I am not exactly a discerning filmgoer. I know what I like, and I know what I dislike, but in between all that are a lot of different types and styles of film. I will watch pretty much anything from Aguirre: The Wrath of God to Zombi 2. They are all good movies, and they keep me entertained at least on some level. What I am saying is I like to think I can find enjoyment in almost all cinema has to offer. I unabashedly love what some people would consider bad movies, just as much as I love true cinematic masterpieces.
To use a common example Ed Wood's Plan 9 from Outer Space is universally panned as quite possibly the worst film ever made. However, if this truly was a horrible film then it wouldn't keep me entertained. Watching Plan 9 I can see that Ed Wood was trying to make a good film, he just didn't really succeed. He wasn't making film for money, he was like many filmmakers, he was compelled to create not because he had to pay the bills, he did it because he wanted to do it.
The films I truly dislike, and films that I feel are a waste of time fall into the cinematic grey area that is the average film. These are films that press the same emotional buttons as 100's of similar films before them. They offer nothing new or even interesting to the cinematic lexicon. They exist just to make money for their makers. I am not making an argument for independent versus the mainstream or arthouse versus the grindhouse.
An independent film is actually the catalyst behind this article. A few months ago my wife, who loves movies about rock bands, found out about a film starring Gina Gershon called Prey for Rock and Roll. I had never heard of it, but ran to the video store (SCARECROW!) to pick it up for our evening viewing. The film started alright enough, but as the movie continued on and the drama became more prevalent I realized that we were watching something akin to a Lifetime Movie of the Week, and something that was decidedly average. There was nothing interesting about this film at all.
The plot strolled along at a leisurely pace hitting all the same emotional buttons as thousands of dramas have done since the beginning of dramatic writing. The music was tepid at best, and the characters were less cliché then Spinal Tap themselves. As I was watching I was questioning why I was watching. What was the point of this film? Did it offer anything to me that I had not seen in other films before? No.
I did finish the film all the way through to it's predictable denouement, but that film opened my eyes as a film viewer. It made me realize that a truly bad film is not one with floppy cardboard graves and pie plate UFO's. It is a film that does nothing to separate itself from the thousands of films made over the last 120 years. It is a film that waste your time by simply offering you the same things you have seen 100's of times before.