Submitted by Chemical-Contest-150 t3_126n0yf in movies

I recently watched Babylon and I actually really liked it despite the reviews, and a lot of them say that it's "overly pretentious". I've seen this with some other movies like The Shape of Water. What makes a movie pretentious? I'm not invalidating any reviews or opinions or such just generally curious.



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PM_ME_UR_FEET_69 t1_je9sw22 wrote

The word is most of the time heavily misused

Pretentious - attempting to impress by affecting greater importance or merit than is actually possessed

People basically just say this word to sound smart rather than say, "This movie sucks!", "Affecting greater importance than is actually possessed" is usually a matter of opinion.


stumpcity t1_jea89px wrote

>People basically just say this word to sound smart

Which is, itself, pretentious. I've always thought that was hilarious.


NoEmu2398 t1_jecjhjt wrote

You pretentious redditor! Trying to sound smart and all!


WilsonEnthusiast t1_je9w9ki wrote

Any review of a movie is an opinion.

I've always taken pretentious in this context to mean that it's an overly stylized and ultimately shallow story.


Typical_Humanoid t1_je9uubv wrote

Nobody has sufficiently explained to me how you can possibly verify a movie is pretentious.

People focus much more on the first part than the "than is actually possessed" criteria but everything a movie is is on the screen. Pretension implies some sort of trickery or hidden depths of true inadequacy but a movie can't hide if it's actually plain bad. Directors are pretentious, actors are pretentious. People, with layers. Not a film.


BlakRainbow1991 t1_je9xlya wrote

I mean alot of Oscar bait feels very pretentious. It assigns greater merit than it actually possesses.


Typical_Humanoid t1_je9ygsk wrote

I don't really like using Oscar bait as a criticism either. There are characteristics certain movies have that make them obvious Oscar bait, but these can still be good movies. Deserving over movies that aren't Oscar bait, usually not, but saying a movie is bad because it compares badly to another isn't looking at it for what it is.

Whenever I look at "pretentious movie" lists I see a ton of movies that aren't trying to be anything other than what they are, be it genuinely albeit unintentionally bad or movies that I personally feel flew over people's heads. But none I would call this. I don't get that "Oh this is so full of shit" feeling like I do when I hear a pretentious director's interview. I need more info than any movie can provide to make this determination. But that's just me.


Irish-Water t1_je9vmx7 wrote

When you can mentally hear the Director rehearsing all the things he is going to say when he wins the Oscar.


InvestigatorTimely52 t1_jeafpw4 wrote

It's now basically a generic word that gets thrown around by many who have nothing substantial to say or proper analysis.

I've heard some filmmakers recently go like 'This may sound pretentious' and it makes me realize that for some it does feel like a major putdown.

But I like how some who hear it often haven't let it affect their way. The likes of Charlie Kaufman, Innaritu, Ceylan, Cuaron and James Gray still stuck to their style.


p-a-n-t-s- t1_jeah22i wrote

I think it's become a bit of a buzzword people like to use when describing an art film they don't like.


Juiceboxfromspace t1_jealnt1 wrote

Dude, Babylon is one of my favorite movies ever at the moment.

I have no idea how it got so snubbed for critics/awards.

Really felt like its one of THE movies, that only cared about making a great cinematic experience that leaves you with something to think about.

Ps: My defintion of pretentious is Wes Anderson’s movies. Slow movies that enhance akwardness for the sake of being different and must include a bunch of major actors in a poster that want to be cool.


Diamond_Champagne t1_jeayolq wrote

On reddit the word pretentious is mostly used when a person has zero media literacy. Basically anything that goes beyond a bad wiki plot summary is pretentious.


reedzkee t1_jeas887 wrote

a movie that tries to be 'deep' but fails. a movie that is constantly trying to remind you how deep it is. artsy to a detrement.

i find most chris nolan movies pretentious. confusing, complicated, and shallow. inception, the prestige, and tenet.

The English Patient

Out of Africa

chef's table on netflix is over the top pretentious


MidichlorianAddict t1_jeawon1 wrote

When I think pretentious I think of the dialogue of the architect in the second matrix movie. What the hell was he saying?


[deleted] t1_jec44b2 wrote

When someone labels a film pretentious it is usually because they don't like to be challenged and are annoyed a movie dared to do so. It's as useless and meaningless a word to film criticism as "boring" is.


TheWholeWorldWindow t1_je9tag7 wrote

I wouldn't say there's a definitive way, its just a way to saying that a film is imitating what the filmmakers think a great film is like, without actually understanding what makes them good or being at that level. People will judge differently based on what they think is good and what they think a filmmaker is going for, just watching more good movies and deciding for yourself what you think works or doesn't will help inform your views.


Djangooofr t1_jebpf90 wrote

If the title is a pallindrome (tenet)


rekniht01 t1_je9y9gj wrote

It was made by Wes Anderson.

j/k, only slightly.


disninjaeatinbeans t1_jea6c55 wrote

In film making, "pretentious" usually means that because of the length/ composition of a shot, the actors behavior, and the music, you can tell that the scene or moment is supposed to be deep, thought provoking, and profound, but it is not. A good example is The Thin Red Line. It's a war film with an actual plot but a lot of it is random shots of a dirty soldier staring off into the distance at sunset while a voice over of self important poetry and orchestra music plays. It's like a visual version of "I am 12 and this is deep". It's interesting also because film is one of the few mediums where "what is the creator portraying here?" is not the only question, but also its appropriate to ask "what is the creator TRYING to portray here?". When films are described as ambitious or subtle, that implies that as a viewer, you know simultaneously what you are feeling, and what the creators want you to be feeling. And when they are aiming for marks that they're just not hitting, you know that, and it comes off as unearned, ham-fisted, or pretentious.


AthKaElGal t1_jeaoicg wrote

when it's shallow but you get the sense the director was trying to be deep.

it's completely subjective because depth and shallowness completely depends upon a person's intelligence.


periphery72271 t1_je9vkui wrote

I'll give you an example.

Let's say a character in a movie is cooking an egg.

Normally it's part of a breakfast scene. Maybe the character is spacing out and having an emotional moment, maybe they're just cooking an egg. Either way, there's not much to the action in the scene.

But your pretentious director might use dramatic camera angles go for close ups of the eggs or something else, place dramatic music into the scene or otherwise amp up the presentation in a way that tells you the viewer there's something to pay attention to.

They might think you're catching on to the theme of 'death, rebirth in the destruction of a cradle of birth' or something, but really all you see is...a person cooking eggs to weird camera angles and dramatic music.

Basically it's when a director is doing too much, trying to make simple or obvious things seem important.

The crazy thing is, when done well it's not pretentious, it's thought provoking. The spinning top at the end of Inception isn't just a spinning top, and the camera closing in and the dramatic music is justified.


YaBoyDoogzz t1_je9y03e wrote

The Dark Knight. Its just so po-faced and seems desperate for validation. Which makes the inherent ridiculousness of Batman even more ridiculous. Like an angsty teen screaming at everyone to take them seriously.


Obfusc8er t1_jea4gmn wrote

It has Lars von Trier directing.

Insufferably heavy-handed with themes and sub-text and a complete lack of subtlety. It's like a musician whose idea of dynamics is just... loud.


LCX001 t1_jea9dkv wrote

Why does being heavy handed and not being subtle mean the film is pretentious? If you namecheck Trier then for somebody who is heavy handed plenty of people argue about what he actually meant with his films, look at The House That Jack Built for example.


BigNics t1_je9spgt wrote

When it explains the meaning of the movie to you but it still doesn’t make much sense or is compelling.


zeroultram t1_je9ua06 wrote

This comment is the perfect example of how that word is misused. That has nothing to do with what pretentious means


BigNics t1_je9uwvb wrote

Without searching it up, it’s extra implied meaning or importance to a message where there isn’t much or is at all. Pretentiousness isn’t confusing movies, but they can be. edit: spelling


zeroultram t1_je9vsmv wrote

So is it implied or explained clearly? You’re contradicting yourself


BigNics t1_je9w141 wrote

The importance of the message is implied but the actual meaning is muddled.