Saturday, April 3, 2010

A Dictionary of Accepted Ideas, with apologies to Gustave F.

1970s: The last decade movies were any good.

action: Not a serious genre, unlike detective movies or musicals.

art: What all movies aspire to be.

art film: A genre within which the deficiencies of commercial cinema are treated as strengths.

auteur: Every director.

Bresson: "Transcendental."

budget: Something it's possible to have too little of, but never too much of. A small budget is called "low," but a high one is called "big."

Cassavetes: 100% improvised.

cinema: Has been either dead or dying for over 100 years.

clear delineation of space: "The mark of a good director" and a very easy way to defend a bad one or attack a great one.

close-up: Important if the film was made before 2000; unnecessary if made after 2000.

comedy: Easier to make than drama.

conservative: No good directors were ever conservatives. Good directors who say they are conservatives are all crypto-Leftists.

criticism: Either dying or useless.

deep focus: Invented by Renoir.

early films: Always a director's best.

Eastwood: Crypto-Leftist.

Eisenstein: Invented almost everything.

editing: The more obviously grounded in existing theories, the better.

experimental film: New and fresh even when recycling 80-year-old ideas.

film stock: Proof of seriousness. Looks better than HD.

French cinema: A genre.

Griffith: "While no straightforward, consistent political stance is in evidence in the Griffith oeuvre, there is a theme that runs through his major works. That theme is Family."

handheld: How we see the world.

horror: See "comedy."

innovation: Important in old films, to be ignored in new ones.

Japanese cinema: Contemplative, because of Buddhism or Shinto or whatever their religion is called.

Jia: The only director who understands our modern world.

late films: The less they resemble the early films, the worse.

literature: Denser and more complex than cinema.

long take: The pinnacle of filmmaking, even when the director is using it to save money and time.

Kael: A great critic.

Kubrick: Hated humanity.

maturity: What young filmmakers should aspire to. Called "out-dated-ness" or "senility" if the director is over 70.

metaphors: Always "obvious."

mise-en-scene: Only present in great films.

Modern Times: A silent film.

montage: Didn't exist until Eisenstein, who either invented it or discovered it.

movie theater: The only place were cinema exists.

novelistic: A great quality for films to have, since they're all just failed books anyway. See "literature."

Ozu: His films are slow.

poetic: Usually used to describe an idea that would be called bad in poetry but is considered good in a movie.

pure cinema: Somehow different from all other cinema.

religion: Always bad to have in films, unless you don't understand its theology.

Renoir: Invented everything Eisenstein didn't invent.

Rohmer: Made the same movie over and over again.

Russian cinema: One of many things invented by Eisenstein.

science fiction: The quality of a sci-fi movie is the inverse of its special effects budget.

slapstick: Only good if the performer never talks.

sound: Something no one wants to hear about or talk about.

stagy: A terrible quality for a movie to have, even worse than resembling a TV show. Opposite of "novelistic."

video: Not cinema.

voice-over: Unacceptable in a contemporary film.

Welles: A failure. Didn't even make Citizen Kane himself.

when you were young: The time when movies were better.

wide shot: See "maturity."

youthful energy: What all older filmmakers should aspire to. If the director is under 40, then they're to be ignored.

zoom: Despite being something that can only happen in a moving image, considered "uncinematic."


Univarn said...

This is definitely a great collection, and in many cases I couldn't agree more on far too many of these.

Adrian said...

A true work of genius ! I howled with laughter !!

Surbhi said...

i drew up up one such list a few years back, after reading this i tore that up. A great post.

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky said...

Thanks, all. I'm humbled by the response (and the sheer amount of linking-in) to something typed over half a cup of coffee.

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