My Opinion on Film

This is the first non-portfolio post on this site. Why? What the heck? Well, I’ve always felt I should keep content flowing on this site and write about the things that interested me. I was afraid it’d get in the way of the portfolio, but honestly, who cares? I’ve been asked by a few people, and most recently @godmachine to start up a film blog. Thanks for the kick in the pants, that was all I needed to start what I had been putting off for far too long.

I will be posting my opinion on the films I see (I don’t want to call these posts “reviews” because I’m not a film crtitic.)  I’m an artist, and I’m giving you my perspective on what moves me and makes me feel drawn to the films I see.  I will share with you where I get a lot of my inspiration and why I think it has an impact on my life.  I’ll share my thoughts with the hope that you might relate and we can share a common connection.  Perhaps you might be inspired to see the film; or maybe you have a differing opinion. That’s ok too.

My opinion on film is only my opinion. I consider myself to have fairly good taste, but that’s all it is, my personal taste.  Truth be told I have a strong sense of what is good film and what is not; what is something to behold and what is mainstream crap.  In fact, my taste is pretty outside the mainstream.  I don’t really have an opinion on most mainstream multiplex cinema because I’m just not interested in seeing it. It’s hard for me to relate.  You could say that’s kind of snobby, which I admit, it is.  But don’t let that turn you off.  I remember I was insulted when I first interacted with “film snobs” who rattled off a list of directors I’d never heard of and listing films by their original foreign language name.  I thought they were simply bragging about how obscure they could be and how punk it was to hate the mainstream.  But through my interaction, I realized they were not snobby at all –  just really passionate about the movies and directors they saw.  They had a hard time explaining what it was they liked in movies because it was not always based on typical film conventions like shot composition, editing, story arcs, or plot.  It was about their visceral experience of watching the film.

Fact: I’m not a movie buff. I was considered a “movie buff” by my less film-experienced peers circa 2004 when I was into directors like Darren Aronofsky, Richard Kelly, David Lynch, Christopher Nolan, Spike Jonze, and a few others.  I thought that I knew movies and was into obscure and weird stuff.  But quickly realized that was only the tip of the iceberg.  I think things changed for me after I saw Harmony Korine’s Gummo.  It really blew me away and changed the way I looked at movies.  At first, I was snickering and secretly loving this film because of how insanely disturbing it was (like everyone else).  Sure, it’s a really fucked up film and when I am watching it, I literally think “Why do I even like this shit?”  But afterward, I can’t stop thinking about it.  I researched Harmony Korine’s influences and Werner Herzog was on that list.  Interesting, I saw Herzog’s Even Dwarfs Started Small a year before because I was looking for similiar surrealist films like David Lynch’s first film Eraserhead.  At the time, Eraserhead was my favorite movie.  My introduction to Herzog was more of a “check out this film if you like Eraserhead” than a “Herzog is staple director of the German New Wave.”  I think this introduction really played a part in how I proceed from film to film.

So when I saw that Herzog was a Harmony Korine influence, I was instantly hooked.  I loved Even Dwarfs… and then started checking out Aguirre the Wrath of God and Fitzcarraldo, and then Stroszek.  All amazing and completely eye opening.  My view on cinema was changed forever because I could actually feel something with these films.  It wasn’t intellectual or esoteric.  It was real.

Let’s fast forward to now.  I could go on an on about my favorite films.  I’ll go ahead and list them at the end of this post just for good measure.  As well as my favorite directors.  But this could turn into a novel if I wrote about each one.  Perhaps I should?

My goal is not to see every film. Not even to see every GREAT film.  I often could care less about the “classics” or what I should be watching.  People scoff at me when I admit I haven’t seen ANY Hitchcock films in recent memory, or haven’t seen the Godfather.  What do I say to that?  There are far too many films to see and not enough time.  I cannot get to everything, and it’s a fruitless endeavor to even try.  I admire the folks in the film Cinemania and think of them as my own little heroes, but I cannot realistically see 3-5 films a day.  I will stick to 2-3 per week and that’s about as much as I can do.  4 if I am lucky!

So with that said, let me formally invite you to my world of cinema.  You’ll be in for an interesting ride.  You might be insulted, offended, or shocked, but hopefully inspired.

Next film post will be on The Class by Laurent Cantet because I just watched that tonight.  It was outstanding and fresh on my mind.  Expect that this weekend.

My favorite films

The 7 Up Series, The 400 Blows, 21 Grams, 51 Birch Street, 2 Days in Paris, Another State of Mind, Ali Fear Eats the Soul, Air Guitar Nation, Alexander the Last, Adaptation, Annie Hall, Abigails Party, After the Wedding, Aguirre: The Wrath of God, A History of Violence, All or Nothing, American Movie, Amores Perros, Baghead, The Business of Being Born, Brothers, Blind Loves, Blindness, Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, Blue Velvet, BIKE, Billy the Kid, The Bridge, Career Girls, Clean Shaven, Cache, Cries and Whispers, Cinemania, Crash, Decline of Western Civilization 1-3, The Devil & Daniel Johnston, Deliver us From Evil, Dancer in the Dark, Donnie Darko, Dog Days, Dear Zachary, Dance Party USA, Elephant, Eraserhead, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Eagle vs Shark, Fast Food Nation, Fitzcarraldo, Fat Girl, Freaks, Fucking Åmål, The Firm (Alan Clarke), Funny Ha Ha, Garden State, Ghost World, Grizzly Man, Great Ecstasy of the Sculptor Steiner, Great World of Sound, Grey Gardens, Grown Ups, Gummo, Half Nelson, Human Behavior Experiments, Home Movie, Hoop Dreams, Happy Go Lucky, Heavy Metal Parking Lot, Heavy Metal in Baghdad, High Fidelity, Home Sweet Home, Husbands and Wives, I Am a Promise, I am a Sex Addict, Inland Empire, Jesus Camp, Joe Kid on a Sting Ray, Jonestown, Julien Donkey-Boy, Keane, Kissing on the Mouth, King of Kong, Little Otik, Lilya 4 Ever, La Promesse, Little Deiter Needs to Fly, L’Enfant, Made in Britain, Man on Wire, Masculin Feminin, Mr. Death: Fred A. Leuchter Jr., Meantime, Mulholland Drive, My Kid Could Paint That, Naked, Not Your Typical Bigfoot Movie, Napoleon Dynamite, Nosferatu, Nuts in May, Office Space, Old Joy, Open Hearts, Paranoid Park, Palidromes, Persona, Punk’s Not Dead, Pan’s Labyrinth, Phenomena, Pi, The Puffy Chair, Quiet City, Say Anything, School of Rock, Starbucking, Scum, Secrets and Lies, Scenes from a Marriage, Spellbound, Suspiria, Starbucking, Stroszek, Super Size Me, Taxi to the Dark Side, Talk to Her, Team Picture, Together, The Son, Talk to Her, This is England, The Celebration, This is Spinal Tap, The Firm, The Freshest Kids, The White Diamond, Waking Life, Tetsuo the Iron Man, The War Zone, Wild at Heart, Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill, Word Wars, Wordplay, Wesley Willis the Grandaddy of Rock N Roll, A Women Under the Influence, and I’m sure others I can’t remember.

My Favorite Directors

Werner Herzog, Dardenne Bros, Susanne Bier, Lukas Moodysson, Harmony Korine, Alan Clarke, Andrew Bujalski, David Lynch, Duplass Brothers, Joe Swanberg, Mike Leigh, John Casavettes, and a bunch I’m forgetting right now.

5 Comments Short URL ,

5 Responses to “My Opinion on Film”

  1. GM August 29, 2009 at 7:04 am #

    “It was about their visceral experience of watching the film.” perfect, been trying to say this for years. Film is the greatest form of art because it is the closest thing we have to real life in art, its linear, it speaks, it moves, its us. So why people choose to make Transformers after seeing The Holy Mountain I dont know. Dont get me wrong lezzers, I love bullshit explosion films, but c’mon, its not art is it- its a distraction at best. Whereas Gummo and Donnie Darko and Earaserhead and Solaris, will haunt you forever, tickling your soul balls and whispering sweet nothings in your soul ear for ever. good quote “watching transformers was like having an angry washing mashine shit in your face for a few hours”. he’s not wrong.

  2. Jeff Finley August 29, 2009 at 11:36 am #

    Thanks GM for getting me to start writing about them. I didn’t realize I’d have an audience yet, even if it’s just you ;-)

  3. Travis August 29, 2009 at 11:51 am #

    “I often could care less about the “classics” or what I should be watching. People scoff at me when I admit I haven’t seen ANY Hitchcock films in recent memory, or haven’t seen the Godfather. What do I say to that? There are far too many films to see and not enough time.”

    I understand this all too well. I’m the EXACT same way. Good read, Jeff.

  4. JH September 30, 2009 at 11:32 pm #

    Amazing stuff Jeff! I love keeping up with what films you watch. Love em or hate they always leave a lasting impression. Keep it up, I love it.

    (BTW Hithcock made some great films, don’t dismiss him cause of some snobs, The Lady Vanishes is my fav, its a lot of fun)

  5. sc September 16, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

    How can anyone say ANY film is not art, all forms of creation are art – whether or not it’s to your taste is another discussion. It’s all relative obviously, but to create something -albeit regurgitated and recycled for the sole purpose of money w/nothing but intentions of the usage of numbing eye candy – when you have to combine all the elements that make up a film it’s art no matter what perspective you view it from. If it’s not to a specific taste does that mean it’s not art?

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