Is What You Like, Good? Anthony O. Scott, Samuel L. Jackson, & The Debate Over Quality

Travis McClain

Bats: R, Throws: R. How Acquired: Traded for a player to be named later.

I hold a bachelor of arts degree from the University of Louisville, earned in history. I have lived with Crohn’s disease since 2005, and chronic depression since my youth. I bring into each film that I view a world view shaped by those and other parts of my background. I try to be mindful of the socio-political themes and implications of movies, intended or otherwise, and that surely shows in my blog pieces. I also love doughnuts.

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8 Responses

  1. Chad says:

    What each person likes is good to that individual person.  If you are entertained by a movie, for whatever reason, then it is good.  This not mean that anyone else is required to agree.  You are not watching a movie for anyone else but yourself, so it is a waste of time to dwell on whether it is objectively good to the rest of the world.  The whole point of Flickchart is to rank movies according to how much you personally like them.  You are making a list of your favorite movies.  Not a list for critics or guardians of culture.  Not a list based on a popular opinion.  You are making a list for yourself. 

    I’m not really sure what remedy for The Dark Knight being #1 on Flickchart is being suggested.  Should people ranking movies pretend to like it less?  Should users only rank movies that have appeared on five or more Greatest Films of All Time lists?  Even film aficionados who favor the more intellectual or culturally significant movies do not necessarily agree on which of those are the most worthy of praise.  Also, a classic to one culture is not necessarily a classic to another.  There is no way to universally appraise greatness, and even if there was, then does that mean those are the only films we should enjoy?

    The truth is that most people tend to watch and like what is popular.  The people who have a deeper interest in film are in the minority.  If, say, Citizen Kane was the #1 Flickchart ranked movie, would that mean that it’s there only because it’s the one “important” film that most people have heard of?  Probably.  Despite it’s place in cinema history, not everyone gets enjoyment from watching it.  There are those who would rank it highly just because it is a popular thing to do.  How do we know what people’s motivations even are?  Would Citizen Kane at #1 make Flickchart more credible, or just indicate that a lot of people heard that Citizen Kane is the greatest of all films and then ranked accordingly? 

     

     

    • David Greenwood says:

      High five, Chad.  Flickchart is an amalgamation of its members’ favorite films.  Nobody should start hand-wringing over the “wrong” film being at number one.  We aren’t trying to pass a test here.  Overall, at the present moment, “The Dark Knight” is the most loved film among flickcharters.  End of story.  And that’s the way I like it.

      If anything, I trust Flickchart’s method of rating over imdb’s by a good sight.

  2. Ryan Stuckey says:

    Money and marketing is the anti-thesis of art. The more each are involved the more that has to be compromised to regain back that money and to appease sponsors.

    That being said, not every movie has to be art and just because a movie isn’t art doesn’t make it bad.

    If a person likes a movie then in some general sense it’s good. I don’t really care what their reasoning is as long as it’s true to themselves and it’s a little more thought out than, “It’s awesome.”

    Hell I liked TMNT because of the Raphael vs. Leonardo fight.

    This feels like another one of those ways of saying certain movies are “important” while others aren’t. Which is a load of crap.

    Movies are means of escapism so we evade boredom that we are allowed to have because we live in a technological age that gives us more free time. It also lets us not have to think about what we dislike about our lives and death…unless we want to.

    People who think only certain movies are “important” are pretty pretentious and just as close minded as any regular movie watcher who doesn’t want to watch foreign movies because they are subtitled.

    Obviously I’m not talking about if someone thinks a movie is important to them personally. It’s when they talk about a movie’s worldly importance and see it as a way to measure someone’s overall movie taste. “Oh you don’t think Citizen Kane is a masterpiece? Well then you are a complete rube.”

    Some people want to watch movies that will enlighten them, challenge their ideals, or move them emotionally. Some people just like sitting in a seat and watching unrealistic stuff they’ll never be able to do happen to either laugh or wish they had some of the aspects of some larger than life protagonist.

    The point is, all movies are good and all movies are bad. It’s nearly impossible to find a movie that everyone is in agreement on.

    I don’t really know if this had anything to do with anything, it kind of spun out of control.

    • Chad says:

      Exactly.  Anyone who complains about The Dark Knight being #1 on Flickchart is just a taking a self-centered, haughty view.  The Dark Knight is #1 because a bunch of people watched it and ranked it.  Simple.  There are a lot more people who have seen The Dark Knight than have seen any number of art films that may be better.  It’s supremely ludicrous to expect the masses to all consume culture in the same way just to fit some snob’s vision of what the greatest movie should be. There are so many movies out there that are deserving to be seen.  I’m sure most people who complain about The Dark Knight haven’t seen even a small percentage of world cinema.  But they’re just pissy because a familiar “classic” isn’t #1.  Most of these people need to get more culture themselves.

  3. SoulHonky says:

    The problem with Scott’s review is that it’s pretty much the same as all of his superhero movie reviews. Scott doesn’t like superhero action movies. He goes to The Avengers wanting a coming-of-age film or drama and then gets upset when it’s an action film. So it’s not an issue of Scott not liking The Avengers, he just doesn’t like the genre. He probably could have written half of his review without seeing the film. In my opinion, if he has such an obvious dislike, then he should probably pass off those reviews to a colleague.
    It’ll be interesting to see if the backlash softens him no Spider-man and Dark Knight Rises but I’d bet that he puts out the same Mad Lib-esque review, citing the same issues with only the character names and a few specifics changing.

    • movieguyjon says:

      It’s tough to give much of a fair review to a genre you don’t particularly like, especially if the genre doesn’t feel the need to transcend what it is. Comic book super hero films aren’t substantive by nature. Stuff like The Dark Knight or Batman Begins are more of an exception to the rule. Doesn’t negate that there’s quality to those other films. But if that’s not your bag, it’s just not going to work for you no matter what.

      Long story short, I pretty much agree with you, SoulHonky. I will say though that Scott gets points for still seeing these films and giving them a chance. That’s more than I can say about myself when I completely dismiss movies outright. :)

  4. David Greenwood says:

    All movies are art.  Is that so hard to understand?

    Some art is made to turn a profit.  It is still art and it’s “value” is subjective.  Let’s move on.

    There is no such thing as objective quality when it comes to films.  Machines have objective quality.  One steel bar is stronger than another.  Movies are subjective, no two ways about it.

    My Flickchart is solely determined by my favorite films, the ones I am most likely to want to watch because I love them.  Citizen Kane isn’t in my top 20 but it’s pretty high, because I legitimately enjoy it.  Other films that I will grant are quality pieces of commercial art aren’t so high on my list: The Godfather, Intolerance, Schindler’s List.  I just don’t like them so much.

    Instead of saying that a film like “The Godfather” is “objectively
    good”, it would me more accurate to say that it has solid production values, good acting and directing behind it, etc.  I’m tired of paying lip service to certain films being objectively better than others.