I. There's nothing wrong with plot ("Comment," Middlebrow). Listen, you don't have to tell me. I love plot. One of my favorite writers, Elmore Leonard, is a genius plotter, I feel. I get tickled purt near to death by certain felicitous plot moves. I was watching The Philadelphia Story on Saturday night on tv, and thinking to myself, after K. Hepburn and C. Grant have a nice rapprochement, how sad to have Cary Grant in this movie and not have him get the girl. Because the plot seems to be hurtling toward K. Hepburn and J. Stewart (who is, of course, equally adorable to C. Grant). But no! Without any creaking of gears, the movie pulls a deft U-turn, and Kand C end up together after all. When Pulp Fiction pulls its "and now we're going back in time" move, I practically stood up on my chair in the theater (this would be only the first time I saw it) and shouted, "Wait a minute!" But in a good way.
I love plot. I don't like it when the plot of anything either (a) is ham-handed, which is to say, not deft, or (b) says to the reader/viewer, "Ha! You're so stupid that you missed this fantastic twist." I guess the (b) experience happens mainly in movies for me, like The Jagged Edge or that one Kevin Costner movie where he turns out to be a Russian spy after all. Movies like that make me want to jump up and kill someone, preferably the movie-maker.
2. Bad movie, good movie. Running/cinephile son watched Clerks the other night, a movie that, mom-like, I happen to find vulgar and over-rated. Of course, mom-like, I also haven't seen the whole thing, so probably should make allowances for that in my judgement. I also, more to the point, find this movie to be so static and boring, visually, that I can't believe they let Kevin Smith make another movie, whoever they is. Which would have been a shame, because I do like Dogma (under-rated). I shared all of these opinions, delivered with passionate gestures, to try to persuade my son to watch something else (Philadelphia Story? what about it, Teen Boy Squad?). No dice. So I said, "Fine, but promise me you'll look for how crappy the staging is, how they just point the camera at two people talking, blah blah blah, scene; then point the camera at two people talking again, blah blah blah some more."
Day two, I asked him what he thought of it. "Pretty funny," he said. Which I'm sure is true. I just didn't get past what seemed disgustingingly vulgar to the funny parts, probably. Well, what about the staging--every bit as crappy as I said? I asked. "Yeah, but wasn't this his first movie?" he noted, ever compassionate, ever reasonable. I pointed out to him that plenty of people never get to make even one movie. What about Quentin Tarantino? I asked him. There's someone who has a visual imagination, and his first movie has all the great talk of Kevin Smith, plus better imagined scenes, cuts, camera angles, etc. All conceded. You can imagine how enthusiastic Cinephile Son was as he edged toward the stairs to escape this tutorial. "But it was pretty funny," he said, having the last word.