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Litmus Test Films

Old 10-27-03, 12:21 PM
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Litmus Test Films

I'm going to start this thread on the hope that we can be mature about it and not attack one another with our posts. The intent isn't to say people who like/dislike these films are stupid, but that there is a fundamental difference associated with them.

What are some films that you consider to be litmus tests, i.e. if your opinion of the film greatly differs from someone else's, it speaks to more than just that film, but to an entire philosophy or approach to watching numerous films?

For example, if you liked Star Trek Nemesis, you have a completely different foundation in the Trek franchise than I do. In my mind, no self-respecting Trek fan would like this film, so someone who does like it is on another wavelength entirely when it comes to the franchise.

2001: a space odyssey - if you find it boring, any agreement we may have on science fiction films is likely pure coincidence.

Other science fiction litmus tests for me, although not as strong, are A.I. and Minority Report. If you thought these were great films (top 5 for the year), we're coming from a different place for the whole genre.

Some others:
Moulin Rouge
Jackie Brown
Magnolia

If we disagree on these films, we're likely going to disagree on countless films. I'm not going to hold you in contempt or anything for not agreeing with me; I just recognize a fundamental difference with these films much more than others. For me, it's useful when reading reviews for guidance on a film I've never seen. If a reviewer doesn't agree with me on these films, then we're coming from a different place, and I need to find a reviewer who sees things more as I see them. A good example of this for me is Roger Ebert. While I don't agree with all of his reviews, I take them seriously. However, when he reviews science fiction, I just ignore it, because I know (in part because of these litmus tests) that he and I are coming from different places, and the review won't be of use to me.

Am I alone in thinking this way, or do others have a mental litmus test of sorts as well?

das
Old 10-27-03, 12:46 PM
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I also have a few... and thus far, they are perfect for determining where the persion I'm having a discussion with is coming from:

Magnolia
Saving Private Ryan vs. The Thin Red Line
Being John Malkovich
The Stuntman (this is for when all else matches, and just having seen it, and not confusing it with "Hooper" equals bonus points)
Old 10-27-03, 12:51 PM
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Quoth Luka <HR SIZE=1>Saving Private Ryan vs. The Thin Red Line<HR SIZE=1>

I almost mentioned this, but since the opening scenes in Saving Private Ryan kick ass, and The Thin Red Line could some editing, I left it out. Still, I know where you're coming from on this.

das
Old 10-27-03, 12:54 PM
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Starship Troopers: most people think it's just reaaally stupid, I think it's the best parody I've seen in a theater.
Lost in Translation: apparently, outside of this forum and most critics, I was the only one enthralled by this one.
Big Lebowski: if you don't think it's funny, my sense of humor has nothing in common with yours.
Rushmore: this is one film I love but I can see how some people could hate it. There's no middle ground, though.
Old 10-27-03, 12:56 PM
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If you like Matrix Reloaded I won't let that count against you, however if you think it's philosophical or intellgent, than I'm pretty sure we'll have some wildly different opinions on film.
Old 10-27-03, 01:26 PM
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Pretty much any "blockbuster" movie. Anyone that writes off most of them isn't going to have the same tastes as me as they're probably the "elitist" type and are only in to foreign and indy films which aren't my cup of tea.
Old 10-27-03, 02:23 PM
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I definitely have some.

Anyone who says Forrest Gump is their favorite movie, I cannot even talk about anything movie related w/ that person. I may not even want to know that person. - If you fail this, we can't talk movies.

I find that if someone finds the Scary Movie franshise funny, it says volumes about their taste (or lack their of) in humor. I don't hold it against the person, but I cannot even attempt to talk comedies with them. - If you fail this, we can't talk comedies.

If someone, somehow enjoyed 2 Fast 2 Furious or it's sequel, our movie conversation stops right there. I just can't relate to a person like that. - If you fail this, we can't talk movies.

If someone hasn't seen Caddyshack I cannot talk movies or anything movie related with them. If someone has seen, & doesn't like Big Trouble in Little China I cannot talk movies with them, in fact I may look at them with a deep dark hatred from now on - If you fail these, we can't talk movies, or even make eye contact.

As a horror fanatic, if someone says they like the american slasher type of horror (Nightmare, Friday/13th, new TCM, Scream etc etc, ) I cannot talk horror w/ that person. - If you fail this, we can't talk horror.

And, I love the movie. But there is something about people that say Scarface is their favorite movie that just annoys me. I cannot explain why. - This is just my annnoying movie quirk.

And I strongly agree w/ you Das, about Minority Report & & A.I. & have heard that by people often.

It may seem like I have a lot of these movie quirks. But I run a comic book store & I also manage a trendy store in the mall, so I get 2 very extreme movie views all the time. And these same "tests" I listed come up constantly with people.

Last edited by Sessa17; 10-27-03 at 03:09 PM.
Old 10-27-03, 02:37 PM
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I think the best litmus test film has to be The Princess Bride.

If you don't like that film, if you can't see the sheer genius and hillarity of it, then not only will we disagree on films, but it's pretty much guaranteed that our senses of humour are way too different for us to get along :-)
Old 10-27-03, 02:49 PM
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I fail. I liked the original Nightmare and thought the first Scary Movie was surprisingly funny (and I generally hate both the tired Airplane! ripoff genre and the gross-out teen comedy genre). But then, I like Shawn and Marlon's humor; I think I wet myself the first time I saw Don't Be A Menace.

As for Big Trouble in Little China, it's not a film litmus test; it's a human litmus test. If you don't like this movie, you are likely an invader from another planet or a robot using senior citizens' prescription medicine for fuel. Either way, you must be terminated or detained in a lab for "observation."

das

Last edited by das Monkey; 10-27-03 at 02:58 PM.
Old 10-27-03, 02:53 PM
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I've never seen Big Trouble in Little China.

But I think my roommate has the DVD.
Old 10-27-03, 02:59 PM
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Originally posted by PixyJunket
I've never seen Big Trouble in Little China.

But I think my roommate has the DVD.

Don't worry I can accept that, there have been some MAJOR movies that I haven't seen. What I wrote in my post was people that "have" seen it, but don't like it. Those people fail my litmus test, aswell as personally offend me.

Do yourself a favor & borrow your friends DVD.
Old 10-27-03, 03:07 PM
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Originally posted by das Monkey
I fail. I liked the original Nightmare and thought the first Scary Movie was surprisingly funny (and I generally hate both the tired Airplane! ripoff genre and the gross-out teen comedy genre). But then, I like Shawn and Marlon's humor; I think I wet myself the first time I saw Don't Be A Menace.

As for Big Trouble in Little China, it's not a film litmus test; it's a human litmus test. If you don't like this movie, you are likely an invader from another planet or a robot using senior citizens' prescription medicine for fuel. Either way, you must be terminated or detained in a lab for "observation."

das
\

It's cool, your BTILC comment redeemed yourself. We may not be able to discuss comedy together ever though

I'm going to edit out my horror movie comment. I actually really dig the first Nightmare movie & the 3rd. What I was trying to get at is, if someone says they are a horror fan, & then all they can talk about or like is those types of movies, that just fails my horror litmus test as I think modern American horror movies are the worste examples of what the genre has to offer.
Old 10-27-03, 04:54 PM
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Pulp Fiction is the big one with me. If you love it and think it is the best QT film, you are obviously a fad boy. If you thought it was horrible because you do not see what is in the briefcase, you need to stick to 2F2F, and Patrick Swayze films.
Old 10-27-03, 05:55 PM
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Originally posted by das Monkey

...
As for Big Trouble in Little China, it's not a film litmus test; it's a human litmus test. If you don't like this movie, you are likely an invader from another planet or a robot using senior citizens' prescription medicine for fuel. Either way, you must be terminated or detained in a lab for "observation."

das
< me
Old 10-27-03, 06:57 PM
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if the 'burbs is your favorite tom hanks movie of all time, we probably have a lot in common
Old 10-27-03, 08:35 PM
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Anyone who fails to recognize the genius that is Con Air needs to take a step back and keep quiet.
Old 10-27-03, 08:52 PM
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Originally posted by The Zizz
Anyone who fails to recognize the genius that is Con Air needs to take a step back and keep quiet.
Taking two huge steps back & typing quitely. I failed this one
Old 10-27-03, 09:00 PM
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For me, I don't have a problem with people liking movies I thought were awful... heck I love some 'bad' movies... The Hot Chick, Sorority Boys, Jeepers Creepers, etc., but I recognize that these aren't classics... just stupid fun. But when someone tries to convince me something awful is a 'great' movie.. not an enjoyable or fun movie, but a honest to God great piece of filmmaking (Patch Adams and John Q are two of the worst offenders) then I seriously question their taste (and sanity). I've seriously talked to people who go on and on about John Q like it's an award-worthy piece of incredible cinema on par with Casablanca... same with My Big Fat Greek Wedding... with not one ounce of irony. "It's such a GOOOOOD movie, isn't it?" "Wow, didn't it win a bunch of awards?" Umm, no.
Old 10-28-03, 01:08 AM
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To answer the topical question, I'd have to agree with Josh Hinkle who said: "Pretty much any "blockbuster" movie. Anyone that writes off most of them isn't going to have the same tastes as me as they're probably the "elitist" type and are only in to foreign and indy films which aren't my cup of tea." However, unlike Josh, I also enjoy both foreign and indy films as well. I'm so glad I've recently found a local theater chain here that makes it a habit of showing the less recognized films.

As I began to read Josh's statement, I thought he was going to take the view that he was actually against, I was ready to slap him for his arrogant "all blockbuster films suck" attitude. I guess it is also my view that I just can't talk film with those who refuse to watch something before giving an opinion on it, simply because it's a "blockbuster."

It's funny...I suppose I would fail and pass everyone's tests in someway, but I feel that I'd still be able to talk film with you fine folks. Examples:

das: I enjoyed Nemesis. Was it great? Nope. Was it horrible? Nope. I've watched plenty of the original series, prefer Next Generation as a tv show, but prefer the Original series cast in movies. 2001: I marveled at it and enjoyed, both sober and and totally wrecked in the brain. AI and Minority Report...I enjoyed them both...top 5 for the year? I dunno...Minority might have made top 10 perhaps....Magnolia , Jackie Brown , Moulin Rouge...struck me as a film I wouldn't like, saw first 15 minutes, enjoyed it, need to see the rest.

Luka: I'd take SPR over Thin Red Line...I somewhat enjoyed TRL (egads...that poor film has the initials of a GOD AWFUL TV SHOW), but felt extremely dazed and confused by it...perhaps that was part of the point? Perhaps I need to view it again. Being John Malkovich

Hiro: Lost in Translation although at times it dragged just a tiny amount. Couldn't say "trim it here" to say where it dragged...once again, this was probably part of the "you are there" feeling of the film, like the fact that none of the Japanese being spoken was subtitled, so that you too felt as lost as the two main characters. Starship Troopers damn good fun. Big Lebowski Rushmore....ehhh...Bill Murray still rules.

Sessa: I very much enjoyed Forrest Gump. Greatest movie ever? Hardly. Scary Movie: I dig dumb and gross out humor as much as intelligent humor as well, so I've enjoyed the franchise. Caddyshack: brilliant. Bill Murray continues to rule. Big Trouble In Little China When it comes to horror, I enjoy a few of the early slasher flicks Nightmare 1 etc. but as of late I really find myself drawn to Asian horror films. They're just flat out creepy, which American horror recently has failed to do for me.

I guess I'm just one of the odd ones. It's incredibly rare that I'll view a film and just hate it through and through. I usually find something about it that I enjoy and focus on that. I guess the last flick that I saw that made me think I wasted my time was an independent flick at last years Ft. Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF!) was a flick called Blind Spot. Zzzzz....

Speaking of zzz...I've surely put everyone to sleep with this shamefully long post, and so I shall put it all to an end......now.
Old 10-28-03, 02:58 AM
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Great thread!

My litmus films:

Monster's Ball... my mature friends truly understand the relationship between Halle and Billy in the movie and they get why they needed each other and why Halle didn't leave him at the end. They also undertand why the graphic sex scene was more than just sex for sex sake. I have other friends who couldn't get past the sex scene and totally blew the film off

Lost in Translation...Another film where the mature person totally gets why we DON'T need to know what he said to her at the end. People who get it don't want to know IMHO. I feel like they had such an intimate relationship they deserved to have that moment and the viewer had no right to invade this.



edited to add...I change my mind. This thread is snobby and full of shit. Friends shouldn't be looked down on because they don't like your idea of some stupid movie.

Last edited by Giantrobo; 10-29-03 at 12:24 AM.
Old 10-28-03, 08:11 AM
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I find this thread to be a "litmus test" of the search function:

http://www.dvdtalk.com/forum/showthr...hreadid=307701
Old 10-28-03, 08:23 AM
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Quoth Groucho <HR SIZE=1>I find this thread to be a "litmus test" of the search function:

http://www.dvdtalk.com/forum/showthr...hreadid=307701
<HR SIZE=1>

I find this post to be a "litmus test" for missing the point.

Very different thread. This thread isn't about judging people, or disrepecting them because they don't like your favorite film, but identifying people who approach certain types of films (or genres) the same way you do. "If we agree on [insert film], we're probably going to agree on most films of [insert style]."

das
Old 10-28-03, 08:35 AM
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If you prefer The Mummy (1999) over Raiders of the Lost Ark, then our ties end instantly.
Old 10-28-03, 08:40 AM
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You're mean.

Seriously, though, if there's one thing I've found in my many years of film watching it's that people can be unpredictable.

To use some examples in this thread, I didn't like Magnolia. According to most in this forum, that makes me a "Joe Six-Pack" who didn't understand the film and prefers Hollywood fluff. Which couldn't be farther from the truth at all.

I prefered Saving Private Ryan over The Thin Red Line. Again, in the eyes of most around here that makes me a brainless action junkie. But I found The Thin Red Line to be pretensious and overwrought, whereas I thought the themes explored by Saving Private Ryan (influenced by Ambrose's "Citizen Solider") where more interesting. But both films are severely flawed.

The bottom line is that people are deeper thinkers than we give them credit for, and everybody's tastes are different and varied that you can't just take a handful of opinions and say "A ha! I've got you pegged!"
Old 10-28-03, 08:52 AM
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I agree, but within certain groups of films, one or two can tell the entire story. I think you're approaching the question the wrong way. While some may think this, prefering Saving Private Ryan to The Thin Red Line doesn't make you a brainless action junkie, but it does mean you're looking for something different in these films than the guy who feels the reverse. That difference in approach possibly speaks to how the two of you will approach numerous films.

Not every film can be a litmus test. I chose Nemesis as an example, because I think it illustrates what I'm talking about the best. It's not a bad movie. Some people will like it; some won't. However, if you do like it, you don't feel the same way as I do about the Trek franchise at a fundamental level. Same with a film like A.I.. It has a lot of great qualities, but if you love it, then we don't feel the same way about the role of a science fiction film. There's nothing wrong with either opinion, but there are fundamental differences.

I certainly agree that you can't label a person based on a couple of films, and worse, disrespecting someone because he didn't like your favorite movie is crazy. But I do think there are some films that represent a certain filmgoing approach and opinions on that film speak to larger opinions that reach numerous films.

das

Last edited by das Monkey; 10-28-03 at 08:55 AM.

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