Friday, March 5, 2010

Are You Weird Because You Don't Like The Godfather?

We love watching films. We love taking out the time and experiencing a reality that we haven't experienced before. Now the key to creating that reality obviously is to ground it in something that we have experienced before. The everyday speech patterns, occurrences, and blunders make a film beautiful. Heroism and cowardice exist in everyday life and it is these acts magnified that make the spectacle. Now the question we must ask ourselves is where does our interest lie. Why do we watch films? The answer should be different for everyone that ventures into that question, barring the obvious facts of attraction. 

The subject became ever so demanding when a few friends decided to arrange movie night. What is it about wednesdays that leads to such activities? So the four of us sat down and started to decipher our tastes in film. Most of us agreed to watch the classics, to better aquatint ourselves with the art of film. And than there was Hasburger (not the real name). Hasburger's tastes vary quite a bit. He doesn't agree with a lot of the classics. He doesn't care for Sean Penn, Woody Allen, Jack Nicholson and more in the category. He also has certain questionable (by me) taste in films. 

Who doesn't like Good Will Hunting? Scratch that, Who in this world doesn't like, nay love The Godfather? I guess Ciudad de Deus (City of God) could go either way, even though I don't know how that is possible. Not everything I love has to be loved by there rest of the world. But I thought there were certain films that everyone had to love. Then again we wouldn't be human if we all loved the same things. 

So what is it that draws us to films? The question that has been ailing studios for decades, and publishers for centuries. But we all have always known the answer to that. It's good stories. Blahh. What does that mean? Good stories are telling of the human condition, the struggles and more. It is these stories that make us see ourselves in these extravagantly constructed lives.  

Now after a few hours of ideas we were able to come up with certain genres that we can agree on. Anything that has to do with Sci-fi or Samurai's is something that he would be interested in. Which again made me think. Do movies only appeal to us when it boils down to our personal likes and dislikes. I didn't care for Midnight Cowboy too much, perhaps because the subject matter didn't please me much. I loved Seventh Seal, but then again I'm a sucker for philosophy. 

An acquaintance of mine recently decided to lecture me on films. He hates the likes of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. He says that they are not real. He doesn't quite grasp that it is the fictional construct of these fantasy lands that help glorify the human traits that are so necessary for any good film. He even went as far as to say "Hurt Locker, what is that? That's not real. That's Afghanistan." Needless to say the comment had us screaming with laughter. Though his choices brought up a good point. The man loves math and science. He is a business man and he thrives on perfect equations. It made sense that he didn't love the venture into the land of imagination and make believe. He is a realist. 

Just like Hasburger who is a gamer and has developed affections towards the worlds that exceed reality. He appreciates well made films, however almost alway they have to go through the filter of his existing likes, that surpass the film world. He associates with the creation of other worlds because to him these worlds are quite normal. They are not superstitious at all, they are a part of his every day reality. 

Same goes with actors. Most of the ones I know tend to favor strong performances. They love to see the world created through emotions and they love to see their counter parts raise up a storm. Directors look for well shot sequences in the films, writers favor plot points. So on and so forth. Everyone seems to have a filter of their own. It's not necessarily a good versus bad filter, rather its a very personal biased filter. Things that are a part of your everyday life, the comfort zone if you may call it, become a major part of this filter. 

Now that brings up a more interesting thought. Do critics have the same filters? Absolutely. They have the same filters and often their filters are biased in somewhat of a similar way seeing that most of them have been watching movies for a while, and have lived a similar life to their counterparts. Makes you think if we wouldn't be better off getting a Plumber, a Mechanic, a Soldier, and an Athiest to be the judging panel for a film's well being. At least there is diversity there. Sure they wouldn't admire the art of film as a well taught critic. But films are not made to serve the critics, are they? they are for the mass audiences.

So I shall go out on a limb and say: chances are that films about labour unions would appeal to factory workers, films about prisons would appeal to those incarcerated, and films about sports would appeal to athletes. Now that is not to say that the rest of us can't appreciate a true struggle of an athlete to become the best he can be, because we are all trying to do that in our own fields, or can at least admire it. It just means that an athlete may connect to it on a different level. Just like Hasburger loves well created worlds that let you escape from the constricting reality that we abide in. 

We all have biases. The festivals have their biases. The academy theirs. You rarely, if ever see a comedy nominated for a best picture award. These biases are real, and to undermine them is folly. To understand them is impossible. However, to accept them is perhaps the sanest way to live. You have to find your own taste and hope you find people that share it. Chances are you will never find a perfect match, otherwise it would be love wouldn't it. Maybe my next article will be about how to find the love of your life through ten simple films. Stay tuned. 

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