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Irrational Movies

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I've just watched what is undoubtably the most horrible film I've ever seen: Magnolia. I watched it all the way through to the end and then went online to look up a synopsis because I still hadn't a clue what it was about. If you want to see three hours of people blubbering and screaming at each other, now is your chance. I think it had something to do with religion but I'm still not sure. I didn't really want to delve deep into it to find out what the message was (if there was one) as I was already quite horrified by the depravity of it all. Has anyone else seen this and can they tell me if I'm justified to hate it as much as I did? I'd never recommend it to anyone except perhaps to illustrate what is wrong with the world.

And just to make this thread a bit more interesting, what are your least favourite movies and why wouldn't you recommend them?

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I saw this movie before I was Objectivist. I remember laughing when the frogs began to rain down on everything. I don't think I took this film very seriously when I saw it, although the film had a very serious feel to it.

Maybe it wanted to be serious but didn't know how to be, hence the frogs. But yes, crazy nonsense.

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When it comes to movies with irrational premises, 1991's Grand Canyon is near the top of my list. It actually had positive moments: I grokked on how it demonstrated the delight in making new friends, and the sense of satisfaction in discovering (or rediscovering) one's core values; both experiences were shared by nearly all the major characters.

But the premise behind the title was that Kevin Kline's character, the focal point in a web of new relationships, believed they all needed to visit the Grand Canyon in order to realize how small and insignificant their lives were! This, he believed, was consistent with spurring them all on to new heights of personal accomplishment.

But gawd-almighty, the last thing any of those characters needed was to start believing themselves to be small and insignificant again!

It ruined what otherwise, with a few tweaks here and there, might have been a life-affirming movie.

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I grokked on how it demonstrated the delight in making new friends...

"Grokked?" I'm afraid that one's not in my dictionary... :confused:

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I saw Magnolia and aside from some good acting performances, I would agree that the movie was rather worthless. I do think it had a theme though, although I haven't seen it in a while and I wont offer this as definitive but it was something to do with the relationships with parents and their children; ie the 'sins of the father affect the son' or something similar. I can see why you think it was religious because of the frog scene which is supposed to be a Biblical image.

It was, as you say, an irrational movie.

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I for one quite enjoyed Magnolia.

I found the parallel and converging stories of fathers and their children to be quite compelling. It's use of music and a lyrical cinematography made the movie feel more like opera and in that context I was willing to accept the melodrama. The movie was unapologetically sincere and it delivered its grand flourishes without a trace of irony or a wink at the audience. I think that is a rare thing in modern filmmaking.

The ending was clearly foreshadowed. All of the characters were moving through their lives focused only on their own misery and pain when reality comes along and smacks them upside the head. I don’t believe this was intended to be deus ex machina; I believe it was just one of those bizarre moments that can help you regain focus on the real world and shake you from a complacent fantasy. That the reality was delivered in the form of a frog rain is just funny (ok there might be a little bit of irony here).

(BTW, frog rains have actually happened)

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And just to make this thread a bit more interesting, what are your least favourite movies and why wouldn't you recommend them?

I watched Pulp Fiction at the suggestion of friends. It nearly made me feel nauseous, and I have refused to watch any Tarantino movie since. The sense of life of Pulp Fiction is that "This is what real life is like and people are essentially depraved." The movie also tells episodes out of order, in a way that makes it difficult to integrate the episodes into a coherent story - not that I would want to.

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The sense of life of Pulp Fiction is that "This is what real life is like and people are essentially depraved."

Actually, I think that it is the exact opposite and that the message is "This is what real life is like for those who are essentially depraved." Every depraved action in this movie has a serious consequence- everyone get's their comuppance (and then some).

The movie also tells episodes out of order, in a way that makes it difficult to integrate the episodes into a coherent story - not that I would want to.

I didn't find it too difficult to integrate this movie. Telling the story out of order makes for more dramatic tension and gives us the opportunity to approach the stories like an interlocking puzzle. I find this particular aspect of Pulp Fiction quite enjoyable.

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several years ago i rented a movie i thought might be worth the three dollars. i was only looking for a few laughs so my expectations were not very high. the movie was Mystery Men and it failed to deliver. I didn't laugh at all and had to turn it off halfway through it. It was oon of those rare movies that made me feel embarassed for the person who made it.

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"Grokked?"  I'm afraid that one's not in my dictionary... :confused:

It's from Heinlein's Stranger in a Strange Land... a book so weird even the author was embarrassed by its popularity.

It means literally "to drink" but a better translation would be "to ponder and absorb something into one's self."

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And just to make this thread a bit more interesting, what are your least favourite movies and why wouldn't you recommend them?

Well, I had to walk out on The Blair Witch Project to avoid vomiting, but that was more a factor of the shaky camera than the shaky plot.

Wow, worst move? That's going to take some thinking...

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Actually, I think that it is the exact opposite and that the message is "This is what real life is like for those who are essentially depraved."  Every depraved action in this movie has a serious consequence- everyone get's their comuppance (and then some).

I didn't find it too difficult to integrate this movie.  Telling the story out of order makes for more dramatic tension and gives us the opportunity to approach the stories like an interlocking puzzle.  I find this particular aspect of Pulp Fiction quite enjoyable.

This alway gets me. Two Objectivists with the same explicit value structure look at the same movie and yet one says that the film depicts depraved violence and disgusts him and the other says that it is because the film depicts such extreme violence and shows what happens to such people that he was uplifited. One sees no heroism anywhere and is repulsed, the other sees no heroism anywhere but sees other virtues in the film depite this.

I am seeing this so much with Objectivists now that I read 3-4 different forum boards. There is such a different emphasis on the weight and significance attached to the various elements of different phenomena. Right now there is an 18 page thread on the decision between Bush and Kerry with as divergent opinions on the candidates as there is here on Tarantino.

I would think that there would be greater unaformity but apparently not.

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Frogs have fallen out of the sky? Plese tell...

It's very very rare and those in the know differ as to why it happens (most commonly it is thought to be the fault of tornados or waterspouts) but it does happen. And not just with frogs- fish too.

# In 1873, Scientific American reported that Kansas City, Missouri was blanketed with frogs that dropped from the sky during a storm.

# Minneapolis, Minnesota was pelted with frogs and toads in July, 1901. A news item stated: "When the storm was at its highest... there appeared as if descending directly from the sky a huge green mass. Then followed a peculiar patter, unlike that of rain or hail. When the storm abated the people found, three inches deep and covering an area of more than four blocks, a collection of a most striking variety of frogs... so thick in some places [that] travel was impossible."

# The citizens of Naphlion, a city in southern Greece, were surprised one morning in May, 1981, when they awoke to find small green frogs falling from the sky. Weighing just a few ounces each, the frogs landed in trees and plopped into the streets. The Greek Meteorological Institute surmised they were picked up by a strong wind. It must have been a very strong wind. The species of frog was native to North Africa!

#August 3, 1883 edition of the Decatur Daily Republican. "Cairo, Illinois, August 3 - Early yesterday morning the decks of the steamers Success and Elliot, moored at the Mississippi levee, were observed to be literally covered with small green frogs about an inch in length, which came down with a drenching rain which prevailed during the night. Spars, lines, trees and fences were literally alive with the slimy things, while the lights from the watchmen's lanterns were obscured by the singular visitation. The phenomenon, while not entirely unknown, has never been explained, and is causing considerable comment.

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This alway gets me. Two Objectivists with the same explicit value structure look at the same movie and yet one says that the film depicts depraved violence and disgusts him and the other says that it is because the film depicts such extreme violence and shows what happens to such people that he was uplifited. One sees no heroism anywhere and is repulsed, the other sees no heroism anywhere but sees other virtues in the film depite this.

I am seeing this so much with Objectivists now that I read 3-4 different forum boards. There is such a different emphasis on the weight and significance attached to the various elements of different phenomena. Right now there is an 18 page thread on the decision between Bush and Kerry with as divergent opinions on the candidates as there is here on Tarantino.

I would think that there would be greater unaformity but apparently not.

This has always struck me too. It is why I am most active on the aesthetics forums; they tend to be the places where such extreme opposites pop up and I find it fascinating.

Art invokes an emotional response so it may be more difficult to pinpoint why one has reacted to a film in one way or another. To take Tarantino as an example- even if we all agreed that he is indeed a technical master- some may just not be able to see violence in any context as lyrical or funny. The content of his films may disgust one and exhilarate another even though both of viewers are likely sickened by violence on news. Is this because one holds radically different premises than the other? I don't think so. Something else is at work though I have not yet be able to describe it.

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This has always struck me too.  It is why I am most active on the aesthetics forums; they tend to be the places where such extreme opposites pop up and I find it fascinating.

Art invokes an emotional response so it may be more difficult to pinpoint why one has reacted to a film in one way or another.  To take Tarantino as an example- even if we all agreed that he is indeed a technical master- some may just not be able to see violence in any context as lyrical or funny. The content of his films may disgust one and exhilarate another even though both of viewers are likely sickened by violence on news.  Is this because one holds radically different premises than the other?  I don't think so.  Something else is at work though I have not yet be able to describe it.

Good points. I need to think more about this also.

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This has always struck me too. It is why I am most active on the aesthetics forums; they tend to be the places where such extreme opposites pop up and I find it fascinating.

Me too!

If we are all viewing the same world, the same reality, and doing it completely rationaly then why do we not all agree on the choice for president?

The fact that we don't all agree means that half of us are non-Objectivist or else we are back into the tangled web of contextual value judgements?

Brent

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I am seeing this so much with Objectivists now that I read 3-4 different forum boards. There is such a different emphasis on the weight and significance attached to the various elements of different phenomena. Right now there is an 18 page thread on the decision between Bush and Kerry with as divergent opinions on the candidates as there is here on Tarantino.

I would think that there would be greater unaformity but apparently not.

That is because

  • Accepting principles is one thing and applying them is a separate volitional act.
  • Many people accept principles they don't fully understand yet and have difficulty applying them.
  • Applying principles is difficult because it involves wide abstractions, so errors are more likely than when recognizing facts.
  • Any act of evaluation involves a PERSONAL hierarchy of values which differs from person to person, even among people who accept the same philosophy.

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I agree with Chumley on Pulp Fiction, and I too have refused to watch any movie by Durf Quinten. My wife and I rented that movie some years back, watched the first ten minutes, took it back to the video store and demanded a refund which we got.

Some years later we were watching a horrible film with George Clooney he was a slap happy killer that ran into vampires in Mexico, it turned out that was by the same creep.

There is no value to anything that man does. Infact, it is anti-value. It is a slap in the face and a dumping of slime. There is no rational validity to this man's work at all.

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I agree with Chumley on Pulp Fiction, and I too have refused to watch any movie by Durf Quinten. My wife and I rented that movie some years back, watched the first ten minutes, took it back to the video store and demanded a refund which we got.

Some years later we were watching a horrible film with George Clooney he was a slap happy killer that ran into vampires in Mexico, it turned out that was by the same creep.

There is no value to anything that man does. Infact, it is anti-value. It is a slap in the face and a dumping of slime. There is no rational validity to this man's work at all.

2 Questions:

1) What specifically in the 15-20 minutes (I am assuming you also stopped watching Dusk Till Dawn) you have watched Taratino as led you to suggest that any of his work has zero rational validity?

2) Can you give some examples of recent movies/television/etc. that, in your eyes do have rational validity?

(and as a point of fact, From Dusk Till Dawn was co-written by Tarantino. It was directed by Robert Rodriguez.)

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"Grokked?"  I'm afraid that one's not in my dictionary... :confused:

Sorry, AshRyan, and anybody else. Former Heinlein groupie here -- wrote that rather late at night, even for me. Essentially means "to absorb" but with a positive emotional connotation; it's from Stranger In A Strange Land.

What it distills to in context is that I really, really liked the positive aspects of Grand Canyon, which made my eventual disappointment all the more acute.

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jfortun

2 Questions:

1) What specifically in the 15-20 minutes (I am assuming you also stopped watching Dusk Till Dawn) you have watched Taratino as led you to suggest that any of his work has zero rational validity?

2) Can you give some examples of recent movies/television/etc. that, in your eyes do have rational validity?

(and as a point of fact, From Dusk Till Dawn was co-written by Tarantino. It was directed by Robert Rodriguez.)

1. How about everything. The language was gutter, as was the subject matter that was handled worse than I've heard in the sleaziest bars. The wanton violence. The characters were despicable wretches. I was really done with the movie when they were in the elevator discussing eating pu***. It actually was very obviously everything that I could possibly hate in what is supposed to be art. That was not art, but a word that was probably used a hundred times before I turned it off, sh**. I did not finish Dusk Till Dawn, that had even less (if that can be measured) redeeming value than PF. That had the added value of being profoundly meaningless and beyond stupid.

2. I like several things recently and I'll mention them. Law and Order (CI in particular. I enjoy Monk very much. I loved the Matrix series. I like the novel of Fredrick Pohl. I liked Don Juan DeMarco. I also liked the show Sliders when it was out.

There is good stuff out there, but Tarrentino is not it.

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I didn't find it too difficult to integrate this movie.  Telling the story out of order makes for more dramatic tension and gives us the opportunity to approach the stories like an interlocking puzzle.  I find this particular aspect of Pulp Fiction quite enjoyable.

I would qualify your statement by saying "Telling the story out of order [sometimes] makes for more dramatic tension and ..." In this particular movie, I agree with you that it was quite successful.

One favorite movie of mine is Christopher Nolan's Memento. The film is broken down into a number of segments. We start with the final segment and work our way back to the beginning. This is not a good sense of life film at all, but it is simply fascinating on an epistemological level.

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Yeah, at the end of the first Matrix I thought they were to go on and fight and win back reality since the reality of the real world seemed to be of so much importance to them. I was not expecting the complete abandonment of reality. But, I am sure this was chewed to death last year!

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