Ask The LAMB #1

by Jason Soto · July 6, 2012 · Ask The LAMB · 3 Comments

Are you ready for the first ever edition of Ask The LAMB? I hope so! In this edition, only two LAMB members sent in questions, so I took to the land of stupid questions, Yahoo! answers, and pulled some entertaining questions.

Today’s guest contributor is Steve Honeywell from 1001plus!

Question #1 by Pat from 100 Years of Movies:

My question is about older films. Why do you think there is a bias against older movies? For those that don’t watch them, is there anything lovers of classic films (like myself) could do to convince you to give a try to that end of the cinematic spectrum?

Simon at Screen Insight:
It really depends what you take from watching a movie. My Dad has always argued with me about how cinema is entertainment – sometimes it is supposed to be just fun. Depth, subtext and social relevance is not what he watches films for – he watches them to be entertained. Hitchcock entertained. John Ford entertained. George Lucas entertained.

Personally, I want more from cinema. I believe cinema is an art form and, as an art form, the question  ‘where does an idea for a film come from?’ is just as important as the experience itself. In a world whereby filmmakers like Scorsese, Tarantino and Almodovar exist, the idea of ‘where a film comes from’ is even more appropriate. Can you truly grasp the filmmaking methods of Scorsese without knowing a little bit about the editing of the French New Wave? The techniques employed in Inglourious Basterds are also within Once Upon a Time in the West – if you want to know your Tarantino, you need to know your Leone.

I was not brought up by a family who watcehd 40’s films religiously and I only really wanted to watch these films when I wanted to understand contemporary filmmakers better. That is why I watch these films.

So, if you want to learn about cinema – then you need to know the history of cinema. But if you watch films purely to be entertained, then you need to look past your generational experience and consider what you want from an entertaining film – because I bet it has been done before. You want George Clooney? Cary Grant is who he bases his entire persona on. You want a thriller, in the vein of Fincher’s Panic Room, hunt down Hitchcock: Rope, Dial M For Murder and Rear Window. Liked Daniel Radcliffe in The Woman in Black, check out the gothic horror of the original Hammer horrors.

If thats too much of a leap – watch a contemporary franchise in its earliest days: The first James Bond was 1962. The original The Ladykillers from 1955 – the Coen’s remade it for a reason as it is very-much the Coens type of comedy and schtick. Planet of the Apes was 1968. The best Disney films were made between 1937 and 1942!

Why bother watching a film which, before setting foot in the cinema, you know is sub-par. Throw away your tickets for GI JOE and The Five Year Engagement and buy a Blu Ray copy of a classic film of the same price (or less!). There is a reason people mention Citizen Kane and Casablanca again and again. There is a reason His Girl Friday and Gentlemen Prefer Blondes are seen as some of the best comedies ever. In Hi-Def, they really do look like they were made yesterday – but they are so much more satisfying to watch than the vast majority of films in the cinema today.

There’s a bias against older films for one simple reason: short attention spans. Modern audiences need to see something explode every 45 seconds or they lose focus. As for convincing them to watch an older film, good luck. Maybe you can distract them with a shiny object–a set of car keys, perhaps–and while they are following the bobbing shiny things in your hand, you can cuff them to a chair or table and force a viewing. The car keys will work if they lose concentration during the screening. Dangle them near the screen and shake them every now and then to refocus your captive audience.

Dylan of Man, I Love Films:
Is there a bias or merely preferences?  Is it nature or nurture (meaning: can we be taught to love classic film or is a love of them a byproduct of our childhood environments)?  There’s probably no simple answer to those questions, and frankly, answering them wouldn’t answer your specific question.  The best tactic to me seems to be to relate them to movies that we already love and/or are aware of, or to find a gateway actor/director (Paul Newman or Stanley Kubrick come to mind) that, if we dig them in their more modern fare, we might just be more interested to dig deeper into their catalog.  From there, who knows what might happen?

Question #2 By Yahoo! User #1:

What are good movies to watch at a sleepover for 12-14 year olds?
We are into movies like Mean Girls (high school drama movies), but our parents don’t approve of us watching these movies.
So please give me movies titles that my parents probably wouldn’t know or notice.
P.S. – Based on the info i gave you, do u think my friends and i could get away with renting Juno without my parents noticing?

Adam of Invasion of the B-Movies:

Hold on here.  Your parents don’t approve of you watching movies like Mean Girls?  It’s rated PG-13!  Why are they against you watching age-appropriate movies?  Are they freakishly religious or something?

Based on the limited info you gave me, I doubt your parents would let you watch Juno.  Which is actually a blessing in disguise, since Juno sucked.  I don’t know how observant your parents are, so I have no idea if they’d notice what you were watching.  We’re going to assume that there’s a possibility that they might not notice but you also don’t want to get in trouble for watching something they would not approve of in the least.

Here’s the thing: I don’t know much about slumber parties.  I assumed that after the makeovers, pillow fights and the game of truth-or-dare that leaves you all emotionally scarred for life, you ladies were supposed to watch horror movies.  But, here you are, insisting that you actually want to watch “high school drama movies.”  And high school drama movies aren’t really my specialty.

So here are my 3 alternatives to Juno that are PG-13 or lower:

My first recommendation is a compromise between the high school junk you want to watch and the horror movies I think you should be watching: Zombieland.  Sadly, I doubt your nutty parents will let you watch a movie called Zombieland, but it’s PG-13.  It stars that guy from Juno that all you underachieving females love.  Or maybe it’s that guy who was in The Social Network who I get confused with the guy from Juno.  Or maybe this guy wasn’t in The Social Network or Juno but is in this movie and looks like that guy.  I can’t be bothered to look this up.  But it has one of those guys, zombies and the chick from Easy A.

My second recommendation is neither a high school drama movie nor a horror movie:  The Princess Bride.  This movie has it all: romance, comedy, adventure, Andre the freakin’ Giant.  It’s 25 years old this year.  I’m sure by teenage girl standards, it’s ancient.  But watch it anyway, because it’s one of the best movies ever.  And it’s PG, so your parents can suck it.

My third and final suggestion is Sugar & Spice.  It’s got the pregnancy of Juno, the petty teenage nastiness of Mean Girls and bank robbing cheerleaders.  If that isn’t high school drama, I don’t know what is.

Matt from Chuck Norris Ate My Baby:

Dear Yahoo User #1,

Well, this one is sort of tough because clearly your biggest roadblock is your parents. I’m not sure what level of involvement they have when you are picking out movies to watch or if they have any sort of presence during the movie watching itself, but there are ways of getting movies by them so long as you know how to “work the system.”

Now, I don’t want to advocate lying to your parents, but I would be lying if I said I never fudged the truth when it came to getting my paws on movies I wanted to watch that I knew my parents would likely not approve of. Sometimes you just have to know how to word things. For example, you mentioned Juno, a film that I doubt your parents would be okay with due to the fact that it’s about teen pregnancy. Depending on how strict they are, you might be able to play it off like it’s some sort of educational film about the dangers and woes that can come from teen pregnancy. Will it work? Maybe not, but then again, maybe they look at you and think how responsible you are and their hearts will suddenly fill with pride over the young lady they have raised.

Something else you could always do is grab a few movies that your parents will definitely not approve of as well as a few that you actually want to see. When you present your choices to your parents, the hope is that they will overlook the movies you actually want to rent because they are immensely better in comparison to I Spit On Your Grave or Cannibal Holocaust.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, I suppose I should suggest a few movies. Now, I should warn you that I am almost three times your age, so you might have a different view than I do as to what is good for a pre-teen/teen sleepover. However, I believe I can do a fair job suggesting a variety of great teen driven movies that will do you and your homies right.

A few that come immediately to mind are Pretty in Pink, Clueless and Election. All three are harmless enough and should pass the parent test, plus they are all really great. Another one that you might enjoy is 10 Things I Hate About You, though I do fear that the title might grab your parents attention. If that’s the case, you can tell them that it’s a modern take of Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Doing so might throw them off the scent. Another good one that is also a little newer than the others I have named is Easy A. It might be a bit risqué in subject matter, but it’s pretty funny, there’s a good message behind it and it’s not at all dumbed down. Lastly I guess you could always go with something like Bring it On or Sugar and Spice. Both are essentially cheerleader films, and cheerleading doesn’t usually equate to corruption of innocence to most parents (if you ignore the bank robbery aspect of Sugar and Spice, that is)!

Anyway, I wish you luck in your endeavor to watch movies you actually want to watch during your sleepovers, and if none of the above ideas or films end up working on your parents, you could always runaway from home. Also, please don’t tell them I told you this stuff.


(Editors note: you gotta love when two people I’m friends with but they don’t know each other give similar answers. The world is small!)

Question #3:

Dear LAMB: It has always bothered me that so many films never play in smaller towns, or even mid-size cities. I am truly envious of the offerings that I read about coming out of Cannes, Sundance, etc, but my local multiplex seems to think that they need to show the latest nonsense from Adam Sandler on multiple screens. Is there anything that a member of the general public can do to convince the studios or the theater chains to expand their offerings?
Signed, Shoulda Moved To The Big City

There are these fantastic inventions called libraries, video rental stores, Hulu, Crackle, and NetFlix that allow you to stream films or borrow DVDs. This means that you can watch films in the convenience of your own home whenever you wish. As for seeing them in the theater, cowboy up. If life was fair and we could have everything we wanted and deserved, a guy as talented and good-looking as I am would be raking in multiple millions starring in award-winning comedies every nine months instead of teaching English classes.

Nolahn at The Bargain Bin Review:

Dear Shoulda,

You are adorable! So let me make this as quick and painless as possible: No. Nothing. Not a damn thing.

Well, I guess that’s not entirely true. You could get the funding to obtain your own art house theater and show the kind of movies you want to see, and I’m sure there would be tens of people in your area who would appreciate it. Of course, you’d quickly learn what the multiplexes already know, that showing movies to mostly empty theaters doesn’t pay the bills. So you’d have to get really creative with your fledgling art house theater, maybe host some musical acts (though they can be a pain) or the occasional play or poetry slam or comedy show, and if you’re really lucky, that’ll keep you out of bankruptcy. Maybe.

I’m sorry, but the studios and theater chains don’t care about your little podunk town (don’t take it personally — they don’t care about my little podunk town, either). This is their business. They’re in it to make money. And, sadly, any given Adam Sandler vehicle is much better for their bottom line than Michael Haneke’s latest film.

Um…probably not.  Coming at them with hard data (ie, “I live in Baton Rouge and Little Miss Sunshine earned $7,000/per screen for its entire run!”) is probably the most straightforward, but might also prove to be difficult to compile and – more importantly – might not turn out in your favor.  The other route is probably the most effective but is probably also nearly impossible: causing a sea change in your mini-metropolis.  In other words, you need to make a higher percentage of those around you feel the same way as you do.  If that were to happen, then that hard data would be something that they couldn’t ignore.  If that seems overwhelming, what about trying that with baby steps: talk to you local theater about getting some more indie fare and, should they listen, rally your friends and neighbors as best you can to support the effort.  Good luck…

Question #4 by Yahoo! User #2:

What are some horror movies for wimpy people?
My friend and I are planning a horror movie sleepover, but we’re both pretty wimpy people who like watching scary movies because we’re weird. We could never watch anything as scary as It or The Grudge, but we want to watch things that creep you out like Paranormal Activity or the Orphanage. Does anyone know of any other good horror movies that aren’t too scary?-From Yahoo! User #2

TheGreatWhiteDope at TheGreatWhiteDope’s Mecha-Blog-Zilla:

Ahh, the ol’ “Scary-But-Not-Too-Scary” movie question.  Here we have something that has plagued the lily-livered amongst us who want to venture out into the blood-soaked, cadaver-strewn streets and look as tough as the SAW and HOSTEL crowd.

Come on, peeking from behind couch pillows with all the lights on makes the shocks and scares somewhat muted, but doesn’t that also mute the experience as well?  While everyone else is saying, “Ooh, did you see that?!” or “That looked so cool!!”, you’re there hiding your sensitive eyes from the horrors unfolding before you.  You’ve never seen a whole NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET or FRIDAY THE 13TH because of this.  And you know how hard it is to carry a couch pillow into the theater with you….

Okay, but what about it, then – are there scary movies that are safe for your sensitive hearts and souls to take in?  It all depends on what you’re looking for.

For one, you could always go the classic route and watch something along the lines of the original FRANKENSTEIN, MUMMY or WOLF MAN… not only are these great films and have effective moments, they are also more paced and deliberate than the *slam* *bang* *zoom* shocks and blood splashes of modern-day terrors.  That way, you can pay attention to the artfulness, makeup and acting choices of a Lon Chaney Jr. or a Boris Karloff, and get effective creeps and crawls at the same time.

Of course, the old Hammer Horror school of films effectively layer on the chiils without making the viewer wimp out, too.  Besdies, we’re talking Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing giving us Old Blighty takes on Frankie, Wolfie and the like.  It’s all good, old chap.

Another popular choice would be a movie that is so outlandishly and badly done that it is worthy of a “Mystery Science Theater 3000” treatment.  THE CREEPING TERROR, Al Adamson’s DRACULA VS. FRANKENSTEIN and THE CORPSE GRINDERS are great examples of this – they’re technically horror movies, yes, but they are also a laugh riot that you could effectively rip on by yourself or with a group of like-humored friends.  Mind you, there are isolated moments in these which are conceivably creepy in a “freeze-frame the screen at a particular time” kind of way, so they fit our discussion, too.

Then again, Giant Monster Movies are also classified as Horror Movies in most circles.  And who in their right mind would be scared by GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA or KING KONG ESCAPES or even GAMERA VS. ZIGRA?  These are movies that are so much fun to watch that a good time is guaranteed by the viewer.  I won’t lie to you; movies like these are pure fun.  Period.

Well, that should be more than enough choices from which any scary movie lover can pick and choose their not-too-scary poison from.  Have at it, leave your couch pillow where it is, turn off the lights and grab your popcorn!

Jason at Invasion of the B-Movies:
First off, I think your problem is you think “It” and “The Grudge” are scary. Ok, that’s probably not fair. Some people do find clowns and Asian children with wet hair scary. But you like watching scary movies because you’re weird? Why does this make you weird? I watch horror movies almost 6 days a week and I’m FAR from weird. (On the 7th day I watch reruns of “Magnum P.I”. My Sunday’s rule!)

Anyway, to answer your question, it does depend on what YOU find scary. I’ve learned through people I call friends but I’ve never met them in person that they think it’s stupid to be scared of ghosts, demons, and people hiding in your house, but I find those things scary. Giant serial killers who can’t be killed do nothing for me. With that said, I think we can all agree that zombies are scary. Look what happened to the world a few weeks ago when some drug addicts started eating people’s faces off in Florida. Obviously it’s not the start of a zombie apocalypse, they’re just bored because they live in Florida.

So what zombie movie? If you want to laugh, go with “Shaun of the Dead”. It has everything from zombies to romance to bromance to slapstick comedy. And plus it features Coldplay! You know something featuring Coldplay can’t be scary. Another great movie is “Army of Darkness”. Now, fans of the movie are going to say “But Jason-” and I’m gonna cut them off cause I’m an asshole. I’m only recommending “Army of Darkness” cause it’s really not scary, but it has scary elements in it. I can’t recommend “Evil Dead” or “Evil Dead 2” because there are moments in those movies that could scary wimpy people (like the one dead lady in the cellar in Part 2) but Army of Darkness is fun!

But what if zombies DO scare you so much you’ll have nightmares? In that case, you should watch movies that are considered horror movies but are so friggin’ boring you’ll probably fall asleep before the supposed scary parts. Again, this is probably my opinion but if that’s what you’re looking for, try “The Descent”, “Wolf Creek”, “Evil Things” (I know the title sounds scary but trust me), “The Commune”, or “Atrocious”.

But maybe scary movies isn’t for you. Maybe you should seek some lighter fare that isn’t scary or creepy at all. For that I suggest something historical (Caligula or Salo), something spiritual (Martyrs), or maybe a nice film about the importance of doing activities as a family (A Serbian Film)?

And that’s how it’s done! If you have a question or a problem or something movie related is bugging you and you want to get our advice, don’t be shy! Send in that question/problem to Oh and, I have a good number of guest contributors, so now I’m only looking for questions, please.


3 Responses to Ask The LAMB #1

  1. dwyermckerr says:

    Salo, that’d be a hoot. I remember my first time.

  2. Nick says:

    LOL… your final paragraph of your last answer, Jason, was a riot.

  3. Helen says:

    Shoulda Moved to the Big City might have better success approaching a local college, arts center, or community group with an auditorium and pitching some one night only shows. It still means waiting for DVD, but at least it’s a chance to see movies on a big(ish) screen and connect with fellow movie lovers.

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