When someone asks an advice for movies, we tend to answer with our favorite (or one of our favorites) titles in mind. Otherwise, something the asking person could like, which generally is something they haven’t seen.
For example, my go tos are The Grey, Stretch, Trance or, sticking to something more recent, Brigsby Bear.
Those four flicks are overlooked by most, and, depending on who’s asking, are a safe hit. Something useful, especially when you watch movies with your buddies: the more flicks you advised correctly, the more decisional power you’ll have when choosing what to watch.
However, I’ll always remember what one of my Cinematography teachers in college told us: ‘You learn more by watching bad movies than good movies’.
That was somewhat more than a couple years ago.
Over this time, I found myself to agree with that statement.
You see, when we watch good movies, let it be one of the above or Mad Max: Fury Road, we happen to enjoy the emotional turmoil the movie pulls us into – and by consequence, it’s difficult to us to explain why something is so great. After all, if a script is good, the editing is good, the soundtrack fits the movie and generally speaking we buy into the story, that is something entirely normal. We actually expect that as we pay a ticket, a fee for a VOD service, a subscription, or buy the Blu-Ray.
Anyways, the point is we expect something at least decently done because we pay for it.
Unfortunately (or luckily?), that’s not always the case. Sometimes, we end up watching a series of stinkers that makes us nervous to have wasted money on. Just this year, Emoji Movie, Justice League and The Snowman come to mind.
However, because of what my teacher told me a couple of years ago, I think we shouldn’t be so mad those movies came out.
You see, what we calla stinker is as helpful to the industry as The Dark Knight.
For the people behind filmmaking, see how the audience reacts to something like The Emoji Movie really helps to establish what not to do next. Which is not something as obvious as other people think, simply because most of it it’s not common sense. If you think that not every idea in the world is worth making into a movie, you may be right, but again, The Lego Movie was a blast (and criminally ignored by the Academy), and pretty much no one, despite Lord & Miller’s curriculum, expected a good movie out of it.
Keep in mind: The Emoji Movie it’s not a box office failure. Sure, it didn’t make as much as it could’ve, but it made enough for not turning the project into a failure. However, both audience and critics thought it was a total waste of time, so most workers won’t ignore that.
With The Snowman (which I honestly enjoyed more than most) and Justice League, hopefully, producers understood to listen more to their directors. Both films are a mess, one because they couldn’t shoot more scenes (and you totally feel it while watching it) and the other because someone at Warner didn’t like Snyder’s style and decided to mess the film up with massive reshoots (and you totally feel that while watching it), completely messing it up.
As a filmmaker, I find helpful to watch bad and/or flawed movies, as it keeps my creative mind going by thinking how I could have made that scene or that movie better than it is.
With Justice League, for example, rewriting the story would have been the first step. Find another reason for the motherboxes to wake up than the Kryptonian’s death (since he was Superman only for 18 effing months – doesn’t add up) and make Cyborg the protagonist (since he’s a product of one motherbox).
With Passengers (not exactly a bad movie, but surely not a good one), I’d have the beginning with lonely Chirs Pratt longer. The movie does manage to have the audience understand that he wakes up Jennifer Lawrence because of his loneliness, but we don’t really feel it. We don’t feel his loneliness. All we have is a montage with Pratt as the happiest dude in the universe sliding into depression.
And these are two movies that have something to go for already.
Stuff like A Good Day To Die Hard, one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen and surely the worst in the franchise, has basically nothing to save. Horrible, non-sensical script, bad acting and also a complete disregard for editing continuity. While this flick might not be helpful, it surely reminds me what not to do if I want to do a good movie. Or at least writing one.
Ok, now you might be asking: ‘what’s the point for the audience to watch bad movies?’
And that’s a very good and valid question.
From one side, to understand what you like you have to taste what you don’t like. So if you watch a movie you totally disliked you might save yourself time in the future by avoiding what looks like it.
But also because, you know, something bad can become so important and interesting that might serve as a starting point for something good.
After all, who was expecting a good movie like The Disaster Artist sparking out of The Room?