Wednesday, January 20, 2010

King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters ~ blatting

This is my wordy defense of my personal feelings towards the documentary named above. I only have to defend these feelings because people that I don't like so much LOVED this movie and talked about it ALL THE TIME before I got a chance to see it, so now that I'm not 100% IN LOVE with this movie it is assumed that I was subconsciously, or even knowingly tainted by these losers' glowing reviews. Probably, but who cares? I blat on.

The story being told by the filmmakers offers you almost no new or usefull information about life, America, video games or the world in general. I'm not saying you couldn't extrapolate volumes on the different nuances of American personalities and the development of modern human characteristics or compulsions. I'm saying that the amount of cold, hard data presented over the course of this film could have been condensed into an informative 10 minute segment. You're not watching King of Kong to learn.

Then why? The point of this movie is entertainment. Good guy versus bad guy (or more accurately, kind of immature guy versus infinitely more immature, I may go so far as to say stunted guy) It is an underdog story. To me, and I emphasize, TO ME it smacks of reality TV. It could be because the film crew was magically able to capture the key points of the story AS they happened. Man X picks up the phone to tell Man Y what's going down, and LUCKILY there's a camera crew in Man Y's house, ready to record his end of the call! Nifty. I got the feeling that the 'showdown' that this film is about (which never happens) might not have even materialized (as an idea, because it didn't ever materialize in reality) without some egging-on on the part of the documentarians. *This is a FEELING. Apparently there's hours of extras and behind-the-scenes footage that might convince me otherwise - but wouldn't the CONSTANT presense of a documentary film crew kind of, I dunno, prompt one to DO more in general?*

And then there's my issue with the interview camera work. I may just be sensitive, but when the camera has to be so close to a subject that the top of their head is cut off and we can see their dirty pores and skin conditions, I interpret that as a jab at the subject. It makes me feel bad. Also the locations of the interviews and the lighting of the interviews often just made the interview process seem like a joke that the live participants aren't in on. The subjects would just ramble on and on about life and gaming and pride, and while they were clearly trying to be very introspective and self-aware, but they never caught on to the absurdity of the whole situation. That made me feel bad.

The one thing I've learned about documentaries is that the filmmaker is a character in the film as much as anyone onscreen. You're seeing and hearing what they want you to see. You're not seeing and not hearing what they don't want you to see. You have to ask yourself, why did they show me this or that? So what do I remember seeing? A stereotyped subculture fulfilling its stereotype of being dorky, ugly, out of touch, emotionally stunted, living in a non-reality and totally OCD.

And THEN I think of all the jocky, hip, film-critiquing, movie-obsessed, college-aged, 'normal' looking people all over the place who are going to view these people through the director's eyes, and it makes me feel bad.