Linwood Storm’s “Cinematic Experience” Class is in Session
Image by --
If a movie encourages positive provocation of thought, I will indeed praise it after a viewing. That’s ultimately what separates a “popcorn experience” from a must-see for me. I can tolerate predictability if the notes are hit very well and the context makes a deeply relatable statement. A “good” ending is not really necessary for me, especially if it’s not earned.
A perfect example of this is the movie ‘Law Abiding Citizen’. The ending was set-up, regardless of Clyde Shelton’s (Gerard Butler) intelligence and experience, to favor the “Good Guy”, Nick Rice (Jamie Foxx). The conclusion makes the entire movie unwatchable upon a second viewing. Not just because of the ending, but because the writer chose to detach the viewers’ emotions from the relatability of the main character for the purpose of satisfying the expectancy of a trope. Unlike ‘Scarface’, it wasn’t earned.
I felt that the original/alternate ending of ‘Get Out’ had a more logical ending, however, the version we received was well earned through the emotional investment spent on the relationship between Chris Washington (Daniel Kaluuya) and Rod Williams (Lil Rel Howery). It worked because it played upon the audience’s expectations of a disappointing outcome with one of relief that was built-up with an air of possibility. The multiple layers within the context of the film are what separates itself from a mere “popcorn film”.
Whether the underlying messages within a film are understood or relatable to a degree varies from each viewer. Even then, art is meant to be interpreted. Many are fascinated with Alejandro Jodorowsky’s cinematic work, and others such as myself, cannot immerse themselves in what they are trying to convey. I feel that is perfectly fine, as tastes are generally acquired through a significant amount of exposure that details narratives easy to apply to one’s own ideology.
The more simplistic the ideology is, the easier one is entertained. That’s not to say someone’s enjoyment is to be limited based on the complexity of the film’s presentation, or lack thereof. If I’m watching a martial arts film, its greatest challenge is showcasing the eloquence or brutality of fighting. The story doesn’t need to be the primary focus unless it’s attempting to make its efforts distinctive from others on the market. Knowing your market is what makes your efforts worthwhile. If you are making a horror movie, you need to tackle the horror aspect first, then you can expand the inclusion of the genre with elements from romance, comedy or science fiction.
This is why I can praise the ‘Black Panther’ film. It succeeded in not only being a superhero film, but one that incorporates science fiction and social commentary and politics that are relevant to modern times. Unlike ‘Iron Man 2”s bastardization of the “Demon in a Bottle” arc or ‘Ant-Man”s attempt to showcase the struggles of a single father, ‘Black Panther’ took its subject matter seriously, in a way that I can compare to ‘Captain America: Civil War’. While Marvel’s Netflix MCU series’ have done that with topics such as rape, incestual molestation, LGBT, alcoholism, racism, police brutality and PTSD, their moves shy away from such themes. So this was refreshing to see executed well.
As a fan of Grindhouse and Exploitation genres, I do believe there are many angles when it comes to communicating your vision’s intent. I look at the movie ‘Ms. 45’ as a visceral portrayal of a broken woman “taking back” her power from “toxic masculinity” in a scenario that’s not only relevant but realistic with its consequences. The movie is arguably exploitative in nature, as deemed the time of its release, yet provides an appreciative narrative that has ended up highly regarded by critics of today.
Parallels can also be used if you want to be less blatant. The premise of ‘Daybreakers’ is a great analogy for veganism. Hence why more attention has been given to it lately, due to the rise of the dietary choice. ‘Bright’ on the other hand, was a bit on-the-nose, concerning the film’s commentary on race relations. The purpose of that may have been for comical reasons, rather than intelligent satire.
If there’s anything that can be taken from the discussion of this, it would be the importance of structured storytelling. I don’t expect perfection, but every piece of cinema should strive to be remembered in some fashion or another, otherwise, a shallow experience is inevitable for the audience.