What I think makes a movie “brilliant” or “genius”

19 02 2010

I see the words genius and brilliant be overused for movies. Every year there seems to be a handful of movies that get those tags and I feel that it really only happens every decade or so. Once or twice. I mean there’s always a lot of great movies every year but being great is definitely not the same as being genius, at all. So here’s what I think makes a movie honestly earn those two qualities:

1 . The movie needs to be pleasurable and dense enough to make you want to revisit it and then find new things about it that you hadn’t noticed at first, but without ever making you feel overwhelmed. You must watch it at first and know that there’s enough there for more viewing but you still get pleasure out of watching it and never feel buried by a crazy amount of information.

2. It needs to have some kind of impact on pop culture. It could be the characters, lines or scenes but it needs to make an entrance into pop culture and become a point of reference. Like the “Here’s Johnny” from The Shinning, even though it existed before it was taken to different heights. Other examples would be the characters in Pulp Fiction or the rules and style of Fight Club.

3. The movie needs great direction and acting. And by that I also mean great lightning, editing, some kind of conceptual approach to different key scenes and so on.

The third one s the easiest one, you can always hire a great director and actors that know what they are doing and are passionate about it. It doesn’t need to be genius by itself, just really well done. The sum of it’s total will make it great. Now to make something that is dense enough and equally pleasurable to watch, and just as important, to make you want to revisit it, is a really difficult task. Even harder is to make it part of pop culture, something that becomes a constant reference even outside its natural environment and slips into others areas. That’s tough and that’s not done by a handful of movies every year.




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