OT: What makes a good movie for you?

p@mast3rs wrote on 12/22/2004, 5:45 PM
Inspired from my thread on Napolean Dynamite, it seems as if different people are affected by different things.

So lets hear it. What about a movie makes you remember it? Is it that kicking soundtrack or is it a one liner that stays in your mind? Is it a coherent and consistent storyline or is it the little things like proper lighting?

Also, what kind of movie have you always wanted to see that was never made? Are you a fan of the bad guy getting it in the end or do you always think that the two lovers should always end up "happily ever after."?

For me:
1. Consistent and coherent storyline - if it doesnt make sense, no reason to watch.

2. Soundtrack - Every great movie I have ever watched always had a song that stood out and when I hear that song, I always think of that movie.

3. Realism over fantasy. Give me something to identify with rather than something I will never experience. I can relate to heart breaks, death, and funny situations more than I can relate to fighting with light sabers or being the chosen one to save the world.

4. More often than not, let the bad guy get away at the end. Everything doesnt end happily and it shouldnt. Give me a balance. Let the victim get the upper hand only to have the rug pulled out from underneath them instead of the other way around.

5. Instead of making a sequel to every film, let the viewer continue to wonder whatever became of the characters. Films like these always leave their impression on me.

6. Life is cruel and unfair. Let our art show that. No one ever goes that much of their way to romance someone as most movies portray. The more realism the audience can identify with.

7. Last, the best movie to me is one that make me feel what they want me to feel. I am their puppet and their visions can twist my emotions at their discretion. They'll make me cry when they want and laugh when they see fit. But most of all, when i walk out of the theatre, I will feel that I am a better person for watching or have grown emotionally from the experience.

I am quite interested in everyone else' views.


VOGuy wrote on 12/22/2004, 6:29 PM
Wooah. You're perspective differs greatly from mine.

1. Storyline - Agree with you there.. I like my movies to make some sort of sense. In interviews most good directors and producers seem to say that "The Story's the Thing."

2. Soundtrack... There have been many great movies which didn't have great songs.

3. Realism over fantasy -- I get realism every time I wake up in the morning. When I'm watching a documentary, I guess I want realism, but when I'm watching drama or comedy, give me something more than I'm getting in life.

4. One of the things is common to most successful fiction films is a "Just" ending. One of the purposes of art is to give us a feeling that there's some sort of explanation, or purpose, to our miserable little lives. If evil triumphs in a film, the film needs to appeal to our ego in some way ("Well, I'm tough enough to withstand this really scary movie!")

5. Very few stories deserve sequels.

6. Life is cruel and unfair -- Okay, I get up in the morning I get reminded of that. I don't need every form of entertainment to remind me. The very definition of "entertainment" is "Something diverting or engaging". Of course if you feel that movies should not entertain, then we have very different views of what drama and comedy are for.

7. If you feel that any movie can make you feel anything and can twist your emotions, you have much more faith in the power of media than I do. The best movies ask me for permission to take me along on the ride. I then allow the film to "suspend my disbelief" for awhile. The film can then make it's point, without trying to force me to feel or think. Some of the best movies will give me a new perspective on something. The worst movies make me feel manipulated.


vitamin_D wrote on 12/22/2004, 7:01 PM
I think there are two different sort of motion pictures I watch, and watch for two very different types of reasons. There's "Movies," of which lately 'The Incredibles' is among the best I've seen -- and then there's "Films," of which I most enjoyed Godard's 'Notre Musique' recently.

For the first, I'm resigned to the idea that I'm human, and like everyone else, I enjoy a good carnival ride now and again. They can't be entirely vapid, and occasionally a "movie" is surprisingly "film" like -- cases in point would be 'Sweet Smell of Success" or something like "War Games". These are roller coasters that have a definite voice, some sort of personal imprint that allows them to stand the test of time. But the problem with "movies" is that, like a carnival ride that has its ups and downs, sharp turns and thrilling experiences -- when it's over you've gone nowhere.

"Films," on the other hand, shift how you view the world. They reshape the fabric of your being, if even just a little. They do not necesarily need to adhere to strict narrative flow, because they're more a conversation between an artist and the viewer -- and like a good, engaging conversation, they should dart from one point of engagement to another, across different modes of expression, challenge the participants to think for themselves, and at times even antagonize them.

In films, far more is at stake than just a story, because a filmmaker is held accountable for more than just moving narrative from point A to B -- in fact, as with Godard, narrative is subsumed precisely because he finds narrative to be innevitabel. "At the end of a day, you look back and life assembles itself." For Godard, there's more to express and learn by listening to how someone says something than what it is they say -- and in the spaces between what's said, the audience is given the opportunity to engage the work on their terms instead of having it spoon-fed to them in regular, predictive intervals.

That said, I'm glad to have both -- without movies, I wouldn't appreciate films nearly as much :)

- jim
Steve Mann wrote on 12/23/2004, 12:58 AM
What makes a good movie?

A tripod.

The MTV-look with shaky-cam and high shutter speeds screams AMATEUR when most of the movie is shot that way. Not creative? Then just give the camera to someone who treats the camera like a milkshake.

Steve Mann
rextilleon wrote on 12/23/2004, 6:46 AM
A great movie to me is one in which the form fits the content . Beyond that, it must be primarily visual (I"m not a script person--I think movie making is a visual medium) and most of all, the movie has to show me something of the human condition---not in a didactic way but in a way that I can say---yup----thats the truth, or close to the truth.

Beyond that, I like good Hollywood schlock.
NickHope wrote on 12/23/2004, 7:11 AM
I too am attracted to films that are visually strong. "Cinematic" if you like. I've always loved French stuff like Luc Besson for this reason.

I'm really turned off by films that boast "amazing" special effects, or worse still, "incredible" fight scenes as their selling point.
JonnyMac wrote on 12/23/2004, 7:23 AM
What about compelling characters? Life is full of them (and we're attracted to them), yet in all your ranting about bad movies that is never an issue for you. I submit that is why movies you label "total crap" have been successful (or at least more so than you believe is fair).

I don't believe most people don't conciously go to a theatre to see the things on your list; we go to a movie to escape the "total crap" of our own lives to see how others (even characters in a movie) deal with problems that we can resonate with. This is why fantasies like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings are very popular -- even in the fantasy situation the characters are dealing with essential human themes that affect us very deeply.

But that's just one guy's perspective ... a guy who happens to be an actor and cares about the humanity behind the black and white squiggles of the words on a script page....
JonnyMac wrote on 12/23/2004, 7:26 AM
Amen ... I'm getting a bit bored with the "edgy documentary" look that seems to be the big rage. Get a tripod, a dolly, and a jib. Don't let the cinematography get in the way of the story.
cervama wrote on 12/23/2004, 8:21 AM
1. Storyline
2. sound(voices you can hear and understand
3. music

favorite movie, black hawk down, tears of the sun.
Rednroll wrote on 12/23/2004, 8:36 AM
It's no secret, that I'm no video guy and more of a music/audio guy. In stating that, I can relate the same things to me that make a good music album, also appeal to me in a good movie. Those are to me a good album/movie will appeal to a multitude of human emmotions and also will be somethiing that no one else has previously done and others will follow in it's pathway. So in listening/viewing to it one time, a certain song may appeal to me more than the others, because it fits with my feeling at that time. After listening to it another time, I may be feeling more of another emotion and another song that appeals to how I'm feeling may touch me more than the others. Therefore the album keeps bringing me back depending on the mood I'm in. I can say the same things about a good movie and it will make me reflect back on different parts that touched the different emotions.

So in summary a good film to me appeals to a variety of human emotions, within a solid storyline as well as creating something outside of the box for it's time. Here's a list of my top 10. This doesn't mean every film should have all these things combined, but is nice to have a majority of them within the same movie.
1. Fantasy
2. Anger/revenge
3. sadness/Happiness
4. Love/Hate
5. Struggle for success
6. frustration/resolution
7. Thought provoking mystery/problem solving
8. Non thought provoking humour
9. Happy resolution to conflict
10. Creativity (ie be a pioneer and show me something I haven't seen before, where other movies tend to mimic it later)

Here' some of my favorite movies that have stuck with me throughout the years, and thinking about it, they had bits of the above, so I'll list those numbers from above next to the movie.

1. Star Wars (All of the above)
2. Rocky 2,3,4,5,6,9,10
3. The Breakfast Club 2,3,4,5,6,8,9,10
4. Fast Times At Ridgemont High 2,3,4,5,6,8,9,10
5. Rambo 1,2,3,5,6,9,10
6. The Matrix 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,9,10
7. Seven 2,3,6,7,10
8. Terminator 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,9,10
9. Storm of the Century 2,6,7
10. Glitter (just kidding, making sure you're paying attention....never saw the movie). :-)
Jay Gladwell wrote on 12/23/2004, 8:44 AM
As briefly as I can put it -- Competent, talented people in every department, from beginning to end.

As you've said before, Patrick, I believe (and have taught) that a solid script is at the foundation of every "good movie."

p@mast3rs wrote on 12/23/2004, 8:54 AM
Im shocked the the greatest horror movie ever isnt on your list...Showgirls has to be top 10. (please note driping sarcasm.)

I totally agree. For me, Seven was an excellent tale that took me through so many turns. The scene where Pitt opens the box and sees his wife's head and then struggles for a bit on whether to shoot Kevin Spacey and finally succumbs to his sin was chilling. Movie or not, that emotion was real for me and still disturbs me to this day.

I think one of my favorite films from my youth had to be Meatballs. Not over the top story telling or cinematogrpahy, but man, when I was young that crap was funny (not the sequels aka "Me Ted ... aka Meathead" Another classic is Stripes.

But for me, I would have to say the two films that really got me interested in filming had to be two of the best told stories ever.

Goodfellas and The Devils Advocate. The talent in Goodfellas was amazing. Joe Pesci was over the top and guys like Ray Liotta, and Robert De Niro made it seem like gangsters were the thing to be.

The Devil's Advocate twisted me in so many ways. Pacino played the part of the Devil in amazing fashion. To me, the Devil's advocate had all of those on your list and it left you wanting more and wondering just how the Devil was going to come back. It made you want a sequel but no way a sequel would ever do it justice.

Give me Pacino, De Niro, Pesci, and for the comedy of it, Adam Sandler and I am a happy movie goer.
dholt wrote on 12/23/2004, 12:43 PM
I like movies that are different. If the movie leaves my head as soon as I walk out of the theatre or after watching it at home then it didn't do it's job.

Hollywood has gotten boring, recreating the same tired old thing or hiding a bad story with CG effects.

An example of what I think are some really great films are:
Donnie Darko
City of God
Fight Club
Run Lola Run

Just a few

Rednroll wrote on 12/23/2004, 5:21 PM
"Devil's Advocate"

Ahhhhh....yes. Totally agree. One of my favorites also, spine tingling throughout. Except one thing, it reminded me of another of my favorite movies....."Angel Heart". Ahhhh... Mr. Louis Sypher. Seven was one of the mind thinking movies throughout, and just when you thought you had it almost figured out, what was going to happen......the shocking ironic ending. Beautiful movie.
MJhig wrote on 12/23/2004, 5:55 PM
Deep plots mostly.

Actors that take over the screen such as Burt Lancaster, Gary Cooper, Jimmy Stewart, Humphrey Bogart, James Cagney, Edgar G. Robinson, Paul Newman, Clint Eastwood, James Bronson, Marlon Brando, Gene Hackman, Dustin Hoffman, Al Pacino, Yule Brenner, Lee Marvin, Robert Di Nero and all their supporting male/female counterparts. Of course all/most of the films these stars have been in have excellent plots and the majority have incredible film techniques too of course. Anyone remember Emperor Of The North? ;-)

There are only a few "stars" these days that have the same or "close to" mystique, maybe James Woods, Tom Cruise, Bill Murry, Billy Crystal, Tom Hanks, Jack Nicholson.

What I hate? Special FX, I've seen enough special FX, car chases, gun fights, explosions for the sake of such to last the rest of my life. Those things were novel up to the '80s, they're played and distasteful to me now.

That said, I do enjoy avant garde movies that really don't belong in the "standard" movie category such as anything Martin/Lewis, Steve Martin, Robbin Williams or even Madonna does or even the old Elvis movies.

Go with that.This is a deep subject and I could take many turns here and elaborate to no end but I'm going to leave it at that. Notice I left out John Wayne and Clarke Gable.

Fight Club was anti-climatic to me, totally predictable, I'd prefer chick flix like Thelma & Louise, 9 To 5 or any Julia Roberts film.

golli wrote on 12/23/2004, 6:34 PM
Good topic PM.

I like movies that take me somewhere, in a manner I can relate to (something I could experience myself). Something about life in extreeme situations.

The good one's:

1.Saving private Ryan. (I WAS ON THAT BEACH. it should have got the oscars)
3.Any Given Sunday
4.Used Cars (real situation and still funny as hell)
5.Man On The Moon
6.The Godfather (all of'em)
7.Das Boot
9.Deer Hunter
10.Wall street

And this second list is about those movies I dislike, not to be negative but to give an idea of where I'm coming from.

1.The Matrix (Watching bullets in slo' mo' is as interesting as insects under a microscope).
2.Shakespeare in Love ( Oscar Material over Saving Private Ryan???)
3.English Patient (all 48 hours of it)
4.Mulholland Drive (pointless movie really and message could have come across in 15 minutes)
5.ET (if I see an alien in a movie..............I'm gone)
6.O Brother Where Art Thou (Exelent music though)
7.The Fifth Element (never found the point of it)
8.Jackass (just not the kind of thing that makes me laugh, utterly pointless)
9.From Dusk Till Dawn
10.Child's Play (same as with aliens)

Just sitting down and compiIe a list like that, makes me know a little more about myself.

p@mast3rs wrote on 12/23/2004, 6:51 PM
I agree with all of the above except one. I thought 'O Brother Where Art Thou" was hilarious. Being that I hail from kentucky, I still do see some of the those same stereotypes walking my state today.

What I enjoyed the most about the actual storyline was how they were able to inlcude all of the things in the book The Odessey. Each actor played roles well outisde their usual acting boundaries and each of the three main characters delivered.

Being that I hate any type of bluegrass music, I particuarly enjoyed the soundtrack. Everything just seemed to have clicked for me on this movie.

Used Cars was classic. The reason I remember this movie so well is this was the first movie I ever saw any skin as a kid.I have since grown to apreciate more than that in films.

Wallstreet - Amazing flick with an excellent cast.

I failed to mention one movie that I have seen that has disturbed me to this day is Richard Gere in Unfaithful. The raw emotion in the scene where he clocks the guy with the snow globe and then later on tells his wife that he wanted to kill her instead him just left me speechless. Being married, this hit home more than I would have liked it to as I have no clue how I would handle this type of situation.

I found the first Matrix entertaining but by no large means. The sequels were worse and I personally felt that each left me not caring about the next. Nice FX but too late as most directors/producers think that FX equals $$$ and the truth is, FX equals more money spent in production that doesnt seem to deliver in the box office.

FX if used properly can enhance a scene which is what it's intentions are for. These days, too many people try to make the FX the actual scene, no enhancement.

One last movie that I thought was written particulary well and that I learned alot from was Dogma. Kevin Smith broke new ground for me. While it wasnt as witty as Clerks, it delievered the information and enterainment it intended. Sadly, Dogma was Smith's last great film. Lets not touch Gigli.

Damn. Usual Suspects was awesome as well. Here's another one. A :Life Less Ordinary.

Hollywood just doesnt seem to produce these types of films anymore and this greatly saddens me.
Rednroll wrote on 12/24/2004, 1:10 AM
The Passion of the Christ was a pretty good movie......thing is I had already predicted the ending before it had started. :-)

Merry Christmas.
ClipMan wrote on 12/24/2004, 5:30 AM
.. The Seed Of Chucky ...
winrockpost wrote on 12/24/2004, 5:48 AM
Any movie that can keep my attention for 90 minutes or so is good to me.. I can enjoy idiotic movies like the jerk , as well as serious flicks like road to perdition, however if i could put my finger on what is most important in making a decent movie , it would be a great story , translated to a screenplay, and the director following the screenplay.
John_Cline wrote on 12/24/2004, 6:08 AM
I know way too much about the technicalities of making movies, therefore, a good movie to me is one that is so well done that I cease paying attention to how the movie was made and just enjoy the movie. This happens more often than not with Coen Brother's movies.

Lili wrote on 12/24/2004, 7:34 AM
I enjoy

- films that make me laugh, but with a story line (Seducing Doctor Lewis, Sideways)

- a good documentary (Fog of War, Capturing the Freidmans, Supersize Me)

- foreign films (Red, White & Blue, Bad Education, Ferpect Crime (yes that's how it's spelled), Dear Diary, I'm Not Scared, The Barbarian Invasions

- Hollywood films such as Clint Easwoods current Million Dollar Baby, Closer, Kinsey

- "quirky little films" such as Life Aquatic and Coffee and Cigarettes

don't care much for epics (Alexander) action flicks and glitzy special effects films, but will see House of Flying Dragons this week anyway..

Also despise Hollywood remakes of great foreign films, such as "Shall We Dance", which was hillarious in Janpanese and does not come close to the charming, very funny original.
BillyBoy wrote on 12/24/2004, 9:19 AM
What makes a good movie to me is beyond the technical: good actors and a good script. Most movies today rely way too much on special effects. That's nice if appropriate, and the story calls for it, but the golden age of movies had A C T O R S. Also had some pretty good scripts and directors too.

While not a movie, the TV show the 'Sopranos' is an example of excellent acting, good story telling and outstanding directing and editing.