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Do you think Movies are losing their touch?

Are movies losing their touch compared to older films?

Yes.30%[ 15 ]
No.70%[ 35 ]

Total Votes : 50

Posted: Fri, 1st Sep 2006, 6:53pm

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Garfield Street

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Do you think that movies now are becoming too gory and are using too many special effects to make up for other important fields like acting and cinematography?

Looking back on older films they had to work extremely hard to perfect the acting and camera angles, do you think that it is becoming too easy to make films that they are losing their touch compared to the great classics that started Hollywood?
Posted: Fri, 1st Sep 2006, 7:04pm

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Sollthar

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Simple answer: No


Long answer:

It was hard to make a good movie back in the days, it's still hard to make a good movie today.
If you look back, you can find a real "classic" about every 3 to 5 years. And each and every year has about 3 or 4 really outstanding films to offer, the rest is a wild mix of very good, good, average, crappy and utter scum.

It was like that 50 years ago it's still like that today.

Are using too many special effects to make up for other important fields like acting and cinematography?
What is it with people and their "special effects" arguments. :I
Special Effects have been used since the age of cinema to achieve something you couldn't do without.

A "special effect" is just an easy to spot mean for a moviegoer, while most can't even see a difference between excellent cinematography and standard visuals, outstanding soundediting from average mixing, brilliant editing from average cutting etc.

So todays special effects are not trying to "make up" for anything, same as other aspects, they're just used in a lot of films and have become a standard. And same as always, most films are no masterpieces. That's in no way the special effects fault.
Posted: Fri, 1st Sep 2006, 7:21pm

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Fill

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I'm in the middle with this. I'm going to say no. Superman Returns IMO is better than the original Superman movies. (Boy this'll raise a few eyebrows wink)

I could argue, however, that taking away the puppet department in LucasFilms is an example of how "special effects" have ruined films.

So again, I say:

I'm in the middle.
Posted: Fri, 1st Sep 2006, 7:22pm

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Sollthar

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taking away the puppet department in LucasFilms is an example of how "special effects" have ruined films.
Could you elaborate on that?
Posted: Fri, 1st Sep 2006, 7:25pm

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Arktic

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You know, a X-Wing Puppet is as much a 'special effect' as a CGI X-Wing neutral I really don't see how that makes any difference, personally.
Posted: Fri, 1st Sep 2006, 7:28pm

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Sollthar

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Yeah, that's why I wondered. basically that sentence reads:

"Taking away special effects is an example of how special effects have ruined films"

Which makes little sense to me... unsure
Posted: Fri, 1st Sep 2006, 7:45pm

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Fill

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Heh, my bad. Let's reword that:

I could argue that taking the puppet department away from LucasFilm and replacing it with CGI is an example of how "CGI" ruining films.
Posted: Fri, 1st Sep 2006, 7:48pm

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Sollthar

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Ah, now I get you. smile

Well, while it's a shame that ILM is abandoning the craft of miniatures, they make room for a new technique (same as today hardly anyone using stop and go animated puppets anymore... and for good reason I might add).

I don't see much "ruining films" in there. Ruining a part of a business maybe...
Posted: Fri, 1st Sep 2006, 7:58pm

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Hybrid-Halo

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Special Effects and Film making are always going to evolve though, surely it's a good thing that the medium is staying at the front of technology and enhancing the cinema experience as a result of it.

In time, 3D will be probably be more widely respected as an artistic craft and then at some point probably be replaced with more effective means of special effect. And I imagine at that point someone else will ask the same question you have.

Technology is a wave, let's quit worrying and just ride it. There have been torrents of good films over the last few years.

-Hybrid.
Posted: Fri, 1st Sep 2006, 8:18pm

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er-no

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Yes. I think movies are slightly losing their touch as more and more they become more reliant on post-production values of compositing and all that jazz.

I prefer working on large fully built sets (like the ones I've recently finished on for a film called Stardust). It was fantastic to be in the environment on set, whereas other films with just greenscreens scattered everywhere isn't well.. as magical.

I'll always try to keep to the truth and locations, using 3D and special effects to aid my film, not make it.
Posted: Fri, 1st Sep 2006, 8:23pm

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Arktic

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I disagree.

It might *seem* as though lots of modern movies are utter trash compared to the gems of yesteryear - but that's probably because you've not seen as many movies from the past as you have from recent times, and the ones that you do watch from the past will be the fondly remembered classics. I don't think, in 40 years time, anyone will watch "Final Destination 4".....
Posted: Fri, 1st Sep 2006, 8:31pm

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er-no

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Who are you disagreeing with Arktic?
Posted: Fri, 1st Sep 2006, 8:50pm

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Arktic

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With whoever says that 'movies are loosing their touch'.
Posted: Fri, 1st Sep 2006, 8:57pm

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B3N

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In a way movies are getting a bit harder to make as most ideas have been taken and it can be hard to create a new idea sometimes without stealing anothers.
but then i guess they can be changed all the time and used diffrently
Posted: Fri, 1st Sep 2006, 9:57pm

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Waser

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I think movies today are just as good as ever. I never seem to agree when people at parties are like "I dunno man, movies these days..."

When I think about my favorite movies, most of the time they have been released in the past ten years (not counting the original Star Wars trilogy)

So no, I don't think movies are "losing touch", whatever that actually means.

On a side note, if anything, I think indie cinema has been getting crappier. It may just be coincidence, but the past ten movies I saw at indie theaters have sucked balls. A Scanner Darkly, Cache, Brick, The Descent (US Ending), all come to mind. These movies, more than say Snakes on a Plane, Superman Returns, or V for Vendetta, have lost their touch.

If I ever make it in this buisness (the film one), and have any sort of control over the movies I write, I will always push for cool costumes, sets, and 'puppets' over CG, but probably with CG touch ups, much to the effect of the monsters in Silent Hill (movie). But sometimes CG cannot be avoided. Can you imagine if the plane crash scene in superman had been done with "practical" special effects? I'm not sure it could be done.
Posted: Fri, 1st Sep 2006, 10:11pm

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Sollthar

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I thought Davey Jones was a perfect example of just how far good CG can go. I thought it was a practical makeup effect.

Besides, bad CG is a bad as bad Puppets...
Posted: Fri, 1st Sep 2006, 10:22pm

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Jabooza

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I don't think movies have not gotten worse than the old Hollywood hits. However, in terms of special effects there advancement has slowed down. Think about it, there are no longer any revolutionary films such as the original Star Wars or 1933's King Kong were. As we can surpass the quality of said films, we can no longer achieve the same degree of advancement as they did.
Posted: Sat, 2nd Sep 2006, 6:25am

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ssj john

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I dunno I think in a minor way cgi has damage some films. Seems like some films go to far with cgi. They get to carried away. There idea's get too farfetched. While CGI is cool, I still like an element of realism in my movies. But then CGI has also helped films in that same way. It has made it so that films can go "that far." Like LOTR, that movie would not be the movie it is without CGI.

So my answer is, Depends on the film. LOTR No special effects helped it. Fantastic four, well not the best example as this movie was just bad in everyway, but they also couldn't have done it without special effects, so whats my point?

I dunno

Final answer, Depends on the film
Posted: Sat, 2nd Sep 2006, 7:23am

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ben3308

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Anybody read Neil Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death?" Because his main point is that as a society we are rapidly losing substance, and that our means of discourse is an ineffective one produced by the media.

We had a seminar in class today and I was the only one who disagreed. I tried to argue that the entertainment industry, if anything, was on its way to adding more substance, because people are slowly realizing that with no substance you have no movie. I was shocked when everyone in my class disagreed. It was as if everyone there was preaching defeatism and media corruption/takeover without supplying any solution.

So my question to you guys is: do you think films are losing their substance? Not just in quality areas, as this thread has been discussing, but actual substance. My teacher's argument was that older films have less cuts and more dialogue to better convey substance, whereas nowadays we just have flashy, fast cut visuals to distract us from the fact that what we're watching has no substance. I was pretty disgusted at my whole class for that entire seminar. The whole time I was like "if only some folks at FXHome could help me out here to support the entertainment industry". (in Postman's book, he has a rather large, seemingly "justified" vendetta against any and all means of entertainment- saying we'll spend 12 years of our lives just trying to be entertained. And, rather than offer solutions, he just complains about the problems.)

Anybody agree or disagree?
Posted: Sat, 2nd Sep 2006, 7:45am

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Hendo

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This may be annoying but maybe we need to define what movie substance is before we decide whether today's movies have equal, more, or less of it than in the past?

Is it plot / character depth / acting / gravitas / all / none / something else?

As for your teacher's argument that the current fast cut / MTV editing trend is because today's movie's don't have substance -- while I don't know if that is wholly or partially true -- I'm more inclined to think that this fast editing style is employed because today's younger generation has a shorter attention span and couldn't focus on an old-fashioned scene even if it was full of the aforementioned, undefined substance.
Posted: Sat, 2nd Sep 2006, 11:55am

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Sollthar

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I've just watched "an unfinished life"... There's still movies like that, a lot of them. Calm, brilliantly acted, beautyful and no CG...

People always complain everything is getting worse then before. That's a typical human pattern... "Oh, it was all better in the early days" yadda yadda yadda...
Posted: Sat, 2nd Sep 2006, 1:23pm

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b4uask30male

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Films are easy to come by now, it's not just hollywood that produces them, so what happens is people get bored quicker at seeing crappy films.

Eg: back in the 80's there was some real b movies but we put up with them, no if they palmed the same stuff on us we would complain.

Same with everything really, too much of a good thing....
Posted: Sat, 2nd Sep 2006, 2:54pm

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Penguin

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It depends on the movie. With some they use gimongous explosions and cg efffects to make up for bad acting, but there's nothing wrong with gimongous explosions and cg effects in a good movie.

Detonation films wrote:

There are two types of movies. The kind with explosions and guns and the kind that sucks.
biggrin
Posted: Sat, 2nd Sep 2006, 10:40pm

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SlothPaladin

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I remember back before I dropped out of collage I was doing a presentation for English about this very topic (I was supposed to read "Amusing Ourselves to Death?") but I didn't. I got the group together and told everyone that the important thing in the presentation was not what we knew, but that we hold there attention and keep them engaged as long as we were up there. Because it was entertaining and funny we got the best grade in the class. I did not really realize the irony of this until now.

It's funny though, for being someone who has ADD I seem to have a longer attention span then many people. I do think that people who watch more TV will have a harder time paying attention to slower paced things then people who don’t. I think this because I don’t watch TV and do have ADD (I’ve read books about this and been analyzed and all that jazz, chances are I know 10x more about ADD then you) and I seem to have an easer time paying attention then many people who watch a lot of TV. However my friends who don’t watch TV and don’t have ADD can keep on track far better then I ever could. So I think there is a ‘now, now, NOW’ generation being raised but because of it there are people that are pulling away and making intelligent film because they don’t want to be associated with the other group. So you can go out and watch the pop films of the day, but those films are driving others to make smart meaningful entertainment.
Posted: Sun, 3rd Sep 2006, 1:22am

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Serpent

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I don't like newer movies any worse or better than older ones. I think films age incredibly well (at least since the 60's for me). Then the newer ones are awesome. I can usually name 6 really good movies per year. If any span of time had good films, it was purely by chance or inspiration or something. I think an example that is happening now with films like LotR, Pirates, etc. Good adventure movies.

ILM did not stop practical effects. They were just losing money from having an entire department dedicated to it. So now they just have the poeple. Of course they do most of their stuff with CG nowadays.
Posted: Sun, 3rd Sep 2006, 1:34am

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destron

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Detonation films wrote:

There are two types of movies. The kind with explosions and guns and the kind that sucks.
biggrin
I wish that were true...
Posted: Sun, 3rd Sep 2006, 4:20am

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WithSwissCheese

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I like the "too much of a good thing" theory. That seems to fit best what's happening to movies.

Same thing probably happened a long time ago to books and music. I'm sure there are still great books and great music being written out there - somewhere, but I just don't have the time to wade through all the crap to find it.
Posted: Sun, 3rd Sep 2006, 4:49am

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VRBstudios

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Just watch! About 50 years from now people will look back at movies from today and say, "That looks so fake! Man those are the worse special effects ever!"
Just like we probably say about movies back then.
lol

special effects will just continue to get more advanced.
Posted: Sun, 3rd Sep 2006, 9:45am

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SlothPaladin

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Vito Corleone wrote:

"That looks so fake! Man those are the worse special effects ever!"
Have you ever watched an Alfred Hitchcock film, fake effects are the last thing on your mind? 50 years from now when people watch films like American Beauty or Requiem for a Dream they will either think "Wow this is really great" or "Yet another over rated film from the past, I don't see what the big deal was about" special effects won't even enter into the equation.
Posted: Sun, 3rd Sep 2006, 1:00pm

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Nutbar

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While i dont think that good movies are getting rare i think that well written movies are becoming somewhat extinct. Im getting pretty fed up with remakes and its not very often i come out of a cinema thinking "wow, what a good story". Seems they'll turn any peice of rubbish into a film these days.
Posted: Sun, 3rd Sep 2006, 2:31pm

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Jazzmanian

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I watch a *lot* of old, vintage films. (Probably far too much, I'm sure.) One of the most accurate things pointed out in this thread thus far is the huge advantage which the "classics" most people are familiar with have over "all the movies" today. Why? Because if you're a film buff in the current generation, you probably watch a lot of the movies that come out each year, either in the theater or as rentals later on. I know I do. This means that you're going to be seeing, if we're lucky, one or two or maybe even three films in a given year that are really and truly great. Every few years you might catch one which will eventually wind up being a died in the wool "classic" which will keeps its staying power when your grandchildren are watching them. And then you're going to see a whole bunch that are just mediocre or plain stink up the joint.

How many really old movies have you seen? How many do you seek out and watch on a yearly basis? Generally the only ones you see are the ones which already passed the test of time and made the cut. Take Bogie for example. In the late forties to ealry fifties, (his "golden era" by most accounts) you would probably pipe in and mention Key Largo, The Big Sleep, African Queen and Casa Blanca. Yes... classics one and all. But did you know that Bogart made more than fifty movies? And in that same golden era, he made some real dogs. Ever watch Dead Reckoning? ( 1947, directed by John Cromwell.) Oh my lord, it was a piece of dreck. And he made plenty of others. Today your'e seeing the good with the bad, while from the olden days you're usually just exposed to the best of the best.

With that said, I think we do see too many examples of filmmakers getting far too lazy in the modern era, using the advances in technology more as a crutch than as new and improved tools to add spice to an already excellent film. Atrocious acting, poor direction and thin plots can and are covered up with a thick spackled layer of special effects wizardry. The action genre couldn't have existed fifty years ago because the technology didn't exist to fill up an hour and a half with an SFX extravaganza. Also, filmmakers were forced to make do with less... a *lot* less, in terms of effects. There's one classic scene I'm trying to dredge up the title for... might have been Maltese Falcon, where one of the bad guys is getting shot. You never even see him go down. What you see is the guy firing his gun and then the *shadow* of a guy doubling over in pain and falling to the floor. Very dramatic and beautifully done. There were no options for showing the bullet in slow motion piercing his skull and bits of bone, brain and blood slowly spattering across the wall. And I'm sure the film was better off for it.

I firmly believe that the films we will wind up remembering fondly forty years on are the ones that still have all the elements of the great classics.... solid, top notch acting, a great story, excellent camera work, and the director's magic of drawing the audience into the story. And then, the special effects and wizardry is just added in at whatever levels are needed to be the icing on the cake. One movie which could have made it to classic status, in my opinion, (though it probably won't) was Gabby Dellal's "On a Clear Day" from last year. That film had virtually nothing in terms of special effects, but it was just a simple, beautiful story with excellent filmwork, solid acting and a fantastic script. Less can be more.
Posted: Sun, 3rd Sep 2006, 4:35pm

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WithSwissCheese

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I'm waiting for the eventual turnaround/backlash, just like the 60's generation rebelled against the 50's culture, I'm sure we'll see future filmmakers rebelling against the current FX heavy offerings. It will happen eventually, just don't know when.

While I appreciate growing up when all this technology became readily available to the average movie maker, I think I would have preferred to be in the generation (future or past) when all the technology was already old hat. Those times when a larger portion of movie makers focused on the really hard part of movie making - telling a good story.

Ah, c'est la vie.
Posted: Mon, 4th Sep 2006, 2:49am

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jrg2134

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Some movies are and i personally don't like them because you really don't walk out of the movies with a good feeling. more agressive perhaps. superman returns is a good reason why i answered no though. i thought it had a good really and they still are making those but some movies that would have been rated pg-13 20-30 years ago are now rated G. So i am voting both ways )although my real vote was NO,)
Posted: Mon, 4th Sep 2006, 5:14am

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Gnome326

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Nutbar wrote:

While i dont think that good movies are getting rare i think that well written movies are becoming somewhat extinct. Im getting pretty fed up with remakes and its not very often i come out of a cinema thinking "wow, what a good story". Seems they'll turn any peice of rubbish into a film these days.
You can find plenty of movies with good story to it still. You just have to find the right ones.

For people who say that todays movies are unoriginal, well you could say that about the movies in the past as well. THey used to constantly make western movies, as well as other various genres. I think the difference between then and now is that a whole hell of a lot more movies have been made since then so there is less materials to grab from that have not been used in a film already.

But the fact is, I don't think that less quality films are coming out, but rather people are harder to please nowadays, as well as more jibberish is being put out so its harder to find the good movies in between all that.
Posted: Mon, 4th Sep 2006, 10:52pm

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Nutbar

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Gnome326 wrote:

Nutbar wrote:

While i dont think that good movies are getting rare i think that well written movies are becoming somewhat extinct. Im getting pretty fed up with remakes and its not very often i come out of a cinema thinking "wow, what a good story". Seems they'll turn any peice of rubbish into a film these days.
You can find plenty of movies with good story to it still. You just have to find the right ones.

For people who say that todays movies are unoriginal, well you could say that about the movies in the past as well. THey used to constantly make western movies, as well as other various genres. I think the difference between then and now is that a whole hell of a lot more movies have been made since then so there is less materials to grab from that have not been used in a film already.

But the fact is, I don't think that less quality films are coming out, but rather people are harder to please nowadays, as well as more jibberish is being put out so its harder to find the good movies in between all that.
I didn't really mean to say that there are no good stories, what i meant was good stories don't seem to be the number 1 priority. And even then, alot of the good stories are just adapted from old stories. I just don't like the current trends of remaking old films (Why? by the way) and destroying quality japanese films (such as ring, the grudge).
Posted: Mon, 4th Sep 2006, 10:54pm

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Sollthar

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The japanes ring was terrible, hilariously silly - I was laughing almost through. The american Version by Gore Verbinski is god, brilliantly made and well directed. So much to that... wink
Posted: Mon, 4th Sep 2006, 11:21pm

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Nutbar

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For me the japanese version was far superior, it may not have been technically as well put together, but it was a damn sight better as a horror film. The story was pretty much identical, but the japanese version was far more atmospheric.
Posted: Mon, 4th Sep 2006, 11:23pm

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Sollthar

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Hm, well, I guess that brings us to another important points of this debate: Tastes differ... wildly.

(As this example shows, cause the japenese "ring" might well be one of the worst films I've seen yet, while Verbinskis Version is amongst my favorite films)


So what one considers a "good story" might be a mindless hump for someone else, or what someone yells at as stupid and simple, might be an intelligent, moving piece for another.
Posted: Mon, 4th Sep 2006, 11:38pm

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Nutbar

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Indeed. But clearly in this example the story has no relevance, as both films are virtually identical in story. The difference for me was the japanese version was a horror film, the american version was not.
Posted: Mon, 4th Sep 2006, 11:45pm

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Sollthar

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Heh, I disagree entirely.

What made the american version work so well for me was an intelligent, moody script with characters I could believe throughout.
What made the Japanese version fail entirely for me was a bad script with random characters (I couldn't follow their logic for most of the film, they seemed to just find out things which made no sense to me at all).

So in fact, yes. It was the story that devided the two, because a "story" is always defined by how it is presented. While the american Ring was a deep dark psycho-thriller (true, it wasn't a "horror film", which was what I liked about it), the Japanese version was more of a... comedy that made me and my girl laugh out loud at it's randomness in places.


Well anyways, this thread isn't about the ring.


But it shows something:

Give two directors the EXACT same script and, believe it or not, you'll end up with two different stories. Because you don't define a films story only through a synopsis of what happenes, but through a collection of little details, emotions, mood and things you decide to focus on, or not.
If you describe a films "story" only through going through stages of what happened, I believe you've missed the point of filmmaking.
Posted: Tue, 5th Sep 2006, 12:00am

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Bryce007

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I agree with the Swiss on this one.. I saw the american version of the ring first, then A month or so later saw the japanese one and wondered how the American version could be so far and beyond Better than the japanese version in pretty much every way. I'm suprised someone actually decided to remake such a piss poor film.

Anyways, About movies "losing" they're so called "Touch". I'm pretty sure we can all agree that ENTIRELY relative to ones tastes and preferences in a wide variety of areas. Who is going to say with Absolute authority whether one film is better than the next?

No one.

So, that said, I've enjoyed some outstanding films these past few years. the most recent being the absurd and highly outlandish Statham Vehicle "Crank".
Posted: Tue, 5th Sep 2006, 1:19am

Post 42 of 51

Fill

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The only thing I don't like about today's movies are the sets. Like Joby said on the first page, it's not as magical. Think of it this way:

Would you rather be on the set with a greenscreen when lucas is filming Episode III or be on the set in Jabba's Palace while he's filming Return of the Jedi?

I would much prefer being on the Return of the Jedi set. It would really bring things to life.
Posted: Wed, 6th Sep 2006, 5:13pm

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jotoki

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its true there are FAR too many remakes coming out of holywood these days. There are far too many films coming out of there full stop. are special effects to blame ? I personally think yes and no. There are plenty of filims out there that use spectacular special effects to try to cover up a weak or non existant plot (xxx 1 and 2, the fast and the furious 1 and 2 to name a couple) and others where they help the story along, the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan is a damn good example. Showing the horrors of war if not realisitically (I wasn't on the normandy beaches in 1944 so I have no idea how realisitic the film is) then very effectively.

There is a hell of a lot of crap out there right now, I find it hard these days to find anything I even want to bother going to see.
I mean (and i know i'll get crucified for this but I dont really care) "Snakes on a plane". It sounds like it should be on a cinema Billboard in the Simpsons. Whenever I see the trailer I just laugh out loud. And if you cant take a concept seriously what chance of you buying a ticket for the film. This seems to happen more and more. Yes its a taste thing I agree with that same with The Ring though thats more of a culture thing I think. Flat lifeless corporate versus dark atmospheric and different. Give me the japapnese version every time. Something different rather than more of the formulaic same, thats what we really need but while the audiences keep going to the bad as well as the good we'll keep getting lazy remakes and storyless formulaic pap.

The next film I'm looking forward to is Children Of men. If may dissapoint I dont know but from what I can see it's orginal (as is possible these days), gritty and story driven. Fantastic
Posted: Wed, 6th Sep 2006, 5:25pm

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WithSwissCheese

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I think one of the biggest problems right now is there aren't a lot of communities/places where people can practice and acquire the softer skills of entertaining an audience.

There are a lot of technical people out there (myself included) who have the know how to make movies, but the culture of live entertainment is largely gone. So we end up with many movie people who know when we see something cool on screen, but don't really understand the very soft and difficult skill of entertaining an audience.

One of the things that really stands out for me with the older entertainment generation is the way many of them were very grounded in things like Vaudeville or Las Vegas shows, or at least theater, all excellent place to train to be an entertainer at all levels. Whether it was the stars themselves, or the writers/producers, they all got live feedback from an audience.

Where are people like Dean Martin or Carrol Burnett who could host a live show on their sheer personality and skill. Or the writer's and producer's who knew how to do that? Unlike today's faceless, replaceable clones (American Idol comes to mind). I think we've lost that connection or it has slowly faded out, so the only techniques we have readily available to learn are shock and special f/x.

??/RANT OFF
Posted: Wed, 6th Sep 2006, 6:03pm

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devilskater

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Well, I don't think movies are loosing their touch...but they are alot different (obviously) than back in the days. Special FX are getting less, however, Visual Effects are improving !!! It's a totally revamped industry !

There won't be movies any more, like Con Air, Die Hard or The Rock, which I LOVED !!!

But therefor there are other really cool action movies like bad boys, collateral, miami vice, ... etc..etc...

times have changed....deal with it wink

cheers,
d.
Posted: Wed, 6th Sep 2006, 6:07pm

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Waser

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damn it. I missed an argument about The Ring and Ringu? I like both, but The Ring just happens to be on my top ten movies of all time.

By the way, I agree completely on the whole green screen vs. real sets.

If anyone thinks that movies are losing their touch, I highly reccomend people check out the DVD for Silent Hill, and watch the making of featurette. Say what you will about that movie, but I'd be hard pressed to find a group of people who cared more about the movie they were making in the past decade. Some of the sets they built are truly breath taking, as were the creation of costumes and such. Plus I personally think that movie rocked anyway.
Posted: Wed, 6th Sep 2006, 9:20pm

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jotoki

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Times have changed devilskater ? I think not. You still have to tell a story in a way the audience wants to see and there will still be movies like Die Hard around but like Die hard they will be Diamonds in an ever increasing pile of rough. Visual effect, special effects call them what you will they will never replace good storytelling. That is something that will never change. There will always be an audience who only want to see things blown up and think that makes a good film or TV show, that is unlikely to change either. They will always be out there. I think perhaps withswisscheese has a point although I'm not sure I agree with whats missing. I personally see it as the subtle arts in storytelling that seem lost right now in favour of the brute force approach. It's a society thing I guess but it does lead in some cases to lazy effects driven films that seem to be there to showcase how great the effects houses are rather than to be of any value as a story. How many films recently have claimed "Groud breaking special effects" or "Awsome special effects" or something similar as a selling point. I haven't seen groundbreaking special or visual effects for years, probably since Jurassic Park. Just small improvements of the same thing.

No Times haven't changed. The things that make a good story and good storytelling remain the same.

Oh and Waser you didn't miss any argument, as Solthar rightly said it's all a matter of personal opinion.
Posted: Thu, 14th Sep 2006, 5:55pm

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RusSEAL

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ben3308 wrote:

Anybody read Neil Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death?" Because his main point is that as a society we are rapidly losing substance, and that our means of discourse is an ineffective one produced by the media.

We had a seminar in class today and I was the only one who disagreed. I tried to argue that the entertainment industry, if anything, was on its way to adding more substance, because people are slowly realizing that with no substance you have no movie. I was shocked when everyone in my class disagreed. It was as if everyone there was preaching defeatism and media corruption/takeover without supplying any solution.

So my question to you guys is: do you think films are losing their substance? Not just in quality areas, as this thread has been discussing, but actual substance. My teacher's argument was that older films have less cuts and more dialogue to better convey substance, whereas nowadays we just have flashy, fast cut visuals to distract us from the fact that what we're watching has no substance. I was pretty disgusted at my whole class for that entire seminar. The whole time I was like "if only some folks at FXHome could help me out here to support the entertainment industry". (in Postman's book, he has a rather large, seemingly "justified" vendetta against any and all means of entertainment- saying we'll spend 12 years of our lives just trying to be entertained. And, rather than offer solutions, he just complains about the problems.)

Anybody agree or disagree?
I completely disagree with your teacher's viewpoint that the films of yesteryear were somehow "better" because of their long dialogue and less editting- so in a way I'd definitely agree with you.

Case in point- look at The Thing from the 1950s versus John Carpenter's The Thing from the 1980s...

JC's The Thing was far more true to the original short story. The visuals even by today's standards still hold up, but they were astoundingly groundbreaking at its contemporary point in time and the horror and shock was just as palatable as the original.

The ONLY reason that the original still holds up to critical and directorial scrutiny to this day is because it is an example of one of the few films of it's type to use Single Camera Staging. Had the director/producer relied on [then] contemporary standards, the film would have been half made or out priced. The reason for long meandering dialogue and slow editting was that it was the only way to get all the character parts in without lengthy camera and stage resets.

John Carpenter's rendition- an homage to the original- also used single camera staging, but the techniques, camera technology and available talent pool for the FX made for a truly contemporary form of original work, while still remaining faithful to it's predacessor.

Today's theoretical film courses teach the modicum of "show more- Tell less".

Film as a visual medium requires a visual sensation to ellicit a responce from the audience. Granted, it's an extreme example but:

Does one watch a character put on their coat and go outside or do we listen while the character explains each action they're doing as they perform that same function? If they're to explain everything, then it's called Radio Theater- visuals truly are unneccessary.

Is it more interesting to have the heroine of a story explain in one run-on sentence that the reason the bad-guys can't get through the sliding glass door because the house was designed by a former anti-terrorist architect who went to Yale and designed the 6th generation Presidential armoured limo while having the house constructed under his guided tutalage [incidentally, that description is EXACTLY what was in one of Marc Walberg's first movies...]

Or do we seethe following:

As our heroes hide behind the family room sofa, thebiggest, meanest, most ludicrously big hombre ever seen by man comes barrelling at what looks to be a flimsy sliding glass door and instantly with a thunderous impact, sends his teeth flying in 5 directions and the sloppy smear and squeel of his flesh peeling down the unscratched door can be heard as we cut to:

Dorthy: Dad Graduated from Yale with an architectural degree...
Toto: Uh- Huh- some degree...

Next comes a greasy long haired neo-trash Goth with his H&K G36 set to full auto- firing maniacly into the door as he draws closer. Once he steps tot eh patio the shrill pinging echo of ricochetting bullets meets with the slurpy squish of Neo-Trash's flesh being peirced by the errant rounds. Neo-Trash falls, puppet-like to the yard. Cut to:

Toto looks to increduously at Dorthy:

Dorthy POV to camera: Dad also held down a job in Delta Force...

A Skinheaded shike of a man runs pell-mell to teh door striking it with a nail-n-wire laced ballbat which immediatly bounces back into his skull sending an eye and brain fragments in all directions: Cut to:

Dorthy: ... Had the house built to entertain dignitaries in total security...

3 men scream towards the door with what appears to be a cement pillar- the first in line stips over Bat Boy and has his head shattered between the meteoric pillar and the door- a gruesome crimson mass can be seen from our heroes' POV within their home. Cut to:

Dorthy: Including the President...

Dynamics.

In editting, filmography, FX, acting- all these make for contemporary film.

The reason that classics stand out from all the rest is that we remember SPECIFIC classics- not "all" of them- those that are distinct were made so because they did something dynamic that until that time had never been done before.

I'd say that your teacher needs to take a film theory course.
Posted: Thu, 14th Sep 2006, 6:57pm

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Jazzmanian

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RusSEAL wrote:

I completely disagree with your teacher's viewpoint that the films of yesteryear were somehow "better" because of their long dialogue and less editting.
You give a lot of examples and make some valid points, but I still have to disagree with at least part of your basic premise. You list lots of ways that "modern" films can employ all sorts of special effects to tell the story rather than "long dialogue" etc. But with the truly classic older films, it wasn't really a choice of "less is more" or some artsy fartsy decision on minimalism. In the old era, there simply wasn't (as I'm sure you are already aware) any way to physically film a person getting their brains smashed out by a concrete pillar bashing against a bullet-proof glass door. (Short of getting hauled off to jail for murder before your film was finished, of course.) Bullets bouncing off doors into bodies, eyes and brain fragments flying around... not an option.

As I've stated before, what set the true classics apart was their ability to produce the same desired reaction in the audience absent the ability to hit them in the face with all that stuff. Today we might think of it as "subtle" but back then it was the only option available. Some well crafted long dialogue was often the only way to get portions of the story across. And for the real "action" sequences, the SFX just wasn't available. That's why some classic scenes of somebody getting shot were filmed with the *shadow* of a person bending over after taking a 38 slug to the stomach and falling down. Not for effect... just because there wasn't much of a better way to show it.

Were there crappy movies back then? Absolutely. Hundreds of them, just like today. But the really great ones.. the ones that managed all of the things I mentioned above in a way that kept the audience on the edge of their seat and gasping... those films were, as I see it, actually better than some of the top films today because they had to deliver the same things we want now, but do it with so much less.

Then again, maybe I'm just an old coot who's pining fo the fijords.

razz
Posted: Fri, 15th Sep 2006, 5:57pm

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RusSEAL

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"Pining fo the fijord?! Pressed of life, if he wasn't nailed to the perch he'd be pushing up daisies!" hugegrin

I will stand with you any time, my estemed friend! We "pining fijord fjarts" need to stick together!! hugegrin boggle

I see where you're line of thought is and in that instance I wholeheartedly would agree!

Let's continue to use the example of The Thing from the 1950s...

The penultimate scene from the film where our cornered heroes are waiting in the crew berthing area, gasoline in hand, await the Geiger Counter's tell-tale tick as The Thing gets closer- followed by a harrowing "fire fight" that ignites almost the entire set!

If it's available, have a look at the scene in DVD- even fully engulfed in flames we never really see The Creature!

During the end electrocution scene, the same thing applies- strobe lighting, what little bit of FX done with spark pyro and animated lightening culminate to see The Thing shrink to nothing!

More often than not, the technique is still used [Alien waited until almost the last 10 minutes of the film to give the audience the gruesome lingering camera of the Geiger Xenomorph] but it's now a throw-away vehicle instead of the actual technique to illicit reactions from the audience.

Incidentally- both Alien and Aliens pay homage as well to The Thing and the [in]famous Gieger Counter scene- to the extent that at least once [it's even more prominent in Aliens] the "main character" is the "Gieger Counter" itself!

Though I absolutely despise the film to the deepest of my core, I have to hand it to The Haxon Boys for Blaire Witch. Probably the only contemporary film to rely on nothing but the use of telegraph visual play to completely creep out the audience.

To argue what you've reinforced is simple banal- you're absolutely correct- it's using what you have and making something more of it that counts and film in its golden era had many such people doing just that!

Excellent point! biggrin cool
Posted: Sun, 17th Sep 2006, 9:58pm

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JoelM

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Sollthar wrote:

I thought Davey Jones was a perfect example of just how far good CG can go. I thought it was a practical makeup effect.
Yea, I'm sure they could have made rubber tentacle beard, but if they did that that sense of realism would be diminished because with digital tentacles they have a 100x more control over them to almost make them characters themselves by picking up the keys or playing the piano and many other subtle movements throughout their screen time.

As far as "Are movies not the same as they used to be" go, it of course depends on the director and visually today's movies will always prevail, but when it comes to acting, and drama, I believe there are more pictures made in the 40's and 50's which have the best acting and drama by far then anything today. Once in a great while something today will be made that is close in quality to the olden day’s pictures but can't quite make the cut.

The humor in the 30's, 40's, and 50's films was way above todays. Acts like Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy films (Laurel and Hardy) which I am a huge fan of isn't even comparable to 90% of today's humor. Pretty much all today's comedians like Jon Stewart have to do to make a joke is keep a straight face and read off a line with profanity.


Stan able to use his thumb as a match: