Link Dump: Top 10s and Some Nitpicking

Time is short, so here are a few links to end of the year movie lists and the like. Still not sure when I’ll get to my top 10, but it probably won’t be this week.

  • The 2008 Top Tens – Movie City News collects and aggregates 286 top 10 lists, ranking the movies by number of list mentions and a weighted version that considers how high on each list a given movie was ranked. The top 5 movies on the list are WALL-E, The Dark Knight, Slumdog Millionaire, Milk and The Wrestler. Not a bad list, though at most, only two of those will be appearing on my list. One nitpicky frustration – why on earth did they put all the data in images? It makes it a lot more difficult to find a movie you want to know about.
  • The 19 Best Movies That You Didn’t See in 2008: An interesting list of the underdistributed, sometimes underrated films of last year. Except for Speed Racer, which was horrible. Honestly though, this year’s list isn’t as good as last year’s list, which I take as just another sign that 2008 was not a particularly good year for movies.
  • jim’s ten best favorite movies of 2008: the movie – Jim Emerson’s top ten is presented in the form of an 8 minute montage of clips from his favorite movies. I was able to name 4 of them (probably because I haven’t seen the other 6, and I have to say, I didn’t see anything in his clips that indicated that I was missing anything). Kind of a stereotypical critic’s list… but I’m greatly looking forward to his 2nd annual Exploding Head Awards (that’s a link to last year’s awards – he hasn’t posted this year’s yet).
  • Speaking of Jim Emerson, he’s been doing some spectacular nit picking (don’t miss Part 2) on The Dark Knight, particularly with the first sequence in the film which culminates with a school bus merging with other school busses. If you still haven’t seen The Dark Knight, don’t read his posts! They will put you in the wrong frame of mind to watch the movie (or any movie, for that matter – at least, any movie you’re watching for the first time). Now, these are nitpicks, but I do believe that Emerson has a point. I love the movie, and I’m sure regular readers wouldn’t be surprised that it will be my top movie of the year, but it isn’t perfect. There are several sequences that cheat in one way or another, whether it be through editing or awkward camera angles or any other number of filmmaking tricks. Emerson’s argument boils down to a question of whether the filmmaking tricks employed in TDK impair suspension of disbelief. I would say that when I view a movie, I have a certain sense of moviegoing goodwill. When I watch a movie, I want it to be good, I want to be sucked in and immersed in the world a film creates. But sometimes there are things that happen in a movie that are simply unbelievable. These movies knock you out of the movie’s world and force you to recognize that you’re actually sitting in a theater (or on a couch, or whatever). These moments work against my moviegoing goodwill. Usually a single moment won’t do it – it’s a culmination of things. After a while, my goodwill runs out and the movie simply can’t recover. The Dark Knight obviously grated on Emerson. He found himself wondering about all the details of the various things that were being presented to him. He claims this was a sorta unconscious effect. He knew he didn’t like the movie, but couldn’t explain why until he’d seen the movie a few more times on DVD/BR, where he could really dig into it. That’s when he started noticing all of the shots or edits that worked against his suspension of disbelief. Now, I didn’t have that problem. Indeed, I’ve seen the movie 5 times since it came out, and while a couple of things jumped out at me during my first and second viewing, I didn’t really start to think about it until the 5th viewing, at which point some of the imperfections became more clear. But even then, it wasn’t enough to ruin my moviegoing goodwill. Even reading Emerson’s well thought out objections, I find that I can see his point without granting that it ruins the movie or the suspension of disbelief that is required to watch it. I’m interested by this sort of thing, because I think people like the movies they like for less rational reasons than we’re willing to admit. There are a lot of great movies that I can nitpick to death, but still love anyway. So when I find myself trying to explain why I dislike a movie with something like “Well he fired 8 shots out of that there revolver! You can’t do that!” or “…giant humanoid robots really don’t make any sense” I think what I’m really trying to say is that the movie did not pull me in and immerse me in it’s own world. The frustrating thing about this is that I think this can be dependant on mood. Context matters, and there are certainly times when I’m muchmore willing to suspend disbelief than I would normally be… and vice versa. Well, I’ve babbled on long enough, so I’ll just leave it at that for now.

Didn’t mean to get off on that tangent there. That last subject is perhaps something I’d like to revisit at some point, but it will not be tonight…

2 thoughts on “Link Dump: Top 10s and Some Nitpicking”

  1. Interesting. I’ll have to take a look at the nitpick post later (on my way out the door), but, without having looked, the schoolbus bit was definitely a “Wha-huh?” moment for me. I loooved DK, but the bus sticks out like a sore thumb–better would have been for it to have crashed through a wall facing an alley or something, so that it could have pulled into traffic from an alley.

  2. The most obvious wha-huh? moment to me was when Batman and Rachel were on the car outside the building and then the movie just cuts to another scene – ignoring that the Joker is still up in Bruce Wayne’s penthouse (with Harvey Dent locked up in a closet or something). But by that point in the movie, I was so involved in it that it was only a momentary lapse of suspension of disbelief.

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