Underrated and overrated films (and other general filmy chat)


So you’ll be furious at all this faster than light nonsense?


Mine seems to be stuck on +1s/s. It’s gonna take ages to get anywhere.


FTL doesn’t break causality in a narrative any more than the Transporter does. There’s no grandfather murder paradox, and all the desperate handwaving that follows to create boundaries and restrictions on it.


Bad writing is what breaks narrative causality. Time travel is handled ineffectively for the most part, I’ll concede to that, but if you are going to throw one fiction trope under the bus all the rest will end up there alongside it because there is shitty narrative construction and misuse of plot devices everywhere.

(I should mention (because it probably means I’m super biased about it!), I am currently writing a screenplay which involves, whilst not outright timetravel, something approximating it. And I believe we have done a pretty fucking good job of making it a useful device for unfolding the plot and making explicit the underlying emotional core of the script.)




Hey! I, too, have one​ of those going… oh. Hmm.

Yeah. It’s time to get back to work on that, isn’t it?


Well, smart of you for going where the money clearly is, too many creatives never see the writing on the wall and wonder why they’re starving.

Of course bad writing can sure break causality, but time travel is guaranteed to. There’s simply no other plot device where you can undo what has already happened or take action on what is for sure to come. Of coarse you can go all “Bill & Ted” and simply ignore any effects and just have fun, but most stories don’t have that humility.


Cause-and-effect does seem to involve isolating phenomena in some very simplistic ways, so I think it’s not a great loss. Not unlike how a person who has lived in a gravity well their whole life might rail against “up” and “down” lacking universal significance. The extra freedom only ruins things if one is resolutely maladaptive.


OK, I’ve read that like 3 times and am still not sure what you’re saying. “Cause and effect…[are]…not a great loss”. Not in my world, but I’ve certainly met people who don’t understand cause and effect, so maybe you have a constituency for that POV.


Look, apart from my disagreeing with you about the necessity of time-travel tropes breaking narrative causality, the correct application of which I believe is really just a matter of proper planning and cohesive writing, your first reply to me in discussion of the topic is to imply that my creative endeavour is driven by a financial motivation.

It may very well be smart of me, but that’s only because using the trope coherently is so god-damned difficult, not because my greedy fingers only pen ink for filthy lucre.

If you feel motivated to begin a journey through proper application of time-travel tropes, here’s a good place to get started primer:


I did not mean to offend you. I am a creative professional in entertainment also, who has steered his career to follow the money rather than stand as a purist not making a living. Screenwriting is a profession rather than a fine art, and so I assumed you would want what you write produced and get paid. I’m certain that many sophisticated Hollywood writers of the 30’s-60’s would rather not have written Westerns, but that was where the money was. If I were a screenwriter interested in SF I would be writing time travel too, since that’s what gets produced. The NYTimes had an article recently noting 2 more time travel series on top of them many already on the air.

Art in Architecture

It’s a tired zombie trope! It breaks personal autonomy!


Supersonic. The Gallagher brothers do not get more interesting with time. Also, only covers the first two albums, so doesn’t cover their decline at all, and bizarrely, entirely ignores the rivalry with Blur.


Ah, but we’ve strayed into familiar territory. :smile:

I think we can both agree that a tension between creativity and marketability can accompany even the finest artistic endeavours but we’re doing a disservice to a conversation centring on the narrative strength of specific tropes if our inclination is to consider only the marketability of our ideas.


I’m not sure about that. The thread isn’t about tropes per se, but actual produced films. For the “overrated” variety it always leaves one wondering what it was that some people love and others hate, if I were a professional screenwriter that would be top of my list to understand.

Has anyone ever done a metadata study of films with the widest spread between reviewer ratings and viewer ratings on Rotten Tomatoes? Whenever I see that in either direction I am very cautious about the film.


Am I to understand your initial indication that you didn’t enjoy the way time travel tropes broke narrative causality is because of the difficulty in making them profitable?


I think you’ve misread what I’ve said. My dislike of time travel and it’s narrative problems is despite it’s obvious marketability and profitability. No doubt part of that is being cheap to make. A few rental costumes and some cool old or futuristic locations get you there. It’s one of the reason “evil twin” plots (another of my anathema’s) are so popular: they’re cheap, you don’t even have to pay 2 actors! Same with body snatcher plots, the aliens look like humans, no rubber suits to buy!

I recently listened to Marc Maron interview Roger Corman, Corman wasn’t precious about his work at all, it was a business. A successful movie was one that made money, period. And he started as a writer!


So you actually take issue with the cheap and nasty fashion in which those problematic tropes are realised against a dark background of easy funding for what you consider amounts to inartful narrative explorations? I’m just trying to get a handle on what you are driving at.

Like I said, the conversation about what constitutes art, creativity and marketability is an old one. Value can be attributed to the sublime and the shallow. Sometimes the sublime is the shallow.

Sure, one can concentrate on the marketability of one’s ideas over the narrative coherency and end up with a popular, shallow product which infuriates some observers, but it is exactly because of that that I’m stressing the importance of paying attention to the structure and effect of the narrative device (whatever it may be) so as to achieve success in both the artfulness of the production and by measurement of that through achievement in the marketplace, financial success.

That’s not to say financial motivations cannot drive the production of good art, just that to focus solely on that motivation tends to lead to the kinds of problems you seem to have with the trope in the first place.


I’m saying those tropes get produced in part because they’re so cheap. And get written in part because they’re easy to get a hook. I’m sure your script transcends the cliches, but most don’t. Anyone can do a time travel treatment, they virtually write themselves since the conflict is in the medium. Of course a treatment isn’t a script, that’s where the crap settles out. Back to the Future was an asinine idea buoyed by a great script. But most of this stuff is not great writing.

I admire your artistic integrity, but I’m jaded about the industry. A lot of the people making decisions in Hollywood aren’t particularly creative, they’re business people, witness how many of them started as agents. Script are often the last part of a movie deal. The last film I worked on was still being written on the last day of shooting. It was a key expository scene, and made no sense. I said to my crew supervisor “this makes no sense, they’ll have to reshoot it”. They ended up looping it with different dialog!


There’s your problem!

Just cut to this for a minute. See how high the steaks really are?

Have the actors wearing lampshades just before and after this cut in case some viewers react strongly to the steaks.

Maybe cut to one of them with a cube of meat on their nose, and show them taking it off of their nose.

Movies are not literature, they are supposed to be more of a visual medium.