Tuesday, December 16, 2014


Is it me or are movies hard to understand these days?  I don't mean the plot but when they talk.  


I first noticed this phenomen a few years ago with a Nicole Kidman movie.  She was mumbling.  Then I noticed that with the enhanced sound in most movies these days, the actors (and actresses and that what I call women who act - "ACTRESSES" - give me a break on calling them "ACTORS") mumble.  I guess the powers-that-be who produce and direct these movies think that is realistic but:


The past few weeks I binged watch "The White Queen".  Not only did I have to get passed the English accent (thank goodness their accent wasn't a Cockney accent) but I swear, they spent half the movie whispering.  

Now I'm binge watching "The Wire."  Not much whispering but man oh man, the lingo.  The street talk.  I need subtitles.  I tried watching a whole episode without the sub titles and I didn't understand A THING.  

Now that I have sub-titles I can binge watch in the Tipton Cinema to my heart's content. 


Raybeard said...

You won't be surprised to find me vigorously nodding in agreement, Ron, I make the very same complaint frequently in my own reviews. Many a time I find myself sitting in the cinema asking myself "Is it just me?" - and I feel like getting up and asking another member of the audience if they'd tell me what's just been said. But I bet that they couldn't because they don't want to be shown up as not understanding it themselves. Others might say that it must be due to faulty hearing at my age, but if that was the case I'd have the same trouble through all facets of life, such as in everyday conversation, which I don't. It's only in the cinema.
What I think is happening is that both actors/actresses (note!) and directors, as well as the entire film crew, are so familiar with the script, having probably gone through a lot of repeat 'takes', that they just can't be bothered to have the dialogue enunciated clearly, or they think it's not important to the audience. Well, it IS! The characters often speak at the volume level we'd use when muttering to ourselves. If they did that in ordinary conversation they'd be constantly interrupted with "Pardon?" or "Can you repeat that, please?" - which never ever happens on film.
Often one sees them talking in bars at that same low volume when in reality in such circumstances one has to yell at each other to be heard.
I too have particular difficulties with certain accents - in my case Scottish can be hard to comprehend, even though it's my favourite of all accents. I'm with you on more frequent subtitles - not just because of local accents, but also where deciphering the dialogue is problematic. However, they won't do that because they'd be admitting that they were remiss in that aspect of the film in the first place.
The most egregious offender for mumbled dialogue in a film of recent years for me remains 'The Social Network'. God only knows how and why it managed to be so highly praised and scooped up awards from all over the place. I can only conclude that no one wanted to be known as one who couldn't hear what was going on, so they pretended they could - a case of 'The Emperor's New Clothes'

As for actors and actresses, which I allude to above, I'm again with you 100%. But then I still find it hard to accept both sexes being referred to as 'guys', so I suppose that firmly places me in my particular era

Ron said...

Like you when I first noticed I had trouble hearing and/or understanding the dialogue I thought "I must really be getting old." But then when I realized that some of these actors weren't even using their vocal chords but literally whispering (and yes, many times even scenes that take place in a noisy bar)) I realized that again the arrogance of filmmakers was yet again apparent. I know great advances have been made in sound quality (mostly loud, very loud) but how about just talking in an understandable language? "The Social Network" was especially egregious, I refused to watch it and ejected the disc from my DVD player after struggling through about a half an hour just trying to decipher what they were saying. Again, like you I didn't understand all the fuss and fawning over what a "wonderful film" that poorly made film was. Of course I had a big problem with the mumbling Jesse Eisenberg (who mumbles through ALL his films). My time is worth more than wasting time trying to understand what the actors are saying on the screen. I know all this is supposed to be "realism" but to me one of the main requirements of filmmaking is understanding the dialogue. And again, like you, everyone being referred to "the guys" (women included) doesn't work with me. Men are "the guys" and women are "the gals". It's not sexiest to say "the gals", it's a fact. If "the gals" want to have (or pretend to have) a penis, then they should undergo surgery.