Jump to content
Norma's Corpse

Views on realism and relatability

Recommended Posts

In the 2000s, suddenly everyone became embarrassed by art, cinema and music being cheerful, funny and escapist. For a while, we were suffering through this post-modern crap that tried to be all dark and mournful (a post-9/11 reaction?). Essentially, there was a demand for films to be more "realistic and relatable". And because people generally live their lives with great hardship, they sought catharsis in films (and film music to an extent) that reflected that. You could see this happening in all that Dark Knight shit and Harry Potter, and even 007.

 

But then the 2010s rolled in, and we slowly recovered from all that grim reality shit, and Marvel made movies fun again, for better or for worse. But here's the cool thing Marvel did - the characters were certainly more realistic and relatable than their campy, fantastical 60s/70s/80s predecessors, but they didn't have to be fucking depressing all the time. Tony Stark is a (wealthy) dude who builds great stuff, has some trauma behind him, but he still knows how to lighten the mood!

 

I'm only using Marvel as an example. Cinema in 2018 as a whole seems to have well and truly recovered from the pseudo-oppressive moodiness of the 2000s. And now we're entering the 2020s, which might continue this trend. Or Hollywood's delayed reaction to it's own anti-Trump hysteria will again manifest in self-pitying, dark bullshit cinema. His election seems to have hit these artsy fartsy types pretty hard, so brace yourselves for more "realistic and relatable" crap.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At least we had fun in the 90s. We had big touchstone event films like Titanic, ID4, Jurassic Park, Speed, Batman Returns, Batman Forever, and TPM. Movies were larger than life back then, and less planned and manufactured.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The 90s was an excellent decade for films! Better than both of the neighbouring decades in terms of the number of great films it yielded, I woud say (although the 00s is still a bit too close to be viewed clearly). For really great films, the 70s is better than everything.

 

In regard to the topic of the thread, I'm struggling to recognise the trends described. I don't think I've seen any Marvel films. Are there many other examples of this New Cheerfulness?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Margo Channing said:

At least we had fun in the 90s. We had big touchstone event films like Titanic, ID4, Jurassic Park, Speed, Batman Returns, Batman Forever, and TPM. Movies were larger than life back then, and less planned and manufactured.

 

'Fun' is overrated and fades fast. I want meaningful life-changing experiences.

 

43 minutes ago, Glóin the Dark said:

 For really great films, the 70s is better than everything.

 

 

Whether we're talking film or music, the '70s was when artists were temporarily in control.

 

 

Then Star Wars came along and from then on the suits were back in charge ordering everyone to deliver the next box-office breaker. It was the end of auteur cinema in America. Sigh ...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
33 minutes ago, Stefancos said:

The 70's had very bleak films

 

True. Both "tones" of films (we can almost think of them as we do about genre) always existed. One certainly started to assert itself over the other in the early 2000s, and now we're seeing a regression led by the Marvel films.

 

To some extent, that has to do with the core demographic the film is aimed at: in the early 2000s, you could make genre films for adults so you could make them dramatic and serious, in a way that you couldn't in the 70s when you were aiming more at kids.

 

I certainly have a taste for the more dramatic, impactful narratives (unless of course the film is a comedy) Although the occasional palette cleanser is good to have.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't want every movie to be obsessed with "grit" - that's a more annoying trope lately if you ask me than Drax's R&R pet peeve, even though it might be the same thing.  Let the story dictate the tone logically.  Marvel movies should be pretty much what they are.  The new DC ones take it somewhat too far and it all feels incongruous.  Nolan nailed a more grounded approach, for the reason Drax stated.  I - and others apparently - wanted to feel some real sense of catharsis with these films.  Nolan's vision of Batman felt like it could actually happen.  The moments of stirring nobility are more potent then, and you leave the theater feeling like there's a chance for something good and great in our own world, rather than just having spent a couple hours with escapism.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The direction that the Bonds took with Craig was put down to a combination of the influence of Austin Powers (the 007 movies themselves couldn't be tongue-in-cheek when Myers had sent them up so well, it was felt) and 9/11 (after that, a flippant tone for Bond felt 'wrong' apparently).

Except ... the first Bond out of the traps after 9/11 was Die Another Day, which apart from a couple of script changes (Graves' space-laser satellite weapon being seen to incinerate several troops, for example) went ahead as one of the silliest OTT entries in the franchise to date (the aforementioned laser satellite, the DNA manipulation clinic, the 'invisible' car etc).           

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, TGP said:

I don't want every movie to be obsessed with "grit" - that's a more annoying trope lately if you ask me than Drax's R&R pet peeve, even though it might be the same thing. Let the story dictate the tone logically.  Marvel movies should be pretty much what they are.  The new DC ones take it somewhat too far and it all feels incongruous. 

 

It's funny; after Infinity War, Marvel has proved that it can do "gritty" better than the DCEU.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
44 minutes ago, Sweeping Strings said:

The direction that the Bonds took with Craig was put down to a combination of the influence of Austin Powers (the 007 movies themselves couldn't be tongue-in-cheek when Myers had sent them up so well, it was felt) and 9/11 (after that, a flippant tone for Bond felt 'wrong' apparently).

Except ... the first Bond out of the traps after 9/11 was Die Another Day, which apart from a couple of script changes (Graves' space-laser satellite weapon being seen to incinerate several troops, for example) went ahead as one of the silliest OTT entries in the franchise to date (the aforementioned laser satellite, the DNA manipulation clinic, the 'invisible' car etc).           

 

Of course, Die Another Day was already deep within production as 9/11 happened, so they weren't going to overhaul the movie just to make it more appropriate to the time. The true effects of 9/11 and its impact on cinema wouldn't really be felt until a few years later. Batman Begins was already in development as an adaptation of Batman: Year One with Darren Aronofsky at the helm, but Nolan made it all history. It wasn't until The Dark Knight when all this doom and gloom was really starting to set in. And the new Craig Bonds in 2006 and 2008 played like "oh people are too sophisticated for fantastical stuff anymore - they've experienced terror trauma!"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't think it began with "The Dark Knight." I never really accredited this shift in tone of blockbuster filmmaking to Nolan. I think to tie it to 9/11 and really to the maturation of large-scale filmmaking as an art-form, is the more appropriate approach. While @Quintus is correct, Jackson's Lord of the Rings and his King Kong are very serious films, as were other films coming out at the time.

 

13 hours ago, John said:

After Infinity War, Marvel has proved that it can do "gritty" better than the DCEU.

 

Its not that gritty. Its just that we've been so used to Marvel being light and fluffy that this film's approach was surprising by comparison.

 

16 hours ago, TGP said:

Marvel movies should be pretty much what they are.  The new DC ones take it somewhat too far and it all feels incongruous.  Nolan nailed a more grounded approach

 

To my mind, while it is the superior approach, its one that the filmmaker needs to truly commit to. So, if we take something like Man of Steel as a case study, that film was quite serious until about two-thirds of the way through, but by the time the climactic battle scene kicked in, it just became incongurous with the rest of the film, because it wasn't presented as a commentary and lamentation of the destruction: not in how it was plotted, shot nor performed. It was gleeful.

 

That isn't to say that a film can't be tonally diverse. You can only measure moments of gravity against moments of levity. I guess what sets the two apart, strucutrally, is the order: you can't impress upon an audience the gravity of the narrative that you are telling for it to become buffonish at the end, but you can start with a lighthearted narrative and develop it (usually around the midpoint) into something more confronting.

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
6 minutes ago, Chen G. said:

Its not that gritty. Its just that we've been so used to Marvel That isn't to say that a film can't be tonally diverse. You can only measure moments of gravity against moments of levity. I guess structurally, what sets the two apart is the order: you can't impress upon an audience the gravity of the narrative that you are telling for it to become buffonish at the end, but you can start with a lighthearted narrative and develop it (usually around the midpoint) into something more confronting.

 

 

 

Reminds me of how Woody Allen handled Match Point. It opens like any of his other films, a run-of-the-mill commentary on social relations and neurotic relationship problems, this time influenced by class envy. It's all rather light and harmless for a while... until Allen does something unexpected and heightens the stakes for the lead character into a web of deceit, greed and murder! I'd never seen a Woody film switch off the lights like this in mid-story. I guess even he was feeling the mood of the era.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good example!

 

Often you'd have the opening scene presage the tone of the later parts of the film, than dip towards lightheartedness, and then turn the switch: again, usually around the midpoint. Just like tension, tone can - and in fact should - comply with the escalation principle that underlines the three-act structure. In essence: all elements of storytelling needs to gradually ramp-up from the story's beginning towards its conclusion.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On 15/05/2018 at 9:13 AM, Margo Channing said:

In the 2000s, suddenly everyone became embarrassed by art, cinema and music being cheerful, funny and escapist. For a while, we were suffering through this post-modern crap that tried to be all dark and mournful (a post-9/11 reaction?). Essentially, there was a demand for films to be more "realistic and relatable". And because people generally live their lives with great hardship, they sought catharsis in films (and film music to an extent) that reflected that. You could see this happening in all that Dark Knight shit and Harry Potter, and even 007.

Ah, ye olde Modern Movie Syndrome!

I honestly really can not stand that.

 

It results in supposedly fun adventure/fantasy films being darker than even real life could manage.

And while that's meant to be "realistic and relatable", to me it just feels like they tried too hard to do that, but it hardly ever worked. Not for me, at least.

The real world doesn't look like that and real people don't normally suffer from "chronic backstabbing disorder".

 

Is the world of film recovering from that already?

If so, please let me know what makes you think that.

I want to believe that too!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Pieter_Boelen said:

Is the world of film recovering from that already?

If so, please let me know what makes you think that.

I want to believe that too!

 

Nope, James Bond isn't going to crack jokes any time soon, but if you want more comedy, then there's always Kingsman.

 

news_medium_59dfae684debkingsman-the-sec

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
4 minutes ago, Margo Channing said:

SPECTRE was a major step in the right direction. Everything those two funless bores Craig did in the 2000s should have been.

 

Agreed mostly, it was certainly a step in the right direction back to fun.  They still had the crap love story I didn't care about and the nonsense about Blofeld being his brother.  But it was mostly a fun movie, at least up until they destroy Blofeld's base.  Everything that happens in the movie after that sucked.

 

Not as good as Skyfall, no.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It still took itself too seriously for me there.  And I can't forgive it for the hamfisted attempt to make a cinematic universe.  I prefer Bond movies to act like they exist in a vacuum.  The character should be treated as sort of an eternal archetype with just the same trappings each time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just now, Disco Stu said:

Yeah Avatar could’ve used some of that

The lack of overt humor (or at least self-aware humor) is one of the things I loved about Avatar.  Too many action movies nowadays are stand-up routines  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

SPECTRE does contain some noticeable efforts to put the chuckles back into 007 ... who'd have thought you'd have got an airbag-deployment gag in a Craig Bond, or exiting the Aston Martin in a way you'd have expected of Moore? 

Although Craig has freely admitted in the past that he's not good with 'shtick', as it were. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×