Sunday, October 25, 2009

violence in movies

last night I watched at home the movie Knowing (directed by Alex Proyas, starring Nicholas Cage)... I have been going through this period where I enjoy reading sad books and watching action/sci-fi movies, don't ask me why.... so tonight I clicked on this movie while eating my dinner (can never go wrong with Anita's Kitchen)...

it was interesting to see that the main character was a college professor, specially since reading recently on that college professor is in the top 10 most desirable professions these days (I believe it was number three)... of course, being a Nolte role, this professor had to be one with a million issues, a drinking problem, etc (nevermind that impossible hairline and them most manicured hands ever)....

anyway, I am not going to write a review on this movie, there are plenty ones to read about online (paging rotten tomatoes)... but I just want to comment a bit on its sheer violence... I also noticed this unbridled violence in District 9 a few months back (that is a great movie)...... and I wonder the amount of violence that was exhibited in two Mel Gibson movies that I boycotted, the Jesus one and the Mayan one..... is this a new trend in movie making?

it was a bit shocking for me to watch last night bodies burning and exploding, being realistically hit and torn up by out of control vehicles etc....... and this is after I saw the trailer and got really interested in watching it... so I guess then my question here is, how do we deal with (in my humble opinion) gratuitous images of violence? I am not a big fan of rating systems, as I view them as a socially-sanctioned form of censorship... in a post-9/11 world do we simply need to learn how to live with these representations?

click here for official movie site


  1. I have a tough time recently with very graphic violence in some circumstances, haven't figured out yet what makes it too much for me. Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction didn't get under my skin with the violence. A couple of movies did - Last Exit to Brooklyn and one that came out in the late nineties, with Ralph Fiennes as a guy who trades in snuff films made with a camera that shows you the actual thoughts of whoever is using the camera. I can't remember the title of that one, and so far haven't found it in searches. Both of those had such gratuitous violence I had to stop watching them. Last Exit to Brooklyn I literally popped out of the VCR and threw the tape across the room. For me the context or specificity of the violence is sometimes what makes it unwatchable. It's also extremely subjective; my response is heavily influenced by particular triggers and what's going on personally at the time I'm watching. I cannot sit through any David Cronenberg film - it's as much to do with the director's attitude to the violence as anything else. Why does the context in Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and True Romance make those films tolerable for me? I haven't seen Kill Bill yet - I think I just got tired of Tarantino's hipster attitude - so I don't know how I'd respond to the violence in that one. (or those two, or whatever the hell.)

    Thanks for the blog.

  2. thanks for the comment, Mary... I think the mood we r in definitely has something to do with it as well (I was hung over and tired).... but I also think that they like to push the threshold of violence, bit by bit...

    saw the Kill Bill movies, and while there is violence, it is so choreographed and absurd that it almost looks like a ballet (it is more Crouching Tiger than anything else)... maybe in 10 years will not think these films r violent?

  3. ...lately for me, I've been feeling violence in movies more. Although, I think that my emotional responses to images are "growing" or I am just becoming more aware of those emotions.

    I agree about how violence shouldn't be rated. Although, I think we can easily get around rating things by reading reviews on various sites. Real commentary about movies seem to make more sense to me than ratings do.

    What are your thoughts on the impact of violence on our minds? If I remember correctly, doesn't Sontag think that violent images make you numb to real violence? I don't know if I can agree with that, since after seeing Apocolypse Now in my cinema class, it would be an understatement to say that it diminished my emotions for real violence. Although, my thoughts about real violence might not coincide with my emotions towards real violence. However, perhaps as a society we are becoming numb to movie violence...and in order to make audiences feel something, the movie makers need to go further into the complexities of violence.

    On a completely seperate note, this blog is great Vagner!

  4. Though the trailer looked like your run of the mill disaster flick -- maybe people should try and make the trailer look like the movie? Nah... then those movies finally wouldn't get made