb, but give me original. I think that’s what I enjoy the most about movies.
“Human Centipede”. Need I say more? A fucking hilarious horror movie. My only problem with the movie was the main villain, believe it or not. I enjoyed what he did, but I didn’t enjoy his personality. He came across as a little cheesy to me. I guess I wanted him to come across a little more like Jason, or Jigsaw.
One of my favorite movies of all time (and I’m not joking): “The Descent”. I know that is going to sound weird to pretty much everyone. “I can tell you really haven’t seen a lot of movies, Cody.” The whole setting in that movie was wonderful to me. There’s a real terror involved: what if you do get fucking lost in this cave? What if you can’t get out? I found it very compelling. The bullshit at the end was funny and cheesy, but I was emotionally invested before that.
I want my movies to be a little bit weird. A little bit “off-kilter”. Once again, I’d like to write some movie and show reviews. Some reviews of movies I watched a long time ago. Same with television shows. I’d like to even do the same thing with some books, eventually.
I’m not going to claim that any of my reviews are “objective” in any way, and, of course, you have the right to disagree with everything I say about any review. I’m not claiming that “I’m right and you’re wrong”: I’m just writing my opinions.
If the process of growing up has taught me anything, it is that individuals must live their own lives, with their own feelings, and experience the world in their own ways, make their own mistakes, and pursue their own passions.