Q: Movies That Are Too Good for Words or Defy Analysis?

Recently, I have been thinking about the task of writing reviews in general. Most film critics will say that they are objective in their film analysis, but that also made me think about those films which a reviewer may find difficult to review objectively. The reasons may be some emotional attachment to a movie (which may stem from childhood), the fact that a reviewer has seen a particular film too many times (developing a biased liking towards it), or maybe one thinks that a particular film is somehow too brilliant for words and any extra words to describe or analyse it will be futile. For example, one may just want to write one word: “brilliant” or “masterpiece” and then put a full stop. It will be interesting to hear or discuss some examples.   

there will be blood posterPersonally, I would never be able to write any coherent review of “The English Patient” (1996) directed by Anthony Minghella. I find it full of emotional undercurrents and inner beauty, and how can I possibly put that in an understandable format in my review?Another film which I will find hard to review is Paul Thomas Anderson’s “There Will Be Blood” (2007). That film is perfect. What is more to say about it? The same goes for “Gone With the Wind (1939) being the most perfect book-to-film adaptation ever, and any criticisms to its length and implied racism are simply beside the point given the time it was made. Lastly, I will find almost nothing to say about Quentin Tarantino’s “Pulp Fiction” (1994). Pulp Fiction Poster It just needs to be seen to be appreciated. The dialogue and the scenes composition are second to none there. Apart from commenting on Tarantino’s “revolutionary” moves there and his trivialisation of violence, the film feels as thought it goes beyond any analysis, and, perhaps, maybe for that very reason, it does remain one of the most analysed modern films. 

What about you? Do you maybe have a couple of films in mind which you feel you will not be able to review objectively? Maybe you have seen a particular movie hundreds of times and developed a bias towards it? Or maybe you think it is so good that you will struggle to find words to describe its impact on you? 

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47 Responses to Q: Movies That Are Too Good for Words or Defy Analysis?

  1. I feel like there is no way to objectively review a film, or any work of art, because that’s the point of the thing: to become a subject of an inherently subjective experience. One can //try// to be objective, certainly. What is a perfect work of art to you might be a load of tripe to me. Who’s to say who’s right when art itself welcomes interpretation? To me, movies is meant to be subjective. Not like mathematics.

  2. Paul S says:

    I do find it very hard to articulate the things I love about Two-Lane Blacktop, they’d seem banal if I described them, but for me they thrum on the screen.

    • dbmoviesblog says:

      That’s a curious example, thanks. Regarding road movies, I probably will be stuck on “Thelma & Louise” too. It is such a good movie but there are so many things that make it good and there is an overall effect too, such as the music used which fits every scene like a glove. This music does not sound that good when you listen to it on its own.

    • Lloyd Marken says:

      Have not had the pleasure Paul but I wonder if its similar to Vanishing Point. Its hard to describe why that film is so good but there’s something there.

  3. I don’t approach a movie analysis from an objective point of view. Perhaps I would if I was a formally educated film historian or reviewer. I’m just a hobbyist. Consequently I usualy take the easy way out and write about films that I have a strong affinity for.
    With that in mind, it would be hard for me to write about Nights of Cabiria or M. I don’t think I’m a good enough writer to do them justice.

    • dbmoviesblog says:

      Classics are always hard to review, that’s for sure. I also cannot really imagine myself doing justice to some films. There films are also very influential like A Space Odyssey or Metropolis. The things that come to mind now when writing about them are also tons of films that lifted some things from them.

  4. I love your choices of perfect films. I think it’s great to talk about them, what one loves, etc. rather than focusing on how to define it because our hobbyist interpretation doesn’t do it justice.

    • dbmoviesblog says:

      I agree, of course, but sometimes one’s subjectivity goes way beyond certain parameters. For example, if you tell to write a review of Hook (1991), I am sure that at least 2000 words of my review will be all about my amazing childhood impressions and personal attachments to the original book, etc. lol

      • Yes, it’s how I feel about the fourth Star Wars. I saw it 14 times over my Freshman summer. My emotions for it are greater than my objectivity of it. Now, older, when I watch it, I see what a simple plot and silly characters it had. Had it not the exceptional score, it would have been quite unremarkable.

  5. I think you pose an interesting question. It’s hard to review anything objectively, really. Movies just plain appeal to our emotions. I think even the most ‘perfect’ of movies deserve maybe not a standard review, but rather an analysis of WHY we think these films are so ‘perfect’ in our minds. It challenges the watcher to go a little bit deeper and makes the viewer appreciate the product just a little bit more.

    • dbmoviesblog says:

      Sure, but I also do not think that anyone sits and thinks about writing a review and then writes solely about how a particular scene in a film reminds him of that or this in his life, and, thus, it is a good film. There is lots of objectivity-striving involved too.
      My point was also a situation when someone has watched too many times one particular film. I am positive he/she will not be able to regard that film as another person views it who has only just watched it.

      • Yes, I think the premise of your question is interesting and achievable, though I’m not the one to do it in my posts. I do understand what you are referring to, especially with the over watched movie syndrome. For me, that movie is Dirty Harry. Great movie. I love it, but it’s over saturation has jaded my judgement and I couldn’t/wouldn’t write about it and that’s a shame. It’s success has exacted a heavy price. I think a lot of people think the same about Don Siegel’s classic.

        • dbmoviesblog says:

          That’s an interesting example, and it actually also makes me think about so-called “cult films”. For example, I do not think people who are fanatical about “Fight Club” see this film for what it really is. It is a very entertaining and clever film, no doubt, but some people are also obsessed with the philosophy of “liberation” there, and do not see the wood for the trees.

      • Absolutely. I agree with you there.

  6. joliesattic says:

    I agree. We are also drawn to those films that fill a need sometimes. My favorite film of all time is To Kill A Mockingbird and yet so many other wonderful films have come since. But, as a child, I knew I was from Alabama but had never got to live there, so when Daddy likened it to his childhood, I transplanted myself there, so I could experience what it might have been like. Daddy was abusive, so Atticus was the father I always wanted. Her brothers protective loyalty was one I never had but also hoped for. I stay away from films that are too similar to what my home life was really like even if I’ve heard they are well done.

    • dbmoviesblog says:

      I understand completely, and To Kill A Mockingbird is a good choice in its own right. Some films just pull heartstrings so much, while others also do so, but the result is not altogether welcoming. That is also I guess the power of movies. They can transport you to delicious places, but also open wounds because the experience can be so relatable.

  7. Jay says:

    You know me, I can always nitpick! 😉

  8. Steve says:

    Interesting idea for a blog post. And very successful. It certainly does make one think afresh about film in general and certain films specifically. Thanks for waking up a few dormant brain cells!

  9. The task of writing reviews is a very interesting topic. From what I understand from social psychologists, much of our decision making is based on emotions, it’s afterwards that we try to rationalize it. Writing a review is a great way to try to figure out what one thinks about something. And sometimes the hardest reviews to write are movies that I don’t have a strong or passionate opinion on.

    • dbmoviesblog says:

      Agreed. There are some movies that you can just write tons of things about, while there are also those you cannot attune to. Emotions are definitely a driving force, and sometimes very subconscious.

  10. My blog is named after a line from The Princess Bride but it’s one of the few of the films I really love that I’ve not been able to review. My comment generally just extends to ‘you simply have to see it for yourself’. I’ve reviewed Star Wars and Back to the Future, I’ve written about Harvey, Kind Hearts & Coronets, When Harry Met Sally and Ghostbusters but I don’t know where to start with The Princess Bride.

    • dbmoviesblog says:

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts. That left-handed episode from the Princess Bride is something else, isn’t it? I imagine Back to the Future and Ghostbusters were hard to write about too. I cannot imagine doing so. These two and sure Star Wars also are all about this entertainment thrill – no way to put it all coherently in writing – just many elements adding up and providing this first class entertainment, I guess.

  11. Lloyd Marken says:

    Those four films DB are pretty bloody good.

    • dbmoviesblog says:

      They are, and that’s why I think it is hard to put pen to paper and start reviewing them. Much emotion and subjectivity could be spilled. I guess it is like some work of art, you may not know why this or that picture at a gallery appeals to you, but it triggers something and if something leaves you speechless, that could be a sign of some masterpiece or something 🙂

  12. Chris says:

    Great question! I recently watched the cult movie Night of The Comet (1984) which is a unusual take on the end-of-the-world scenario, with an indefinable quality that makes the mood special and entertaining. What makes it work defies analysis, the film really shouldn’t be a good as it is. Sometimes words/reviews can’t do films justice!

  13. This is a fantastic question. Being objective about a film is hard, and I admire those who can do it.

    One film I’d be unable write about is “Lost in Translation”. I love the film, the acting & script, but I could not do it justice. To me, it’s a film that just *is*, and needs no explanation…if that makes sense?

    • dbmoviesblog says:

      It totally does make sense. I am probably feeling similar about Sofia Coppola’s other film “The Virgin Suicides”, a perfect rendition of the novel.

  14. Jordan Dodd says:

    Objectivity is what is wrong with so many types of writing- journalism, any sort of review. There needs to be an opinion, or there is no point. As Hunter S Thompson said, its this attitude of having to be objective that got Nixon into the White House, as all the stories about the shit he got up to weren’t harsh enough to have any effect until it all finally caught up with him.

    Having said that, it is important to not be too biased. I’ve been guilty of that a few times. But I intentionally try to avoid objectivity, it is the bane of film reviews as far as I am concerned. The bias just has to be slight, one can’t just gush about a film for an entire review. But there needs to be an opinion, otherwise it can be very bland.

    Great question and one I have pondered many times, and as you can see I have decided what I think about the subject. With the way I write, there is little chance I could be objective even if I tried.

    • dbmoviesblog says:

      Thanks for your answer. I guess some balance between subjectivity and objectivity has to be struck with probably a lot more weight given to one’s personal opinions and beliefs since it is a “seventh form of art”, and no a precise engineering or a mathematical equation. I agree with what you say here, and I also believe such things as the amount of time one watched a film and maybe even particular circumstances and one’s own experiences can also change substantially one’s point of view on a movie.

      • Jordan Dodd says:

        totally agree, everyone is different and certainly movies will hit harder. Infinitely Polar Bear was about bipolar disorder and I was so biased haha, I loved it. It wasn’t perfect but really accurate, I had a lot of deja vu moments

  15. bardandthebottle says:

    For me that will be Eternal Sunshine of Spotless Mind. And Godfather.

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