Stop telling me to turn my brain off during movies
August 15, 2018 11:54 AM   Subscribe

 
When a film is really working, people get swept up in it. They lose themselves in the characters and the story. They care about what they’re watching; they feel things about what they’re seeing.


Exactly. My brain "turns off" when I'm watching a good movie. You notice the scaffolding when the movie is bad.
posted by selfnoise at 11:59 AM on August 15, 2018 [41 favorites]


few readers who didn’t appreciate my Jurassic World list claimed that the movie was simply made in the tradition of Steven Spielberg’s original film, and that the whole franchise rests on a foundation of dumb characters.

Oh man. Bad pick of argument, readers-who-did-that, Jurassic Park is pretty damn tight as movies go.

(Though I'm sure there's fodder in it for the people who yell "plot hole!" at eery damn thing, who are the other equally dumb end of this argument.)
posted by Artw at 12:04 PM on August 15, 2018 [10 favorites]


counterpoint: Pacific Rim, which I consider a classic example of a “turn your brain off and enjoy” movie. I’m not saying people should like the movie, I’m saying I enjoyed it, but to enjoy it I had to not think about it too much. Which, at least for me, refutes his claim that “turning off your brain” for a movie means a bad movie.
posted by forforf at 12:11 PM on August 15, 2018 [9 favorites]


I'm definitely awful to watch a movie with, especially a dumb one. It turns my brain on so hard. I find I generally have to keep a notepad or sketchbook on the coffee table so I have an outlet when I start annoying Mrs. es_de_bah with my jabbering.

To try to keep a critic from talking about a dumb movie is just insanity.
posted by es_de_bah at 12:12 PM on August 15, 2018 [9 favorites]


"This food tastes terrible."
"Just turn your tongue off and relax."
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:16 PM on August 15, 2018 [87 favorites]


Good drama and good narrative have many of the same characteristics as a magic show. The illusion is never going to be perfectly seamless, but a skilled director knows how to keep the audience's attention on the things that matter. If the joints and seams draw more attention than the performance, it probably means the performance is boring on some level.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 12:20 PM on August 15, 2018 [7 favorites]


"This food tastes terrible."
"Just turn your tongue off and relax."


To me it's more like going to a restaurant with mediocre ambience or service. I can still enjoy the food. Some people can't. That's OK too.
posted by grouse at 12:22 PM on August 15, 2018 [14 favorites]


Yeah, I think Pacific Rim is perfect counter point to the author's complaint.

'Casue PR makes no damn sense at all. But as a excuse to see giant robots fighting giant monsters? THAT SHIT IS ON POINT.

Which all goes back to to the whole point of storytelling: to make you fall in love with the characters/plot/premise so you don't really care about plot holes. Most of the enjoyable movies take you by the hand and say "SHHH, we're just gonna do this thing you want to do anyway so don't worry about how it's actually done"

Otherwise, I welcome the article as a mild afternoon distraction.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:24 PM on August 15, 2018 [12 favorites]


I’d say within its own terms PAc Rim is pretty damn tight as well. It’s like a superhero movie in that it’s not going to let any kind of logic get in the way of its premise - that this is a world in which giant robots are absolutely required to fight giant monsters and other approaches like walls or whatever are just foolishness - but after that everything links up really well, it’s not going to randomly fuck with its own logic to do something momentarily cool.
posted by Artw at 12:24 PM on August 15, 2018 [29 favorites]


I saw both Jurrasic whatever and Sorry to Bother You (twice) this summer - they may exist at opposite ends of the "makes you think" spectrum.

That said, hearing my nearly 6 year old niece (who IS too young for the movie but begged for it, even after we told her it wasnt 100% dinosaur chase and evisceration scenes) exclaim "YUMMY!" when the indoraptor ate the mercenary's arm was definitely a top 5 summer moment.
posted by Exceptional_Hubris at 12:24 PM on August 15, 2018 [22 favorites]


I'm definitely awful to watch a movie with, especially a dumb one.

Batman Begins... [SPOILER ALERT]

...having stolen a powerful microwave emitter from Wayne Enterprises, he plans to vaporize Gotham's water supply, rendering Crane's drug airborne and causing mass hysteria that will destroy the city...

So... um, with a microwave emitter powerful enough to vaporize water that is flowing through pipes, I am thinking that "mass hysteria" will be the least of Gotham City's problems... First they have to get whichever sanitation crews are still alive to return to work and then clean-up the thousands and thousands of puddles of human goo because, hey... aren't people approximately 98% water?

Yeah - I am getting pretty sick of "turning your brain off to enjoy a movie" - don't get me started about the laughable "computer tech" in movies and TV - I am sure medical professionals are also seeing constant glaring issues that completely destroy their ability to "suspend disbelief". (Or legal professionals, or...)
posted by jkaczor at 12:29 PM on August 15, 2018 [11 favorites]


To me it's more like going to a restaurant with mediocre ambience or service

I'd say it's the other way around, movie-wise: the ambiance is impeccable, but the food is ... maybe not what you ordered, or cold, or they injected ketchup into a venison sausage or something. Maybe you can put up with it because it's Instagram-worthy or whatever, but it's not good food.

Which is maybe what some people want. I don't know. The pace of blockbusters has gotten too fast for me, I think; the big fight setpieces are mostly just visual noise to me and not fun-to-watch. I don't mind ignoring plot holes at all, but at least give me a reason, something to root for, something to connect with.
posted by uncleozzy at 12:31 PM on August 15, 2018 [14 favorites]


"This food tastes terrible."
"Just turn your tongue off and relax."


Thut now Ah can'p eap mah thoob...
Ow, Ah thtabbeb mah thungue mith tha thork
posted by Greg_Ace at 12:31 PM on August 15, 2018 [17 favorites]


Funny — I just rewatched the original Jurassic Park this last weekend with my 10yo son and afterwards we had a discussion about how the velociraptors should have feathers and their nonstop murderlust just wasn’t believable in the context of animal behavior.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 12:33 PM on August 15, 2018 [12 favorites]


Genre matters, and Pacific Rim hits all the critical plot beats of a genre where giant monsters and robots are vehicles for a story about characters getting over their individual shit (or not, if we're talking about Evangelion) to face a threat. Jurassic World appears to be (I've not seen it) a crappy movie for the genre it tries to be.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 12:33 PM on August 15, 2018 [8 favorites]


Owen in Jurrassic World is dumb too. That's the problem. There are no smart, careful characters. It's ok if there is just one.

A good 'turn your brain off' movie is A Quiet Place. So they can be made.
posted by The_Vegetables at 12:33 PM on August 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


I also find that telling myself to "Turn off your brain" is sometimes good for movie watching because it opens me up to other ways of communicating stories.

Because I love tightly plotted films, the sort where every action and scene relates to each and makes sense (don't ask me if I enjoyed The Last Jedi, for both our sakes). But "makes sense" is subjective in a lot ways, especially when it comes to character motivation.

"Turning off your brain" isn't always the right choice for the individual, but it's certainly one worth considering.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:33 PM on August 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


"This food tastes terrible."
"Just turn your tongue off and relax."


Some people like well-done steak, other people like the Michael Bay Transformers movies...
posted by tobascodagama at 12:34 PM on August 15, 2018 [8 favorites]


Yeah, I think Pacific Rim is perfect counter point to the author's complaint

Not for me :( I wanted to love it - Del Torro knows how to make beautiful monsters and heros. But the ridiculous physics knocked over my suspended disbelief so many times that by the time the Jaegers stood firm through a bubble of nuclear explosion, I couldn't have cared less about the stupid stakes.
posted by Popular Ethics at 12:35 PM on August 15, 2018 [10 favorites]


(Though I'm sure there's fodder in it for the people who yell "plot hole!" at eery damn thing, who are the other equally dumb end of this argument.)

Even as a kid, I noticed that the huge cliff in the T-Rex paddock looked kind of weird and the perimeter fence that Grant and the kids climb over just ends in the middle of nowhere. I don't want to look at CinemaSins to see how many "sins" those count for, but yeah.

However, in terms of character motivations being consistent and the action not stretching the bounds of plausibility too much, the original Jurassic Park is miles better than Jurassic World. See also: the Die Hard movie where John McClane kills a bunch of terrorists in a tower versus the Die Hard movie where John McClane fights an F-35 fighter jet.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:38 PM on August 15, 2018 [12 favorites]


ctrl-f suspension of disbelief

how do you write an article about this without even using the phrase??
posted by BungaDunga at 12:38 PM on August 15, 2018 [26 favorites]


I feel it's all about *where* you need to turn your brain off, to suspend your disbelief. We grant all movies some conceits, letting some things pass because it's necessary for the story. Many of us can also either overlook or just laugh at the small things that are beyond believable because they're not that important. Using Pacific Rim, for example, the idea that a group of helicopters can carry a Jaeger as shown is just ridiculous.

It's when things are blatantly wrong at key points, or obvious solutions are missed by entities that should know better, that it gets much harder.
posted by evilangela at 12:42 PM on August 15, 2018 [8 favorites]


on the absolute worst timeline of shit we have ended up on a movie that turns my brain off is a good way to relax and enjoy a better world, like that timeline where Thanos kills half the living universe.
posted by nikaspark at 12:43 PM on August 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


I think there is some confusion here around what makes a popcorn movie good vs bad. I think the argument he is making is not one about whether the tech makes sense, it's whether people act in a fashion that makes sense given this fictional world they're in.

Batman Begins has a microwave transmitter that if it existed in real life, would instantly vaporize all the humans. But in this world, it just vaporizes the water supply. Okay, let's just for a moment accept that this thing exists and works that way. Do the people in the story make sense given that?

Likewise in Pacific Rim, giant robots are the only things that can defeat the giant monsters. Okay fine. If that is the case, do the characters act the way we would if we were in that world?

I think the answer to both of those is yes, which is why I think those are pretty good popcorn movies. Whereas in Jurassic World, the setting is pretty much the same as ours except they have dinosaurs. And these dinos act the way we'd expect really dangerous animals to act, like lions or gorillas or whatever. So given that, do the characters act the way I would if I were in that situation? No. They don't. For instance, they spend half the movie showing how dangerous the raptors are. Owen Grady almost gets eaten by them when the other guy falls into the pit. Okay that makes sense.

And then later in the movie, they release the raptors to hunt the big dino, and Owen Grady rides a motorcycle alongside them. Why? Why does he do that? That seems incredibly dangerous. Why don't the raptors eat him right there? We've established earlier in the film that they totally would. And it's not like he has to be there right next to them to know where they're going: they have tracking devices and people in armored cars who can follow at a safe distance. So what is the point of all of this bit? It makes no sense inside the world they've already established for us. And that's why it's a bad popcorn movie.
posted by nushustu at 12:45 PM on August 15, 2018 [57 favorites]


Yet no trees died, that threw me right outta the movie.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:46 PM on August 15, 2018


This is real simple. "Turn off your brain" is a terrible response to someone trying to articulate why they didn't like something. "You have to turn off your brain" is a fine comment to make when you are trying to articulate why/how you did like something you are recommending.
posted by straight at 12:47 PM on August 15, 2018 [25 favorites]


The most recent Jurassic World movie lost me at the trailer when it showed people attempting to outrun an erupting volcano. You can't outrun a volcano that's erupting like that, from that distance. You just can't. Not if you're a normal human, anyway, and those characters are all supposed to be average humans. Since I assume the movie didn't end with all the characters dead of head trauma from falling rocks or suffocated to death from the gases or killed by pyroclastic flow, no, I cannot turn my brain off and enjoy it.

There's a difference between "turning off your brain" to accept an outlandish/fantastical premise (i.e. superhero movies, your average horror movie, Pacific Rim), and turning off your brain in the face of a movie's obvious factual, plot, or character deficiencies. I don't quibble with Jurassic World's genre or its premise, after all; if anyone does, that's really not the movie's fault, since it's being very up front about what genre it is. Like, you either accept the premise or you don't, the movie does not need to be a peer-reviewed article about how actually, cloning dinos is totes possible.

I do quibble with things like outrunning an erupting volcano, the same way I'd quibble if we saw a character fall off a cliff then bounce at the bottom: it's not physically possible, and the rules established by the movie don't suggest that it is possible. Now, if Captain America chucks himself from a great height to fall on a hard surface, only to walk it off, well sure, I'll roll with that. He's been established as superhuman, vibranium's basically magic, whatever. Am I gonna think too hard about how that works? No, and I don't expect the writers to either. But I am sure as hell gonna think about how in the world anyone expects me to believe you can outrun an erupting volcano.
posted by yasaman at 12:47 PM on August 15, 2018 [15 favorites]


Oh, wait, we weren't talking about whether we liked something, we were talking about whether it was good or bad. My mistake.

(That's directed at the general discourse about movies, not any particular comments here.)
posted by straight at 12:48 PM on August 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


But what if my brain wants to see Jason Statham punch a shark?
posted by phunniemee at 12:50 PM on August 15, 2018 [43 favorites]


A more apt comparison here might be Pacific Rim vs Pacific Rim Uprising. Granted, both movies are a little ridiculous, sure. But the way the ridiculous story is told makes a huge difference. With Del Toro at the helm, Pacific Rim made it easy to sit back and enjoy the ride, and the energy and enthusiasm of the best parts had enough inertia to get you through the rough spots. Pacific Rim Uprising tries to hit the same notes and succeeds a few times, but there's just not enough of a fun ride there to keep you from noticing all the bumps and jostles and stilted audioanimatronic characters along the way.

I have a couple of friends that are really hard to recommend good movies for, not because they necessarily have amazing discerning taste in movies, but because I never know when they're just going to lose interest in an otherwise great movie and start picking it to pieces out of spite. It's a mentality that I think they've learned from YouTube movie criticism like "everything wrong with [movie X] in 60 seconds" -- those kinds of analysis seem incisive and clever so they apply the same process to every movie they see. It makes me really sad because there's a huge range of movies in between "so good it took my breath away and I had no time to pick it apart" and "legitimately bad and not worth watching" that they're just sucking all the fun out of with this approach.

In conclusion, cinema is a land of contrasts. But I think "turn off your brain" is not always the worst advice, at least when you've trained your brain to pick things apart, and when just a little willing suspension of disbelief would give you a little bit more joy in life.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 12:51 PM on August 15, 2018 [18 favorites]


The most recent Jurassic World movie lost me at the trailer when it showed people attempting to outrun an erupting volcano.

Maybe so, but I'd think it was weird if they said "Welp, can't outrun, so I'm just going sit here and wait to die"
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:51 PM on August 15, 2018 [11 favorites]


Yet no trees died, that threw me right outta the movie.

lol they've managed to make this worse in assorted interviews, because I think Kevin Feige says the Snapture was indeed supposed to take half of all living things, not just sentient beings, and yet, we did not see any of the trees or plants in the Wakandan jungle turn to dust. Also, that would make Thanos's plan even more deeply stupid than it already is, because then the ratio of sentient beings to resources remains functionally unchanged, and you still have the exact same resource scarcity problems, only way fucking worse, because you've probably just caused total ecological collapse on a universe-wide scale.

Infinity War is really a case where everyone involved should try to explain as little as possible. Half of all sentient beings getting Snaptured at least makes some amount of sense.
posted by yasaman at 12:52 PM on August 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


Genre matters, and Pacific Rim hits all the critical plot beats of a genre where giant monsters and robots are vehicles for a story about characters getting over their individual shit (or not, if we're talking about Evangelion) to face a threat. Jurassic World appears to be (I've not seen it) a crappy movie for the genre it tries to be.

This is why I believe firmly that every rating system should have both a numerator and a denominator. For example, National Treasure is no Dial M for Murder, but that doesn't mean it's not a fantastic movie, because it IS, it's just a fantastic example of its genre. National Treasure is probably a ***/*** movie; it aims for three stars and by God it earns them. Conversely, there are plenty of movies that aim to be Good but are actually terrible which might be, like, **/***** movies; they only achieve two stars but really they are going for being truly great and just miss that. National Treasure and Dial M for Murder can both be 100% but they're extremely different movies and it seems crazy to try to compare them without some recognition that they have entirely different aims.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 12:52 PM on August 15, 2018 [68 favorites]


Some people like some stuff. Other people don't like that stuff, but they like some stuff the first set of people don't like. And/or there's some overlap between the people and stuff they do and don't like. And then, as they get older, the stuff they like and don't like changes for a dizzying array of reasons ranging from shifts in what they need from narratives to politics to how much free time they have available, etc etc.

I remain suspicious of people who:

1. try to tell me (or anyone) the stuff they enjoy isn't good/valuable/art
2. try to tell me (or anyone) the stuff I don't enjoy is good/valuable/art

because usually that persuasion involves me signing on to some agenda they have that's informing why they do/don't like the stuff.
posted by eustacescrubb at 12:53 PM on August 15, 2018 [8 favorites]


Infinity War is really a case where everyone involved should try to explain as little as possible. Half of all sentient beings getting Snaptured at least makes some amount of sense.

Oh it makes perfect sense as Thanos describes it, once you relieve he's insane and just looking to power trip.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 12:54 PM on August 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


Oh man. Bad pick of argument, readers-who-did-that, Jurassic Park is pretty damn tight as movies go.

Nope. Without a whole series of stupid and utterly avoidable decisions, there is no movie.

Most obviously: the only reason that everything goes wrong is that every damn thing is automated to hell and back, all entirely by Nedry, so that he can just turn it all off. Why is it all automated? To avoid hiring Costa Rican labor.

Secondarily: everyone, including the engineer running the place, forgets that rebooting the park kicks it onto auxiliary power and nobody notices this or nobody ever thought to put a HEY YOU'RE ON AUX POWER AND THE FUEL WILL RUN OUT SOON MAYBE YOU SHOULD CHECK ON THIS BEFORE YOUR LITIGIOUS GAZILLIONAIRE GUESTS NOTICE OR GET EATEN light anywhere.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 12:55 PM on August 15, 2018 [6 favorites]


the Snapture was indeed supposed to take half of all living things, not just sentient beings

LOL that's funny though because imagine - was it supposed to have taken half the bacteria and viruses? Wouldn't that mean roughly a quarter of the people suffering from some infection or other found themselves miraculously healed? (Another quarter disappeared themselves, and half experienced no change.)
posted by eustacescrubb at 12:56 PM on August 15, 2018 [14 favorites]


Also, did the Snapture round up or down?
posted by eustacescrubb at 12:57 PM on August 15, 2018 [10 favorites]


Okay, let's just for a moment accept that this thing exists and works that way. Do the people in the story make sense given that?
I think the answer to both of those is yes, which is why I think those are pretty good popcorn movies.

Look - I enjoy the heck out of movies of all quality levels - but it doesn't mean that I cannot also find their obvious faults problematic. But - one line of "tech" dialogue might have mitigated that issue in Batman Begins.

Admittedly - one of the biases I personally have, is that... I will accept a lot more "magic woo" for super hero movies that are animated - something about the medium, if I see photo-realism, pretending to be happening in the "real world", then I tend to treat it that way.
posted by jkaczor at 12:58 PM on August 15, 2018


Most obviously: the only reason that everything goes wrong is that every damn thing is automated to hell and back, all entirely by Nedry, so that he can just turn it all off. Why is it all automated? To avoid hiring Costa Rican labor.

Uh, you're saying this ISN'T believable? My experience in the white collar labor market for the last two decades makes this quite easy to swallow.
posted by selfnoise at 12:59 PM on August 15, 2018 [27 favorites]


But what if my brain wants to see Jason Statham punch a shark?

then your brain made the right choice and i salute you
posted by poffin boffin at 1:00 PM on August 15, 2018 [28 favorites]


if I see photo-realism, pretending to be happening in the "real world", then I tend to treat it that way.

I mean but we're starting with the premise that a young man who inherited billions wants to spend his evenings thwarting petty street crimes, so "real world" is maybe a stretch.
posted by eustacescrubb at 1:01 PM on August 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


quite easy to swallow

Exactly! If your argument against a story is "nobody would fuck up this badly or be this greedy and short-sighted", well. Those of us who have worked in these various fields full of fuckups and/or greedy people, yeah, we have such things to show you.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 1:01 PM on August 15, 2018 [11 favorites]


when just a little willing suspension of disbelief would give you a little bit more joy in life

Well - I didn't have to suspend disbelief when reasonably accurate computer hacking techniques were portrayed in the Matrix sequels - or Mr.Robot.

There are so many people working in the entertainment industry, that perhaps you take the time to engage advisors.consultants do a little "fact checking" or "sanity checks" here and there... When they do, the end result is MORE enjoyable...

(But - normally, I reserve my nitpicking for the 2nd or 3rd viewing of a movie - normally, I do just sit back and enjoy the first experience)
posted by jkaczor at 1:04 PM on August 15, 2018


Half of all sentient beings getting Snaptured at least makes some amount of sense.

My problem with it was people both in the movie and in real life acting like killing half the sentient beings would solve the problem, even given Big Purple's premises. If the problem is runaway growth, the population will double again.

It's the Mitchell and Webb "kill all the poor" sketch. Obviously it's evil, but acting like it might work is just so weird.
posted by BungaDunga at 1:05 PM on August 15, 2018 [10 favorites]


But - one line of "tech" dialogue might have mitigated that issue in Batman Begins.

Batman 2 and 3 are much more 'turn off your brain' movies than Batman 1. Batman 2 requires The Joker to basically be clairvoyant if not insanely lucky. In Batman 3 a stadium blows up, a major city is ceded to bad guys and everybody else in the US is like 'man that sucks. oh well'.
posted by The_Vegetables at 1:05 PM on August 15, 2018 [10 favorites]


acting like killing half the sentient beings would solve the problem, even given Big Purple's premises. If the problem is runaway growth, the population will double again.

Not only that - but space-faring civilizations have access to resources on uninhabited moons/asteroids/planets/solar systems... While the overall amount of resources in the universe is finite, not every celestial body is going to have life competing for resources.
posted by jkaczor at 1:08 PM on August 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


Most obviously: the only reason that everything goes wrong is that every damn thing is automated to hell and back, all entirely by Nedry, so that he can just turn it all off. Why is it all automated? To avoid hiring Costa Rican labor.

Jurassic Park was just the most successful iteration of Westworld. Engineers build a system so complex that they can't even begin to anticipate all the potentially lethal bugs and emergent behaviors of that system. Bugs happen. People die. They both even have the exact same beat of "they can't see me if I hide behind..." See also at least a third of Crichton's other screenplays and novels, including Terminal Man, Airframe, and even the failsafes of The Andromeda Strain. Granted, Westworld was really impressive for the time because proof-of-concept for computer viruses had just been published as the movie was being produced.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 1:10 PM on August 15, 2018 [13 favorites]


Telling a critic not to think critically is just dumb. As Judge Harry Stone said when a street preacher told him, "Judge not, lest ye be judged," that kind of puts a crimp in the old job description.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:13 PM on August 15, 2018 [7 favorites]


the whole franchise rests on a foundation of dumb characters

In Jurassic Park, even the kids are smart, or at minimum sensibly apprehensive of danger.

everyone, including the engineer running the place, forgets that rebooting the park kicks it onto auxiliary power and nobody notices this or nobody ever thought to put a HEY YOU'RE ON AUX POWER AND THE FUEL WILL RUN OUT SOON


One of the major themes of the book/movie is that sufficiently complex control systems inevitably fail. That's why Hammond is so desperately wrong at the end of the film, when he plans to solve today's problem by using less automation the next time he builds a Jurassic Park. "The next time?!?" The core concept of technological control over half understood recalcitrant living things is inherently doomed to failure. Life finds a way.

Basically what GenderNullPointerException said. That comment is a strange attractor?
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 1:14 PM on August 15, 2018 [9 favorites]


In my experience, if you have to turn your brain off, the movie isn't for you. If the movie is good enough, your brain will turn off of it's own volition. which movies are this way depends on who you are. Many movies that will drive a critic or a more critically inclined person crazy, poses no problem for me. Though there have been some amazingly irritating outliers...
posted by evilDoug at 1:17 PM on August 15, 2018 [7 favorites]


I just remember that when Pacific Rim came out, people would complain about the absurdity of politicians spending billions of dollars to build a giant wall to keep monsters out.
posted by Quonab at 1:18 PM on August 15, 2018 [19 favorites]


All I know is that now I'm definitely re-watching Pacific Rim tonight when I get home from work.
posted by something something at 1:19 PM on August 15, 2018 [6 favorites]


Infinity War: We're talking about the same studio who thought, "Tony Stark needs a Spiderman and Cap needs a shield and a quinjet" were essential parts of rebooting a comic storyline that started with Reed Richards treating Isaac Asimov as a prophet.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 1:22 PM on August 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


pretty bold of anyone to assume my brain is ever turned on to begin with
posted by poffin boffin at 1:28 PM on August 15, 2018 [32 favorites]


The issue with this whole “turn your brain off” thing isn’t so much that turning your brain off = terrible movie, it’s that you’re suppose to be turning your brain off from stress. If “popcorn” movies stress you out then don’t go see them, I understand that. If I’ve had a shitty day/week/month I may not want to watch a movie that affects me in some kind of realistic way. Like, if I’m having an existential crisis, I’m not gonna go watch The Tree of Life or Knight of Cups (s/o Terrence Malick I love your movies bro). If I’m stressed out in real life I want to escape and turn my brain off from that, and inhabit some made up world where dumbass cool shit happens.

I’ll bring up Malick again, because I have him on my mind: “turning your brain off”, to me, as far as movie examples go, has two examples of choices: do you want to watch American soldiers kill Nazis (Saving Private Ryan) or do you want to deliberate about life and war via some characters in a movie, who you can than project your own issues onto, causing you to reflect about your own life (The Thin Red Line)? It’s not that SPR is a shit movie, it’s that the premise is kind of ridiculous and it’s not exactly a “thinking” movie, versus TTRL, which has long monologues of its characters discussing within themselves their lives and issues and existential themes. I turn my brain off for Saving Private Ryan, but not for The Thin Red Line.

This gets kind of mixed up in some movies. In Robocop you’re faced to question the American military-industrial complex as it invades American society and the American public via private mega corporations which can literally make a person disappear and then be reborn as a robot, who they technically have ownership of, even though the robot may still have some part of its former humanity still residing in it. However, the movie is hilarious. Red Forman is the bad guy. There are one liners. A guy falls into toxic waste and then is splattered by a police car. The shots of the news in the movie’s universe skewer our media and the tendency of them to selectively broadcast news stories or edit them in a tilted way. It’s prescient, realistic, has themes (a tiny sub plot deals with a police strike and the fact that the megacorp that owns the police bureau can replace them with giant hulking bipedal robots which are allegedly perfect but aren’t human and may have inherent biases due to the programming). Can you turn your brain off for Robocop? Or does it ring too true these days? For me, Verhoeven is a master at this, where his movies seems dumb af but actually contain depth. Cronenberg may be better, where his movies deal with intense themes and have disgusting, mutating visuals, and while they aren’t exactly popcorn movies I can see people considering them to be stupid movies because of the ludicrousness of the visuals and his aesthetics, although things like Videodrome do actually have intensive and well thought out themes.
posted by gucci mane at 1:29 PM on August 15, 2018 [14 favorites]


It's the Mitchell and Webb "kill all the poor" sketch. Obviously it's evil, but acting like it might work is just so weird.

Yeah, but to be fair, Thanos is crazy and people are dumb. I think it's legitimately a failure of the movie for not interrogating or challenging this dumbass plan at all beyond "Thanos is crazy," but I don't actually quibble with Thanos in universe thinking it might work, or some people in the audience being dumb/thoughtless enough to think so too. The former is a valid character choice and the latter is people gonna people, because people legitimately believe, in our very real world, that overpopulation is the problem instead of resource distribution and/or income inequality.

So I'm not sure that's an issue with the movie itself having a failure on the level of "just turn your brain off and it makes sense." It's a deeper problem with actual social, political, and cultural roots in our real world, and the movie does not have any radical or even especially coherent counter to it beyond "genocide bad." That's a way different storytelling problem than even a plot hole, or a failure of suspension of disbelief. Because you mostly roll with the choice as you're watching the movie, and only later do you start interrogating it.

Better or worse than Thanos doing it all because he's in love with Death? Eh. At a certain point, you have to accept the inherent ridiculousness of comics-related genres, the same way you have to accept the murder mystery procedural premise of something like Jessica Fletcher solving all those damn murders in one small town. It's fine if you don't accept it! But those things are, in fact, pretty inherent to their genres.
posted by yasaman at 1:32 PM on August 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


Also another point to mention is that, yeah, maybe giant robots are stupid, or a guy riding a motorcycle with trained velociraptors is also stupid, but it looks cool, and for a lot of people this ticks some sort of pleasure receptor in our brain that makes it fun, even if it is stupid. It’s “badass”. Why is it badass? I have no idea. But then again, giant robots in Neon Genesis Evangelion, or in some Gundam series, aren’t exactly badass because of the themes.
posted by gucci mane at 1:33 PM on August 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


Um, Thanos is an MRA fedora hat jerk. Of course his plan is needlessly shitty.
posted by Artw at 1:33 PM on August 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


If you really want to turn your brain off, watch Forensic Files.
posted by grumpybear69 at 1:33 PM on August 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


Uh, you're saying this ISN'T believable? My experience in the white collar labor market for the last two decades makes this quite easy to swallow.

It would be sort of believable if they were setting Jurassic Park in Chicago. But it's set in Costa Rica, where labor is cheap. Building expensive systems so cutting-edge they require researchers to do them to avoid hiring ~$2/hr people is something you'd only do as intentional hubris.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 1:41 PM on August 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


something you'd only do as intentional hubris

agreed, there's no way a guy who decided to resurrect an entire species and build a theme park around them would ever exhibit this kind of intentional hubris
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 1:44 PM on August 15, 2018 [24 favorites]


If you really want to turn your brain off, watch Forensic Files.

I'll see that and raise you Mountain Monsters.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:46 PM on August 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


And then later in the movie, they release the raptors to hunt the big dino, and Owen Grady rides a motorcycle alongside them. Why? Why does he do that? That seems incredibly dangerous. Why don't the raptors eat him right there? We've established earlier in the film that they totally would.

So - actually, this was less of an issue for me personally - they established earlier in the movie that he had raised and trained the raptors from birth and that he was the pack "alpha". It was also established that he could control them to a certain level (the clicker) - so, while it was a stretch, it was one of least immersion-breaking things that I had a problem with. (And no - sorry, but barefoot would have been a better choice)
posted by jkaczor at 1:46 PM on August 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


A good 'turn your brain off' movie is A Quiet Place. So they can be made.

I would argue that A Quiet Place is good because it reaches into your head and turns your brain off for you. There's a lot about that movie that didn't stand up to post-viewing scrutiny, but I was incapable of thinking of any of those things while watching it, because I was too busy being extremely on edge.
posted by Ragged Richard at 1:48 PM on August 15, 2018 [12 favorites]


Some people like well-done steak, other people like the Michael Bay Transformers movies...

I think those are the same people
posted by chavenet at 1:50 PM on August 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


oh fuck off. fuck off, bad writer. and remain fucked off until you are no longer a doofus. You do not know what movies are and you have no business talking about them.

There are many things the medium of film can do. There are many things the medium of film can do really well. For example, you can portray a tightly plotted story on film, and that can be pretty fun to watch. However, you can also display spectacle.

And spectacle is awesome. It's maybe the thing that movies are best at. And it also doesn't require much from the audience's thinkmeats, because spectacle is more about affect than about intellect. It's about the raw experiences of sublimity and beauty, too much sublimity, too much beauty, blown up too big for you to catch all of it, sped up too fast for you to cognize it, all of it squeezing through your eyes at 24 frames per second. It's a blast.

I swear. If you're trying to do film criticism and you're treating plotting as the end-all be-all of moviemaking, you're willfully ignoring like the last 50 years of film criticism. If you're pretending movies are about plot, you are not a serious person. You are a twerp. Boo to you. Boo.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 1:51 PM on August 15, 2018 [24 favorites]


everyone, including the engineer running the place, forgets that rebooting the park kicks it onto auxiliary power and nobody notices this or nobody ever thought to put a HEY YOU'RE ON AUX POWER AND THE FUEL WILL RUN OUT SOON

FWIW, this plot point does not appear in the movie. And I mention it not to nitpick but because I think the actual situation in the movie demonstrates why characters doing "dumb" things is not, inherently, a "plot hole".

So, he analogous problem in the movie is that the system reboot shuts off the raptor fences. When he sees the raptor fences have been compromised, Muldoon complains about the fact that Arnold didn't mention this. In context of the themes of the movie, this plot complication is a warning about siloed knowledge.

As in, Arnold is an engineer, he knows about the tech side, and at that point of his trouble-shooting process he was only thinking about getting the system back into a state where he could do his thing. He's not looking at the big picture at all, just his piece of it. So he doesn't think to mention this fact (the raptor fences shut off when the system is rebooted) that is irrelevant to his piece of the picture (getting the park systems back online so they can call out for help), even though it's extremely relevant to the big picture of the situation (not dying until help can arrive).

It would be sort of believable if they were setting Jurassic Park in Chicago. But it's set in Costa Rica, where labor is cheap.

Both the novel and the movie establish that the worker deaths (and, in the novel, associated wrongful death lawsuits) were making investors nervous about continuing to fund the project, which was still several years from completion at the time of the tour. The automation wasn't about reducing labour costs but eliminating potential liabilities and calming down the investors. (Plus letting Hammond brag that he spared no expense because he had all the shiniest whiz-bang stuff in his park.)
posted by tobascodagama at 1:53 PM on August 15, 2018 [18 favorites]


Man, I had so many spots where A Quiet Place shook me out of its whole tastefully-Indy-mumblecore-monster-horror deal with dumbness. Somehow its whole style made them worse.
posted by Artw at 1:53 PM on August 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


I think it's legitimately a failure of the movie for not interrogating or challenging this dumbass plan at all beyond "Thanos is crazy,"

They even had a great chance to challenge it when he chatted with Dr. Strange, who if anyone would be willing to say "not only is genocide bad, it also won't work, you dummy." But instead he just tells Thanos (and the audience) that genocide is bad. Which, duh.

I much prefer big dumb spectacle movies when they don't try to make big points about genocide (or whatever) because it's always ham-handed (see also: Valerian, which was a perfectly okay graphicspalooza other than the ham-handed story about genocide). Just make Thanos in love with Death, people do weird things for love or religion all the time, it's totally believable.
posted by BungaDunga at 1:58 PM on August 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


"'Turn my brain off?' I did it thirty-five minutes eight years ago."

Seems to me the brain is the medium through which you enjoy (or do not enjoy) these things. I grant that there are pleasures of attention and pleasures of diversion, and I enjoy Wallace and Gromit in a different way from how I enjoy Kubrick, but if your brain is entirely unengaged, how are you appreciating something at all?

I can just barely grasp this for movies where sometimes spectacle can overcome stupidity in other fields, but in my visits to games cafés, the single most common request I hear from customers is, "we want a game where you don't have to think." What the hell is a board game if you take away the thinking?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:59 PM on August 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


You can have a movie centered around spectacle without it requiring you to turn off your brain. Koyaanisqatsi is a movie built on spectacle but I've never heard it described as a movie you have to turn off your brain for.

The problem with Jurassic World (other than its unforgivably retrograde no-feathers stance) is not that is has no plot, but that it has negative plot.
posted by Pyry at 2:00 PM on August 15, 2018 [10 favorites]


Our brains process emotions, body language and all of the communication that comes from the movie, whether it is directed toward the audience or is internal...as well as logic, laws of physics, and plot holes and more.

I couldn’t turn my brain off for that. I’d be asleep or dead.

We need better science education on so, so many levels, but just like reading SFF, there are HUGE grains of salt on plot lines that ultimately challenge us to be better human beings.

If you think you process emotions with your heart, see my previous point.
posted by childofTethys at 2:01 PM on August 15, 2018


I agree with this article 110%. If nothing makes logical sense in a movie, if the characters do stupid things no real person would do, if the CG is over the top, I can not care about anything that is happening in the movie. If I dont care, than why am I wasting time and money on the film. Show me something crafted and intelligent, make me think, or keep me at the edge of my seat, make me feel something, or loose my business .
posted by WalkerWestridge at 2:02 PM on August 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


And spectacle is awesome

Yeah, apparently it is.

So - it is impossible to have in-depth characterizations, a cohesive plot and amazing visuals? Why bother trying then? Lets race to the bottom. (Not saying that is a bad movie, just the opposite - prescient...)
posted by jkaczor at 2:03 PM on August 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


I mean, the entire exercise of consuming entertainment requires us to "turn our brains off" if what we mean by that is "suspend criticism" - even in supposedly "realist" artworks, there is some degree of divergence from our memories of what reality is like. Take the passage of time in filmed media for example - we accept wipes, fades, musical cues and text shown as floating in midair announcing the passage of time as all indicators that more time has passed than has actually elapsed in the real world. But I don't see anyone complaining about that - so there's something else going on other than just "I've been asked by the medium to suspend my critical thinking" because the media does that all the time.
posted by eustacescrubb at 2:06 PM on August 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


I watch a lot of art-house stuff and indi movies but loved Mission: Impossible — Fallout which is pretty nonsensical in a bunch of ways and doesn't really have much to say but it's just such a finely tuned bit of craftsmanship that I can just revel in the sheer joy of filmmaking. I mean, maybe the plot doesn't hold up if you think about it at all but you can still appreciate the talent and inventiveness that went into choreographing, shooting and editing the fight scenes and ridiculously over the top stunts.
posted by octothorpe at 2:09 PM on August 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


Maybe so, but I'd think it was weird if they said "Welp, can't outrun, so I'm just going sit here and wait to die"

Not too long ago, Lars von Trier made a fascinating (if a bit overwrought) movie that was basically this for the entire running time.
posted by Johnny Assay at 2:16 PM on August 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


This article reminds me of CinemaSins - where they suck all the joy and suspension of disbelief out of movies by requiring them to be factually accurate about everything and to feature complete realism. Sometimes one just wants to appreciate aesthetics or watch something that is focusing only on being hyper-stylized. Geez. I couldn't disagree more with this article.
posted by beatThedealer at 2:20 PM on August 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


Except Cinema Sins is absolutely that moronic “plot holes!” tendency that stems from not understanding how anything works, not any kind of call for anything to be well thought out or constructed.
posted by Artw at 2:22 PM on August 15, 2018 [13 favorites]


> I agree with this article 110%. If nothing makes logical sense in a movie, if the characters do stupid things no real person would do, if the CG is over the top, I can not care about anything that is happening in the movie. If I dont care, than why am I wasting time and money on the film. Show me something crafted and intelligent, make me think, or keep me at the edge of my seat, make me feel something, or loose my business .

You have drawn a distinction between spectacle and craft that doesn't exist. You have presumed that the creation of effective spectacle doesn't require thought. You have implicitly argued that a spectacular but indifferently plotted movie is always bad but a solidly plotted non-spectacular movie is potentially good. You have implicitly created a hierarchy positioning plot as primary and spectacle as secondary, and you've treated this hierarchy as common sense. You have positioned your own contingent, context-determined tastes as a universal standard. And you have spelled the word "lose" with an extra o.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 2:25 PM on August 15, 2018 [9 favorites]


What I don't get is people who say they can't enjoy musicals because "real people don't just randomly burst into song and dance." What kind of stunted, song-and-dance-deprived upbringing did those people have?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:27 PM on August 15, 2018 [22 favorites]


> Not too long ago, Lars von Trier made a fascinating (if a bit overwrought) movie that was basically this for the entire running time.

Every so often I catch myself loading up the last scene of melancholia on youtube and watching it two or three times in a row. Never more than three, though, since typically by then I've realized that it's a sign that I need to make an appointment with my therapist.

That said, it is an unspeakably beautiful movie. It's maybe the only lars von trier movie I can recommend to anyone. I found myself quite relieved when von trier himself decided that it was no good and distanced himself from it, because I'm not sure I like liking any movie that lars von trier likes.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 2:29 PM on August 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


"This food tastes terrible."
"Just turn your tongue off and relax."


Some (not all) of the "turn your brains off" movies are the cinematic equivalent of fast food. Sometimes I want a beautifully prepared roast with Yorkshire pudding and sometimes I want a goddamn whopper with cheese.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 2:33 PM on August 15, 2018 [10 favorites]


I mean. Popcorn movies, spectacles don‘t have to be dumb. There‘s no requirement that says a movie has to be dumb so people can „turn off“ their brains.
Having believable character arcs and interactions, plots that make sense within the premise of the movie, things that work and move as they should don‘t make a movie less enjoyable for people who want to just enjoy.

Why can‘t we have popcorn movies that spend a fraction of the money that go into effects on good writing?
posted by Omnomnom at 2:34 PM on August 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


Why can‘t we have popcorn movies that spend a fraction of the money that go into effects on good writing?

Cause unlike effects, there's not much correlation between spending more money and getting better/good writing. Don't you think studios would do that if it were that easy?
posted by FJT at 2:41 PM on August 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


created a hierarchy positioning plot as primary and spectacle as secondary

Hmmm - I don't think anyone is saying that.

Spectacle can be amazing - but if your plot isn't self-consistent and coherent (in-world), your overall effort is going to be a nitpickable flash-in-the-pan.
posted by jkaczor at 2:44 PM on August 15, 2018


god save us from people who think they're too smart to be dumb.
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:44 PM on August 15, 2018 [7 favorites]


So... Thanos didn't kill enough people for his plan to be believable?
posted by yonega at 2:46 PM on August 15, 2018


If only people really could voluntarily turn off their brains (and autonomic nervous systems). Theatres would be so quiet.
posted by benzenedream at 2:46 PM on August 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


Sometimes I want a beautifully prepared roast with Yorkshire pudding and sometimes I want a goddamn whopper with cheese.

And sometimes I want to go to a Taco Bell Cantina so I can get hammered on Twisted Freezes while downing soft taco supremes and dancing to some house music played by a surprisingly talented DJ spinning behind a "Live Mas"-branded booth.
posted by grumpybear69 at 2:47 PM on August 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


A foolish consistency is the Hobgoblin of little minds, first appearing in The Amazing Spider-Man #238.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 2:51 PM on August 15, 2018 [13 favorites]


People who make this argument have clearly never been chronically ill or frequently sick. Sometimes I don’t have the brain to appreciate or process smart, well-written movies. Sometimes all I can handle is something dumb and flashy that makes makes my pleasure centers go “heh, that’s cool/fun.” It doesn’t have to be good to be enjoyable. I’ll accept the argument that movies that require you to turn off your brain may not be objectively good, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have value or that we should stop making them ever, which he seems to be saying in the end.
posted by brook horse at 2:55 PM on August 15, 2018 [15 favorites]


I'm perfectly willing to suspend disbelief for a few premises. But not for the conclusions that follow. Basically I will allow you "Given X" portion but you don't get the "Therefor Y" without the work of logic and realism within your own chosen system.

I'm also unwilling to grant unlimited ridiculous premises.
posted by srboisvert at 2:56 PM on August 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


The big problem with Thanos' plan is that it was a swap-in for the character's actual motivation, because Marvel didn't think they could get a personification of Death past the movie-only audience. If you remember the very first stinger with Thanos, there's the line about how going forward in his plan is "to court Death" and he grins. Because Thanos is in love with the Marvel universe personification of Death. He wants to kill half the universe as a gift to her (not the whole universe, because then she'd have no reason to exist anymore) because none of his smaller stunts have impressed her. It would also have negated the need for the fridging of Gamora that was sloppy because it's hard to buy "favorite of the his adopted playthings" for someone like him is the same as actual deep love. The reason it worked so badly is because they had to come up with an alternate reasoning for the movieverse that didn't have roots in any of the source material they were using for all the rest of the story. It was a clumsy patch, and even viewers who didn't know about the motivation change could tell it didn't mesh.

Generally I can handle stupidity moving a story forward, or I'd never enjoy a Cohen brothers film, but I have trouble with otherwise reasonably competent characters being stupid, withholding key information, or suddenly behaving counter to their previous characterization for no reason than otherwise the story would end too soon. (This is why I can't stand most sitcoms; they tend to rely very heavily on the idiot ball.)
posted by Karmakaze at 2:56 PM on August 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


Now, if you'll excuse me, I must go outrun a shock-wave.
posted by srboisvert at 2:58 PM on August 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


sometimes I want a goddamn whopper with cheese

No one is asking you to turn off your taste buds and general "mouth parts" to enjoy your whopper.

As I have said - I watch everything - I am definitely not a "film snob" or critic - and I will enjoy just about anything the first time, but my brain is still going to say: "Wait, what?"

Now - am I going to walk out of the theater in a huff and demand my money back? No.

Am I not going to watch that movie a 2nd, 3rd or "nth" time? No.

Am I going to recommend that my friends and family avoid it? No - let them watch and decide for themselves.

Am I going to make fun of it's holes and debate it on the internet? Yes, most definitely.

And that, is also a form of entertainment... These movies keep giving and giving and giving...
posted by jkaczor at 2:59 PM on August 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


> People who make this argument have clearly never been chronically ill or frequently sick. Sometimes I don’t have the brain to appreciate or process smart, well-written movies. Sometimes all I can handle is something dumb and flashy that makes makes my pleasure centers go “heh, that’s cool/fun.”

What's more, I take it as a tell that the person making the argument has never worked a difficult job.

(I made this sort of argument when I was like 14. I grew out of it. I am confused by people who haven't. It's like running into an adult who talks up Ayn Rand...)
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 2:59 PM on August 15, 2018 [11 favorites]


So... if you like and want a dumb, flashy movie, and Critic X says, "Movie Y is dumb and flashy," why then get mad at Critic X for telling you that Movie Y is what you're looking for?
posted by The Underpants Monster at 2:59 PM on August 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


If you really want to turn your brain off, watch Forensic Files.

I'll see that and raise you Mountain Monsters.



forensic files, mountain monsters, take me home, country roads
posted by poffin boffin at 3:04 PM on August 15, 2018 [20 favorites]


sunshine on my shoulder gives me sunburn. sunshine in my eyes can make me blind. sunshine on the water makes it evaporate. sunshine almost always makes me dry
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:06 PM on August 15, 2018 [6 favorites]


So... if you like and want a dumb, flashy movie, and Critic X says, "Movie Y is dumb and flashy," why then get mad at Critic X for telling you that Movie Y is what you're looking for?

The implication is almost always “and therefore you shouldn’t watch/like it” to which my immediate thought is always, “I mean, I guess if you hate fun.”
posted by brook horse at 3:07 PM on August 15, 2018 [3 favorites]


My impression is that cinema that focuses on musical beauty gets pushed to arthouse, "event" showings, or the extended music video. And largely aesthetic video work is dominated by indie animation these days. As much as I'd like another Fantasia I'm pretty much resigned to jukebox musicals.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 3:11 PM on August 15, 2018


CONTENT WARNING: While this movie does not require that you turn off your brain, the producers recommend that you do turn it down a little. For best results, set your brain to "George Costanza" or your neurological equivalent.
posted by sfenders at 3:13 PM on August 15, 2018 [7 favorites]


This movie will kill 50% of your brain cells. On the plus side, that's 75% more than you were using.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:15 PM on August 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


a microwave transmitter that if it existed in real life, would instantly vaporize all the humans. But in this world, it just vaporizes the water supply

I'd be a hell of a lot happier if they called it something else then: a theta wave emitter or mutron beam or a whateverthefuckatron. Because that's not how microwaves work. For example, Vibranium in Black Panther. Maybe this is an internal bias of mine more than anything, but I feel that people's acceptance of this garbage is sad statement on the state of science literacy.
posted by exogenous at 3:15 PM on August 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


For best results, set your brain to "George Costanza" or your neurological equivalent.

That’s gotta hurt!
posted by gucci mane at 3:16 PM on August 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


Boy does Batman Begins whole “this is the realistic* Batman” deal make that one stick out like a sore thumb.

* none of it is realistic.
posted by Artw at 3:17 PM on August 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


I'd be a hell of a lot happier if they called it something else then: a theta wave emitter or mutron beam or a whateverthefuckatron.

Exactly, could have been fixed with one line of "tech jargon" dialogue - my suspension of disbelief would never have been triggered.
posted by jkaczor at 3:19 PM on August 15, 2018


* none of it is realistic.

Heh, don't get me started on the ever increasingly insane Iron Man suit technologies... The first and second movies were still "believable" (articulated power armor, made possible by radical power source miniaturization), but now we have magic nanotech... (how is Tony keeping that level of technology constrained?)

Just call it magic already - it's not like that doesn't ALSO exist in the Marvel multiverse.
posted by jkaczor at 3:24 PM on August 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


There‘s a massive difference between movies that require you think and movies that are simply not dumb.
I‘m baffled by what seems to be the assertion that sometimes because you‘re exhausted/in the mood/whatever you absolutely require a movie that lacks any semblance of coherence.
posted by Omnomnom at 3:26 PM on August 15, 2018 [22 favorites]


I started watching Jurassic Park again because of this thread and I have to say: dinosaurs, sure. Hammond's hubris and Nedry's greed, sure. Fully on board with all of this. But Timmy? No way man. I'm only halfway through the movie and already this kid should have been dead at least four times. There's no way he survives this movie, it's ridiculous and unbelievable.
posted by Two unicycles and some duct tape at 3:29 PM on August 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


Timmy is a host.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:31 PM on August 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


"Turn your brain off" comes from the same place "guilty pleasure" does, and it's weak. If you allow yourself to like watching whatever the movie is trying to do, from however your brain reacts to this, you don't have to micromanage your thoughts. I don't turn my brain off for The Brady Bunch Movie any more than Pacific Rim or Goodfellas. It's just me, a-rhizome, watching a movie that may or may not suck.
posted by rhizome at 3:36 PM on August 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


And from what I know about literary criticism, "turn your brain off" is a blaring siren that someone is speaking on behalf of a canon.
posted by rhizome at 3:37 PM on August 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


I've been listening to The Good Place: The Podcast (which I *highly* recommend) and one of the writers that was on recently talked about working on one of the Transformers movies (I think - I've listened to a lot of podcasts lately and may be swapping details.) He and his partner caught a fairly major continuity error and spend half a day figuring out ways to write around it. When the brought it up to their boss, they were told they were thinking too much and to drop it. This sounds like a lead-in to "and that's why that job sucked", right? But this person's takeaway was that it was good advice that he needed to listen to - that where his attention needed to be on a given project was on what the project was trying to accomplish, and getting bogged down in details that didn't support that goal was actually doing a bad job.

I'm still gnawing on that one - I'm not sure I'm 100% sold, and I am definitely not sure that it translates across media. But I think there's a point there worth considering.
posted by restless_nomad at 3:42 PM on August 15, 2018 [6 favorites]


"turn your brain off" means "stop nitpicking so damn much," so there's a lot of irony at play in the arguments being levied against the phrase here
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:43 PM on August 15, 2018 [7 favorites]


Imagine if we talked about books the same way we talked about movies.

Oh wait, we do.
posted by East14thTaco at 3:44 PM on August 15, 2018


"counterpoint: Pacific Rim, which I consider a classic example of a “turn your brain off and enjoy” movie. I’m not saying people should like the movie, I’m saying I enjoyed it, but to enjoy it I had to not think about it too much. Which, at least for me, refutes his claim that “turning off your brain” for a movie means a bad movie."

I think it's important to keep in mind that liking something, enjoying something is entirely different than that thing being good. Stuff doesn't need to be good to be enjoyed and not everything is good just because you like it.
posted by GoblinHoney at 3:45 PM on August 15, 2018 [12 favorites]


> Imagine if we talked about books the same way we talked about movies.

Oh wait, we do.


Imagine if we talked about ballet the same way we talk about movies.

People think of movies and books as comparable forms of entertainment (insofar as people are comfortable saying "I liked the book better" or "I liked the movie better"), but the spectacular quality of film makes movies more similar to other forms of spectacular entertainment (ballets, masques, amusement park rides) than to print fiction.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 3:51 PM on August 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


An amusing side effect for me is that the more realistic something is, the more the errors kick me out of the story when I encounter them. Case in point: I love the writing of Kim Stanley Robinson. He generally pays close attention to getting the science right, especially natural science. But there's an entire book where he repeatedly refers to an animal as being either a siamang or a gibbon. Except siamangs are a type of gibbon. Worse still, though: he actually describes the animal's tail as being as long as its arms. Except gibbons are apes, and therefore have no tails. If this was an otherwise check your brain at the door novel, I wouldn't have cared. I would have noticed, but I wouldn't have cared. But in that particular novel, it brought me right out of that world every time I read the word gibbon.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:54 PM on August 15, 2018 [10 favorites]


the spectacular quality of film makes movies more similar to other forms of spectacular entertainment (ballets, masques, amusement park rides) than to print fiction.

And yet when people talk about movies, so often they treat them as if they are books, analyzing story and characterization rather than photography and other visual aesthetics.
posted by Mothlight at 4:10 PM on August 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


> And yet when people talk about movies, so often they treat them as if they are books, analyzing story and characterization rather than photography and other visual aesthetics.

Fortunately, serious film criticism has moved on from this as the only (or even primary) mode of discussing film. Unfortunately, the mistakes that smart people made in the past are often earnestly repeated by silly people in the present.
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 4:13 PM on August 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


ctrl-f suspension of disbelief

how do you write an article about this without even using the phrase??


a good movie turns off your brain for you, if such is required, as a good magician distracts with their sleight of hand. But then you have to get clear on the target audience. The magician that astounds a room full of six year olds is going to need different tricks to astound their parents.

And then there are people like my friend Jerome who simply did not like the first of the LOTR movies.

"I didn't buy it," he said.
"What didn't you buy?" I said.
"Wizards and hobbits and elves and whatnot."
"It's fantasy, man."
"Exactly. I didn't buy any of it."

Some folks just aren't ever going to be in the target market.
posted by philip-random at 4:22 PM on August 15, 2018 [9 favorites]


Smart people can do stupid things. Nobody in Jurassic World is even a little bit smart, which seems weird, given that the whole thing is arguably science-driven.

I think that's the issue for me. There was nobody with any intelligence involved in this entire project? Really?

I expect movies to be reasonably internally consistent. If you tell me up-front this is a slapstick comedy, I don't even really notice people acting irrationally, because, well, that's comedy. If you tell me up-front this is a drama set in our world, I expect people to generally act as people in our world act. If you tell me up-front that this is a superhero movie, I expect gross violations of physics of a certain type, but not a wanton abandonment of the entire concept of physics. And so on.

On that basis, I think Jurassic Park did well, and Jurassic World was dreadful. And I enjoyed both Pacific Rim movies!
posted by pwinn at 4:26 PM on August 15, 2018 [8 favorites]


I once watched one of the Cremaster Cycle movies while high on mushrooms and my brain literally could not interpret what I was watching on the screen. It was as if some sort of alien intelligence had given us an artifact that was beyond our understanding. It was the first and only time I’ve watched something where my brain just shutdown and did not understand what it was experiencing. It was intense. Typically I’m able to watch things while tripping and while they are “trippy” in the normal sense that you’re on drugs, this was such a different experience where I came out of it audibly wondering what it was I had just watched and whether it was real or not.
posted by gucci mane at 4:32 PM on August 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


I mostly can't watch comic book movies, but sometimes I surprise myself. I enjoyed "The Dark Knight" and "Wonder Woman". Why? I think it's because I *can't* actually turn my brain off, and these movies gave me complicated moral dilemmas to wrestle with instead of giving me plotlines so morally simplistic that I spend the movie complaining about capes or demanding that superhero movies have aliens, tech moguls, or Norse Gods, but not all three.

I don't require that all science in movies be accurate, but I need enough accuracy that the movie appears to take place in a logical universe where physical laws are followed.

I'm in a bad enough mood today to think that fiction without realistic moral dilemmas or an understanding of physical laws is why we have Trump and climate change. We think we're living in a movie where we *will* of course outrun the fireball.
posted by acrasis at 4:45 PM on August 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


After I saw Pacific Rim, I told a friend that “I was hoping for a smart-dumb movie, but it turned out to be a dumb-dumb movie.”

Examples of a smart-dumb movie would be something like Pitch Black, which, yeah, is a CGI monster flick where the plot is kind of ridiculous on its face, but which is so conceptually novel and stylistically awesome that you can just run with it and enjoy the ride.

A smart-dumb movie seduces you. A dumb-dumb movie bludgeons you over the head.
posted by dephlogisticated at 4:51 PM on August 15, 2018 [8 favorites]


I amuse myself in action scenes (Dark Knight Rises and Watchmen were egregious examples) playing "spot the flats" during fight scenes with ostensibly human marital artists have been costumed in spike heels. Even a stunt woman can't fight or tumble in those, so you can see the shoes constantly changing. Because that kind of discontinuity is less important than dressing women in fetish shoes the rest of the time. (Yes, it annoys me in the source material too - it's sloppy design.)
posted by Karmakaze at 4:54 PM on August 15, 2018 [6 favorites]


Now I'm someone who is incredibly tired of comic book movies that are nothing but CG spectaculars with no real emotion or character interest. So I get the frustration.

On the other hand, I gave up on art movies over a decade ago. I remember the day because I came home from working as a mental health crisis intervention specialist and my husband wanted to show me an indie film he'd seen before. And we started it, and it was about an asshole guy who in one of the first scenes date rapes a woman, and I was like...umm, no. Nope. I literally listen to people's trauma all day, this is not what I want to do to chill out at night.

Now I'm sure the film was well-acted and grim and all the things it was supposed to be. But it was not going to do anything pleasant for me. When I was a teenager I loved the dark shit, the arty shit, the thinky shit.

Once life started becoming really REAL, first as a function of my job and secondly as a function of my chronic illness, pain, and poverty, my entertainment needs got fluffier and fluffier.

I don't wonder why the majority of Americans respond to big, bright, thoughtless spectacles. The majority of Americans are suffering and stressed and don't have the extra mental and emotional capacity for deep entertainment. They don't want or need to be reminded of the ways in which humanity is flawed and society is evil. That only appeals to comfortable, privileged folks who get a mental thrill from the reminder.

So yeah, I don't see a lot of movies. Cause the sweet spot of "not too heavy, not too dumb" is rare.
posted by threeturtles at 5:20 PM on August 15, 2018 [22 favorites]


People who make this argument have clearly never been chronically ill or frequently sick. Sometimes I don’t have the brain to appreciate or process smart, well-written movies.

You know what, people are different. It's so weird how some people seem to think certain kinds of movies are both objectively lacking in some way and objectively pleasurable - and that I must simply be refusing to enjoy them out of pigheadedness. Well, when my health issues are grinding me down I find it harder to appreciate allegedly awesome visuals, harder to make sense out of nonsense, and I just have less patience for stupid shit I don't like in general. If anything, when I don't feel well is when I particularly want a movie to take care of me and transport me out of my frail human body through its seamless craft. If I'm not up to a film I would consider well-made, I'd rather do anything besides sit around failing to be entertained. And I think that's all the article was saying in the first place. When it comes to big mainstream blockbusters, it's not the viewer's job to make themselves like the movie, that's what the movie is supposed to do.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 5:29 PM on August 15, 2018 [10 favorites]


Forget turning my brain off when watching a dumb movie, I'm turning my liver on. *pull tab sound*
posted by ejs at 5:36 PM on August 15, 2018 [6 favorites]


but the spectacular quality of film makes movies more similar to other forms of spectacular entertainment (ballets, masques, amusement park rides) than to print fiction.

Have you read some of the fansites for Horizons or the Haunted Mansion? Talk about your plate of animatronic beans. The original version of Pirates of the Caribbean was one of the best examples of gesamtkunstwerk I've personally experienced.

Now I'm sure the film was well-acted and grim and all the things it was supposed to be.

Not necessarily. Art films can be bad, too.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:36 PM on August 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


The majority of Americans are suffering and stressed and don't have the extra mental and emotional capacity for deep entertainment. They don't want or need to be reminded of the ways in which humanity is flawed and society is evil.

Hmm, I'm gonna nudge back a little on that. Because not all light movies are dumb and not all smart movies are dark and grim. There are movies that are dumb and sadistic and Americans love them. I can think of horror/scary movies and whatever genre The Purge series is in as examples.

And for me scary movies are a special case, because I don't really watch scary movies. I really don't like being scared, but I recognize why people like those films. Because people are different and they like different things, and sometimes they like different things at different times. So, to me, it's just kind of odd reading all the comments here on spectacle vs art and which one is better or needed or whatever, as if it's some sort of objective thing.
posted by FJT at 5:59 PM on August 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


The failure of this article, and this thread, is the failure to recognize neurodiversity in engagement with art. I'd argue that this derives from dramatic criticism being derivative of a period of history that was literature dominated, when often the plot and script were the only things that many in the rural areas were ever going to experience of a piece of work.

Whether film or literature or art or cuisine, our minds and bodies engage with art upon multiple layers- the layers of pure sensorium, the layers of instinctual reaction, and the layers of rational analysis and engagement, and also within the layers of social context and the work's place within the greater societal discourse.

There is a problem of kritocracy within the genre of critical writing. Too many writers who want to be judges, and not enough who wish to instead act as sherpas.

We have made such strides within history and culture towards the embrace and recognition of multiple cultural views, and yet we still labor within the tunnel vision that there is somehow a singular position, some panoptical summit, from which we can parse 'good' and 'bad cinema. As though rationality or catharsis or sensorium alone were sufficient for assessment.

Complaining about the unintelligence of a blockbuster is like closing your eyes at a ballet and then complaining that you didn't like the squeaks that the ballerina's shoes made during the performance. You are not acting in a good faith engagement with the criteria of the genre. It's like grading a bicycle for not meeting the performance standards of a formula one.

Instead, the dynamic of engagement within the critical analysis of a piece should always be within the measure of similar works. I judge Jurassic World by the criteria of Jurassic Park, The Poseidon Adventure, and other disaster films. I do not engage Jurassic World as compared to Z, or The Tree of Life, nor by comparison to Duck Soup.

So the engagement should be assessing the probability and the professionalism by which a film achieves the aim of the film-maker. Does the provocative film provoke? Does the senstravaganza dazzle the senses? Does the tear-jerker lachyrmate?
posted by LeRoienJaune at 6:01 PM on August 15, 2018 [11 favorites]


You are discussing [an action movie|a musical] (pick one, doesn't matter which you pick).

Say this movie's plot is full of holes and none of the people react to events like you'd expect a normal realistic person to react. However, say that the choreography is incredible, just, out of this world captivating. 1) If you announce that this is a dumb movie, you are implying that the purpose of movies is realistic storytelling and if a movie doesn't have that, it's a dumb movie. 2) If you announce that it is a smart movie, you are saying that movies aren't necessarily the same as their screenplays, that moviemaking is about more than just writing, and that choreography is as valid a site fo intelligent creativity as screenwriting is.

Option 2 seems more interesting to me.

When I was younger I thought folks like (say) Todd Solondz were good filmmakers and that folks like (say) Baz Luhrmann were atrocious hacks. Now that I'm uhh mumble years old I've recognized that lil me had it completely backwards. Solondz's indifferently shot angst is a waste of film when compared to Luhrmann's visual madness.

It's possible for there to be bad movies that fall down on every front (I don't think I've ever seen a Michael Bay movie, but I've heard they're quite bad). But also it's possible for movies to have janky plots with people who don't act like people and still be, well, spectacular, in every sense of the word.

tl;dr: don't be logocentric plz
posted by Reclusive Novelist Thomas Pynchon at 6:13 PM on August 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


National Treasure: This is the ideal. It's a turn your brain off popcorn movie but it's fantastically made, and FUN AF.

See also: San Andreas
posted by fluttering hellfire at 6:17 PM on August 15, 2018 [1 favorite]


I judge Jurassic World by the criteria of Jurassic Park

Against Jurassic Park, Jurassic World is a failure. As a spectacle, it is a failure, because spectacle requires risk and ambition, and Jurassic World is a movie so predictable and so risk-averse that it could have been written by a bot that ingested 10,000 hours of discovery channel dinosaur specials and syfy monster movies and was punished every time it spit out something novel.

In the original Jurassic Park, Dr. Grant spends like half the movie winking at the audience to say these aren't your father's dinosaurs. In an early scene he tells a child, an audience surrogate I'll call 'Billy', "hey guess what Billy raptors were basically big birds and if you think that's silly well tough nuts because they'd still eat you alive".

Jurassic Park came out in 1993.

If it were a person, Jurassic Park could drink and vote and literally be Jurassic World's father. So to now have Jurassic World say "oh well we've ignored like three decades of discoveries and made exactly the same naked, plastic-skinned dinosaurs your parents saw in 1993" is a failure of spectacle. To retreat from the absurd reality of poofy, brightly colored, feathered dinosaurs into a bland mishmash of monster tropes (oh it's a SNAGGLE TOOTHED ALBINO, so scary) is a failure by the terms of the genre.
posted by Pyry at 6:21 PM on August 15, 2018 [8 favorites]


I think Mystery Science Theater 3000 said it best in the only lyrics in its theme song that have never changed in the history of the show:

If you're wondering how he eats and breathes
and other science facts (la-la-la),
Just repeat to yourself, "It's just a show,
I should really just relax..."


So relax, and try to ignore how often they repeated the word "just"...
posted by oneswellfoop at 6:51 PM on August 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


I guess I don't understand what this conversation is about. It seems to me that movie critics generally like movies and are usually pretty good about engaging with them on their own terms. Chris Columbus is a hack - someone like Baz Luhrmann is, at worst, divisive. I mean, Strictly Ballroom is at 95% on Rotten Tomatoes. Moulin Rouge isn't to everyone's taste, but I think people who are into movies get that it's intentionally heightened and not to be read as a failed kitchen sink drama. I actually think it's a great film, and that a ton of thought, care, and feeling clearly went into it. It's nothing like the indifferent dreck I actually object to, movies that are unrealistic because the filmmakers basically aren't interested in humans (characters or viewers) at all.
posted by two or three cars parked under the stars at 7:24 PM on August 15, 2018 [5 favorites]


Roger Ebert put it thus: “If a director is clearly trying to make a particular kind of movie, and his audiences are looking for a particular kind of movie, part of my job is judging how close he came to achieving his purpose."

Or, more briefly, judge a movie on how well it accomplishes what it’s trying to do.

This is why I love “Independence Day” — it set out to be a big blockbuster summer action movie, and by God it did an amazing job at it. It’s big and stupid and awesome and has heart.

It’s why I love “The Legend of Drunken Master” and “Shanghai Noon.” Plot? What plot? I came to see Jackie Chan do some amazing fighting.

It’s why I love “Waking Life,” because it set out to be heavily philosophical and utterly visually amazing, and it just blows my mind on both fronts.

It’s also why I can’t stand most Dreamworks films. They aim to be funny and charming, but all they usually accomplish is cramming in a bunch of cheap pop culture references and intensely annoying catchphrases.
posted by snowmentality at 7:36 PM on August 15, 2018 [6 favorites]


It’s why I love “The Legend of Drunken Master”

The best moviegoing experience of my life, bar none, was seeing this in a packed midnight showing at the Fantasia Film Festival in Toronto some fifteen years ago. Three hundred and fifty people, all totally into it, cheering and bursting into spontaneous applause at the sudden reversals in the corny plot and the amazing skills on display. Not the best movie I have ever seen in my life – probably not in the top 500, actually – but nothing has ever matched my first viewing of it.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 8:05 PM on August 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


Is this where I can complain that latest StarWars movies feel like they're mostly just two-shots of people with dour expressions?
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:25 PM on August 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


You have implicitly created a hierarchy positioning plot as primary and spectacle as secondary, and you've treated this hierarchy as common sense. You have positioned your own contingent, context-determined tastes as a universal standard. And you have spelled the word "lose" with an extra o.

No I havent. I just said I agree with the article, and then I explained why. And believe me, "loose" instead of lose is probably one of my least attrocious spelling errors/horrible typos. Is it one of your best take downs?
posted by WalkerWestridge at 9:46 PM on August 15, 2018 [6 favorites]


Two unicycles and some duct tape: "Exactly! If your argument against a story is "nobody would fuck up this badly or be this greedy and short-sighted", well. Those of us who have worked in these various fields full of fuckups and/or greedy people, yeah, we have such things to show you."

Not even that. A deep delve of the Risks Digest will expose you to plenty of examples of this sort of stuff happening all the time by either design or accident or unforeseen consequences.
posted by Mitheral at 9:50 PM on August 15, 2018 [4 favorites]


Even as someone who doesn't really like "dumb movies", I think this article is kind of silly and circular. Harry Potter is a pretty popular franchise and almost nothing about the wizarding world holds up to critical thinking, even if you accept the existence of magic (the time-travel stuff, the economics, the number of wizards in the world, etc.). Buffy is one of my favorite shows but many aspects of it make zero sense, even accepting the supernatural presence. When people say "turn off your brain" they mean, "I was able to suspend my disbelief because I found this movie sufficiently engaging, you should be able to too." That doesn't mean their standards for enjoying a movie are wrong, it just means that, unlike the author, they found the movie compelling enough that the problems didn't bother them.
posted by phoenixy at 10:21 PM on August 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


Most movies are just not very good. What kills me is the ones that spend hundreds of millions of dollars on some vaguely-fascistic military spectacle and don't even bother hiring a couple continuity editors, or someone to just look at the plot and say "huh, that's not how microwaves work, what if we call it an antihydrotron or something?"

Is this a job? I kind of want this job.

I watched part of "Predator" this morning, and there's a scene where Arnie's crew expertly shoots lots and lots of holes in a Central American jungle compound and its occupants. All of the actual sci fi predator silliness is totally believable in-world, whereas the fact that there are still dudes sitting around throughout the compound waiting to be surprise killed by a walking punchline commando while everything is exploding a few yards away is the kind of thing I have a hard time ignoring.
posted by aspersioncast at 10:22 PM on August 15, 2018 [2 favorites]


the Snapture was indeed supposed to take half of all living things, not just sentient beings

LOL that's funny though because imagine - was it supposed to have taken half the bacteria and viruses? Wouldn't that mean roughly a quarter of the people suffering from some infection or other found themselves miraculously healed? (Another quarter disappeared themselves, and half experienced no change.)


This has now made me consider whether there would be people who survived the Snapture but had all their 'good' gut microbiota disappeared - which makes you more vulnerable to some GI infections. So you're trying to process the death of half of all living things, all while having raging C Diff diarrhoea.
posted by Vortisaur at 1:30 AM on August 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


The "turn you brain off" argument is bullshit since it it only used as justification for "liking" movies people don't really want to have to think about why they enjoyed. If it really worked, then any movie could be "liked" because, hey, the rapid succession of still images creating the illusion of movement alone would be sufficient for enjoyment. There would be no distinctions made between movies people "liked" and didn't "like' because one could simply approach all of them with one's "brain off" and enjoy them for what they are.

The idea that all art appreciation is purely subjective with no possible outside marker to be used as measure too simply doesn't work. That doesn't mean art is objectively good or bad, but that there are measures each of us uses in determining value and adherence to some sets of real world values is part of that. I've yet to meet anyone who really thinks all art is equally good, everyone I've ever known holds some art as "objectively" better than others according to some internal measure they may not be able to articulate, but believe in entirely as real. People may give lip service to the idea that, in theory, Pat Boone's music is every bit as meaningful or good as Prince's, but they certainly don't really believe that themselves. Most people here wouldn't be able to listen to each and think they were essentially the same or that Pat was possibly "better" than Prince from some perspective. We carry the belief that there are values that determine the effectiveness and meaning for different works or artists and we act on those ideals.

That those ideals are so often inarticulable doesn't make them less important to us, it just makes the use of a hedge more necessary when we find it difficult to defend what we enjoy in the face of possible disagreement. We never turn our brains off, we just aren't always aware of what they are enjoying and why, which is the problem.

Our feelings on art are much less important for what they are saying about the work than they are for what they imply about ourselves. There is little reason to care about what someone else may like or dislike in any immediate sense given their enjoyment or lack thereof doesn't directly impact our own feelings about a work. But in aggregate these things to matter to us as markers for our view of ourselves and in how they shape the larger world. Art matters a great deal to society as can be noted by how much of it is consumed and how passionately and frequently it is discussed and referenced in talking about other things, but it is also often disdained for its unimportance under the guise of subjectivity and "turning one's brain off" enjoyment. Much of that is due to the desire for the familiar, for convention, and reinforcement of the status quo. People turn to art to "feel better" by indulging in the familiar, looking for only minor but notable twists on established convention to relax in feelings akin to nostalgia or like so-called comfort food for providing return to someplace we remember fondly.

The problem though is that the status quo and convention are heavily stacked towards some really unpleasant values that have been part of the capitalist white patriarchy since movies have been around. Enjoyment of convention and indulging in the familiar then can be allowing oneself to accept the pleasures of a deeply flawed system. It can be difficult to admit our own complicity with a shitty system by enjoyment of its ideology via movie stories, but it is unavoidably there and is one of the main reasons we talk about "turning our brains off", it isn't about the movies exactly, but about our response to them.

Look, for example, at the enthusiasm for Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Even many of its "fans" admit its racist and sexist and it celebrates an abusive foster father as its emotional hook while fridging then dismissing the mother in Tarantinoesque "humorous/awful" story that further negates her importance other than as a momentary spur for the Quill. The movie is centered around an emotionally stunted juvenile hero whose buddies aren't much better and its emotional hooks are those more suitable for junior high than adult concern. That latter, in itself, isn't necessarily bad, there are some primal concerns that all can relate to, but it does point to how convention and mass audience enjoyment is formed and what can be dealt with and what is to be ignored.

The reaction to Gunn getting fired for offensive jokes then is an odd one as that same kind of "humor" is woven through the film, but surprise and dismay is the response when that sort of humor is quoted in a different context. The distancing of the audience from the artist is notable for pointing to the "turn you brain off" idea of enjoyment in the sense of letting oneself off the hook for what one likes. Gunn is accountable for what he says, but the audience isn't accountable for what they enjoy. That isn't just something with Gunn, it comes up over and over again where something people enjoy is found to have problems that could or should have been apparent from the start. (The subtext of Independence Day, for example, is a thorough and elaborate "argument" about the threat of the demasculization of the US, carried through all of its characters and events. It was an anti-Hillary movie.)

Convention allows for complexity and nuance to be minimized, it relies on expectation build through exposure to genre and stereotype history to do the work for the movie in place of developing more complicated characters and actions. Those expectations largely determine who the villains and heroes are, what the threat will be and how it is to be resolved, returning things to the status quo, with some slight improvements perhaps. Mass market movies are almost entirely conservative in their vision, restoring the known order through following tropes over how events are to be viewed. When it comes to spectacle, we are all like the Joker in the Dark Knight, we want to watch the world burn and innocents "extras" perish as we place ourselves alongside the heroes who, eventually, will set things right after the most sensational aspects of the spectacle has run its course. We, of course, aren't asked to identify with those extras other than in how they may give the heroes the feels, since we stick to the leads as we might envision ourselves being.

This runs into serious issue when those "leads" are so often of the same type and the stories about them, even if they do outwardly differ in appearance, are so often the same. Righteous violence, revenge, battles against nature, all shaped to make those ideals seem absolutely necessary within the context of the movie, like the need to ignore human rights for a ticking time bomb scenario that has almost no basis in real life. The stories shape the villains as attractive and clever but with some fatal flaw that our down to earth heroes can act upon to win in the end, whether supervillains or Nazis the bad guys must too be entertaining to keep our "enjoyment".

This kind of representation then has some strong likelihood of carry over into how many people think about real life scenarios and how they envision themselves and others. That though is perhaps a minimal concern compared to what it demands of those who don't fit the conventions of "turn you mind off" entertainment. The love of the familiar also carries with it the need or want for those who own the "worlds" fans love to continue their product lines. Anyone who wants to catch mass audience attention then has to work within the frames set by the corporations that own those properties. Women and minorities have to sign on to tell stories in like fashion, but with minor alteration for new leads and light subtext in order to catch the attention of the mind off viewer. Anyone who might want to tell some story that doesn't fit those conventions are pretty much out of luck since audiences don't go see movies that don't fit genre conventions in any numbers. They are the only real game in town as the mind off viewers dominate the market place.

What that has meant for women and minority representation is that their interests are subservient to that of Disney/Marvel/corporate world fandom. Familiar enjoyment for the viewer comes before anything the artist might want to say. Somehow this is also attached to the idea that art is supposed to represent the world people want to see, not show what the artists might want to say as its primary objective. The brain off viewer largely consumes films as corporate products wanting them to adhere to their demands for dietary restrictions because they don't want to think about what they are seeing. The belief increasingly seem to be that moral values can be transplanted into those convention driven shells and still carry enjoyment but with more "proper" meaning at the demand of the audience, ignoring so much of what those conventions themselves mean.

The very value placed on fandom and "liking" poses real problems for art. Viewers who expect the works they consume to match them without needing to make any effort on their own to see or understand anything but what they already are predisposed to enjoy is a backwards way to approach art in my opinion. Movies can certainly be fun and entertaining without having to be dense, slow, or overly "arty", they can even be fairly basic and simple with spectacle aplenty but I can't accept the idea that the audience should be freed from the need to think about what they consume and what their enjoyment means. Light entertainment isn't a problem, but not looking at what it is one enjoys and what values that enjoyment perpetuates is a problem. It may not be the same problem for everyone as we all will bring different interests and perspectives to the movies, some will find fault with science that others will not see, while others may find fault or celebrate diversity that wasn't apparent to other viewers. That is what discussions about movies should be about, how we bring ourselves to the films and take pleasure or dislike out of them and sharing those ideas with others. But you need your mind "on" to do that. Enjoy what you like, no one will be the wiser, but don't celebrate mindless enjoyment as its own benefit. It has costs.
posted by gusottertrout at 1:46 AM on August 16, 2018 [13 favorites]


I think "switching your brain off" can mean anything from
- judge the film on the merits of its mission/purpose
- don't overfocus on irrelevant details
- shut up and stop criticizing/let me enjoy this/I don't want to think analytically
- excuse obvious laziness/poor writing
Some of these arguments have more merit than others.

I think it's a bad idea to tell people they're watching movies wrong - and the more I talk to people, the more I learn they are very different. I know some people that can't watch animation, they need their movies to be hyper-realistic. Technical/scientific/historical inaccuracies can pull some people out of films, other's don't care. Film Crit Hulk wrote a great article about text (story/drama/meaning) and texture (surface/acting/framing), and how again, people can have deep preferences. Sometimes these are more about the emotion that's invoked, and if its comforting or challenging.

Different audiences want different things from their films, and those can change with time and mood - sometimes I like intellectual engagement, sometimes visceral thrills, sometimes catharsis, sometimes wonder, sometimes laughter, sometimes comfort. It's OK to want all those things, and it's equally OK to just like some of them. Not all art is for everyone all the time.
My favourite criticism embraces this and is what Roger Ebert argues for - it's also the best criticism for making my own work better - how well are you using the tools as opposed to is your goal the right one.
posted by eyeofthetiger at 3:32 AM on August 16, 2018 [7 favorites]


What I don't get is people who say they can't enjoy musicals because "real people don't just randomly burst into song and dance." What kind of stunted, song-and-dance-deprived upbringing did those people have?

Is this where I recruit songwriters for Metafilter: The Musical?
posted by duffell at 5:34 AM on August 16, 2018 [5 favorites]


And yet when people talk about movies, so often they treat them as if they are books, analyzing story and characterization rather than photography and other visual aesthetics.

Because nobody cares.

Story is everything, character a close second and only sad nerds focus on photography and cinematics deliberately rather than because the first two sucked.

If you notice the camera work in a movie, it failed.
posted by MartinWisse at 7:47 AM on August 16, 2018


If you notice the camera work in a movie, it failed.

Or you're looking for different things.

I assure you, I am not a sad nerd.
posted by jessamyn at 7:58 AM on August 16, 2018 [22 favorites]


It occurs to me that the problem isn't dumb characters. The Green Room is fucking awesome for its depiction of young, dumb, scared people doing their absolute best and failing.

It's these movies full of *ahem* expositorally intelligent people acting like drunken teenagers and then pulling off hail marry's thanks to their staggering intellect. It barely works on a sit com like Big Bang Theory or Scrubs. It's painful to watch in the Jurassic Park movies. It's weirdly ok in Marvel Movies, because there's enough "because comics!" going around that it transcends lampshade hanging and becomes consistent tone. It's super jarring in Michael Bay or Zach Sneider movies, where the gritty seriousness is such a poor fit for the subject matter that no amount of winking can fix the dissonance.

Nolan has that thing where his mastery of narrative flow glosses over dumb plot holes in such well-timed way that people seem to forgive it and dig on the hyper-real tone. I kinda hate it, even when I like the movie.
posted by es_de_bah at 8:04 AM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


Story is everything, character a close second and only sad nerds focus on photography and cinematics deliberately rather than because the first two sucked.

This is such a peculiar assertion. If I want a focus on story or character, I will read a book. (I usually do, and so I usually do.) If I go to the movies, it's because I *want* visual spectacle, sound effects, score - the things that movies do well, and that books do not do at all. (If I want interactivity, I play a video game, etc.) Different media have different strengths, and I enjoy them for those strengths, not for their weaknesses.
posted by restless_nomad at 8:07 AM on August 16, 2018 [8 favorites]


Story is everything, character a close second and only sad nerds focus on photography and cinematics deliberately rather than because the first two sucked.

I'm definitely a story / character first person, but if a film has a great story and characters, but little visual interest, I probably won't watch. If all you've got is story, write a book instead; I'd read it.

Film and TV are visual. I don't watch a lot of movies these days (it took me 4 or 5 days to patch together time to watch Die Hard a few weeks ago), but I do make time for a little bit of decent TV, and the shows that I actually enjoy have a lot of visual interest to go with the story (Better Call Saul, right now), the sort of thing you can't do in another medium.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:10 AM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


Story is everything, character a close second and only sad nerds focus on photography and cinematics deliberately rather than because the first two sucked.

I guess that I'm a sad nerd. Of all the elements of a motion picture, I'd probably say that story close to the least important. Generally I don't give a crap about the story as long as it's serviceable enough to hold the individual scenes together and gives a reason for the characters to be doing what they're doing.
posted by octothorpe at 8:10 AM on August 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


"It's not what a movie is about, it's how it is about it." -- Roger Ebert, great American movie critic / sad nerd.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:27 AM on August 16, 2018 [8 favorites]


"It's not what a movie is about, it's how it is about it."

... which is, incidentally, why I don't believe in "spoilers."
posted by uncleozzy at 8:30 AM on August 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


If you think "story is everything" then you should hate Marvel movies. They place characterization above everything. If they have to choose between a plot point and a character beat, it's always a character beat.

Also, Infinity War was a train wreck.
posted by vibrotronica at 8:30 AM on August 16, 2018


Taking this back to Jurrassic World and 'story', I can totally accept that Owen can ride motorcycles next to the velociraptors -they were his pets, he was the alpha, whatever. I can accept that kids ignore warnings -I was a kid, half the fun I had was ignoring warning messages. I can accept that the army guys ignored the warnings and were unprepared, I can even sort of accept that the helicopter machine gun had to fly superclose to the dinos to shoot at them. I can accept lazy security and too much automation and whatnot.

I can't accept that when they hear their is a problem with the mega-killer saurus, the cautious hero's plan is to open the big door and go in and look for him immediately rather than do everything slowly. That's stupid and destroys your character. They had sensors, they had an active park running - there was no rush. They saw scratches on the wall - well I'm supposed to assume that meant a giant dinosaur jumped a wall and is rampaging? Come on, I own pets. I don't assume that because the dog scratched at the fence that he's out somehow made it over. And it would have been easy to have the villain open the door or to have the systems fail- whatever. But don't tell me that they couldn't fix that with the story. I'm going to call you lazy and say your story sucks. I get that there are people who can look past it and think it's awesome - like my sister-in-law who liked it so much she bought the little dino toys as an adult. I don't hold that against her.

But I think it sucked and that I wasted about 2 hours of my time. Because the story was lazy.
posted by The_Vegetables at 8:50 AM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


enough to hold the individual scenes together

That's one of my biggest problems with most of today's efforts - they feel like a series of set pieces that the characters are shuffling through, essentially on auto-pilot. Maybe it's because I am older and more jaded, but things don't just seem to "flow" well.

Also - after wrapping up my initial viewing of Fargo S01 last night, I realized... I am spoiled by our current golden age of television - I am beginning to think that it is simply not easily possible to tell a complex plot with good characterizations in 2-2.5 hours... So - to be commercially viable, movies have to focus on what spectacle they can cram into a couple hours.

This era of long-form TV has brought us very nice combinations of plot/characters/spectacle; Fargo, Westworld, True Detective, Altered Carbon (while not perfect, still better than most sci-fi movies I have seen recently).
posted by jkaczor at 8:54 AM on August 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


Story is everything, character a close second and only sad nerds focus on photography and cinematics deliberately rather than because the first two sucked.

Story is everything. That's a common assertion, but not remotely accurate. Directors, cinematographers, editors, and sound designers all make specific choices that inform our experience and perception of story and character. Performance has a lot to do with it, of course, but even performances are shaped by editorial decisions.

I mean, you can enjoy BLACKkKLANSMAN because you think it's a tense and funny period piece about a African-American policeman who pranks his way into an undercover investigation of the Ku Klux Klan during a crucial period in the black liberation movement. It is definitely that. But anybody could have made that film. What makes it BLACKkKLANSMAN, a Spike Lee joint, is a range of creative flourishes like the decision to aggressively cross-cut between a latter-day Klan meeting, complete with screening of The Birth of a Nation, and a scene where Harry Belafonte, playing a character we've never seen before in a setting that appears nowhere else in the film, recounts the story of the 1916 lynching of Jesse Washington in Waco, TX. Maybe that fits in your definition of story, but to me it's clearly rhetoric, accomplished using straight-up Eisensteinian montage techniques that are unique to cinema. I suck in my breath and grab my armrests. The gooseflesh rises. I notice the technique and yet it has a visceral effect on me. (And it's still not remotely the most upsetting use of montage in that film.)

Different people will experience film in different ways, of course. There's no "wrong" way to watch. But your "sad nerd" remark is inexcusably churlish and pernicious.
posted by Mothlight at 8:54 AM on August 16, 2018 [8 favorites]


Snapture is short for Snapchat Rapture, right? It would make perfect sense for these tech companies to all be servants of Thanos!
posted by I-Write-Essays at 9:08 AM on August 16, 2018


Story is everything, character a close second

screenwriter here. This is definitely true of functional screenplays which I tend think of as blueprints. That is, they don't get published, they aren't The Work itself, but as with a building, if you start with a shitty blueprint, there's a high likelihood that the end result is going to be a mess, possibly dangerous for everybody within a five block radius.

and only sad nerds focus on photography and cinematics deliberately rather than because the first two sucked.

guess I'm not this because it's long been habit to start scanning forward, looking for impressive photography and cinematics and whatnot if the story/characters ain't compelling me to stay in the zone with the movie in question. Life's too short for all the predictable hero's journey tropes and cliches, and/or plotting etc that feels like it was cobbled together by a fourteen year old in constant need of getting to the next explosion.
posted by philip-random at 9:14 AM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


Easy counter-proof of the "story is everything" thesis: My Neighbor Totoro (alternately Ponyo.)

Or an example where more plot spoils the story, Murder on the Orient Express is a perfect little trifle of a short novel where a detective sees through a web of complex coincidences to uncover the truth. And it was made into a nearly perfect classic mystery movie. TV producers added more plot, turning the pragmatic Poirot into a person of deeply conflicted religion sensibility. Branagh also added more plot since the amended emotional conflict is now the result of some undeveloped tragedy, and we have a detective who can't tolerate the imperfection of events outside the law, who exposes a thief in an extra-judicial spectacle and doesn't mind prostitution when he's on vacation.

Generally I find that the best feature film adaptations start from works that are short novel or novella by today's standards. My paperback edition of True Grit is about 220 pages, not counting the afterword, while Murder on the Orient Express is listed on Amazon at 300.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 9:21 AM on August 16, 2018 [3 favorites]


Easy counter-proof of the "story is everything" thesis: My Neighbor Totoro (alternately Ponyo.)


This is an interesting example to me, because I suffer from an affliction I think of as "anime block." I've tried anime, and I really don't like it. I saw Akira on 35mm when it was originally released in the U.S. back in the early 1990s, I made a trek out for a midnight screening of Wings of Honneamise that put me to sleep, I've checked out Ghost in the Shell and Evangelion and any number of episodic shows, including that strange Humanity Has Declined show with the talking loaf of bread that was so popular online a few years ago. And all of them so far leave me cold. With the exception of Miyazaki. Anything Miyazaki does I find genuinely rapturous. I loooooooooove Totoro so much.

I don't think Miyazaki is doing anything with story and character that are light years ahead of his contemporaries in the anime industry. (When I read about the story of Akira, it sounds pretty interesting; it's just the film itself that leaves me cold.) In fact, echoing GenderNullPointerException's observation about True Grit and Murder on the Orient Express, his films are often threadbare when it comes to story. (That's not the same thing as having a bad story, I know.) But I think I just respond that strongly to his visual sensibility and how he handles tone, mood and pacing.

Another thing -- when I finally gave Spirited Away a try and enjoyed it so much, my impulse was not, "I need to find more anime with this kind of story and these kinds of characters." It was, "I need to watch more anime created by this guy, who does things with the art form that I find stimulating and awe-inspiring."

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I subscribe to the auteur theory, and it has served me well for many years. As far as turning off my brain goes, well, when a movie shuts off my brain I have a real tendency to start thinking about other things. My mind is quick to wander. I'm a worrier, too, so if I start thinking about whatever's going on in my daily life that I have to fret about, that's how I know a movie has truly lost my interest. So "turning off my brain" is not a great option -- I'm at the movies because I'm trying to keep my brain occupied!
posted by Mothlight at 9:49 AM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


Miyazaki had a pretty good relationship with Kurasawa, who is also famous for spending long moments on beautifully photographed scenes of humanity. Kurasawa devoted an entire movie to a collection of dreams, some of which don't really have much of a plot to speak of. Some of that filtered back to the American canon early via Spaghetti Westerns. The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly doesn't make that much historical or narrative sense as a movie about the American Civil War, which is fine, because it's partly an anti-war fantasia using the western for set dressing, and it spends more than five minutes on a musical number with three men giving each other the side-eye. (Alas, the history of The Carson Campaign when Good, Bad, Ugly is set is even more tragic.)

Radio keeps reminding me that it's Bernstein's centennial, and West Side Story wouldn't be a tear-jerker without the brilliant transitions in music, choreography, and cinematography of the Mambo/Maria ballet or the suppressed rage and machismo of Cool. Probably my cinema experience was a bit spoiled by getting the holy trinity of kids classical music: Nutcracker, Peter and the Wolf, and Hansel and Gretel so I deeply love movies with extended musical sequences.
posted by GenderNullPointerException at 10:51 AM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


This era of long-form TV has brought us very nice combinations of plot/characters/spectacle

It occurred to me a while ago that living as I do in an age of long-form TV, most movies now seem like a précis of a longer story. This is especially true with adaptations of longer works, in which the movie often comes across like a two-hour “Previously On...” bit.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 11:00 AM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


I was typing out a really long comment about how I think the rise of the nitpicking YouTube critic has become a way for us to go and enjoy our big spectacle movies and then also feel smart about it, because we can critique it into the dust.

But then I realized that I'm finding it more enjoyable to look at why I like the movies I like, and to that end I want to offer a couple of other YouTube things - Filmjoy (aka Movies with Mikey), and in particular, the series Deep Dive, where he and a group of friends watch films that are generally regarded as bad, and challenge themselves to find the good (their episodes on Xanadu and Power Rangers are perhaps the best).
posted by nubs at 11:29 AM on August 16, 2018 [5 favorites]


The "movies: are they just about moving images?" argument is facile to the point I suspect trolling.

Nolan has that thing where his mastery of narrative flow glosses over dumb plot holes in such well-timed way that people seem to forgive it and dig on the hyper-real tone

This is one of the main reasons I haven't been able to enjoy a Chris Nolan film since Memento, which is chock full of continuity holes that are obscured by fancy editing, asynchronous narrative, and Guy Pearce's shaved chest.

Inception I consider a decent litmus test for whether I'll get along with someone, because that movie acts and is shot like it should be smart, but is actually quite poorly conceived.
posted by aspersioncast at 12:17 PM on August 16, 2018 [1 favorite]


Story is everything, character a close second and only sad nerds focus on photography and cinematics deliberately rather than because the first two sucked.

Totally, that's why Psycho (1960) and Psycho (1998) have the exact same rating on Rotten Tomatoes, being filmed from the same script and all.
posted by Roommate at 1:54 PM on August 16, 2018 [14 favorites]


For me, the hierarchy of importance is character - plot - spectacle. I get bored by car chase scenes. Fighting scenes confuse and bore me. Explosions are all right, I guess. The only reason why they‘d make my pulse race is if I actually cared for the people in the scenes, if I were invested in their survival. And I can‘t do that if they are cardboard cutouts with predictable emotional arcs and inane dialogue.
That actually explains a lot because if I „turn off my brain“ I‘m left with the least interesting (to me) thing to focus on.

I don‘t agree that people like me should stick to books, though. The language of movies has its visual means of conveying character and tools for plotting that are very different from the written word and equally awesome.

I think good movies manage to convey characters and plots competently even when they focus on spectacle.
posted by Omnomnom at 1:55 PM on August 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


$MOVIE is good because it reaches into your head and turns your brain off for you

Alfonso Cuaron nailed this for me with the opening scenes of two of his big movies (Children of Men and Gravity). The former is based on a pretty, slow, kinda meditative PD James novel, so I went in with expectations. Then the laundromat explodes and we're off on a chase movie. Gravity I saw after reading reviews that talked about its amazing realism, so an opening shot with Clooney zooming around being all charming on untethered EVA helped me recalibrate early on and quieten the bits of my brain that would otherwise have been yelling about huge plane changes and limited MMU delta-v.

Both movies do a good job of setting their parameters early and mostly sticking with them. I suppose that's an important thing for me because I think they're both wonderful.
posted by rhamphorhynchus at 2:07 PM on August 16, 2018 [2 favorites]


And since there's no acceptable open seats at the reserved recliner theater for MI 6: Tom Cruise Makes Awesome Action Movies, we're taking the general philosophy that if Jason Statham can make overcoming organ theft work, twice, anything is possible. Haven't even seen the trailer. There'd better be shark punching.

After finally giving in and watching Jurassic World a few months ago, well, while I tend to disagree with some of the points made in the article I can't refute the stupidity of the characters in general.

Ok, shark punching time!
posted by monopas at 4:10 PM on August 16, 2018


PSA: To everyone who hated Jurassic World, Lego Jurassic World is a vast improvement and you should watch it immediately.
posted by brook horse at 4:57 PM on August 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


only sad nerds focus on photography and cinematics deliberately rather than because the first two sucked.

Bunch a fuckin' nerds. Feeling emotions when they look at powerful imagery. Take those stupid glasses off your face and just enjoy the smudgy puppet play, ya stupid dweebs!
posted by slagheap at 6:40 PM on August 16, 2018 [8 favorites]


Metafilter: Bunch a fuckin' nerds.
posted by Ashwagandha at 8:23 PM on August 16, 2018 [4 favorites]


Thanos gets to 1. Impress Death, 2. Stop excess resource exploitation, and 3. Create jobs in the janitorial field vacuuming up all the people-dust. Triple win.
posted by Zack_Replica at 1:39 PM on August 17, 2018


I think Children of Men is one of the best movies of the 21st century so far, mostly due to the background scenes in the movie, which are eerily prescient. It feels like a trick, because the plot is about escorting a woman who is about to give birth to the first baby in a long time, but the world they inhabit feels like the actual story.
posted by gucci mane at 12:30 PM on August 18, 2018 [2 favorites]


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