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The problem with over analyzing movies

I've always been a big fan of John truby's teachings but recently I went to his web site and gave a read to some of his movie breakdowns. The stuff I read shocked me! He stomps on movies that are overaly considered masterpieces like "Departed", " Beautiful mind" , "Prestige" ... and he stomps on many of my personal favorites too, like "Scott pilgrim vs the world" , " Dazed and confused" , "Everybody wants some",... .

The fact that he stomped on my favorites didn't bother me. what bothered me was that he clearly didn't understand these movies story-wise! and that's weird, cause you see in many cases he is on point about why a certain movie or tv show has been so successful. If anyone has the time to read his analysis of movies, check his website and you will see what I mean. I think the problem comes from the fact that this guy has focused all his man power into deconstructing a story that he's psyched himself out , therefore he misses so many obvious great stuffs and potentials of a movie. I get that americans want a great story more than anything (at least from Truby's point of view), but in all fairness that's not what movies are all about. If all people wanted was a great story they wouldn't have bothered with movies, they'd just read novels.

That's why I've always had a problem trusting teachers like him wholeheartedly. You can follow all their organized neatly crafted techniques and you can still end up having a crap script. Cause let's be honest, if people like him have realized everything there is about a good story, why aren't they themselves coming up with blockbuster movies? The answer is obvious, Creativity and criticism are two completely different things. They aren't even in the same ball park. and creativity is obviously harder than criticism. A creative person is usually a good judge of a good movie, but a good judge of a movie isn't necessarily a creative one.

Bottom line I think the best leads an aspiring creator in any field can have are first his own personal experiences and conceptions, and second the successful creative ones in that particular field, and not the critics or teachers ( unless that teacher had a great artistic track record himself).

I'd like to hear what others think about this.
 

indietalk

IndieTalk Founder
Staff Member
Admin
It's one persons opinion. Who cares?

This is like ranting that Gordon Ramsay made a roast duck you disagree with. Who cares?
 
Movies like A Beautiful Mind and The Prestige are masterpieces hands down. I haven't read Truby's criticism for those movies but I've heard in a video Truby saying that Hanger Games is a great movie, which of course is not.

Not only Americans but all Homo Sapience want a great story and the truth is that the only thing we want is this. A great story, in any art.

About the teachers. Good cinema has rules. And that's because emotion creation in the brain has rules. These rules, about good movies, are known by the teachers. These rules must be applied on your story and here is the beauty which makes screenwriting an art and not a science that can be taught: good story can't be taught by teachers. It is the same as good melody, can't be taught. Birdman and Citizen Kane are both perfect technically. There are present all the teachable rules, but compare the two stories where these rules exist...

So the story is in your hand. Any job you do, even if you are a screenwriting teacher, you might be able to think of good stories and you might be not. Put your experiences and conceptions and anything you want, and then modify that story according to the rules. And to learn the rules you must be totally willing to become a "silent" student of the screenwriting teachers.
 
These rules, about good movies, are known by the teachers. These rules must be applied on your story and here is the beauty which makes screenwriting an art and not a science that can be taught: good story can't be taught by teachers.


I didn't get this part. It's contradictory. Rules to make a good movie are known by teachers but can't be taught by teachers?!
 
I didn't get this part. It's contradictory. Rules to make a good movie are known by teachers but can't be taught by teachers?!

My English is not perfect. I gave an example to understand: Birdman and Citizen Kane. Both have these rules but Citizen Kane is considered the best movie ever and Birdman is just a good movie.

For example, one of the rules is that your hero must have an arc. Which is a radical change of his life at the end of the movie. But a radical change of what kind of life? A kid who wants to travel the world but he finally meets a girl and travel only through her eyes... blah blah blah? Or a peaceful woman in a village who, after a war started, fires up the rest of the woman in the village and all together go to help their husbands in the war?

The story and the rules is not the same thing. The teacher might know that the arcs is an inviolable rule and can detect whether it exists in your script, but they might be able to think only mediocre stories like in my first example.
From the other hand, you might be able to think stories like in my second example but maybe your arcs are weak. And if you thing that arcs are very obvious and it's more difficult not to have one, know that there are other tiny things that you can't even imagine you should include in your script.

There is no teacher who can teach you how to think strong or beautiful stories. But they can teach you the rules on how to build that story so you ensure the floor - basis for the emotions.
 

The Tune Peddler

Pro Member
indiePRO
Along these same lines. I was in Target the other day, browsing the movies and heard a lady in her 30's tell her husband, who was looking at John Carpenter's Halloween, "That movie is atrocious".

Who has this opinion??? Maybe you don't like it, but atrocious? I was 80% angry and 20% sad she didn't get what an awesome movie she was putting down. :huh:
 
Citizen kane can't be the best movie ever because there is no growth or transformation in main protagonist. Also... Orson Welles the trial is a waaaaaay better movie :)

On the subject of criticism vs Creativity. I respect the opinions of the redlettermedia. There criticisms of movies is spot on and falls in line with how I see movies. Redlettermedia produced space cop It took them 10 years to make this movie........It's one not a good movie.
 
Most of this thread looks like a "what is good art" discussion. Once you decide the answer to that question, many debates dissolve.

Now to what I feel like the OP was getting at: How and whom do we learn from? I thought I'd throw in my perspective from 20+ years of receiving music instruction, and 4 years making a living as a private composition/production and piano teacher: Once you've chosen a teacher, you have to trust them. You have to accept their opinions and approaches. Not mindlessly, of course. But you have to give their viewpoint a chance. Absorb it, live in their head, and once you've learned what you can from them, move on. You might totally end up disagreeing, or you might learn to view things in a completely new light. Either way, you'll get the most out of it by trying things their way. For a limited time.
 
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You know... there are a lot of movied that many film heads consider classics and masterpieces that I just don't care about or care to even watch.

Citizen Kane
Clockwork Orange
There Will Be Blood

just to name a few. I then realized that it's all subjective and I stopped caring about reviews (not saying that isn't needed) or relying on box office numbers. By the way, box office numbers doesn't = good movie.

Is there a standard structure? Sure, but I mean, if you feel connected to the movie then who are we to disagree with you?
 

Alcove Audio

Business Member
indieBIZ
"Opinions are like a$$holes -
Everybody has one, and they all stink."
 

sfoster

Staff Member
Moderator
I don't really get your point! It is worldwide known that Citizen kane is considered the best movie ever made. :hmm:

Put that in front of your average modern citizen and they will fall asleep to your worldwide "best movie ever made" :lol::lol::lol:
 
You mean that you have watched Citizen Kane and you didn't like it, you wasn't totally curious every second of the movie to find out about his life, you haven't got the enormous surprise at the end of the movie.
Help me God... :abduct:
 
You mean that you have watched Citizen Kane and you didn't like it, you wasn't totally curious every second of the movie to find out about his life, you haven't got the enormous surprise at the end of the movie.
Help me God... :abduct:

How did this thread change to "citizen kane" criticism?:lol:
 
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Along these same lines. I was in Target the other day, browsing the movies and heard a lady in her 30's tell her husband, who was looking at John Carpenter's Halloween, "That movie is atrocious".

Who has this opinion??? Maybe you don't like it, but atrocious? I was 80% angry and 20% sad she didn't get what an awesome movie she was putting down. :huh:

I know what you mean. But it's justifiable to hear it from common folks, everybody has a different taste, the sad thing happens when this same point of view is shared with professional writing teachers too!
 
Most of this thread looks like a "what is good art" discussion. Once you decide the answer to that question, many debates dissolve.

Now to what I feel like the OP was getting at: How and whom do we learn from? I thought I'd throw in my perspective from 20+ years of receiving music instruction, and 4 years making a living as a private composition/production and piano teacher: Once you've chosen a teacher, you have to trust them. You have to accept their opinions and approaches. Not mindlessly, of course. But you have to give their viewpoint a chance. Absorb it, live in their head, and once you've learned what you can from them, move on. You might totally end up disagreeing, or you might learn to view things in a completely new light. Either way, you'll get the most out of it by trying things their way. For a limited time.

I agree, that's why I felt I could criticize Truby, I understand where he's coming from. I explained the reason for his weak criticism on certain movies.
 
You know... there are a lot of movied that many film heads consider classics and masterpieces that I just don't care about or care to even watch.

Citizen Kane
Clockwork Orange
There Will Be Blood

just to name a few. I then realized that it's all subjective and I stopped caring about reviews (not saying that isn't needed) or relying on box office numbers. By the way, box office numbers doesn't = good movie.

Is there a standard structure? Sure, but I mean, if you feel connected to the movie then who are we to disagree with you?

That's exactly my point! Even teachers analyze a movie by their own personal taste. I think their criticism works like this : If they personally connected with a movie, they do their best to dig up the positive aspects of it and come up with a justifiable reason to why this movie worked. If they didn't personally connect with the movie, they try their best to dig up the flaws to justify it, where in truth all this matters are subjective, even to teachers or professionals.
 
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Put that in front of your average modern citizen and they will fall asleep to your worldwide "best movie ever made" :lol::lol::lol:

I don't know if I should be embarrassed by saying this or not, but with the exception of couple of classics, anything not post-modern makes me bored to death.
 
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