Daily Blog – John E. Johnson, Jr. – February 24, 2008: I DON’T LIKE LOUSY ENDINGS!

As I mentioned yesterday, I went to see No Country for Old Men at the Cineplex. I know it is up for Best Picture, but I want to officially complain about the ending. It’s lousy. As the credits started to roll, I used a few four-letter words, and people around me were also outraged.

One said, “That’s it?” Another said to his friend, “I am never coming to the movies with you again.”

It was if the director said, “Hey guys, we are out of film, so let’s call that last scene a wrap.”

This begs the question as to what the intent of the film maker is: Art or Entertainment.

Hey, it’s entertainment. Anyone home in Hollywood? We want to be entertained. That’s it. We want to buy our tickets, some popcorn, some soft drinks, sit down, and escape for a couple of hours. We want to go home feeling good, not pissed off. You can make us laugh, cry, scream, whatever. But, that has to stay in the theater. We don’t want to take it home with us, and we don’t want to feel cheated.

Cheated is what I felt at the end of Old Men. For 99.99% of the movie, I loved it. But, for the last 0.01%, well, now I hope the movie doesn’t win any awards tonight, and it’s been nominated for a bunch of them, including Best Picture. I don’t care how the book went, I want something better.

7 Responses to “Daily Blog – John E. Johnson, Jr. – February 24, 2008: I DON’T LIKE LOUSY ENDINGS!”

  1. ovation Says:

    I have to completely disagree with you. I haven’t seen this film, but I’ve seen others without “happy endings” and, if that is appropriate to the film, then that is perfectly fine. Film IS art, as well as entertainment and I most certainly do NOT want filmmakers to stop making films that challenge our sensibilities, require us to think and make us confront the ambiguities of life. I don’t want ALL films to be like that–I like a good farce or “feel good” movie (when well done) too. But I hope I NEVER live long enough to run out of “films as art”. That would be, frankly, extremely depressing.

  2. John Johnson Says:

    No Country for Old Men is not one of those art films though.

  3. Ovation Says:

    I would need to see it before venturing an opinion on the film itself, but it appeared that you were arguing that films, in general, should not strive to be works of art. It is that point where I strongly disagree.

  4. John Johnson Says:

    Indeed, they can be works of art. But having the audience get up cursing the film does not in itself make it a work of art. It can be art, but it certainly should be entertaining. Make the film a masterpiece, but satisfy the audience too. These two characteristics are not mutually exclusive.

  5. ovation Says:

    My view about art (all art, not just film) is that it should reflect the vision of its creator and then be put out for public consumption. If it entertains, so much the better, but art should not have that as its primary goal. This is where the divide of “art” and “entertainment” usually comes into play. Now, clearly there are many, many instances where filmmakers seek to entertain as, if done properly, it is usually strongly correlated with profit (which allows more films to be made, and so on). However, if a particular film is intended primarily as an artistic endeavour (and, again, this particular film is not one I’ve seen, so my comment is more general), then “satisfying the audience” should not be a major consideration. I do agree, though, that having the audience get up and curse does not, in and of itself, make a film a work of art (at least, not good art–fundamentally, I think all films are works of art; some are simply better than others). I have no issues with artists who seek to entertain, but I do think that art does not HAVE TO entertain to be good and, further, I think art that does not primarily seek to entertain should not be too marginalized.

  6. John Johnson Says:

    I didn’t say that all art must entertain. I am talking specifically about movies, not all art such as we go to see at a museum. People don’t go to the theater to look at art (maybe a few do). We go to be entertained for a couple of hours. The movie can have artistic intent, but to make movie goers feel cheated – and this is what that film did – is business stupidity. And, the movie business is exactly that: a business.

  7. ovation Says:

    I guess I would be one of those “few”. I did my graduate work on film and I do consider it to be art. I consider any form of creative expression as art (that includes architecture, movies, literature, music, painting, etc.). It doesn’t mean that all art should be subject to the same expectations (though art is largely a “business”–that is not restricted to the movie industry). When I watch a film, any film, I want what I want from any piece of art–to experience something creative. It doesn’t have to redefine its discipline, it doesn’t have to shock me, it doesn’t have to question all my beliefs (though if it does any and/or all of those things, that’s okay too). But it should demonstrate at least a modicum of creativity. I would not call “A Shot in the Dark” high art, but it does have some level of creativity than enhances its entertainment value. I can say the same about “Blazing Saddles”.

    I guess, in the end, I consider movies as part of the broader artistic tableau that enriches our culture. It has its own specificities (and even further specificities within sub-genres) and I would not judge films exactly as I would literature or the fine arts, but I do not make the distinction between art and entertainment that is popularly made.

    All of this aside, this discussion (which I’ve enjoyed and for which I thank you for the opportunity to engage in) has made even more curious and determined to see this film for myself.

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