Do You Get Into Fights About the Movies?

Some people think M. Night Shyamalan is a genius; others think he got lucky once or twice and sank into frustrating mediocrity thereafter. Maybe you spend hours arguing over whether or not today’s movies are as good as the classic films of yesteryear. What happens when someone impolitely dumps on a favorite film of yours…or overpraises a production you find to be sorely lacking?

Irv not only writes a lot about movies, he gets to talk about them a lot with people, too; what happens when he encounters disagreement?

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Art generally produces arguments among those who care. Irv and I just had one such discussion about The Cabin in the Woods. We kept it civil. (Because he knows I’m right) How bad do these contentious talks get when you’re involved?

  • Wayne

    Theres nothing wrong about a lively discussion among friends but it is a tad hard to disagree agreeably sometimes!  I dont really know why we tend to call them arguments anyway…theyre actually more like debates but were not entitled to our own set of facts; only opinions, right?  You guys (I still wanna ’blend’ youse into one persona:) most definitely do keep it civil and so inspire your blogosphere to do the same…but will go to the mat with anyone who says the modern era of filmaking is superior to the Golden Age…technology-wise yes, but quality, not no way, not no how ;)

    • http://www.moviesunlimited.com George D. Allen

      That mat will be available to you our next time out :)

  • Jasonrfleming

    I agree there’s nothing wrong about arguing over movies. Most movies are so bland there’s no point in arguing over them. But one thing I’m tired of hearing is this “they don’t make them like they use to”. No they make them like they do today their many great directors making movies. We could never have made during the so called “Golden Age” I prefer calling it the Studio Age. And I’m not just talking about technology either we no longer have the repressive censorship we use to. We can make movies that talk honestly about the world if only filmmakers will have the courage to do so.

    • Wayne

      I respect your points, Jason…but can you give me any 1 or even 2 decades of films that were the equal in plot-line and/or story telling from the single best year in the history of filmdom: 1939?  At least, that year was rated the best for quality pictures as agreed to by a consensus of so-called movie critics (hate to use the term experts!).  In my humble opinion, as this is an entirely subjective exercise–much like food, music or any other creative art–you can compare the pre-Hayes Code censorship era classics very favorably with todays cinema.  When a lot of gratuitous sex, violence and an over-dependence on special effects were not prevalent during the “studio age” its worth considering that the source material was possibly better presented on screen!  But, of course, to each his own…

      • Jasonrfleming

        I would look a the decade just passed. Films like There Will Be Blood, Zodiac, the Social Network, Carlos , Inception, the Dark Knight, the documentaries of Werner Herzog just to name some of the more accessible films. Not too mention all the great foreign films from countries like South Korea, Romania, Iran and the usual suspects France Germany Italy. There are great films every decade and they are always in the minority unfortunately. I’m reading the new issue of cinemascope a great Canadian film magazine. They have a list of the 50 best filmmakers under 50 and I’ve only seen films by less than half the people listed and that’s a good thing. Think how boring it would be to have seen all the great films. I enjoy rewatching my favorite films but its even better to find something new.

  • Movie Fan

    Everyone is entitled to an opinion. I’m not obligated to LISTEN to someone else’s opinion, nor are other people obligated to listen to mine. In my opinion, repression and censorship force people to think carefully about what they want to say before they say it. Coming up with an underhanded way to get a message across takes skill and leads to witty, sly dialog buried within the folds of an interesting story. Mae West was famous for tricking the censors, and they never once went upstairs to see her do it.

    • Jasonrfleming

      In my opinion when you have repression and censorship people tend to think less. I’ve never been a fan of Mae West either aside from My Little Chickadee and a couple others.

  • Wayne

    Hey George:  Not to change the subject for anyone, but how about a topic suggestion for your next reader recommended film retrospective or review?  You had mentioned about working on a piece in one of your previous articles about Stanley Kubrick.  A lot of us are chatting elsewhere here about all the great Directors and he merits at least a mention in the so-called Golden Age since The Killing was done in 1956. He had a wide range, from thusly noted & noirish The Killing (my personal fave of his) to the period piece Barry Lyndon, to the intensity of Full Metal Jacket, and, last, but not least (IMHO), the really out-there 2001:  A Space Odyssey. I noticed a similarity in the feeling of being left dissatisfied with the endings of The Killing and 2001; but, still they were brilliantly done in both cases, as a lot was left to the viewers imagination–never a bad thing.  I just say it was pure artistic, directorial license.  Do you think he was influenced by  the styles of Val Lewton and/or even William Castle?  Any other food for thought out there is more than welcome, folks…thanks!

    • Jasonrfleming

      Good suggestion. But I never thought Kubrick and Castle had anything in common.

    • GeorgeDAllen

      Kubrick always makes for fine movie fight fodder — and lo, I am forced to admit I’ve not caught up with another classic movie. In this case it’s your favorite Kubrick! Yes. I’ve not seen “The Killing,” but now I have a good excuse to catch up with it asap. (I do have my next “recommendation” decided upon already, and I had a different Kubrick movie in mind to write something about, but “The Killing”  may now have to take the next place in my queue.)

      Just the other day I read some piece online about the overall monolith concept and the much-debated ending of 2001 — which apparently they’d been able to successfully explain from (pardon my fuzzy memory now) previously unpublished script excerpts of some kind. As I recall, it pretty much made total sense to me. I’d link it here if I could only remember where I’d read it.

      As for Lewton & Castle being influences on Kubrick, I couldn’t say I recall that being written about. I’d go w/Jasonrfleming in agreeing I don’t see a whole lot of connection between SK and Castle, though I suppose you could connect them both by way their “maverick” reputations; SK did refer to Welles as an inspiration; his Wiki entry also refers to him tagging Eisenstein, G.W. Pabst, and Max Ophuls as other directors whose works inspired him.

      As for the fun back-n-forth between you and Jasonrfleming re: Do They Make Em Like They Used To, make sure you both come back to vent spleen (good-naturedly, of course) on that very subject the next time “Ask Movie Irv” appears.

      • Jasonrfleming

        I’m glad they didn’t try to explain what the monolith. I don’t mind a open ended film I don’t need everything rapped up with a little bow telling me what to think. That’s why 2010 is a failure they tired to be too literal. As for Kubrick & Lewton I’ve trying to think of a connection. For me the one theme that runs through a majority of Lewton’s films is the power of superstition on the mind of man. Thinking of Cat People, I Walked with a Zombie, Leopard Man, Seventh Victim, Isle of the Dead. The closest Kubrick comes is the Shining. Kubrick films deal with how we warp our reality in other ways.

        • Jasonrfleming

          What I ment to say was wrapped up with a little bow.

      • Wayne

        Im gonna have to weigh in again too, just like Jason.  My take on the Monolith is always was that it was extra-terrestial  intelligence or the less pleasant aliens gave it to us so we could learn a thing or two about our world, and then (of course) we just took that to mean we need to start killing ourselves…literally and figureatively!

        But, in all seriousness, as C.S. Lewis would say:  What are we going to do about Jesus?  Hes either a lunatic, a liar or telling the truth and most historical and prophetic evidence supports the Biblical account.  I mean, if Aliens didnt create us, then who did?  Or, better yet, who created them?  I know, I know…who created God too?…but thats a circular argument…which the Bible solves, since in the beginning God was per Genesis…or, put another way, I am that I am, which the Creator of all Heaven and Earth said to Moses in Exodus :).

        I do digress greatly here and many apologies for that…but, suffice it to say, Mr. Kubrick may be more accurately ascribing to others the role of God, and, at least, he did leave the interpretation of a fine film up to us; that seems to be best for 2001.

        • Jasonrfleming

          To me the monoliths symbolize the unknowable. The knowledge are tiny monkey brains will never be able to unlock. As a secular humanist I’m guessing that’s Kubrick meant to. But he leaves it open for you to decide for yourself.

  • Dave Ecklein

    Verbal fights only, with people who refuse to see that there was more to some of the thirties musicals (Busby Berkeley, even some Eddy/MacDonald) than frivolous escapism.  Generous helpings of social commentary (perhaps sugar coated) were included in these tasty morsels, because in those days movie-goers with their own life experiences appreciated this and could read between the lines.  Of course, there was always escapism, but few believe that it is even more dominant today than during the Great Depression and its immediate aftermath.

    • GeorgeDAllen

      And is there a particular movie that represents this issue for you best? (Or at least the one that came up during the heated discussion(s) you reference?)

      • Dave Ecklein

        George-  a good example might be “Golddiggers of 1933″ – lots of stuff here, the effect of the depression on the arts (Sparks), the class angle in personal relationships (Blondell/William, Keeler/Powell), war and treatment of veterans (“Remember My Forgotten Man”).  I think Etta Moten (uncredited) was in this film the first black singer to appear in a major Hollywood film with other than a comic or demeaning role, but I am not sure of this – please correct if necessary.  I vividly remember a heated argument about “Golddiggers of 1933″ after a showing at one of our house parties.  Nobody gave in – the only thing we could agree on was that the movie itself was thoroughly enjoyable!

        • GeorgeDAllen

          Interesting, many thanks :) My frame of reference in this era tends to be mainly the Universal Monster movies, so I do appreciate the discussion of submerged social commentary/provocative material that comes across as diluted by today’s standards (I’m thinking naturally of the famously butchered “Frankenstein” line ”In the name of God, now I know what I feels like to BE God!”). As to the Etta Moten (Barnett) anecdote — I cannot confirm nor dispute, but I did some quick looking up of her bio, and she appears to be credited with being the first black star to perform at the White House. Wow — lived to 102. (Plus as a casual admirer of the great “Porgy & Bess,” I was interested to read that Gershwin had her in mind while writing the Bess part!)

        • Jasonrfleming

          The ” Remember My Forgotten Man ” is a perfect example of Berkeley’s mad genius. Warners and Paramounts musicals definitely the best of the 30′s. It’s too bad his Sharp edge was dulled considerably when he went to MGM but that happened to everybody.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_OC6SKJLQDZEY674X7VRYBWH6AI Tom

    Hey Movie Irv: ” Willie Wonka ” aces out the ’new’  ” Charlie and the Chocolate Factory ” hands down.  The old art wins over the new age high tech.

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  • Doppleganger51

    only  when  someone  want  me  to  see a will ferell  movie  and  doesnt  bring a barf bag  he  is the WORST ACTOR DIRECTOR PRODUCE  IN HISTORY  and everything he does  is  extremely  bad in poor taste and lacking quality  taste originality and any sense of  decency