Many times when I watch a movie I observe characters that are not playing leading roles. I wonder what their back story is. I wonder how the events of the movie will make them feel, how their lives will be changed.
I’m particularly interested by the characters that directly lose to a main character. In many cases these characters are villainized. They are presented as evil, immature, or egocentric. It is rare that people of integrity face off. Someone has got to be “good” and someone has got to be “bad.”
You could say that clearly defined roles of right and wrong make a strong film plot. By avoiding more complicated plots the screenwriter takes the moral high ground. But that’s not the case. Many times illegal, immoral, or illogical characters play the good role. Because of this, the character in the bad role (the antagonist) often is a legal, moral, or logical person. Character flaws are accented to portray them in a negative light.
So I ask myself, is the antagonist really evil or just misunderstood or misportrayed?
When I see a reckless or risky action in a movie I am bothered by it. When a shoot out occurs on a city street, or a car drives up on a sidewalk, or something is set on fire or blows up, I wonder how many people got hurt. For this reason car chase scenes in movies bother me. They are so cavalier about death and destruction. I watch action movies, but normally it is with some degree of disdain.
Is that Love?
It bothers me that instant love is emphasized more than real love in movies. I like to see characters demonstrating love when they don’t look good and they’re not bent on procreating. Some movies do this. They show a man caring for the woman he loves as she is dying, or a husband fighting for the best care for his injured wife, or a family willing to look foolish over the behavior of a delusional member. But sadly, for every movie that shows real love there are hundreds that show an instant love that wears thin before the credits finish rolling.
What is this Movie Endorsing?
Some movies use product placement to endorse brand names. Far more subtle in many cases, however, are the other endorsements. They are the behaviors, thoughts, morals, laws, and feelings a movie attempts to sell. And most people buy them without realizing it.
When I watch a movie I am critical of what it is trying to sell me.
What makes a Good Movie?
I keep an Excel database of the movies I watch, and part of that database is a 1-10 rating for the movie. I tend to be near neutral for most movies (meaning what I like and dislike about the movie wash out). When I evaluate a movie to decide how much I like it I ask myself some questions:
- What was the story line like?
- How rich were the characters?
- Was the cinematography good?
- Was the sound track good?
- Did this movie make me think?
- What questions did this movie raise?
- In the case of a comedy, was it funny?
- What is glorified in this movie?
- Will this movie change me?
Now to further confuse you I will mention this. In my rating system only three movies have obtained a perfect score of 10. One of them is Chariots of Fire. And another one is Zoolander.