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Brent L
10-09-04, 11:28 PM
I was talking to some friends, as well as reading different messages on various internet message boards, and I have had many people tell me, and I've read many people post, about films that they hated because they "didn't have a plot or purpose". Now obviously that is such a moronic statement, but I'm sure you all hear that same thing.

A few recent films that I've heard people say this about are Lost in Translation, Napoleon Dynamite, and Garden State. When people say that about such films, how do you guys respond to it...if at all? What other films do you hear people say this same thing about?

I cant think of too many other statements that irk me as much as this one, when talking about film.

brtcmfn
10-09-04, 11:35 PM
One that comes to mind is Robin Williams in Toy's- What were they thinking??

Corvin
10-10-04, 12:21 AM
I can think of a statement that irks me more: it isn't realistic.

jaeufraser
10-10-04, 12:27 AM
Well I hate it when someone defends a film by saying that it's just a popcorn movie! or you're supposed to turn your brain off!. Granted, there are films that work for that purpose, but many will apply it to every movie in existence as opposed to explaining what exactly was enjoyable about said film.

RyoHazuki
10-10-04, 12:34 AM
Boondock Saints

devilshalo
10-10-04, 12:44 AM
If one just watched FOTR and not TTT or ROTK, you'd think it was one long chase scene. :p

SeekOnce
10-10-04, 12:48 AM
I'm guilty of this. I admit it. Said it right after watching Mulholland Dr.

I just don't get it. :hscratch:

Cornholio
10-10-04, 10:47 AM
Kids didnt realy have a plot

SFranke
10-10-04, 10:58 AM
I thought films that have no plot or purpose are justified by being called "character studies."

costanza
10-10-04, 12:18 PM
the big lebowski.


all the dude wanted, was his rug back.


these are some of my favorite movies, btw.

DRG
10-10-04, 12:32 PM
One movie I recently watched that I think actually deserves this criticism is Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen. I know it's aimed at older kids/early teens, but that doesn't excuse the fact there is no direction to this movie. It just seems like a random serious of events in her life, without any real chracter arc or continuity to the events. The whole time I kept thinking, "What the hell is the point of this?" They could have shuffled most of the scenes around and it would have made just as much sense.

Shap
10-10-04, 12:43 PM
Ghost World. I guess I just didn't "get it."

Bobby Shalom
10-10-04, 12:47 PM
I usually like films that other people call plotless, and meaningless.

With that being said, I thought Coffee and Cigarettes, was a major waste of my time, and I really saw no value in watching it.

_tony_
10-10-04, 01:23 PM
Farenheit 9/11 -wink-

Seeker
10-10-04, 01:27 PM
The Station Agent - but I really liked it.

Jackskeleton
10-10-04, 02:40 PM
I <3 huckabees.

I really didn't see the point and I was left bored through it all.

neatMCsammer
10-10-04, 04:28 PM
Originally posted by Jackskeleton
I <3 huckabees.

I really didn't see the point and I was left bored through it all.

Agreed! Things that could've been plot points (if there really WAS a plot) are dropped without explanation. That film was the disappointment of the year for me; I was so excited to see it, too.

Boondock Saint
10-10-04, 05:34 PM
Originally posted by RyoHazuki
Boondock Saints

:( Nah just kidding. I understand. My love for this movie is actually just pure entertainment value. I don't really hold it in any higher regard.

FantasticVSDoom
10-10-04, 09:56 PM
Although I did enjoy the movie, I didnt think there was much of a plot to The Passion of the Christ. Granted, I think there was purpose to it, just not really a plot. Which asks another question, can a movie have purpose without a really having plot, or have a plot but really not have a purpose?

Supermallet
10-10-04, 10:28 PM
According to dictionary.com, a plot is: "The pattern of events or main story in a narrative or drama." So really, most movies, even ones you would call character studies, have a plot. If you wanted to find a film without a plot, you might be able to point to something like Andy Warhol's Empire, but even then you could argue that the passage of time constitutes a plot.

That being said, there are films that lack direction or coherence. Some do that on purpose, others because the people involved weren't talented or intelligent enough to realize their film was lacking one or both of these things. And sometimes it's because the studio carves it up before release, a la Once Upon A Time In America or Until The End of the World.

Trigger
10-10-04, 10:42 PM
^ indeed.

Brent L
10-10-04, 10:52 PM
I'm actually shocked by most of the responses to this thread. I am of the belief that any film has a plot, no matter how obvious or how small. It can be anything as major as a group of interesting characters on a quest to destroy a ring...or as simple as a young man returning home, coming to some sort of self realization.

There is a huge difference between a film with a lack direction or coherence and a flat out lack of a plot.

Supermallet
10-10-04, 11:38 PM
Originally posted by BrentLumkin
There is a huge difference between a film with a lack direction or coherence and a flat out lack of a plot.

Which is just what I said. ;)

Brent L
10-10-04, 11:45 PM
Originally posted by Suprmallet
Which is just what I said. ;)

Yes, I was simply referencing what you had just said by typing it out in the same words, as I agree with you.

tanman
10-11-04, 12:19 AM
Originally posted by BrentLumkin
I'm actually shocked by most of the responses to this thread. I am of the belief that any film has a plot, no matter how obvious or how small. It can be anything as major as a group of interesting characters on a quest to destroy a ring...or as simple as a young man returning home, coming to some sort of self realization.

There is a huge difference between a film with a lack direction or coherence and a flat out lack of a plot.

I think you just answered your question. You are taking those comments too literally, I think when people say that there wasn't a plot means there really wasn't a focus or a purpose to the movie. I for one enjoy a movie with a good plot whether that is a twisting convoluted epic or a simple story of one characters hurdle it just has to be good.

Purpose is a different story altogether. Did the characters (or the film itself) in the film accomplish something? One of the reasons why I didn't like Counte of Monte Cristo so much was because the whole purpose of the movie, a story of the dangers of revenge, was totally demolished when he was able to take revenge without any consequenses. That and the new york pirate really irked me but that's a different thread altogether.

UAIOE
10-12-04, 01:43 AM
"Alien Ressurection"

A plot...sure

A point........ummm.....

Rivero
10-12-04, 02:04 AM
Originally posted by devilshalo
If one just watched FOTR and not TTT or ROTK, you'd think it was one long chase scene. :p

Well, in a way it still is.

Rivero
10-12-04, 02:07 AM
Originally posted by SeekOnce
I'm guilty of this. I admit it. Said it right after watching Mulholland Dr.

I just don't get it. :hscratch:

The first half of the movie is a dream/fantasy. The second half details the events that lead Betty(Naomi Watts) to kill herself.

Rivero
10-12-04, 02:09 AM
Originally posted by Cornholio
Kids didnt realy have a plot

Jennie searches for the guy she contracted AIDS from.

Rivero
10-12-04, 02:17 AM
Originally posted by Shap
Ghost World. I guess I just didn't "get it."

It's about a contrived plastic world that the increasingly alienated Enid(Thora Birch) withdraws from until by the end she decides to leave town/commit suicide.

Rivero
10-12-04, 02:26 AM
Originally posted by tonytapez
Farenheit 9/11 -wink-

Purpose: to get the redneck monkey out of the White House.

Supermallet
10-12-04, 03:40 AM
Originally posted by Rivero
It's about a contrived plastic world that the increasingly alienated Enid(Thora Birch) withdraws from until by the end she decides to leave town/commit suicide.

Do you think she actually commits suicide? I never got that from the comic, script, or movie. Unless you're saying that leaving the town is a symbol for suicide, but I don't see it that way.

BradJ
10-12-04, 08:36 AM
I would have to agree with Lost in Translation ... no point, no real plot... I could go to the mall, follow someone around with a movie camera and probably get a better story...

Rivero
10-12-04, 11:31 AM
Originally posted by BradJ
I would have to agree with Lost in Translation ... no point, no real plot...

The point was seeing two people connect on a level in four days that many others don't in whole lifetimes. The movie worked beautifully in this regard. The fact that it doesn't have a standard 3-act structure is to the film's benefit in keeping with the authenticity of its characters. Life doesn't always follow a linear progression of events and movie-style epiphanies.

Rivero
10-12-04, 11:38 AM
Originally posted by Suprmallet
Do you think she actually commits suicide? I never got that from the comic, script, or movie. Unless you're saying that leaving the town is a symbol for suicide, but I don't see it that way.

Well it's intentionally left ambiguous and up for interpretation. You could say Enid just left town and started a new life but remember the bus was not real. It did not have a destination display, the line was out-of-service and Enid doesn't pay a cent when she boards it. She also states earlier in the film that she would kill herself were her father to get back together with Maxine(Teri Garr). Near the end they decide to move in together. Again, it's up to the viewer to decide.

darqleo
10-12-04, 11:42 AM
What was the point of FEAR & LOATHING IN LAS VEGAS? I mean it's just 2 people doing drugs and bumping around Las Vegas and getting into crazy encounters. Loved every minute of it. Johnny Depp & Benicio Del Tero are gods. Terry Gilliam's at the top of his game. Great dialogue (due of course to Hunter S. Thompson). Great cameos. Great soundtrack. One of my favorite films of all time.

darqleo
10-12-04, 11:47 AM
Originally posted by devilshalo
If one just watched FOTR and not TTT or ROTK, you'd think it was one long chase scene. :p

http://img-nex.theonering.net/images/scrapbook/2262.jpg

Cygnet74
10-12-04, 12:12 PM
Originally posted by DRG
One movie I recently watched that I think actually deserves this criticism is Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen. I know it's aimed at older kids/early teens, but that doesn't excuse the fact there is no direction to this movie. It just seems like a random serious of events in her life, without any real chracter arc or continuity to the events. The whole time I kept thinking, "What the hell is the point of this?" They could have shuffled most of the scenes around and it would have made just as much sense.
this is what's commonly referred to as, "episodic". wouldn't be surprised if the writer(s) have a television background.

Originally posted by BradJ
I would have to agree with Lost in Translation ... no point, no real plot... I could go to the mall, follow someone around with a movie camera and probably get a better story...
it may not be your cup of tea, but Lost in Translation, a film whose content is expressed in a naturalistic form seen in the works of filmmakers like Wong Kar-wai, Michelangelo Antonioni, The Dardenne Brothers, John Cassavettes, etc, certainly has a "point" or "purpose" in revealing the truth of its characters. moreover, the "plot" of this film is structured on an emotional plane. Two characters are increasingly alienated and lonely, they discover this shared feeling of isolation in each other. their relationship develops as their emotional investment in each other grows while in moral conflict with their emotional responsibility to their wife and boyfriend. when they must inevitably part ways, they finally declare an acknowledgement that the other was able to "see" them in a way that no one else in their lives has done before. some might call that love.

you may have no interest in films that explore emotional terrain in a naturalistic fashion, and it's fine to say you don't like it or that it's not what you personally look for in film, music, or art. but to say that the film has no point or purpose only demonstrates a narrow-minded expectation of what a film is supposed to be, as well as, a degree of intellectual laziness on behalf of the viewer to be mindful of what's being communicated to them.

Sondheim
10-12-04, 11:34 PM
"Baby Geniuses" sort of, kind of had a plot, but the only purpose I could find was to invoke extreme hatred in the viewer (a hatred not even Michael Moore could cause in one of his films.)

Sorry, I really dislike 'that' film.

;)

In my mind, pretty much every film has a plot, even it is paper thin and contrived. Having a plot is as simple as having something happen in the story, with scenes that somehow, no matter how distantly, connect to one another. There are a few documentaries and short films ("Un Chien Andalou") that may be said to have no plot. That's my definition of course, not the official dictionary one which someone already posted.

But a 'point' is what the film is trying to do or the 'message' of the film, or the lesson it's trying to teach us. Some films, such as "Lost in Translation," tell us something about human nature, which, I think, all great films do. Of course I'm not saying I'm so smart that I always recognize some of the points in the more open-ended or ambiguous films (almost any film by Antonioni goes way over my head. I sort of enjoyed "Blow-Up" but I know I missed a lot of what it was trying to say.)

Brent L
10-12-04, 11:37 PM
cygnet74...

Wow.

Supermallet
10-13-04, 12:37 AM
Originally posted by Rivero
Well it's intentionally left ambiguous and up for interpretation. You could say Enid just left town and started a new life but remember the bus was not real. It did not have a destination display, the line was out-of-service and Enid doesn't pay a cent when she boards it. She also states earlier in the film that she would kill herself were her father to get back together with Maxine(Teri Garr). Near the end they decide to move in together. Again, it's up to the viewer to decide.

I feel the symbolism leans more towards Enid retreating from reality versus life itself. All those symbols would still apply if it were her symbolically running from a world that she doesn't belong in but is threatening to engulf her. And yes, she says she'll kill herself, but it seemed more like she was using it as a turn of phrase as opposed to a declaration of a course of action.

ClownFace666
10-13-04, 12:44 AM
A movie cant exist without a plot.

Every movie has one. Yes, even movies like Care Bears and Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.

You just have to use the scale of 1 to 10.

Grimfarrow
10-13-04, 12:54 AM
Originally posted by ClownFace666
A movie cant exist without a plot.

Every movie has one. Yes, even movies like Care Bears and Attack of the Killer Tomatoes.

You just have to use the scale of 1 to 10.

Try watching Abbas Kiarostami's FIVE.

Then try and tell me a movie can't exist without a plot.

ClownFace666
10-13-04, 12:57 AM
Grim,

For case like that we will use the scale of 0.01 to 100.

I would say FIVE ranks at a 0.012 out of 100.

Rivero
10-13-04, 01:21 AM
Originally posted by Grimfarrow
Try watching Abbas Kiarostami's FIVE.

Then try and tell me a movie can't exist without a plot.

Okay. Kiarostami's documentary DID have a plot.

Chill Pill
10-13-04, 01:46 AM
What's worse in when you recommend a movie to someone, they watch it, and then when you ask them if they liked it they say "I dunno, it just... didn't go anywhere".

What the hell does "it didn't go anywhere" mean? Anybody who ever says this loses all credibility as a movie fan, imo.

Anybody else heard this response? Drives me nuts.

scroll2b
10-13-04, 02:15 AM
Originally posted by BrentLumkin
I was talking to some friends, as well as reading different messages on various internet message boards, and I have had many people tell me, and I've read many people post, about films that they hated because they "didn't have a plot or purpose". Now obviously that is such a moronic statement, but I'm sure you all hear that same thing.

A few recent films that I've heard people say this about are Lost in Translation, Napoleon Dynamite, and Garden State. When people say that about such films, how do you guys respond to it...if at all? What other films do you hear people say this same thing about?

I cant think of too many other statements that irk me as much as this one, when talking about film.

I actually have a Top Four list of my favorite romances of the last few years: Eternal Sunshine, Lost in Translation, Garden State, and Buffalo '66.

If you really want to see a useless film with no plot or purpose at all, just watch Ridley Scott's Black Rain with Michael Douglas.

BradJ
10-13-04, 08:57 AM
Originally posted by cygnet74

Two characters are increasingly alienated and lonely, they discover this shared feeling of isolation in each other. their relationship develops as their emotional investment in each other grows ... some might call that love.

... but to say that the film has no point or purpose only demonstrates a narrow-minded expectation of what a film is supposed to be ...

Wouldn't it be as easy to say that defending a plotless, pointless movie only because it's "artsy" is equally narrow-minded? Despite what some people think, if a movie is artsy and not cliche', it doesn't automatically make it a great cinematic experience. Some movies are truly pointless. We can agree to disagree, but I'm neither narrow-minded nor lazy-thinking.

If I want to see two isolated and lonely characters that fall in love with each other despite moral conflict, I don't need a movie, I can just go to work and watch some of the people here. :)

renaldow
10-13-04, 09:15 AM
Originally posted by BrentLumkin

A few recent films that I've heard people say this about are Lost in Translation, Napoleon Dynamite, and Garden State. When people say that about such films, how do you guys respond to it...if at all?


I don't generally respond at all. That statement shows the ignorance of the person saying/posting it and I let it go. If it's something I haven't seen I give the person the benefit of the doubt. If it's something I have seen, then I figure no amount of explaining on my part is going to be satisfactory the person because the missed it the first time around and anything I can say will only make them feel foolish when they realize their error, or defensive.

Have to agree, it is one of the statements that irks me the most. I always assume the same person will tell me Gladiator is the best movie they ever saw, next to The Rock anyways.

renaldow
10-13-04, 09:17 AM
Originally posted by Suprmallet
That being said, there are films that lack direction or coherence. Some do that on purpose, others because the people involved weren't talented or intelligent enough to realize their film was lacking one or both of these things. And sometimes it's because the studio carves it up before release, a la Once Upon A Time In America or Until The End of the World.

You need to see the director's cut of Until The End of the World. It's out in Italy as a trilogy. Buy it today.

Groucho
10-13-04, 09:18 AM
I'm not sure why movies with "no plot" are bad, but movies that rehash the same stupid plots we've all seen a million times are good.

BTW, some great responses in here defending the "no plot" movies.

renaldow
10-13-04, 09:20 AM
Originally posted by Suprmallet
Do you think she actually commits suicide? I never got that from the comic, script, or movie. Unless you're saying that leaving the town is a symbol for suicide, but I don't see it that way.

I don't think she commits suicide either, but I can see how someone who wasn't familiar with the comic could take it that way. I think the bus ride at the end is Enid dropping out of everything. Maybe she leaves town, maybe she goes to the isle of misfit people, but I don't think she commits suicide. Just because the guy waiting for the bus was old, we assume he's waiting to die. Maybe what Enid and the old man both actually share is their inability to find their place in society now. Both are lost and directionless.

iggystar
10-13-04, 10:12 AM
Originally posted by Rivero
The point was seeing two people connect on a level in four days that many others don't in whole lifetimes. The movie worked beautifully in this regard. The fact that it doesn't have a standard 3-act structure is to the film's benefit in keeping with the authenticity of its characters. Life doesn't always follow a linear progression of events and movie-style epiphanies.


I get what you're saying, but, I didn't feel the connection between the characters. The execution left me numb, therefore, the movie became a series of pointless, plotless scenes.

I'm not above movies that require a few more brain cells, movies that are quiet and character driven..this one didn't do it for me.

Dr. DVD
10-13-04, 10:22 AM
Waking Life- that movie is all philosophy

The Big Lebowski

While not yet a movie, Aeon Flux:the series had no plot whatsoever.

Groucho
10-13-04, 10:28 AM
The Big Lebowski actually had a very standard "private eye" plot. It would be very easy to rework the story as a serious 1940's-style noir thriller.

Rivero
10-13-04, 10:40 AM
http://images.amazon.com/images/P/B00002E227.01.LZZZZZZZ.jpg

sundog
10-13-04, 10:44 AM
As much as I'd love to rail against those dismissing a movie because it "didn't go anywhere" I can't (to a point). Generally, movies that don't focus on a narrative progression from point A to point B to point C appeal more to an audience's emotional responses. And as such, these works can be more alienating or more effective. I can't argue against a person's feelings. The most I can do is try and construct what the picture meant to me and how its construction lead me to that feeling.

However, I find a lot of "plotless" pics to be a finer distillation of the essences of cinema. When one gets too wrapped up in plot points and plot holes the criticism is veering more towards the literary realm than cinematic. It's not just a story on that screen. It's a visual medium, it's an aural medium, it's a temporal medium, and it's a fractured medium. The narrative is just one aspect carried over from other art forms (theater, writing).

Let the cinema be the cinema.

Cygnet74
10-13-04, 12:22 PM
Originally posted by BradJ
Wouldn't it be as easy to say that defending a plotless, pointless movie only because it's "artsy" is equally narrow-minded? Despite what some people think, if a movie is artsy and not cliche', it doesn't automatically make it a great cinematic experience. Some movies are truly pointless. We can agree to disagree, but I'm neither narrow-minded nor lazy-thinking.
i'm not defending Lost in Translation. I don't think it was that great of a film. but failing to acknowledge that the filmmaker was communicating a "point" about people feeling incomplete in their lives, or that the plot structure followed emotional developments would be my own fault, not ms. coppola's. now, if i expressed concern that the moral conflict was a bit too superficial and some of the supporting characters were more like caricatures, that would be a criticism that required some thought, instead of an altogether dismissal of the "plot" and "point".
Originally posted by BradJ
If I want to see two isolated and lonely characters that fall in love with each other despite moral conflict, I don't need a movie, I can just go to work and watch some of the people here. :)
well, maybe that's the "point" of lost in translation, as well. the film is about truly "seeing" people. and perhaps it has opened our eyes, as other films have done, to the loneliness in the people around us.

SFranke
10-13-04, 12:43 PM
Originally posted by Rivero
It's about a contrived plastic world that the increasingly alienated Enid(Thora Birch) withdraws from until by the end she decides to leave town/commit suicide.

Please use a spoiler tag next time. I haven't seen this movie yet.

Grimfarrow
10-13-04, 12:57 PM
Originally posted by Rivero
Okay. Kiarostami's documentary DID have a plot.

You mean ABC Africa? Compared to FIVE, its plot is akin to LAwrence of Arabia.

Groucho
10-13-04, 01:00 PM
Originally posted by evitagen
Please use a spoiler tag next time. I haven't seen this movie yet. Believe it or not, that wasn't much of a spoiler.

Grimfarrow
10-13-04, 01:01 PM
Originally posted by ClownFace666
Grim,

For case like that we will use the scale of 0.01 to 100.

I would say FIVE ranks at a 0.012 out of 100.

Kiarostami's FIVE.

Five still seaside shots of 1) a log 2) a pier 3) dogs at sea 4) ducks and 5) rain at night.

It would more likely quality as a 0.0000000000000000000000000000000001 out of 100. In other words, it has no plot.

BTW, it's the best film I've seen all year.

sundog
10-13-04, 01:06 PM
Originally posted by Grimfarrow
Kiarostami's FIVE. . .

BTW, it's the best film I've seen all year.

Damn your eyes!

The Film Center in Chicago couldn't afford it for their Iranian program this month. And it's not playing in the International Film Festival.

SFranke
10-13-04, 01:21 PM
Originally posted by Groucho
Believe it or not, that wasn't much of a spoiler.

Oh. Well, that is comforting.

renaldow
10-13-04, 02:56 PM
Originally posted by evitagen
Please use a spoiler tag next time. I haven't seen this movie yet.

We generally only do spoilers on films that are new, otherwise any discussion of a film would be impossible since everyone would be using spoiler tags.

The movie is 4 years old, you've had time to see it.


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