Following from my last post about the lack of benefits to 3D when it comes to films, some people have posed me with the question: for you what makes a film good? Which is in itself quite a broad question because when it comes to looking at films in a critical way, there isn’t just one element to pick up on. And in my opinion for many films there isn’t a straight forward answer, because films are so complex they can be brilliant in some aspects but then lacking in others. In this post I will attempt to talk about some of the films that I would consider to be good films and why.
As the title suggests this post is about the films that are good, the ones that engage your brain in a positive way and then the ones that are someone’s first film but leave a lasting impact. Also known to me as the ‘winners’, ‘head spinners’ and ‘that was incredible for beginners’ which are the three simplified categories for me. This is also the first part of what will be two posts linked together, the second will be what makes a film bad, so keep your ears to the ground.
Firstly for me what makes a ‘winner’ is a film you walk away from with nothing but positive thoughts. The films you walk away from and think you could easily watch it again and it would be equally as impressive. For me this is films such as The Master, the latest film from the genius of Paul Thomas Anderson. I knew very little about the film so I watched it with a completely open mind, but by the end of the film I had made up my mind. It was phenomenal. Joaquin Phoenix’s performance was incredible, the soundtrack composed by Jonny Greenwood was just right, and some of the images that PTA managed to create were exquisite. I’ll draw your attention to a scene in which some of the characters take a trip to the desert with motorbikes and one says “Pick a point and ride to it as fast as you can”. I will say no more, other than it was beautifully constructed and it was an Oscar nomination PTA missed out on. That is a film that I would consider to be “good” as some people would say but to say that does not give it the full credit it deserves. It was good because the characters were strong, the screenplay was exceptionally written and most of all it made me think. It was the sort of film that made me take a step back and actually think about what was happening and about the characters. Very impressive film from a very impressive film maker who understands cinema.
Another film I have to mention when it comes to the ‘winner’s is No Country For Old Men from the talents of Joel and Ethan Coen. It was the first film I saw from the Coens and to this day it still remains my favourite by them. For such a simplistic film I was very impressed by what I saw. Javier Bardem gave a knock out performance and it was a well deserved Oscar, the directing was equally impressive and the film as a whole was of a very high standard. I was completely hooked within the first ten minutes and that feeling did not decline at any point throughout the film. I felt a connection to the film because there was a very good balance of the three main characters; Josh Brolin playing the man who is trying to run away from someone two steps ahead, Javier Bardem playing the one who has no limits or boundaries, and then the frailty of Tommy Lee Jones playing the older character struggling to come to terms with the new world. Now that was a film I had a genuine connection to without the need of silly glasses (links to previous post).
In terms of ‘Head spinners’ what I refer to is the films that are clever. The films that if you look away for more than two minutes you are completely lost. The films that prove that cinema audiences are not stupid and that film makers do not have to treat them as if they are stupid. A prime example of this that I could not possibly fail to mention would have to be Inception. The complexity of the story alone was extremely interesting and it is clearly a master piece from Christopher Nolan. From previous posts it is clear how much praise and respect I have for Nolan but it has to be emphasised here, Inception was a work of art. Cinema is not just about entertainment, it’s about taking a trip outside of your normal life for two hours and experiencing an entirely different life to yours and that is what Inception accomplished so well, it completely absorbs you and takes you to something of a parallel universe. I admit it’s not everyone’s cup of tea because of the complexity and some people won’t find it entertaining, but for me it was very near perfection.
Now the last category is one that is quite small, but it is one that I cannot help but appreciate. A starting film in someone’s career is one that shows what they’re capable of without having had their years of experience in the industry. So for some film maker’s first pieces of work to leave such a lasting impact on me, it stands out as something very special. An example of this is the outstanding first film from Richard Ayoade entitled Submarine. The tale of a young teenage boy struggling to handle different elements of his life whilst trying to find out who he is. It was simple, it was witty, it was beautifully shot, it was emotional but most of all it was different. The events of the film are perfectly accompanied by the soundtrack written and performed by Alex Turner, which links very nicely to the events of the film and the atmosphere surrounding them. The artistic nature of the film was balanced perfectly by the clever dialogue and the complexity of the characters, but none more so than Oliver Tate himself. The wisdom that was shown in the words of such a young character were both entertaining and moving. For a first film it was very well made and is easily one of my favourite films. It wasn’t big and flashy, but I think that is what I liked most of all about it; I could relate to it because it was so close to real life.
I hope this has displayed what I consider makes a film good, the examples I used were ones that I think display the qualities very well and can easily be discussed. As I mentioned before there will be a follow post from this that will discuss the darker side of films with some examples so if you like this one then please keep an eye out for the follow up.
As ever feel free to leave any comments related to this post, be it about the opinions I’ve stated or your own opinions on the topic. I welcome any feedback also, be it good or bad. And most of all thank you for sticking this one out until the end, I know this has been a rather long post so many thanks for reading all of it.