Hollywood viewing user guide for David Bordwell :
- How the Hollywood plot is presented is as important as what is presented, hopefully... (eg. Princess Bride; The Social Network; Sunset Blvd.; The Rope; The Lady in the Lake, Cloud Atlas...)
- Often we’ll have to go outside the Hollywood movie, for proper untempered context, to understand its plot "based on a true story" (eg. Pearl Harbor; J. Edgar; Gone With the Wind; Birth of a Nation...)
- Be prepared to fill in a lot. And expect occasionally to be wrong. Twist ending much? (eg. M. Night Shyamalan; Usual Suspects; Sunset Boulevard; Vertigo; Citizen Kane; The Hulk; Contact; Sphere; Predators; Prometheus; Hulk; The Adjustment Bureau; Moon; Body of Lies; The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo; Knowing; Ghost Ship; The Prestige; V for Vendetta; The Game; Minority Report; Chinatown; Psycho; Fight Club; The Night of the Hunter...)
- A lot of Hollywood movie exposition can be left to the imagination, because it's useless or intentionally misleading in order to forge a mystery (eg. V for Vendetta; Contagion; Children of Men...)
- Be ready to register Hollywood space as space (eg. John Ford, Hitchcock, Enemy of the State; Jason Bourne; Inception; Panic Room; The Rope; Wall-E...)
- While mainstream films tend to reinforce first impressions, some Hollywood movies will nuance or even negate them (eg. Usual Suspects; The Dark Knight; I, Robot; Pirates of the Carribeans; Despicable Me; Salt; Rio Bravo; Black Narcissus...)
- Hollywood movies will use stylistic foreshadowing (i.e. Mannerism), often in place of the dramatic sort (eg. Domino; Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time; Kick-Ass; Speed Racer; The Red Shoes; Sin City; 300; Schindler's List...)
- The Hollywood character is revealed –or kept under wraps– through routines (eg. The Truman Show; Zodiac; Se7en; A Serious Man; The Matchsticks Men; Forrest Gump...)
- Instead of who done it? we ask what are Hollywood characters doing? (eg. Zodiac; Ocean's Eleven; Mr and Mrs Smith; The Taking of Pelham 123; Unstoppable; Mission Impossible; Armageddon; Liar liar; The invention of lying; Rio Bravo; 12 Angry Men, Cast Away...)
- A Hollywood movie may give us nascent conflicts but never develop them, or pay them off, but unlike art films, it's not for gravitas, but out of screenwriting incompetency (so many! eg. Prometheus; The Island; The Rise of the Planet of the Apes; Casablanca...); TV series cliff-hanger
- Parallels matter more than causality in many Hollywood movies (eg. "network narrative" movies...); TV series
- Patience, please (eg. Wall-E; Children of Men; Redacted; There Will Be Blood; North By Northwest; Up; The Shawshank Redemption; Papillon; Drive...)
- Some Hollywood movies are quite laconic, in the sense that they babble a lot to say nothing interesting. (eg. so many...)
- Life as one damn thing after another, not necessarily one damn thing because of another (eg. Prometheus; Forrest Gump; The Truman Show; Lawrence of Arabia [UK]...)
- We must often watch Hollywood movies twice (or more) to appreciate them fully (eg. Inception; The Sixth Sense...)
- Art films tend to tell you important story points less than three times; Hollywood movies, more often (eg. Groundhog Day; Source Code; Déjà-vu...)
- Hollywood movies will sometimes heighten our awareness of both ordinary life and the conventions of art. "Intensified continuity" much? (eg. Ratatouille; Domino; Jason Bourne; The Matrix; The Blair Witch Project; Cloverfield; Dark City; Panic Room; Hugo; Snake Eye; Douglas Sirk; Jackass; Stranger Than Fiction; Singin' in the Rain; TV serie "24"...)
- There will always be some Hollywood images, sounds, or scenes that resist easy sense-making, not because they are too clever but because they are too dumb. Red herring much? (eg. Prometheus; Contact; Sphere; The Abyss; Kiss Me Deadly; Cloverfield; Citizen Kane...)
Source of the parody : How to watch an art movie, reel 1 (David Bordwell; 26 August 2012) on Sueño y silencio (2012)
So easy to make up rules that somehow only applies to "artfilms", to make them look more inaccessible than whatever Hollywood has ever produced, so that the audience will continue to believe "artfilms" are for the elite, and are too complicated for the regular spectator... While in fact, these random, arbitrary rules apply just the same to the typical Hollywood movie. It's just a matter of bias. When you try hard enough to paint something in a black versus white mentality, you eventually find contradictions, in appearance (but not necessarily characteristic of an antagonistic perception) to show the kind of cinema you defend (or are more familiar with) in a bright light, and contrast it with its polar opposite.
There are differences between how Hollywood fabricates its narratives (by the number, safely, by copying the past, by stealing ideas abroad) and how a more independent mind strives to generate an original story outside of any commercial imperatives (what Bordwell conveniently labels The "art cinema tradition"). But I didn't find these particular points were especially telling, because Hollywood could use these narrative tactics too (just not as well as art films most of the time).
This idea of a manichaean opposition between how the spectator perceives a Hollywood movie or an artfilm is quite archaic... A Hollywood moviegoer may just as well watch an artfilm with the general viewing conventions learnt in Hollywood movies! Being averse to acquired taste, subtlety, nuances, depth, stylistic flourish, patience, intellectual food, delayed pleasure, poetry... only means having bad taste and being culturally complacent. It doesn't mean that Hollywood spectators are incapable to discover art cinema because they treat their narrative strategies with more care and respect...