Bad Films

There’s often more to bad films than their general awfulness. Films of a low quality are like films of a high quality. The better or worse they are, the more exceptional they are to the viewer. This is how I feel about certain shitty films. The RoomBatman and   Robin, and Kung Fury are all examples of films that amaze viewers with their awfulness.

Each of these films have separate qualities that make their films bad. Poor puns, like “Ice to see you!” are constant in Batman and Robin. Ridiculous, non-sensical fight scenes between characters like Hitler and Thor dominate Kung Fury. And then, there’s The Room, which is simply put, the most incompetently made film in history.

It is this incompetence that makes it the most enjoyable of these three shit heaps. Batman and Robin is fun for the first 30 minutes but then one realizes that this was supposed to be a Batman film, and it becomes depressing. Kung Fury is intentionally over-the-top, which is hilarious but tiring, since you would think that a 30 minute film would hold your interest throughout.

The Room is different. It is terrible in almost every conceivable way. It has a lead character who speaks with some unidentifiable, unintelligible accent; the spoken lines do not make sense; the sex scenes are long and repetitive; and the scenes leap from one to the next with no explanation. Lisa’s mother has breast cancer, she is pregnant with Johnny’s child and Denny owes a debt to a drug dealer. Once these seemingly important bits of information are mentioned, they are never spoke of again.

Please watch the scene below. It explains the awesome awfulness of The Room in ways I cannot.

PC in Film

Does anyone think that modern films are too PC (politically correct)? You know what I am talking about. Strong female roles that are so over the top that they are not believable, gay characters who have for no good reason have their sexuality a focus of the film, yada yada yada. There are many more but these are a couple to start.

I feel this way. I feel this way because I can watch any modern film and expect that blacks will play victims, white conservatives will be the bad guys and some noble liberal will save them all. The Help, 12 Years a Slave, American History X. Hell, even old films are not exempt. Does To Kill a Mockingbird ring any bells?

It’s not to say that you cannot have liberal white saviours or conservative white villains in films. You absolutely can and should. With this in mind, should we not diversify roles in Hollywood? I think it would be a good idea if film production companies would go against stereotypical characters. Perhaps minorities can play something other than misguided henchmen or minor heroes. Major characters. Like a James Bond type character or a Joker-like villain. It would be better than continuing to play secondary characters like Oddjob or Lucius Fox.

The Birth of a Nation- Innovation and Racism

The Birth of a Nation does not seem like the innovative film it is made out to be upon first seeing the film. It is a silent, B&W film that initially focuses on two families prior to the American Civil War.

In a similar sense, the film does not seem to be racist at first. While there are actors in blackface present from the start, for the first 35 minutes of the film, few stereotypes of black people are shown, other than the occasional maid or servant. Even then, these characters do not act as caricatures. Instead, they are kept in the background.

The film remains fairly pedestrian for the first half hour as the backstory is provided to the viewer. It is only until the first few moments of racism are shown in the film, that you see why this film is so highly acclaimed. It is here that a white-led, black Union regiment pillages the town of Piedmont South Carolina. These black soldiers are shown to be especially savage and cruel as they set fires to homes and attack non-combatants.

On a technical level, this scene is excellent. The scene is fast paced and crisply edited, making for an exciting action sequence. On top of this, the film’s sepia tone works well as it is highly impressionistic and makes the smoke and fire of a burning Piedmont and later, Atlanta seem more ferocious than it would on regular black-and-white film.

Beyond the battle sequences, the film is innovative in the way it conveys emotion to the viewer. Unlike other films of the time, this film is heavy on close-up shots. These are used to show dying soldiers, a distraught mother and her children, and to show outraged politicians. Since modern viewers are so far removed from the origins of close-ups, we take them for granted. Back in 1915, such a shot was unheard of.

With it’s glorification of the Ku Klux Klan as brave saviours of the white race, and its portrayal of blacks as power hungry, white-women-addicted animals, The Birth of a Nation is unforgivably racist. Even so, it’s cinematic excellence cannot be ignored. If you enjoy a good film and set your beliefs aside, you will probably enjoy this film.