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"That's Entertainment" no, wait, "That's Art" no wait, it's just a movie...

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As you can probably tell, I wasn't sure how to name this thread.


Basically, I was thinking of starting a conversation about whether film is aht, dahling, or just fun, or both, or neither...

I definitely don't want this to become a pretentious discussion about aht imitating life or the other way around, or something. Anyway, rule #1: Pretention is not allowed here. We can use words like "art" without being pretentious, can't we?



I was inspired to start this topic by a comment from Sepiatone, on a thread from at least a month ago. Sepia, baby, hope you don't mind if I quote you:



"Movies are art ? Since when?

...And I wouldn't really consider *Teladega Nights *as being "art".





So, when I read this, my first impulse was to jump right in and respond to our friend Sepiatone,

"Of course movies are art. At least, some of them are. Some are "entertainment" rather than art.

You might as well argue that music isn't art, and then try to prove your point by citing Lady Gaga as an example (of music.) "

Just as the world of music is so huge, there is room for "art", entertainment, popular culture both good and bad, and all points in between, so it is with film. (er, movies.)

Some are rubbish, as Sepia's example *Teladega Nights* demonstrates. But to cite that movie as proof that movies can't be art is like citing Niki Minaj's tuneless "Starships" as proof that music isn't an art form.



So, I say movies are just like music, literature, and for that matter "art" ( as in paintings etc.): that is, all of the above can be an "art form", and it can also be just clever or entertaining or innovative. "Pop Culture", as it used to be called. And some "pop" is pretty darn good.

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>Some are rubbish, as Sepia's example Teladega Nights demonstrates.


I am sure that the people who worked on TN, took a paycheck home and put food on the table, do not consider it rubbish. They consider it a job they completed. Yes, an artiste may consider it rubbish, but many others while seeing it is not high art, may not consider it rubbish at all.


The point is that there is great variety in the quality and effectiveness of motion pictures. Even seemingly bad films have some merit to them, if one looks hard enough.


Anyway, this may be another one of those enjoyable nonsense threads, and I could not resist the chance to add some comments. :)

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Well, I don't feel strongly about *Teladega Nights*, one way or the other. I was just talking about it because Sepiatone cited it as an example of how movies are not "art", and I thought it was an unfair example ( of why movies should not be regarded as art.) It seemed a little random. (Apologies to Sepiatone, who wrote that comment weeks ago, and has probably forgotten it by now.)


I certainly did blather around on my original post here, so I don't blame you, TB, for thinking this is just a "nonsense" thread.

However, my blathering was simply a manifestation of my feeling self-conscious about labelling movies as "art", I don't know why.


Basically, I am asking the question here: do you regard film as an art form or as mere entertainment? Of course, if the movie is really bad, it's neither .( not saying *Teladega Nights* falls into that category- maybe it isn't rubbish - let's forget about that particular title, it's not important.)


Maybe the question is too obvious. To me, it's clear that just like music and books, the great ones are art, the good ones are entertainment, and the mediocre ones are just taking up space.

Mind you, a really bad film can be quite fun.

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>Basically, I am asking the question here: do you regard film as an art form or as mere entertainment? Of course, if the movie is really bad, it's neither.


Well I've clearly defined "classic" here several times before, now I'll attempt at clearly defining "art".


Art is communication of the artist's ideas or feelings through their medium to others. This includes ALL art-music, the written word, visual, dance, documentary, etc.


Within the context of film, the "artist" can refer to the actor, the photographer, the director, the costumer, hairdresser, the sound design, etc.


The "communication" part is important because if no one understands or "receives" the message, the art fails.


Let's take the child's fingerpainting example. The child is enjoying moving colors around with his fingers, just for his/her own expression of joy & fun. If anyone seeing the picture feels that sense of joy, and thinks "that just seems FUN!" then the picture succeeds.


In the case of a bad movie, the intent may be to scare or horrify you but instead it's horribly funny (as in the recently shown "Manitou"(78), it is still touching the viewer, although not in the way intended.


This sort of "art" is more difficult to define, as it technically "fails" but instead creates a life of it's own, touching viewers in a way not intended by any of the artists involved.


So in short yes, film is an art medium and falls under the same definition as any other creative art.

This has nothing to do with my opinion, it's a technical definition.

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Thanks for those thoughts, TikiSoo. And well-articulated thoughts they were.


I agree with pretty much everything you said.

I must admit, I would very much like to hear from Sepiatone, since his apparent surprise that anyone would regard film as art is what prompted me to post this thread in the first place. I'm wondering if I may have misinterpreted his comments.

Sepiatone, baby, are you out there?

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Here I am!



To be honest, I was copping an idea from an old "Doonesbury" strip that appeared about the time "colorization" first appeared to the public. Mike Doonesbury made a comment about the proccess of colorization "comprimising" the director's "art". Zonker Harris piped up and said, "ART? I thought we were talking about MOVIES!"



Consider this: Someone once claimed, "I don't know what art IS, but I know what I like." Those sloppy, mish-mashed finger paintings done by a four-year-old MIGHT be considered "art" if done by a recognized and established "artist". Communicating to the masses doesn't interest many artists. They'll take acceptance from anyone considered a serious art critic. In Detroit, there was an artist, Tyree Guynton(sic) who nailed old shoes found in the streets to an old abandoned house. Many "in the know" about art considered it "art". The people living in the neighborhood considered it an eyesore. Tyree called it "The Heidleberg Project".



Many people consider "art" to be something they themselves are incapable of creating, like the "Mona Lisa", or Dali's melting clocks. Jackson Pollack became famous for doing something just about ANYBODY could do, if perhaps THEY thought about doing it first. In fact, my DAD left many a "Pollack" like work on old bedsheets used as drop cloths whenever he painted one of the rooms in our house.



As for movies? I feel it's the story, combined with the cinematography that might make the difference between "art" and just a "movie". I'm leaning more on the cinematography side. At one time, "art movies" was a euphamism for "porn". So we have to be carefully more specific in these discussions.



By the way, I don't mind being quoted, for good or bad, one bit.






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Years ago I saw a photo in a book showing Picasso's GUERNICA painting. I thought it was junk.


I saw it in other books over the years and I thought it was junk. Not art.


Then, by chance, I got to see the real painting on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York in 1965, and I read in their brochure what the painting was about.


I loved it. It is brilliant art. But some people will have to see it in person and know what it is about before they can see it as art.


The full sized real painting seemed to move. The characters and animals in it seemed to move while I was looking at it. The painting captures and shows motion (to me) when I look at it full-sized and in person.


Seems to me that part of the effect is caused by its large size. Up close we see individual animals and people. But when we step back a lot, we see the overall scene. During the process of backing up and moving in close, I see the most motion in the painting. This is a weird effect, and I think it is art.



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I agree with you that in many cases art has to be seen in person to get the full effect.


I have also Picasso's GUERNICA painting when I went to France. I really liked it (but unlike those people in the picture to me it is best viewed by standing about 12 feet back).





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This reminds me of an episode of TV's Dennis the Menace. Mr. Wilson (Joseph Kearns) takes great, painstaking efforts to finish what is sure to be a masterpiece. He plans to take the portrait and enter it into a local contest. Of course while it is drying outside on the patio, a dog that Dennis is watching runs into the Wilsons' yard and brushes its tail up against the painting, altering its image. The painting goes on to win the contest, and they give the prize to the dog!

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When someone is making an individual work of 'art' (music, movie, painting, sculpture) I think what defines if the work is 'art' or not is their intent. Sometimes an artist will produce work only for it's commercial value. i.e. they don't care how 'good' it is but only if it will sell.


The movie Rock Star covered this topic very well. The new singer (Wahlberg), joined the group thinking he was making 'art', but the leaders of the band clearly cared only about one thing; giving the fans what they wanted so the fans would continue to give them MONEY.


As for movies; Well during the 30s I don't think the studios viewed the programmers they were releasing as 'art' (or to put it another way cared about their artistic merit). While studios would take the time and money to make a prestige picture these were the exceptions.


Edited by: jamesjazzguitar on May 2, 2013 5:19 PM

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I've decided that this was not a good topic to introduce on these boards. I mean, even I'm sort of rolling my eyes about it, and I'm the one who started it.

It's one of those "big" subjects that one could write a book about and still not have said everything there is to say about it - eg, art, life, and the whole damned thing.


Still, if I had to sum it up, I'd say this: it doesn't matter how serious or well-intentioned the artist/writer/film director is, if the final result doesn't engage the viewer, than it's not "art", nor is it even entertainment.

TikiSoo had it right when she said that a movie has to affect the audience, make an emotional connection with them, for it to be any good at all.


I have to go now and set my watch; I'm using the clock in The Persistence of Memory to make sure it's right.



(I dunno clocks, but I know what I like...)

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Tikisoo made many fine points but with regards to "the audience"; Well isn't the concept of 'the audience' folly? i.e. there is no 'the audience'. For example, take cult films; while the general audience dismisses these movies as 'art' these films find an audience. Thus to this 'cult' these film makes a major impact.


So one could say that if a work impact one life than it is art (well at least in the eyes of that person).






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I dunno, to me, if I have to read a backstory or have some work of "art" explained to me, then it misses it's point. Most vue art as a visual impact medium. It's appeal should be immediate. It's "message", if indeed one is intended, should also be immediate. But that's just me.



As one earlier mentioned their surprise at how "small" Dali's "Persistence of Memory" is, I was equally surprised to find how HUGE one of MY favorite paintings, Serraut's "A Sunday On The Island Of Grande Jatte" really is. This painting, especially after finding out how it was executed, always fascinated me.






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I don't see how one could say that if a work has to be explained "it" (as in the work) misses the point.


Instead I would say the viewer misses the point of the work (assuming the work has a point to make).


I also don't agree that the majority of the time; 'it's appeal should be immediate'. Often the works (music, films, paintings, etc..), that impact me now had to grow on me. i.e. I had to grow and as I did the impact of the work grew on me.


RO makes this point in a promo with Drew related to The Essentials series. That while he has seen all of the movies shown if he hasn't seen one in a long time the impact a film has on him changes since he has changed since he last viewed it.






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You and Pontius Pilate. :) It's obviously very subjective in regard to questions

like What is art? Is this a good or bad piece of art? Is it art or entertainment?,

etc. It's mostly up to the individual. I suppose the closest one can come to

objectivity is a critical consensus, and even that's questionable. To me most

movies are rather formulaic, so they are better as entertainment than as art,

though there are lots of exceptions to that rule.

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This discussion calls to mind this quote from All About Eve:


"The Theatuh, the Theatuh - what book of rules says the Theater exists only within some ugly buildings crowded into one square mile of New York City? Or London, Paris or Vienna? Listen, junior. And learn. Want to know what the Theater is? A flea circus. Also opera. Also rodeos, carnivals, ballets, Indian tribal dances, Punch and Judy, a one-man band - all Theater. Wherever there's magic and make-believe and an audience - there's Theater. Donald Duck, Ibsen, and The Lone Ranger, Sarah Bernhardt, Poodles Hanneford, Lunt and Fontanne, Betty Grable, Rex and Wild, and Eleanora Duse. You don't understand them all, you don't like them all, why should you? The Theater's for everybody - you included, but not exclusively - so don't approve or disapprove. It may not be your Theater, but it's Theater of somebody, somewhere."

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Well you managed to stay on topic and bring in a classic movie. Well played.


I forgot about that quote but it is a favorite of fine (as is All About Eve). The last sentence communicates something very similar to what I posted:


So one could say that if a work impact one life than it is art (well at least in the eyes of that person).



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