Studying the Big Screen

Silversun Pickups – Rusted Wheel (Listening to all kinds of SP lately)

Personal life has been a little crazy: I’m half a step from quitting my job, cold-turkey, and moving to StL without a backup. I have no money, but I don’t care. I have to get out of here, the Starving Artist in me be damned.

I watched The Avengers over the weekend. Being a huge fan of Joss Whedon, I figured I’d have a heck of a time with the movie. I was right: all the characters were witty, quippy, cool. My favorite character was Hulk. My second favorite was Black Widow. Besides Dark Knight (which I’ve watched in the ballpark of, oh, fifty times), this movie is the best I’ve seen in a long time.

My fiancee, on the other hand, saw this movie as just another super hero movie. Since I have a healthy relationship with her, I figured it’d be in my best interest to figure out why. She said there was nothing for her. I’m sure a lot of females would agree: a superhero movie is for the guys. Tight clothes on all the women, all the guys saving all sorts of everyone, doing the action thing, fighting.

My fiancee doesn’t like gratuitous superhero fighting. She could watch chinese martial arts for days on end (given her heavy background in dance and ballet, which she says are two very different things), yet watching people zip around in the air and shoot lasers is boring. It’s understandable.

She watches movies for the relationships (I know this should be a big Duh, but it’s not always obvious). First and foremost. I watch movies for the personalities. How do they work? Are they developed? Are they dynamic? Do they explode against others?

Whedon knows the importance of well-developed personalities. He also understands the dynamic need for personalities to form relationships, whether they’re flawed or abusive or sterile or stellar. My fiancee loves some of the work he’s done, Firefly and Dollhouse being two of them. I think he’s a brilliant writer/director, personally, but that’s beside the point.

I study people. My fiancee studies people. Wholly different reasons. What do YOU look for when you watch a movie or read a book? Personalities? Setting? Dynamic plot? What’s your insertion point?

When I read a book the breaker will always be character description. If the character is weakly portrayed, or is underwhelming, I write the book off as a failure. It’s the first thing I did when reading Harry Potter: MC is an abused child who fumbles through everything? Not interesting. I don’t care if his wand is made of troll-nose hair and fitted in a banyon branch. (No offense to HP fans. The books have their pros. I’m only stating my opinion)

It’s why my favorite SCIFI book is Ender’s Game. It’s why my favorite fantasy is Drood. It’s why my favorite novel ever made is Count of Monte Cristo. It’s why I have Starfish in my top ten.

What do you REQUIRE when you read a novel? Good plot? Believable setting, story? Flawed, realistic characters? Lots and lots of complicated interactions between characters (a la Game of Thrones)? An Epic Quest (a la LotR; a la Wheel of Time)?

I’d love to know.

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