We saw a bad movie last night.

Actually it wasn’t “bad” in so much as it was poorly conceived, written and executed. There were however some nice details and the director wasn’t completely without skill. We saw this particular film because it’s the annual international film festival where we live. The 37th. This film fest gets bigger and better every year, breaks attendance records and is slowly getting recognized for being more than just a “regional” film festival. And its tremendous fun. We have dragged our daughter to inappropriate movies this way for years.

The good thing about a bad movie is that there is so much more to dissect. A good movie sticks in your mind, and a great movie may blow you away, but I often have to see great or innovative movies more than once to appreciate a lot of detail. Please note the switching between the usage of “film” and “movie” is completely arbitrary and not linked to any judgment as to high or low art form.

Last nights film almost sent me into hysterics at one point. It was slow and boring and it kept not ending. You know what I mean.

The director cued the sappy closing music, sentimental statements were made, and then it kept going. More sappy music, more sentimental statements, and it just kept going. Each time this happened I started to giggle until by the sixth time I was shaking so hard with silent laughter tears were leaking out of my eyes. My stomach hurt afterward from laughing so hard.

It was such a self-indulgent mess the three of us talked for hours about what made it so bad. And that is what is good about a bad movie. It helps you hone your criticism skills and clarify your expectations of pace, acting, cinematography and directing. Most especially directing. Its easier (IMHO) in a documentary to separate the choices made by a director, editor and cinematographer, than it is when the water is muddied by acting, sets & costumes.

Watching the bad movie for some reason reminded me of one of the best novels I’ve read about films & their power. It’s called Flicker. Its fiction but if you like movies at all, boy will it grab you. And increase your appreciation for the art form.

Three more movies to see before this festival is over. There are dozens of screenings left, but we can only fit three more into our joint schedules. Usually there is only one bad one a year so I anticipate the rest to be anywhere from good to outstanding, meaning, perhaps, a little less to write about.

Another good thing that came out of the bad movie: we agreed as a family that if we think a movie is bad that we will ask politely if the others are enjoying it or not. Because we all hated it and we could have left half way through if one of us had spoken up. Lesson learned!