Writing About Film and the Notes of Mine


I’m strange. I started writing about movies here (and other places) as just a thing I enjoy. I already loved movies and the internet was just a part of my life already, so why not merge these two obviously important things about my life and make it into a thing — I mean a hobby. Normal people have hobbies, why can’t this be mine.

As I was almost one of a kind within my initial peripheral vision I never really had anyone to guide me into how to make this into a career and be professional about it. Continue reading

‘The Incredibles 2’ Syndrome; or Can We Please Stop Pushing Filmmakers Into a Corner

brad-bird-imageAs I sit at my laptop, uncertain of what I want to write about, I find myself browsing through my feed of movie sites I follow and read only to see another post related to the internet’s desire for a sequel to The Incredibles where Brad Bird himself is quoted claiming that he’s been thinking about it. Which is the beginning of a thought that’s more than enough for the blogosphere to go on a ranting rampage of why we haven’t gotten this film yet, how much we want it and such and another.

I love The Incredibles. I actually used to own in it on DVD, until my cousin (then three-years-old) raided my movie collection for any and all Disney things and I happily contributed it to her cinematic upbringing. I had — and still have — every intention of reacquiring it, on blu ray of course, but somehow haven’t quite found the day of the week where my mouse clicked ‘add to cart’ on Amazon just yet. However, this post is not about me crying that I don’t have it anymore or that I really like the movie; this post is about the idea of sequelling and this constant need for more and more canon to exist of these things we love.

With it now being two weeks into summer and the world and a half having seen Iron Man 3 for the fifth time each (it seems like it based on the numbers). I wonder why it is that audiences are always so fascinated with the idea of more of these set of characters that (hopefully) they just finished watching complete a full arc not a couple years ago. Now they have to check back in to find out that they’re still messed up with more issues to get over.

I guess more than the idea of serialization of cinema it’s the trapping of filmmakers that’s on my mind. Today when people utter the name Batman they immediately think of Christopher Nolan. With the final of his trilogy of Batman films, The Dark Knight Rises, having been released last year you can only imagine that within the next two or so years Warner Bros is going to look to somehow continue the legacy of that series and audiences are going to be walking in with a loaded gun called “not as good as Nolan” before a frame is even shown. Which leans us towards the discussion of people starting to BEG for Nolan to come back just so we can recapture that moment where we all smiled because it was good. This notion of trapping a storyteller into a box of a franchise bothers me.

Which is why the notion of Brad Bird talking about The Incredibles 2 bothers me. Not that he should never be allowed to reach into that bag ever again, but maybe it’s that I always find NEW so much more interesting than continuations. If he’s just continuing something previous then all my brain can imagine seeing is that very thing, a continuation as opposed to a reinvention that’ll make me feel just as gleeful as when I first saw The Incredibles and didn’t know what to expect. I had only an idea of what it could be and when I was shown what it was it wowed me so much that I couldn’t believe it. Doing a part two allows for less of my imagination in attempting to create the idea of what it could be so much less as I already know the template now.

This is quite possibly me rambling on for no reason whatsover, because more than likely this is just an off comment Bird is making in the five millionth interview he’s done where some journalist is pretty much forced by his/her editor to ask about the film. But it’s a thought none-the-less.

What’re your thoughts on this?

Lists vs. Opinions: Is there a difference?

The other day I found myself listening to The Matineecast’s episode 59 (Ryan’s birthday episode), where he took some time away from the regular releases and talked about the film High Fidelity. He and his guest, Joanna Chlebus, eventually got around to the idea of list making and how took over (and still consumes at least 20% of film blogs) the internet. While I constantly succumb to this easy trope of comment gathering, which I can say doesn’t always work, I do find some of his words worth taking to heart.

Ryan went on in his argument to use the scene of Rob at Charlie’s get together as a prime example of the problems with people using lists as a substitute for discussion. In this scene Rob, finally back in the presence of Charlie, finds himself unable to speak as he is left in the dust watching Charlie and her friends going back and forth point after point on some topic (that at this point I cannot for the life of me remember what the discussion was about). The thought of being right, or winning the discussion/argument of the evening is completely moot, the idea of being able to contribute in a sociable manner is not.

So the question being posed is if lists, as a structured knowledge base, is a viable substitute for the free form discussion.

Before we get there though I think the question of whether a list is actually an opinion is worth answering. The idea of someone saying Citizen Kane is better than Casablanca is definitely considered an opinion. However, with the constant idea that most bloggers, inclusive of myself, of knowing even before we write the title of the post that whatever we put down as our top five are most times interchangeable depending on our disposition. If someone asked me to remember what my #1 taboo film was (an article I posted a few years back) I would probably name the film that came #3 or #4 in the article. Not because I don’t truly believe in my response, or that my opinion hasn’t changed, but the fact that my response would seem so definitive while at the same time not be is somewhat reducing the effect of my actual opinion of the topic at hand.

The biggest issue I think that is had with lists as opposed to discussions is that lists are for and assumed opinion. When I post a Top Ten Spike Lee movies, there’s an assumed consensus that I like Spike Lee movies, or that I think his films are good. In a discussion however the first question that would be asked is “are his movies good? Do you like him as a director?” which is where discussions win over list making. It allows for a much wider span of thoughts and the ability to express your feelings on a much more broad topic than just rattling off examples of what a topic is with barely explaining why these examples are worth mentioning in the current context.

Now looking at the discussion option in the current comparison; an opinion is based on knowledge and experience which in turn affects emotion. I feel bad about seeing Kristen Stewart films because I know she hasn’t acted well in any film she’s ever been in. This is all based on knowledge and experience, all of which could also have been expressed instead in me listing out ten films which I believe she did a horrendous job of portraying her character on screen. Now the former is a lot more succinct and inviting than the latter, but does it reduce the effect either way? I don’t quite think so. I think the list is just as meaningful as the summarized version (i.e. discussion/opinion). It’s just dependant on the setting on when a where this happens. If I was to be in Ryan’s living room and he were to say “Kristen Stewart is amazing”, I would probably simply respond no and ask him a follow up question as opposed to start to list my Top Ten Worst Kristen Stewart performances. Everything is all about context. Once the reader, as well as the author, both know that then we’re golden.

I guess what I’m saying is that Ryan is right in his personal thoughts, but at the same time I don’t see myself no longer listing my Top Ten Movie Opinions That I Love (yes that was being ridiculous on purpose), just because – like Rob – I enjoy making these lists, even if they’re completely throw away at times. I know that next week I may finally get to see the original King Kong and then I’ll have a new favourite monster movie. The list still says what the opinion/discussion does, just in a slightly different way. And while we’re at it; Top Ten Things That Make This Post Awesome: ….

What do you think of Lists vs. Discussions?

A Call To Arms: Blog Feedback

This blog was created in March of 2008. I found a love for writing about film the year prior via Facebook, then to a free wordpress domain. I never truly had any ambitions of this becoming a full-time thing where it would end up being my sun, moon and stars, but the truth of the matter is that blogging is a thankless job that I still love doing. It’s like that boss that is always on your back clamouring for you to do more, but never stops to say what a great job you did on that last bit of work.

Please, do not fret, this is not me throwing in the towel, or even complaining — at least not that much. What I’m looking for is a little feedback.

I’ve long been talking about redesigning the site, I’ve gotten some headway on that, but you guys are going to have to wait a while longer before I show that bit of news off.

This post is more about the articles that I post here. This year I’ve been pushing myself to keep a daily update on the site, and while I do find it rewarding when I can go a month without missing a day, at times it can feel like I’m cheating — especially with my weekend posts, like QOTW. So I’m here to ask YOU what you like, feature-wise, on the site, and also if you’d be interested in me resurrecting any of my older, discontinued, features. Last week I brought back a post that I haven’t done in over two years — TWEET QUESTIONS — and I hope to keep that one going. I’m also considering bringing back MOVIES YOU LOVE, an interview series where I discuss films with other bloggers across the internet (if you’re interesting in participating in that send me an email at andrew.robinson@gmanreviews.com or just leave a comment below). However, there’re a lot of other features that I’ve tried over the years and some I either got slightly bored with or just feel didn’t have the right click to it. Here’s a list of those features:

  • ACTOR OF THE WEEK – a look at an actor/actress I felt like highlighting that week
  • DOUBLE FEATURE – a list of films that I feel would go well together or instead of with the release of the week
  • MOVIES YOU LOVE – in-depth discussion of a film with a fellow blogger
  • SCREENSHOT GAME – game for the public to guess what film a random screenshot came from
  • THE HOLLYWOOD RESUME – a look at a director/writer/producer’s career
  • THIS WEEK IN TRAILERS – list of noteworthy trailers of the week gone by
  • THIS WEEK IN CINEMA – look forward at the releases available to the wide audience in the coming week
  • GENERAL CONSENSUS  – a look around the internet with links back to a slew of reviews to give a more rounded idea as to the grade a film sees to deserve, my very own Rotten Tomatoes as it were.

Some of these probably weren’t well developed or executed, but I’m hoping that you will let me know what it is that made them fail if that’s what was wrong so as to help me move forward into a better blogger.


Discuss: Movie Trailers – Not Spoiling but Misleading

The internet is a lovely place, unless you don’t enjoy continual rants about unimportant topics –such as this one that you’re currently reading. One topic that never seems to go away is the spoiler-filled nature of movie trailers.

On many occasions during my podcast (TUMP) I’ve talked about trailers and bringing up my thoughts on slightly obtuse trailers, mostly teaser trailers. I find that most of the times I tend to gravitate towards the trailers which don’t try to sell me a story as opposed to trying to sell me a mood; which is where teaser trailers come in. They know they have a minute or less to grab my attention, and instead of trying to rush through plot points to make a film seem as derived as it probably really are.

However, I’ve come to realize a third type of trailer in recent days. One which sells me what the film is not.

In the last six months I’ve seen Hugo, The Cabin in the Woods and Perfect Sense. These three movies have nothing in common, other than the fact that their marketing decided to not mention a relatively key aspect of the film that they were selling us. Weirdly enough looking back I can only see this as a true detriment to the decision process of “should I go or not?” question that one asks themselves when eventually seeing it as an option at the multiplex.

We all bitch and moan about trailers spoiling it for us, but the question I ask myself is would I even want to go to any of the films above based on the non-spoiler marketing presented to me? The Cabin in the Woods looked like a bad clichéd horror film, Hugo looked like a boring children’s movie and Perfect Sense seemed to be another love story where two people make each other cry a lot. While this is all partially true about each of those movies it is also true that the parts of the films that were left out of the marketing is what eventually makes each of the films unique and set apart from the genre they are being sold as, and that is worth a lot to a movie nowadays.

Does this thought process then basically mean that I’m asking for trailers to spoil movies for me? I don’t think so. As I said, the best kinds of trailers are those that sell a mood rather than a specific story, and that’s where I think these trailers fail. These incomplete trailers are selling a mood that’s completely contradictory to the film that I eventually get. The Cabin in the Woods is satire not cliché, and Hugo is revelatory not trite. Or quite possibly I’m looking too closely at this all and should just do like other film enthusiasts and just ignore trailers entirely and just go to the movies and enjoy as best they allow me to… bah to that.

What do you think of the idea of these misleading trailers?