I think that's absolutely right. There will always be individual differences in film viewing based off of experience. There are really so many elements that can color a film in a particular way. However, when talking about the "value" of a film, I'm not really talking about pure subjective experience vis-a-vie like and dislike. Certainly, if two people sat down together and watched a particular film, they would indeed be watching the same film. The frames do not change, and to barrow a phrase from Andre Bazin, the film is "change, mummified". That is, we could agree on the blocking of film, the set design, the camera movement, costume, and more (i.e., the totality of the mise-en-scene), and those things together, along with themes and so on, would (technically) assist us in assessing a film's value. For example, when I first watched Citizen Kane I was quite young and I hardly felt anything other than my butt on the seat while watching, however, after hearing about the various contributions it made to film form I was piqued to do multiple rewatches, and although it still doesn't really touch me emotionally or in any pleasant way, I highly appreciate the value that it had on cinema and culture.Gort wrote: You explained this a bit later. But if this question is taken slightly out of context it speaks directly to the subjective experience of film, which you addressed. And I wonder if this subjective experience is itself altered if you consider the generation in which the person experiencing the film grows up.
My point on entertainment is purposely severe because film is so one-sided in its ambitions towards entertainment and amusement. I think anyone can agree that film is typically for entertainment's sake and not much else; however, film is not mere entertainment, as we all know. I think it should be understood that most cineastes' entertainment may come from the educative or informative standpoint, whereas others may just want to be distracted for a period of time because their life is boring, or their simply conditioned to audio/visual siesta, etc. There are plenty of issues with film as a dream to get lost in, but that's beyond the scope of what were discussing and probably deserves a thread of its own!Gort wrote:So I might deduce that you would not agree that a film must first entertain you (get your attention, so to speak) before it can educate or inform you? I certainly can see your irritation with the idea of film as nothing but entertainment. But I grew up in an era when films were expected to have a social message. I find many of those films boring, now. When I was 20, I thought Five Easy Pieces was such a monstrously perfect film. When I was 42 and watched it again, it was a piece of worthless shit. The film didn't change!
But I still prefer films that make me think and give me a cultural point of view that I would not be able to come across on my own. Completely shallow, mere entertainment movies bore me, too.
Although, I must admit that a lot of the time the messages I find in films may well be my own interpretation of what I think I see, rather than what the filmmakers purposely intended as they built the art object.
However, I take no issues with high budgets or spectacle in film if they're used creatively. But they rarely are. And I have no issues with films being entertaining in a general sense, either. However, entertainment has perhaps taken precedence over serious dialectic and critical thinking in the current state of affairs. Old Hollywood is a good counterpoint to what I'm discussing. Even though there were plenty of duds back then, there were also amazing directors embedding portent themes and creative form in their works; this hardly exists anymore for many reasons. Steven Soderbergh outlines some of them here.
Yes, capitalism does, hah! Here I'm simply using Marxism as a philosophical counterpoint to our discussion. They both have their pros and their cons. There's a sort of freedom about capitalism that is highly intriguing, although that has plenty of issues (i.e., it could be an illusion of prosperity, see: the american dream). And Communism is very just and pure and utilitarian, however it can be unduly restricting for some people. My point was that since film is one of the largest capitalist products on our planet, it is certainly subject to a high degree of manipulation, and things like "running the numbers" for blockbuster films and studio executives that don't even watch films are an issue. This is also a bit out of scope of the conversation but needless to say, money often corrupts, which is an issue. Although apparently cinema has a great trickle-down economic system (see Soderberg video).Gort wrote:Capitalism leads to enormous excess of product in all areas, don't you think? I doubt anyone could ever watch every film ever made. Or every TV episode ever made. Or read every book ever published. Or listen to every song ever written, or even every song ever recorded. Yet, having always lived life in a country that has all that excess, I wouldn't want to give it up (not entirely). Nor would I want others in total control of what I could see and when (I already lived that way as a youth, remember).
As Das once said on here, all film is art, there's just shitty art and good art! The debate on art is very subjective and has been highly debated--I, myself have debated it with others to the point of inanity--so I won't get into it. Although I think what Das said is a fine assumption.Gort wrote:Do you see films as existing outside the general question that can be phrased, "Yes, but is it art?" which is a cheeky way that people sometimes express it, but does illuminate the fact that art is as much subjective as it is objective. Isn't your opinion of the significance of a film of paramount importance to you? It seems that your pondering of its place as a cultural object fascinates you as much as the adventure of a blind viewing fascinates Mac. Perhaps watching a film is an exercise to you. And you appreciate and enjoy that exercise. Maybe even to the point of it entertaining you more than merely watching the film could ever do.
My own interests and direction towards film is certainly personal, there's no denying that. And as I said earlier, we each have our own ways of appraising a film. However, there are also ways we can evaluate a film in a relatively objective way, which is what something like a neo-formalist approach is trying to get at in cinema. Regardless of ones personal attitude toward film, the film can still have a heavy impact. Films are independent in a sort of way, existing outside of the bounds of mere human subjectivity. To take a crude example, mud can either be very beautiful to someone or absolutely disgusting, however, it's needed for flora to grow, and so it has its own independence regardless of human appraisal. Citizen Kane is an influential film, love it or hate it!
That's more or less it. My position is actually very similar to Mac's, which is why I didn't respond to it.Gort wrote:Perhaps that's the source of your original, insightful question. You don't see spoilers as significant because they don't affect your analysis of the film and its place within the echelons of similar cultural objects. I might be totally misreading what you mean by the quoted phrase above, of course.
Probably...lol. Despite my words, which are highly limited, I'm open to the prospect of different viewpoints. But what I'm doing here is importuning, and I hope others importune on me. That way we can have a sort of dialectic. And it may actually revive a lukewarm forum, too!Gort wrote:But if you are honest, does your fascination with that aspect (cultural significance of the individual art object, and indeed with the collection of all such art objects as a form of art) ever distract you from things that others might consider more important?
Again, the values of capitalism are there, but since its not a perfect system, its flaws need to be understood, which they're often not. There are plenty of pitfalls in the system, and that's what's important to understand. You can live very peacefully in a flawed system as long as you know the game rules--if you don't then the game is likely to get one-up on you. Even though almost everyone I know just wants to "Netflix and chill", I still encourage them to question what they're watching, why they're watching it, and in general, think critically.Gort wrote:So I'm not certain there is a single, monolithic set of things that are important and all other things are not important. And maybe that wasn't what you meant at all. But isn't capitalism built on diversion? Even if it's from one "important thing" to another. I always wanted my potential customers to be diverted from looking favorably toward my competitors, to my production company for all their video production needs. Fortunately, I had already learned that my competitors weren't shitheads or gnarly ogres. They were other people who really enjoyed earning a living by creating videos. And none of us had to create 100% of the videos made by Memphis companies in order to make a good living.