Is less more stimulating?

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  • #16
    Re: haven't seen nessage in a bottle

    Oh Steeves! I am so sorry! Dern! I can't believe I said that!

    I'll take it off right now so I won't ruin it for someone else!

    Tina

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    • #17
      Re: haven't seen nessage in a bottle

      ***********SPOILER***************

      Steeves, Message In A Bottle has no t&a. Shucks.

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      • #18
        Re: Er. . .

        Okay, I am boycotting all topics that mention "romping on nude beaches."

        Jeez.

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        • #19
          another example...

          I just finished watching a film that is a textbook case of "Less Is More" -- The Spanish Prisoner. There's hardly any profanity or violence [it's rated PG], and it's one of the most nerve-wrackingly suspenseful films I've seen. Of course, it's also a textbook example of why many writers/filmmakers take the easy way out with explicit sex and violence [and why many viewers gravitate to such films]... you have to THINK too hard. Less IS more... more work, more thought, more actually paying attention.

          vg

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          • #20
            Re: Er. . .

            Actually, G Girl, "fell asleep on a nude beach" mught be a more accurate description.

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            • #21
              Re: yes to less but...

              Cornell,
              It may be true that just a glimpse of nudity or sexual activity onscreen may allow us to assess what is happening, but this doesn't mean that the decision to show more is necessarily gratuitous. I don't think a filmmaker should feel obligated to tone down such scenes simply because some people aren't as comfortable with seeing the naked body or the sex act. Approaching things in a minimalist manner does require a certain degree of skill, but that doesn't mean it is always the best way to handle things. Some people don't like to see explicit sex onscreen, others find it erotic without being pornographic. The filmmaker can only make this judgement based on what he or she is comfortable with and feels is tasteful. I think the idea that less is more is a false perception resulting from the fact that we are seeing so many directors who don't know how to be explicit without being gratuitous. When Stanley Kubrick passed away we lost one of the last who understood how to use both methods and even blend the two. I think "Eyes Wide Shut" is a perfect example of a film that contains alot of nudity and sexual content but at the same time draws in the audience and stimulates their imagination with what hasn't been shown. On the other hand in "Clockword Orange" Kubrick used graphic violence and sex in a manner that enhances the films meaning rather than being superfluous. I don't think the film would have been nearly as powerful if he had taken the less is more approach.

              SPOILER ALERT!!!

              Just in case people haven't seen "Interview with a Vampire" even though its pretty old. Here is an example of a film which had some very graphic violence. Remember those blades they wore on those thunbs when they slashed people's wrists in order to drink their blood? That whole thing REALLY grossed me out, I had to leave to get some fresh air because I thought I was going to be sick (I was watching on video, didn't run holding my stomach out of the theatre). And you know what? I'm glad the filmmaker did it that way, the idea of cutting open people's wrists and drinking their blood should be sickening and should have that effect on the audience (even if not as strongly as it affected me). I enjoyed the movie even if it made me ill, and the use of graphic violence made it much stronger and horrifying, which is the way it should be.

              In regards to books, its not true that a writer has to "describe in detail everything in order to allow ther reader to know what is going on" If there is a scene in a novel where the author describes in detail people making love, its not because he or she had to, its the approach they best suited how they wanted to portray the sexual activities of the characters. I have also seen examples of a writer doing the written equivelent of a "fade out" as people are in the midst of passion in order to leave what happens from then on to the imagination of the reader. Both techniques are used and both can be effective depending on the style of the writer, the same can be applied to filmmaking.

              Finally in regards to swearing, I don't know if Hollywood actually goes out of its way to include as many curse words as it can. I think this might be where the generation gap shows up a bit. Alot of people from my generation (myself not included) swear ALOT! There are alot of young people who manage to fit a swear word into almost every sentence without even consciously trying. And just because they are able to speak politely and cut out the expletives around older people does not mean they don't revert back to their normal speech patterns when with friends. There is alot of swearing in the films of Paul Thomas Anderson even though his films demonstrate a maturity and understanding of human nature beyond his years. Some people just talk that way, it doesn't make it a good thing and it doesn't mean I like it, but it doesn't bother me too much because I don't think the intent in alot of cases is to be rude.

              I think this is a good topic thats been started but I think it is going to be another one tht will be resolved by people agreeing to disagree. People just have different views on what is or isn't offensive or gratuitous. I wouldn't label Cornell or Bill as prudes because of their thoughts on this subject, but neither would I necessarily like to see some of the changes they would like to see. I would rather see filmmakers develop a better understanding of how stories are told visually and learn how to make use of explicit content as well as the imagination of the audience.

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              • #22
                Re: yes to less but...

                You know, Nem, I don't disagree with you at all. Yes, I love looking and thrilling at the male nude body but at the appropriate time. And, it doesn't offend me to see male/female bodies on the screen. I guess, in a nutshell, I'd just like to see storytelling revert back (somewhat) to what it use to be--I think an art form. Some of the films I love watching are the old black and white classics, and I enjoy the old musicals, too. They just seem to be classier to me, and it seems that a lot of that classiness is missing from the newer films. Kind of like wanting to grow up in the '50's/'60's--times/people seemed kinder back then. I hope that's not too bad of an analogy.

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                • #23
                  Re: yes to less but...

                  What the hell, I'm not doing anything else right now, so I'll try again. Nem - we are not necessarily on opposite sides on this issue. Like Cornell, I don't mind nudity, etc., provided it has a purpose. Take my "Wanda" example. An excellent, funny movie. However, I won't recommmend it to a lot of people I know because that one line would send them out of the theatre.

                  I have seen more nudity and heard more crude language on Public Television than I have ever seen or heard on Fox. It was done in context. (Public tv broadcast "Tales of the City"; think you'll ever see that, uncut, on prime time?)

                  The point is, MOST of the time, when it is included in major films, it isn't necessary and it cheapens the product. Does that make sense?

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                  • #24
                    Re: yes to less but...

                    I agree Bill that we aren't necessarily on opposite sides of this argument and I understand what you are saying. What I am trying to say is that it isn't the content itself that cheapens the product, it is the way in which the content is used. You could take two films with the same number of violent acts and sexual situations shown explicitly but depending on who the filmmaker is you could end up with two very differen movies. I think we agree for the most part on this but the difference is that I don't feel that such content cheapens films, I just don't think it does anything to make them better when it isn't done in context. In other words its a non-issue for me.

                    Cornell, I think thats a perfect analogy and it expresses much more clearly what you were trying to say. You seem like the sort of person who likes films to be more entertainment and escapism (although I am sure you like films that make you think as well). I like films like this as well but I think the films that move me the most are those that deal with difficult subject matter that forces me to think and maybe even disturbs or upsets me. This is why Stanley Kubrick is my favorite filmmaker. On the other hand I like Steven Spielberg and George Lucas' lighthearted fantasies and my favorite film of all time is a French romance (Cyrano de Bergerac, 1990)! I know what you mean about people seeming nice in the 1950's and 60's. But I think in large part the reality portrayed in films of that era was an idealized distraction from real life. Perhaps nowadays the pendulum has swung too far toward self-examination and peeling back the layers to look at the darker side of our nature, leaving little for those who just want to be entertained and have a good time at the movies. Ideally we would have a healthy balance between the two extremes, but the commercial nature of Hollywood tends to result in a glut of whatever seems to be popular at time.

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                    • #25
                      less is more

                      Gotta say that I prefer more sex and less violence. When I was stating at a flea-pit of a motel in Deepest Missouri, they had on TV "Tough Guys Week." Showed a Chuck Norris film that scred the @#%$ out of me when Iwas a kid collecting for charity in a cinema. Silent Rage I think it was called. Showed a woman getting an axe in her head - blood everywhere. The next week they showed Airplane, which for reasons unknown is called Flying High in the States. There's a scene when the plane turns upside down and a woman runs in front of the camera and waggles her bare breasts.

                      The TV network cut that scene!

                      The same one that showed the axe in the head and other yucky stuff.

                      Saying that, nudity and violence are devices to generate emotion. Use 'em like any other tool in the screenwriter's box of tricks.

                      A little sex goes a long way, just like a well-placed hatchet.

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                      • #26
                        What are you trying to do?

                        Whether you show violence or sex or use dirty words depends on what you are trying to do. The whole purpose of film is to make the audience feel something (or think something).

                        Nem used THE WILD BUNCH as an example of violence, let me use a different example: SAVING PRIVATE RYAN. They could have shot the Normandy Invasion WITHOUT showing all of that graphic violence - but it wouldn't have given you the feelings about war that Rodat wanted. You need to see the horrors of the man searching for his severed arm, you need to know what it's like to have the man you are talking to die violently. War is NOT pretty in this film. You couldn't get that information to the audience without showing the uglyness.

                        In Sam Fuller's THE BIG RED ONE he gave us a metaphor (because his budget was limited). He had a man step off the troop carrier and BLAM get shot dead and fall into the water. All we see is his dead arm floating in the water - his wrist watch telling us the time. With every wave, the time changes... and the water gets redder. Soon, there is so much blood in the water we can't see the arm when it's submerged. That was a discrete way of showing the carnage... but it doesn't work nearly as well as in RYAN. By the way - that Fuller scene is damned bloody, just not graphic.

                        The big problem comes when someone wants to use gore without knowing what they want the audience to feel. Most horror films fall into this rut - they may want you to feel that unexpected violence can happen to anyone... but that can be done without the gore (usually). If you compare the head decapatation in THE OMEN to it's cousin FINAL DESTINATION - both work. But FD (a film I liked) focuses on that spurting neck. (Actually, I liked the FD decapation because it was imaginative in many ways... and the cut wasn't clean.) After the gore is over in most horror and action films the story goes on as if nothing has happened. The CHARACTERS don't react in any way. This further desensitizes the gore. If the characters feel nothing about having their pal's head lopped off, what do they expect the audience to feel?

                        Bill mentioned the crop duster scene in NORTH BY NORTHWEST. There are two parts to that scene, and each part makes the audience feel EXACTLY what they want you to feel. The first part has Cary Grant waiting at the bus stop and that crop duster dusting where there ain't no crops. This is a suspense sequence. Suspense is the ANTICIPATION OF ACTION. We know something bad will happen to Cary Grant, and with every moment that nothing happens, we become more on edge. The second part has the crop duster attack. This is an action sequence - we are SEEING THE VIOLENCE. The plane is trying to kill Cary Grant and he is running from it. Nothing is implied in this scene - it's SHOWN. At the end of the scene where the plane slams into the tanker truck, we are SHOWN the explosion. Because we aren't supposed to feel sorry for the evil plane pilot, that scene doesn't milk the pilot's death in the fire.

                        On my website I have a chapter from my book called PERSONAL INJURIES about effective film violence. I think that NOT showing the effects of violence may be more damaging than graphic depictions. Why? Because violence HURTS. If we remove the pain and make violence painless, kids will think that violent actions have no repercussions. That you can really shoot someone and they'll just fall over.

                        It all comes down to what you want the audience to feel. If the violence doesn't create emotions in the audience, it's useless... get rid of it.

                        Same is true for sex, too.

                        - Bill

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