- Kevin Smith upset his film wasn't nominated for awards.
- TV reviewer says latest episode of Dexter is the lowest form of storytelling.
Is it rude to walk out of the theater? I always figured, eh, you can probably still learn something from a bad film. Spielberg says it would be disrespectful to the artist. This is something that I can't understand about Hollywood. Why do we have to respect the artist? Particularly when the product is, bound by percentages, to be garbage. "Never treat your audience as customer, always as partner." Jimmy Stewart said that. Artists today are so concerned with their self-expression that they have little respect for the audience. I never considered walking out of the theater, until one of my instructors told me to start walking out. If I fork over ten bucks, then I have a right not to be preached to by the artist. Why must we respect the artist when they have no respect for the audience? If I hadn't been with other people, I would've walked out Quantum of Solace and Cowboys and Aliens. Neither of which were preachy, but they were horribly made. I was anxious to see Coboys and Aliens and had high hopes for it, but right from the opening scene I knew I was in trouble. The scene has Daniel Craig walking around and talking to some other guys. The conversation was filmed from numerous angles and chopped up in the editing, so that any sense of design was gone. All the emotion was lost, and my interest was lost because they kept cutting to different angles for no apparent reason. Mr. Spielberg, shouldn't the artist design a scene to work without having to resort to random cutting to make it work? I find that insulting to the actors, the crew, the editor, the cinematographer, the writer, etc. Why pay money to these people, and why should we pay money to see it, when the first scene of the movie can't be designed with any sort of thought or care. Maybe they did put thought and care into it, but it's still trash, and well, that leads us to the next point, about Kevin Smith.
Kevin Smith has his following, no doubt about it, but what does he know about the art of cinema? Spielberg wants us to respect the artist for their effort, yet I'm pretty sure Smith doesn't truly know his craft. Sure, he can make watchable films that speak strongly to a particular audience, but all one has to do is watch a commercial for Cop Out to realize that some basic fundamentals are lacking. Spielberg said in the article that his pre-production ritual is to watch four films. Seven Samurai, The Searchers, It's A Wonderful Life, and Lawrence of Arabia. Those were films that were devoured by the New Hollywood filmmakers of the 70s, they were the first group of films students, after all, and they rightfully studied the Masters. Analyze the compositions from any of those four films to the compositions in Cop Out and you must conclude that Cop Out is the work of an amateur who never learned the rules of the game before signing up to play. I haven't seen Red State, but from what I've heard, it's Kevin Smith being different, but not showing any signs of learning his craft. His career has been about self-expression, not art.
Alfred Hitchcock and Akira Kurosawa were always focused on one thing, the next picture they were to work on. John Ford directed well over a hundred films. David Lean would take 10 months to film some of his films. The Masters knew that they could keep going, and make their pictures better, because they never stopped learning from their experiences. I got the impression from that first scene in Cowboys and Aliens, that they were just trying to get it done and over with. Get plenty of coverage, and let the editor make it work. John Ford never shot anything unless he planned on using it, that way the studio couldn't re-edit his films. He got what he needed and that was that. Hitchcock planned out his films so well that he never had to look through the camera. The New Hollywood filmmakers, Spielberg included, made some of their best films in the 70s, when they had the work of the Masters fresh on their mind. Filmmakers today don't seem particularly interested in how to create art, they are interested in self-expression. Spielberg learned from Ford himself, the importance of composition from shot to shot and that it's critical to move the horizon line around to keep the audience's eye working. Watch the trailer for Cop Out and you'll see that Kevin Smith either doesn't know how to compose a shot, or he simply doesn't care. Smith, who had been directing for 20 years, couldn't properly fill a frame, yet we're supposed to respect his passion enough to endure it? Spielberg says films today suck, but we mustn't dare disrespect the artist by walking out of a sucky film? NO. If I'm not being treated as a partner in the experience, like Jimmy Stewart suggests, then I'm not wasting my time or money with you. No wonder Smith wants to quit. Does a guitarist, who knows three chords, write all the songs he can with those three chords and be done with it? No, he learns more chords, and his ability to create is enhanced and broadened.
For my money, television is where you'll find the real artists. I was all aboard Breaking Bad for the first three seasons, but I felt they were chucking out the rule book for season four, and up until the last few episodes, I was really dreading the experience. Thankfully, Dexter had returned. This year of Dexter has been my favorite thus far, but seems like it might be quite a divisive season. For the most part, each episode has had a singular story that gets resolved, while the major plot develops gradually. The recent Breaking Bad season seemed to focus exclusively on the major arcs, with the episodes being part of the larger structure, which was a contributing factor as to why I found it difficult to watch week to week. Last week's Dexter contained a pretty big revelation about a character that was either met with absolute disgust or mind blowing awe. The revelation wasn't stated explicitly until the 9th episode, but plenty of people had guessed the secret from the very first episode. For those who didn't see it, they were shocked, surprised, and anxious for more. For those who guessed it from the start, they were ticked off that they were correct, and as the article I linked stated, they considered it to be the lowest form of storytelling.
Sometimes I just don't understand human behavior. Spielberg, on the one hand, says that movies are garbage, but we must endure them. Smith can't properly frame a shot, yet is bummed when he's not nominated for awards. It's somehow the lowest form of storytelling by revealing a truth about a character, if it's predictable for some. If you're watching the show and don't see the truth, then it comes as a surprise and it works on that level. If you're watching the show and see the truth, why are dwelling on it and letting it define your experience? I saw the truth after the first episode, so instead of trying to prove or disprove myself, I enjoyed the story and the way the characters developed. The revelation was not about Dexter himself, but Dexter's journey this season was in parallel to the this other character. The revelation was not something that Dexter needed to know, he needed to be oblivious so he could continue on his journey of self-discovery. Because I knew the revelation, I was able to juxtapose that character with Dexter's character and enjoy it as an added layer, added dimension to both characters. Thankfully, everybody I know agreed with me. The revelation wasn't surprising, but it was well done, and gave the previous episodes added depth because of the way it paralleled Dexter's story. If you read that review though, you'd see that the reviewer cares about the ability to be shocked, as opposed to enjoying good, layered storytelling that invites the audience to participate.