The Commandment(s) of Films

Discussion in 'Art & Culture' started by DaveC426913, Aug 16, 2020.

  1. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Originally, I had only one Commandment of film stories:

    Thou shalt not let the bad guys win.

    Se7en (Spacey, Freeman, Pitt, 1995) was the first time I recall encountering a film where the bad guy wins. I came away from that movie wishing I had not seen it. I felt complicit in the triumph of evil over good. (I'm not a prude in that way. It's just that's not really what I look for entertainment-wise when I choose a film to watch.)

    But I have to abandon that Commandment, after seeing The Usual Suspects (Spacey, Byrne, 1995). The bad guy did win, but it was still an excellent film.

    I've since realized that I had missed the boat on what makes a Commandment for me.


    Years later, I saw The Kingsman (Caine, Jackson, Firth) and was kind of disgusted with the church slaughter near the climax. The congregation was full of perfectly innocent people - husbands, wives, children - who killed and were killed in excruciatingly gory slow motion.

    I realized that what I hated about it was the glorification of innocent human suffering. This scene was beautifully and stylishly done - every sword slash and spear stab imaged in superb artistry. Though the film rationalized it because they were not in their right minds - we were nonetheless being urged by the narrative to revel in this gory massacre of innocent people.

    And that is also what I thought about Se7en. The whole film was the depiction in beautiful detail of innocent people suffering and dying - a celebration of suffering.


    So I now have a new Commandment of film:

    Thou shalt not glorify or celebrate the suffering of innocents.

    There are many films I have not enjoyed - but I don't regret seeing them, This is the only thing that has ever made me regret seeing a film.
     
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  3. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    I regret seeing some movies because they were badly done. I have never regretted seeing a movie because of the content.
     
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  5. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Neither had I until these films.

    Watching them is the psychological equivalent of watching a snuff film.
     
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  7. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    ? What's a snuff film?

    I'm not into too much blood, guts and gore today, and often cringe and cover my eyes like a big girl at such scenes.
    Plus in most cases, I also like the older movie over a remake.eg; War of the Worlds.....The Day the Earth stood still


     
  8. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    A film wherein someone is killed for real. It's illegal. Depraved ghouls watch snuff films for entertainment.
     
  9. paddoboy Valued Senior Member

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    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    Shit!!
     
  10. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Brazil (1985) was written originally to have the bad guy (in this case the state) win. Because they couldn't have that in an American market they re-edited it to make it have a happy ending, even though the new ending made no sense. The original was much better, and made a lot more sense.

    Extreme Measures (1996) almost had a morally ambiguous ending that would have impressed me a great deal, because it would have required a difficult moral judgment on the part of the audience, which is the sort of thing that starts conversations and makes people think. But then the bad guy pulls out a gun and is about to kill a hostage, so the good guy shoots him and everything is tidily wrapped up without any difficult decisions to be made.

    Twelve Monkeys (1995) actually had a not so happy ending that worked, and I was happy to see a movie that was not oversimplified and predictable.

    I'm almost always disappointed by American movies because you are led by the nose to the correct conclusion, everyone knows it's coming, and that's indeed how it ends. There may be one or two twists along the way, but the end is basically predetermined ten minutes into the movie.
     
  11. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    I must have seen the original then, because it did not have a happy ending.

    If I recall, all they would have had to do to give it a happy ending is end it about 30 seconds sooner - without the final "reprogramming" room.
     
  12. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    I've seen Se7en, The Usual Suspects and Kingsman. I liked all of them. I find TV shows like Criminal Minds much more disturbing.
     
  13. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    I've just watched Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2017).

    It's a nicely morally ambiguous film, and I really like those. Makes you think.

    Without giving too much away, the plot revolves around a mother whose daughter was brutally raped and murdered in the recent past. The local police in what is a small town have not managed to track down the killer/rapist and the investigation has essentially been shelved due to a lack of useful leads. The mother rents three large billboards near the town to try to draw attention to the unsolved case and to shame the police department (especially the local chief) into putting more effort into solving the case.

    The billboards are bad publicity for the police department, and several of the police are upset at the mother and at the local agency people who accepted money for putting the billboards up. One policeman, in particular, is lazy, not too bright, and not above abusing his power as a police officer. He probably has a drinking problem and is also prone to outbursts of violence.

    Given the way Hollywood plots usually work, the expectation is that things will go something like this: the police chief will either continue to do nothing and somebody else will end up solving the crime (probably the mother) or the police chief will turn out to have a good heart and will be spurred into investigating the crime properly. Either way, we expect the killer to be unmasked and for justice to be done. Meanwhile, the subplot with the lazy, violent cop will have to be sorted. He'll turn over a new leaf, or he'll be fired from the force, or he'll get his just desserts in some vigilante way.

    What makes this a great film is that it completely subverts expectations, in all sorts of ways. The characters you initially care about end up making morally suspect life choices. The people you assumed were just inherently evil are shown to be multi-faceted human beings. Very few characters in the film come out as perfect human beings; all are flawed in one way or another. Is the crime solved eventually? Is justice done? You need to watch the film to find out (or read somebody else's spoilers, but those will do what spoilers do and subtract from the experience of watching the film).

    Apart from the story, the acting is top notch. In 2018, Frances McDormand (great in anything) won the Best Actress Oscar for her role (the mother) and Sam Rockwell won Best Supporting Actor for his role as the crooked cop. Woody Harrelson (the police chief) was also nominated as Best Supporting Actor for the same film, and the film was nominated for more Oscars in other categories, including Best Original Screenplay.

    Highly recommended.

    (There is some violence, but the point is not glorification of human suffering.)
     
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2020
  14. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    I saw Se7en many years ago. It didn't leave much of lasting impact on me, as I can't remember much about it now.

    There's a certain genre of films sometimes referred to as "torture porn", where the main point seems to be in the writers dreaming up new an gruesome ways to hurt and/or kill their characters. The Saw franchise of films strike me as a good example of the genre (I think I've only seen one of them, and that was probably enough.)

    In a film that involves violence, there's always a choice to be made between how much violence is shown on screen, versus how much is implied. Directors can choose to cut away before the gunshot hits or the knife goes in, or they can call in the special effects people to show us the whole bloody spectacle. In my opinion, there has been a trend in recent years towards showing the whole violent episode. In many bad films the violence is gratuitous. Sometimes main characters who have just killed a person joke about it - and these are the protagonists we're supposed to be rooting for, apparently able to kill without thinking about it.

    Films come out with ratings, of course, that are based in part on how much violent content they contain. So, in theory, people go into films with some idea of the level of violence they are likely to see on screen. I do wonder sometimes how certain ratings are arrived at, however. I've seen films that are supposedly rated PG that show violent killings. We see people shot routinely in films and that, in itself, doesn't affect the rating much; it's more a case of how much blood there is and that kind of thing.

    I don't mind seeing violence on film, but only really when it is necessary for the story. Gratuitous violence and glorification of violence for its own sake - or violence just put out to spend the special effects budget - seems pointless to me.

    I also think that exposure to so much violence and killing in film and on TV does have the effect of habituating people to violence, to some extent. The first time you watch a gory killing on film, you find it appalling and frightening. The 100th time you watch a similar gory killing it doesn't have the same impact. You might even find that protagonist's post-kill lame joke funny, quickly forgetting what just happened and what that would mean if it was all real.

    There are many tropes in film, and there are as many violent tropes as there are other kinds. Think about the standard expendable and nameless henchmen of just about any film that has an evil villain. The heroes can kill those guys in just about any conceivable way and we're supposed to think nothing of it. We didn't care about those guys - we didn't even know their names. We want the hero to survive/win. One of Mike Myers' Austin Powers films (I forget which one) had an excellent and hilarious commentary on the nameless henchmen, with a whole scene dedicated to the (very reasonable) reactions of nameless Evil Henchman #4's wife and kids on learning that their loving father has been killed.
     
  15. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

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    Those films are nothing. August Underground Mordum https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/August_Underground's_Mordum the second in a trilogy is a disgusting film. So distrurbing you'd turn it off in five minutes.

    A guy goes around killing people with a hammer - main plot.

    A real nasty prank would be to tell someone that it is real.
     
  16. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    What I find appalling and frightening on the screen is the news. Kneeling on somebody's throat for eight minutes is one of the worst things I've ever seen - and an hour before that, the same guy was serving and protecting.
     
  17. (Q) Encephaloid Martini Valued Senior Member

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    I think that was the premise behind the film, "Videodrome"
     
  18. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    They added a few scenes showing the two of them living happily ever after in a farm in the country.
     
  19. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Hm.
    So there was a scene of them escaping in a truck down a billboarded road.
    Then a scene of just him in the reprogramming room showing it was all an hallucination. That's the last scene I recall.
    They must have dropped the last scene and added a new one.
     
  20. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Ah Videodrome.
    Pro tip: not the best pick to watch with your gf and her parents.

    (So, what did they choose instead? Flesh and Blood, a medieval film in which the main character - a princess - gets gang-raped in the first 15 minutes.)
     
  21. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    James Bond: "Shocking."
     
  22. geordief Valued Senior Member

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    The Truman Show had a happy ending but it didn't seem predictable.

    Also wasn't an ending but a new beginning.

    Reminds me of Jim Morrison -Break on through to the other Side.

    Edit: just realized that the ending might have been the final take where we are supposed to realize that we are playing the same part as the tv junkies in the film itself.(The film that ate itself)
     
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2020
  23. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

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    Don't misunderstand. I'm not opposed to violence.
    I'm not opposed to killing bad guys, or even making light of it.

    I'm not even opposed to glorifying the death of bad guys. Kill Bill was quite graphic and quite glorifying (lots of gore, slo-mo and body parts). But it was a cartoon of a movie, and they were very bad people.

    I'm not even opposed to killing innocent people (wouldn't be a lot of drama in films without innocent people dying).

    Specifically, what the two films I mentioned do is 1. kill innocent people and 2. glorify their deaths.

    The death of innocent people should always be depicted as a bad thing. There is no justifiable circumstance in which an innocent person's life should be depicted as stylish.
     

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