It’s TRUE OR FALSE – a feature that allows Warped Footage to contemplate the biggest issues in film.
Answering this week’s big questions are Graeme McKay, Ciaran Lawless and Chris Gallagher.
1. It is better to read a book before seeing the film adaptation.
Graeme: FALSE – I think it is better just to treat the two as completely separate takes on the one seed of creativity. If you spend your time worrying about how the film differs from the book, then there is a chance that you will miss out on a lot of things on offer in the adaptation. No one, for example, would think to disregard Apocalypse Now just because it wasn’t set in Africa. Some adaptations are done a lot better than others, of course, and some are just frame by frame replications, but this best ones, for me, take an aspect of the original and either do something interesting with it or expand on it in an interesting way.
Ciaran: FALSE – This is to say, that it shouldn’t necessarily be better; not if it is understood what a good adaptation truly is. A good ninety percent of the time, adaptations fall short of whatever you are able to conjure in your own imagination through reading. But one must look at the notable exceptions to this rule (or at least, examples that come close): The Lord of the Rings, Fight Club, American Psycho, Silence of the Lambs, and Jaws to name a few. The reason these films are so successful is because they understand the true meaning of that word: ‘adaptation’. These films carved out an identity of their own, understanding that the original text can only act as inspiration and that a page by page transcript cannot translate to the screen; so why even try?
Chris: FALSE – This is a very personal choice. I believe that film and literature should be separately judged but essentially there haven’t been too many film adaptations that have surpassed the book. The book always stands alone in terms of quality in my experience. I think from an enjoyment level it would be better to watch the film before the book. That way a lot of visual references are already formed.
2. Steve McQueen is one of the most exciting directors working today.
Graeme: UNSURE – I really enjoyed both Hunger and Shame, but 12 Years A Slave didn’t interest me too much and some of it seemed a bit misguided (especially the Jesus Christ-esque Brad Pitt cameo). I have heard some good things about Widows and that the trailer (thankfully) misrepresents the film quite a bit, but as things stand, for me McQueen is a director that has not hit the mark in 7 years.
Ciaran: TRUE – There are true artists working in film today that seem to have a fundamental grasp on the subtleties of visual-poetry, the type of storytelling that plays on your emotions like an orchestra. Lynne Ramsay is one of these people. Steve McQueen is another. Hunger, Shame and 12 Years a Slave are visual symphonies that do not put a note wrong. The man’s command over his medium and his craft is astounding.
Chris: TRUE – McQueen has shown that he is not only a technical proficient film maker but that he’s creating important films with a social conscience. He creates genuinely defined characters and understands the importance of see don’t tell. I for one would like to see what a Steve McQueen could do in the Star Wars universe 🤔
3. ‘Kids’ films do not deserve the same critical respect afforded to more adult features.
Graeme: TRUE – I have gone ‘true’ here, because I didn’t want to say ‘unsure’ again. I have barely any interest in ‘kids’ films. I watch them with my girlfriend as she is a big Disney and Pixar fan, but they are never anything i would chose to watch on my own. As Bret Easton Ellis always talks about on his podcast: a lot of films nowadays are ideology over aesthetic and that is, of course, tenfold when it comes to ‘kids’ film as having a ‘message’ is a requirement. I don’t really care for watching a film that’s going to spend most of the time hammering me over the head with a message. I prefer watching films that deal with adult topics and are more focused on the art of film. Wow, that sounds pretentious. There is a quote by Woody Allen that I can somewhat remember. It’s something along the lines of: Steven Spielberg makes the films he wanted to see as a kid, I make the films i want to see as an adult. Pretty much sums it up for me.
Ciaran: FALSE – It’s very easy nowadays to hold up Inside Out as the epitome of what a ‘kid’s film’ should be. So that’s what I’ve just done. To capture some sort of universal truth and then present it to children in an engaging manner takes a great mind and a sensitive heart. Many films that do achieve this with flying colours slip under the radar because they find themselves in this undesirable bracket of ‘kids film’. But we cannot put a price on the many masterpieces that relate not only to our own memories of childhood but teach us vital lessons on how we may guide generations to come through this world. The Swiss/French My Life as a Courgette is perhaps one of the more unknown examples of this.
Chris: FALSE– If film is a film and as such should be help to the industry standard. There’s a myth that children will watch anything but the great thing about kids is they tend to have no filter or affiliation and therefore will be more honest and open about what they believer to be well made. I have seen some children films that have gripped me more and made me emotional in a way that “adult films” haven’t. The new Jumanji was class btw.
4. Trailers should be banned.
Graeme: FALSE – They are advertising tools for products. Why would anyone ban them? Some people love to watch them and pick them apart frame by frame. They are there for people that enjoy them and can be ignored by everyone else. I tend to watch almost everything that comes out, so I don’t search out trailers, but watch them when i am at the cinema. Plot doesn’t interest me so much, so there is not really anything in a trailer that would dissuade me from watching the film. Plus, they are kind of an art form in themselves.
Ciaran: FALSE – It is undeniably true that badly made, over-revealing trailers are something of a poison in cinema today. However, if one understands the art of trailers, a trailer’s ability to merely give a hint or a taste of what is in store, to be strategically selective with the information it grants, it can be as powerful as any other viewing experience. To anyone who hasn’t seen the original one-minute teaser trailer for The Dark Knight, I suggest you do so now.
Chris: FALSE – I do enjoy a good trailer but I also get frustrated at how they are presented nowadays. It’s a nice hype tool that gives you a glance into a films world but with “world premiere” of trailers and the like, I agree that it’s a little out of hand. Use them for what they were made for – an enticing market tool to pull you into the cinema. IT’S NOT its own form of entertainment.
5. It doesn’t matter whether Die Hard is a Christmas film – it’s rubbish.
Graeme: TRUE– Well… I don’t know. Die Hard is a film I haven’t seen for years. I kinda think of it as a kids film as it is the type of movie I watched as a kid. Plus I think I only watched it once so I don’t really have the nostalgia that I have for something like Robocop or Lethal Weapon. Was never a Bruce Willis fan. Didn’t like his face. I think most people regard Christmas films to not only be set at Christmas, but to have some kind of qualities, perhaps redemptive stories or stories of forgiveness and giving. The Die Hard debate seems to come from the type of person you would want to avoid at a party: the kind that start sentences with ‘well actually’ and don’t enjoy other people having differing opinions. That said, Santa Claus: The Movie is definitely a Christmas movie and I will fight anyone that says otherwise.
Ciaran: FALSE – It is a Christmas film? Is it though? I consider myself a traditionalist so when it comes to beloved films of the festive season, I’ve always leaned towards It’s a Wonderful Life, The Muppet Christmas Carol and In Bruges myself. However, in keeping with the spirit of the holidays, I would never chastise anyone for enjoying some harmless 80s cheese. Just know that The Raid did it better.
Chris: FALSE – Die Hard IS a Christmas film. It’s also brilliant… so shut your face.