A girl walks down a dark alleyway, her male companions close behind; they are all young and fearless, a creature lurking in the dark line just beyond a series of trash bins and other disposable gunk. A member of the audience shields their eyes in anticipation of the horrible events to follow. In a separate theater a series of images assault the audience showing the true nature of the movie all along. The main character had known what would come and simply accepted it and endured it all for sake of a brighter future. A grown man weeps in a seat tucked in between his two children.
Great cinema elicits emotional and logical connections with its audience and also intrigues viewers to keep watching, but a great many questions arise from what constitutes as “good” or even “great” cinema. Is a great movie required to be artsy? Is it required to simply be entertaining? Or perhaps does it not matter at all. Perhaps a movie is built on something more relevant than being obscure or having the most live action sequences.
Whenever the topic of cinema comes up within social venues, some of the immediate responses are directed at whether or not a film or any sort of movie is considered to be “good.” Arguably, “good” is a rather subjective term that often catches the attentions of viewers simply because it immediately signifies that a film is worth watching. Yet “good” is not all encompassing nor does it provide a satisfactory means of gaging cinema as a whole.
When it comes to the arts, specifically filmography, various factors must be taken into account to determine what constitutes as a “good” product. Janessa Puig, the film teacher at Cooper City High, provides an intriguing response as to what she believes makes a “good” film.
“Well, if we’re trying to define good, the phrase itself takes in a lot of different aspects,” Puig said. “Obviously a film should be entertaining, however to be good it should also have exemplary technical aspects as well. To give good as this one blanket definition is kind of tough. There are lots of elements to filmmaking–lots of different layers– and I believe all of those different layers should be done well. It should have good technical aspects. It should have good writing, solid acting, and it should be entertaining.”
Cinema is more so about entertaining the audience, but this requires all of the things which Puig lists as being significant to creating a great product. In order to feel enraptured within a piece, an individual needs to be provided with a good story which is elevated by technical features that are equally as important. In other words this then begs the question of whether or not a movie needs to be artsy or obscure to be worthy of acclaim, renown, or even something as simple as the enjoyment of an audience member, a question readily answered by junior Alex Brower.
“I don’t believe a movie has to be artsy to be good,” Brower states. “There are plenty of movies that don’t fit into the category that are still super high grossing such as those produced by Marvel.”
In the great pantheon of movies, it seems that there’s quite a lot more dependent on the definition of good provided by Puig for all films which seek entrance. It’s not a matter which is solely dependent on being “artistically relevant.” A film is more so the sum of its parts. It’s worth noting some members of the film community have a belief that the greatest films are, indeed, artsy.
“Of course,” junior Savannah Packer said. “Films that are more artsy or obscure can be better [in comparison to regular films] in many instances such as it helps to let the watcher know and see what’s happening in a more in depth manner.”
Movies such as “Black Swan,” “American Beauty,” and “Psycho” are all well-shot and wholistically creative films according to the definition of “good” provided by Puig. There’s simply no denying that, but there are less artistic films that are, not only critically acclaimed, but well known. “Casa Blanca,” “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King,” and “The Wizard of Oz” are iconic films which have happily taken a seat amongst the greats. None of these films are necessarily obscurely artistic but are rather built on great plot lines that allow viewers to immerse themselves as well as fantastic camerawork, effects, and acting.
“I feel as though when you have things that are incredibly artsy–and maybe they’re avangard–maybe they’re so abstract people have a hard time connecting to them and you’ll have a smaller amount of people that like that,” Puig said. “It’s not necessarily that the film is bad more so that it will be less popular with the more broad crowd.”
In truth, as Puig states, whether or not a film is adequate is a largely subjective topic, but in whole rather than part, a film is a well oiled machine that requires all of its parts to be truly “good.”
Photo by Kyle Nelson