Cinematic Heritage / True Works of Art

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I'm responding to the discussion about The Avengers that followed from it, to discuss what kinds of things actually go into evaluating a film.
Understood.

If you actually believe I'm confusing marketing for my own opinions about things, then I lack the basic human agency that would be required for us to carry on a conversation in the first place. But I don't think I'm confused about that, and I don't think you really think it either.
I don't think that you in particular are prone to the hype. I think we all are to some extent, including me. But some people are much more prone to marketing and hype than others. I'd warrant a guess that the less serious about art cinema you are (and the fewer art films you saw), the more prone you are to all the hype and marketing of something like Avengers. Even if only because people who are into art cinema have experienced much more things in film and can comparatively say that Avengers is not good at all in comparison. But people who are into art films are prone to hype and (anti-?)marketing, too. It just works differently. Anyway, I didn't mean to bash the consumers but rather the producers. I'm a consumer myself. It's just that I'm conscious enough (snobby enough?) to know that some things I'm consuming are just not of high value. Sometimes gatekeeping is good. Drive My Car winning an Oscar showed as much.

Avengers is a film for an average Joe and so it fulfills the basic needs of an average Joe. Something like Vitalina Varela is not a film for your average Joe. It doesn't mean that your average Joe cannot love it. But chances are, Joe, won't get it. And Vitalina Varela hasn't had even an ounce of the marketing Avengers had.

We've had this discussion before, and it always goes the same way: you say it's bad, I say you're judging it along the wrong metrics and that breadth is just as important as depth, and then the conversation ends and repeats itself some months later.
Any cinephile has their own idea of what cinema should be. Mine is very broad. But not broad enough to include something like Avengers. I made this thread thinking about films that are "true art", something you'd add to the cinematic heritage. I'm pretty sure there are many people who LOVE Avengers but wouldn't classify them as these two things.

The distinctions here are so obvious I'm very (very!) slightly annoyed you're making me expound on them, but okay:
Thank you for the explanation.

I also find it plainly inconsistent: we're supposed to be moved by the joy of fictional people on screen, but not by the joy of actual people right next to us?
How does that make the film better, though? Isn't it the same as liking the film more because others liked it more? I mean, it's something you can discuss, but how does that make Avengers better? Or are you, again, just saying it to contemplate something around it?

We're not floating consciousness viewing things in isolation and we never will be. You bring your history and biases to everything, and that doesn't taint your reaction to art: it's what makes your reaction potentially meaningful.
Yep, unfortunately. Because it makes it harder to answer my initial question. Ideally, we should experience movies as if we were outside the door and looking at what's happening inside, with a total coldness and analytical mind. But it's impossible. And I think it's good it's impossible. I've been bringing my history and biases a lot. Too much, maybe. Ideally, film should not do that. Or maybe it should? Depends on what's your definition of film. It's like Pedro Costa's closed doors or the average film watcher's open door. I'm really torn between these two approaches, as I deeply appreciate both. I think it's maybe best to leave the door slightly open, but not too much.

For your reference, an excerpt from Pedro Costa's seminar:

I believe that today, in the cinema, when we open a door, it's always quite false, because it says to the spectator: ‘Enter this film and you're going to be fine, you're going to have a good time’, and finally what you see in this genre of film is nothing other than yourself, a projection of yourself. You don't see the film, you see yourself. Fiction in the cinema is exactly that: when you see yourself on the screen. You don't see anything else, you don't see the film on the screen, you don't see a work, you don't see the people who make things, you see yourself, and all of Hollywood is based on this. It's very rare today that a spectator sees a good film, he always sees himself, sees what he wants to see. When he begins, rarely, to see a film, it's when the film doesn't let him enter, when there's a door that says to him: ‘Don't come in.’ That's when he can enter. The spectator can see a film if something on the screen resists him. If he can recognise everything, he's going to project himself on the screen, he's not going to see things. If he sees a love story, he's going to see his love story. I'm not the only one to say that it's very difficult to see a film, but when I say ‘see’ it's really seeing. It's not a joke, because you think that you see films, but you don't see films, you see yourself. It's very strange but I assure you, this is what happens. To see a film, that means not crying with the character who cries. If we don't understand that, then we don't understand anything. This is why I spoke of doors which close themselves. There are certain films, for me, which are like doors, even if there are no doors in them. They resemble doors that don't let you enter as the protagonist of the film. You are outside. You see a film, you are something else, and there are two distinct entities. There are certain films, for me, which make this separation, for example the films of Ozu, Mizoguchi or Naruse, or many others, but here I will cite the Japanese. This door is absolutely necessary. It's not a piece of private property, that is to say, it's not closed in an authoritarian manner. We can open it, we can close it, it's your choice. It's always your choice in the cinema, it's always the choice of the spectator. If you decide to go see The Last Samurai (2003), you're going to see The Last Samurai, you know that it's going to be painful, you're Japanese, but you go and see it, I'm sure that you go and see it. It's like junk food, like cake, it makes you want it, and you go for it, and you know it's bad for you, but you go for it. This is what I call the open door films. Commerce is like that. The door to McDonalds is always open. So, a film like Late Spring (1949) or An Autumn Afternoon (1962) is not completely open. In a similar way, Ossos is a film that slightly closes the door. It hides certain things, it tells you that you can feel pain, but not everything, and so that suggests a bit of trouble.

[...]

It's absolutely necessary that you must be outside, not on the screen. Never cry or suffer with the character who suffers on the screen, never. When we do that, it's exactly what we do when we go to McDonalds.
Here's a thought experiment: imagine an art installation with a beautiful picture on the wall. But you don't get to see it: you're on the other side of a two-way mirror, and all you get to see are other people walking up to the picture, and how they react to it. You see them puzzle over it, smile at it, maybe look sadly or longingly at it. The entire work of art, from your side of the mirror, is based in the reactions of others to it. But it's still art, and still contains the same possibility for profundity, and the same capacity to inspire, as the picture those people are reacting to.
How'd you even know these people are watching a piece of art? You can't see it yourself. Maybe they're all freakin' monsters and just looking at a child in chains. Or are you saying the people watching something are art themselves? I'm kinda confused.

Michelangelo was paid an absurd amount of money to paint the Sistine ceiling.
Because he was seen as one of the greatest artists at the time. If not the greatest. Contemporary film auteurs get bigger budgets, too because they proved their talent with earlier, smaller projects. Bach was paid, too. John Ford and Kenji Mizoguchi were making films within the studio system. So what? The final outcome was a masterpiece because they were great auteurs. You can pay a talented artist. But you can't buy talent. The latter sentence has at least two meanings. I mean, if Marvel asked Pedro Costa, Apichatpong Weerasethakul, or Ryusuke Hamaguchi to direct a film, they'd die laughing. But there are other directors you can't buy. Like, Lynch would say no, too. And Marvel knows that. Marvel doesn't want a director that will rebel. They want somebody who will direct a movie the way the studio envisioned it. And they envisioned it exactly to make the most money possible. Marvel never starts designing a film with "art" in their minds. By those means, I'm indeed judging it along the wrong (or different) metrics. But no, breadth is not as important as depth.
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I'm not nice. I'm mean. Deal with it.



Victim of The Night
I've sort of been obsessing over this for a few days.

Michelangelo was paid an absurd amount of money to paint the Sistine ceiling. He had a "big budget" in other words. The work was based on an existing "IP", and had he strayed from the "source material" in the slightest the "fandom" would've been displeased, and he painted in the accepted style of the time, so he wasn't exactly pushing any boundaries. He painted it competently of course (said Captain Obvious), and the result was immensely popular with "the lowest common denominator".

I don't really have a point here, other than to point out that this sounds very much like a modern blockbuster film. I wonder if Renaissance hipsters hated Michelangelo?
So you're saying Michelangelo was the Michael Bay of the Renaissance?



Avengers is a film for an average Joe and so it fulfills the basic needs of an average Joe. Something like Vitalina Varela is not a film for your average Joe. It doesn't mean that your average Joe cannot love it. But chances are, Joe, won't get it. And Vitalina Varela hasn't had even an ounce of the marketing Avengers had.
This reminds me of something I remember being said or written about a Godard, possibly by Godard himself. (Sorry, hazy on the source.) It was a defense against claims of his pretentiousness for including as many literary and cultural references as he does. The argument was that he trusts the audience to get these references so he’s by definition not being pretentious or condescending.

I don’t know what the average level of cultural knowledge was in ‘60s France, and whether or not it was better than it is on out time where we are, so I don’t know how well the argument pans out, but it is an interesting thought.



It can definitely take time, sometimes decades, for people to start recognizing the art element in some pop culture. Westerns, horror, sci Fi, film noir, melodrama are just a number of types of films which were generally considered artistically void by those who were supposedly in the know. It may pan out to be the case with Avengers, that there is more there than at first glance


But just because there are loads of examples where this would be true, and that there are undoubtedly real artists who get large commissions to make their films (and tailor them to the basic needs of their audience), doesn't mean there is no good reason to be suspicious of the artistic value of many of these movies.


The fact that I can't recall any instance, at least not beyond vague generalities, where any fan of the Avengers has pointed to a moment that resonates cinematically, or points to some level of auteurship, or even gives a glimmer that it isn't a film solely aiming for the absolute most basic of emotional response in its audience, makes me feel relatively content on the film being something that, in future discussions, will continue to be just as empty as I'm accusing it of being.


This if course doesnt mean there isn't a considerable amount of skill involved in making this movie. If someone dumped buckets of money at my doorstep, I wouldn't have the slightest idea how to put it together so thst it would get all of those obvious audience reactions that I disdain. Which is what can make it such a hard argument to parse, since it often seems to me that artistry and skill are considered in some way synonymous. And while they certainly aren't mutually exclusive, theyre very very far from being the same thing.



When you watch a great masterwork of film, one or more of the following are true (the more, the better, I'd say at least 5 should be true):
- Some scenes are ingrained in your mind for years.
- You're deeply moved by the film, not because it uses some "tricks" but because it contains incredible power.
- It talks about the essential themes in our lives or abandons them to go full transcendental mode or mystifies you or something else but either way, it's unforgettable!
- It inspires you, pushes you to look for more movies like that, that make you feel like that.
- It makes you a better human being.
- It blows your mind because you didn't think something like that was possible.
- It redefines and reshapes what cinema is or uses well-known tools to achieve something excellent.
- It is a marvel, a work of wonder, and an endless spiral of mystery and brilliance
- It's absolutely superlative in every sense
- It sets fire to your life
- It makes you want to both hide it from everyone else so that it's only yours and sing its praises everywhere so that everyone can experience its incredibility
- And so on, and so forth

This is the kind of cinema that is worthy of cinematic heritage. Not freaking Avengers because its CGI is competently made, for Christ's sake.



Victim of The Night
Understood.

Avengers is a film for an average Joe and so it fulfills the basic needs of an average Joe. Something like Vitalina Varela is not a film for your average Joe. It doesn't mean that your average Joe cannot love it. But chances are, Joe, won't get it. And Vitalina Varela hasn't had even an ounce of the marketing Avengers had.

Any cinephile has their own idea of what cinema should be. Mine is very broad. But not broad enough to include something like Avengers. I made this thread thinking about films that are "true art", something you'd add to the cinematic heritage. I'm pretty sure there are many people who LOVE Avengers but wouldn't classify them as these two things.
Well, I can tell you there is no one who's ever known me who has called me an "average joe".
In fact, I'm starting to feel like a narrower definition of Art or what should be Heritage is actually much more "average" than the ability to see the Art or the legacy of many things from a broader scope.
I can absolutely watch Paris, Texas and The Avengers back to back and draw tremendous value from both as artistic achievements and films worthy of legacy. Or Chunking Express and Spider Man: No Way Home. Uncle Boonmee and Infinity War. Or, for that matter, I can watch Malatesta's Carnival Of Blood, A Clockwork Orange, and Christmas In Connecticut in the same day and enjoy all three immensely and in virtually the same way.
So, I think your perspective of, to paraphrase, "these films are not Art, are unworthy of legacy, and are made for 'average people' (who you seem to strongly imply are less-than when it comes to cinema)" is, well, wrong.



Victim of The Night
When you watch a great masterwork of film, one or more of the following are true (the more, the better, I'd say at least 5 should be true):
- Some scenes are ingrained in your mind for years.
- You're deeply moved by the film, not because it uses some "tricks" but because it contains incredible power.
- It talks about the essential themes in our lives or abandons them to go full transcendental mode or mystifies you or something else but either way, it's unforgettable!
- It inspires you, pushes you to look for more movies like that, that make you feel like that.
- It makes you a better human being.
- It blows your mind because you didn't think something like that was possible.
- It redefines and reshapes what cinema is or uses well-known tools to achieve something excellent.
- It is a marvel, a work of wonder, and an endless spiral of mystery and brilliance
- It's absolutely superlative in every sense
- It sets fire to your life
- It makes you want to both hide it from everyone else so that it's only yours and sing its praises everywhere so that everyone can experience its incredibility
- And so on, and so forth

This is the kind of cinema that is worthy of cinematic heritage.
So... The Avengers.



Well, I can tell you there is no one who's ever known me who has called me an "average joe".
In fact, I'm starting to feel like a narrower definition of Art or what should be Heritage is actually much more "average" than the ability to see the Art or the legacy of many things from a broader scope.
I can absolutely watch Paris, Texas and The Avengers back to back and draw tremendous value from both as artistic achievements and films worthy of legacy. Or Chunking Express and Spider Man: No Way Home. Uncle Boonmee and Infinity War. Or, for that matter, I can watch Malatesta's Carnival Of Blood, A Clockwork Orange, and Christmas In Connecticut in the same day and enjoy all three immensely and in virtually the same way.
So, I think your perspective of, to paraphrase, "these films are not Art, are unworthy of legacy, and are made for 'average people' (who you seem to strongly imply are less-than when it comes to cinema)" is, well, wrong.
We already addressed that:

Memoria and Avengers are both good = FINE

Memoria is excellent and Avengers is crap = FINE

Avengers is amazing and Memoria is OK = FINE

Avengers is the supreme masterpiece and should be part of cinematic heritage (and so is Memoria) = THIS IS BS!!!
Well, I didn't necessarily say it was a supreme masterpiece, I think I said something more like "It is the perfect example of what it is trying to be."
I think you fail to see the difference between an all-time masterpiece and an enjoyable, watchable film. You seem to be putting them both into the same "it's nice to watch" group. Yeah, you can see value in blockbuster yarn. But saying they're as valuable as some of the greatest films ever made is ludicrous. There are many levels of quality. I'm asking for the absolute highest level.

So... The Avengers.
Which part is your favorite?



Victim of The Night
We already addressed that:





I think you fail to see the difference between an all-time masterpiece and an enjoyable, watchable film. You seem to be putting them both into the same "it's nice to watch" group. Yeah, you can see value in blockbuster yarn. But saying they're as valuable as some of the greatest films ever made is ludicrous. There are many levels of quality. I'm asking for the absolute highest level.

Which part is your favorite?
But we didn't because you are saying "Fine" and I'm saying "No, Cinematic Heritage".
And I think you think your point of view is the only one that has merit here. I do not fail to see the difference between an all-time masterpiece and an enjoyable watchable film, we just have different definitions and I find your scope far, far too narrow and you apparently find mine too broad.
I didn't bring up The Avengers in the Cinematic Heritage thread because I thought it was "nice to watch", I brought it up to make the point that everything you said makes a masterpiece can be true of a piece of cinema that has more mainstream appeal. And in this case, is. But also to elect one to the Cinematic Heritage half of your thread title without a film being "High Art" in the way that you view it.
I don't see The Avengers as really any different than Star Wars or The Wizard Of Oz or Jaws or Raiders Of The Lost Ark. Are none of those part of the Cinematic Heritage?


Edit - I didn't see your last part where you asked me what part was my favorite. If you mean what part of the movie is my favorite part of the movie, it's when Natasha meets Bruce in the hut on the outskirts of town.
But I also like the scene with Jerzy Skolimowski and Natasha.



When you watch a great masterwork of film, one or more of the following are true (the more, the better, I'd say at least 5 should be true):
- Some scenes are ingrained in your mind for years.
- You're deeply moved by the film, not because it uses some "tricks" but because it contains incredible power.
- It talks about the essential themes in our lives or abandons them to go full transcendental mode or mystifies you or something else but either way, it's unforgettable!
- It inspires you, pushes you to look for more movies like that, that make you feel like that.
- It makes you a better human being.
- It blows your mind because you didn't think something like that was possible.
- It redefines and reshapes what cinema is or uses well-known tools to achieve something excellent.
- It is a marvel, a work of wonder, and an endless spiral of mystery and brilliance
- It's absolutely superlative in every sense
- It sets fire to your life
- It makes you want to both hide it from everyone else so that it's only yours and sing its praises everywhere so that everyone can experience its incredibility
- And so on, and so forth

This is the kind of cinema that is worthy of cinematic heritage. Not freaking Avengers because its CGI is competently made, for Christ's sake.
Showgirls?



can't comment on the avengers as i've never seen it but to the point of massive blockbusters applying here i think RRR is probably as close as anything else is to fitting the bill imo.



And I think you think your point of view is the only one that has merit here.
I think my point of view is the only one here that doesn't claim literally every second film is a true work of art, a cinematic heritage all-time masterpiece. We should preserve all films, including Avengers. But cinematic heritage should be an elite hand-picked group of films that represent the highest achievements in film art that humanity ever conceived.
I find your scope far, far too narrow and you apparently find mine too broad.
That about sums it up. I think I should've articulated my initial question differently. If you had to pick 20 films that would be saved as humanity's cinematic heritage, what would you choose? Something like that. Then, there's no place for Avengers there. Unless you think otherwise. I'd be glad to see your list.
I don't see The Avengers as really any different than Star Wars or The Wizard Of Oz or Jaws or Raiders Of The Lost Ark. Are none of those part of the Cinematic Heritage?
None of them would be in my top 20. Not even the top 100, I guess.
It's an interesting phenomenon how this film received a lot of criticism when it premiered but later on some people seem to have overrated it to the echelons of alleged mastery.



Victim of The Night
I think my point of view is the only one here that doesn't claim literally every second film is a true work of art, a cinematic heritage all-time masterpiece. We should preserve all films, including Avengers. But cinematic heritage should be an elite hand-picked group of films that represent the highest achievements in film art that humanity ever conceived.
That about sums it up. I think I should've articulated my initial question differently. If you had to pick 20 films that would be saved as humanity's cinematic heritage, what would you choose? Something like that. Then, there's no place for Avengers there. Unless you think otherwise. I'd be glad to see your list.
None of them would be in my top 20. Not even the top 100, I guess.
It's an interesting phenomenon how this film received a lot of criticism when it premiered but later on some people seem to have overrated it to the echelons of alleged mastery.
Well, you're wrong there.
I don't claim every second film is a work of art or cinematic heritage. Literally or figuratively.
I actually am extremely picky about what I'll watch and usually won't even give a film consideration unless it either has been vetted by at least a few years if not decades as being worth my time or has Tilda Swinton in it.
And how short the list of Cinematic Heritage should be I think is open for debate. 20 films? That's a pretty short list. Why can't it be 50 or 100? It sounds like you think the list should be exactly as long as the films you think should be on it and there is no other point of view. Which is to say, after a few days in this thread, I feel like you're not really even asking anyone what they think you're just soliciting opinions so that you can tell everyone they're wrong unless they share your opinion exactly.
To me, the Cinematic Heritage must reflect the art, not just the absolute artistic pinnacle of the art as parsed by self-appointed parsers. It should include Stalker and Smokey And The Bandit.



I actually am extremely picky about what I'll watch and usually won't even give a film consideration unless it either has been vetted by at least a few years if not decades as being worth my time or has Tilda Swinton in it.
You forgot to mention you make a special exception for Snoopy!



And how short the list of Cinematic Heritage should be I think is open for debate. 20 films? That's a pretty short list. Why can't it be 50 or 100? It sounds like you think the list should be exactly as long as the films you think should be on it and there is no other point of view.
I haven't even prepared any list yet. It can be 50, whatever. Just not 500 or 1000.
Which is to say, after a few days in this thread, I feel like you're not really even asking anyone what they think you're just soliciting opinions so that you can tell everyone they're wrong unless they share your opinion exactly.
There were some interesting propositions in the thread already, though. Avengers just isn't one.

To me, the Cinematic Heritage must reflect the art, not just the absolute artistic pinnacle of the art as parsed by self-appointed parsers. It should include Stalker and Smokey And The Bandit.
Following this logic, half of the list should contain bad films to show that cinema is mediocre on average.



It's an interesting phenomenon how this film received a lot of criticism when it premiered but later on some people seem to have overrated it to the echelons of alleged mastery.
It's called enlightenment