I don’t watch that many films, and I see very little television. I’m not immersed in contemporary norms for entertainment. I think this may be why I’m not engaging with certain things. Generally, calling a book a ‘page turner’ is deemed a compliment, but I get annoyed with books that tie me into racing plots and never give me time to think or breathe. Watching films at home, I notice that it’s during the fight scenes that I’m most likely to turn my attention towards a craft project.
Give me big explosions, fast moving fights, rapid chases through revolving scenery with pointy bits, lots of big things bashing into each other, be they machines or vast armies, and I get bored. Almost instantly. Yet this description sums up the majority of the film trailers I’ve been seeing. This, apparently is what I should be excited by, and instead I find it utterly tedious. You’ve seen one almost indestructible thing punching another nearly unbreakable thing and trust me, you’ve seen them all.
It’s not an issue with violence. Ok, I’m not inherently excited by death, gore and things killing things. I worry about the impact we have by continually telling ourselves stories in which violence is the answer to every problem. I like a stylish fight. Not too many participants so you can see the moves. Hand to hand weapons that require skills. I like fight scenes that have a bit of choreography about them – blame the swashbuckling films of my childhood, but if you’re going to kill someone, please dance them to death. Then, I can admire the skill and the staging.
In films, I pay attention to panoramic shots, silence, good dialogue, thoughtful narrative and well developed characters. I care less about the visual effects and more about whether the acting and story add up to something emotionally plausible. I like a slower pace with time to think. I am similar in my reading habits, preferring depth to speed every time.
Entertainment of recent years seems to have been led by the idea that people skim over the ‘dull bits’ – description, introspection, storytelling. Cut to the chase, we’re told. Show us some action. Throw in more explosions. But for me, what we’re doing is cutting the good bits, (landscape, conversation, storytelling, emotional plausibility)in favour of more dullness (things hitting things). I am not an adrenaline junkie, I do not want films that resemble a roller coaster ride.
It came as a pleasant surprise to find that I rather liked the second Hellboy film. There was a good swordfight, and some pace dropping for dramatic effect, and some lingering lovingly over the settings. And for the lack of those things, and too much hitting, I did not enjoy the Hobbit trilogy anything like as much as I wanted to.