(Ch. 1) Response Post (Due 9.3.18)

Response post (story, character, baggage) due September 3, 11:59 pm: After reading chapter one on story, character, literary heroes, character conflict, and baggage address the following thoughts and questions in the comments section below:

  1. What are some things that you feel will better prepare you as you begin to look at films in a more focused way?
  2. Was there anything new you learned from the information provided (on story, hero and character), or did it serve as a refresher/reminder? Share those thoughts.
  3. As you examine your baggage – what positive baggage draws you into a film more: story or character? Explain why you feel that is.
  4. And as for negative baggage, what stands in your way when deciding what films not to check out? Give examples.


16 Comments Add yours

  1. 1. More free time. Due to my class schedule, I will have more time to focus on the movie of the week. In the past, I have had to watch a film while I work on other homework assignments. I also believe that the experience of taking the Award-Winning Film class during the Spring 2017 semester will help me focus my mind on specific aspects of film. In short, I will have a more critical view of films. Looking specifically at the story, cinematic techniques, and acting.

    2. In terms of characters, I was unaware of how many different types of characters there are. Before the article, I thought there were only two types of different characters in each story, good and bad characters. But there are so many different types, each describing how the character is portrayed. Like Flat and static characters. I find it interesting to see that there are characters that are designed to be static so that the story is not drowned with dynamic characters. I haven’t realized that characters are designed with a special care of having a balanced cast of characters.

    3. Definitely story baggage. When people tell me about different new movies that they have recently seen, I listen for a good story, rather than listening for an interesting character. For example, the last movie I saw in a theater was Alpha. Now I was already going to see the movie when I was told that there are three big plot twists and that no one will see them coming. I brought this knowledge(“baggage”) into the theatre. Now it did not ruin the movie for me, but it made me more conscious of details, the whole movie I was constantly questioning different things that were happening. I wanted to know the plot twists! I was way more engaged in the movie because of this.

    4. In terms of negative baggage, I have a problem with people telling me that the movie has a predictable plot. Because of how critical I am of movies I don’t like watching a movie that someone else thinks is slow, poorly filmed, or predictable. Because if they think it’s bad then I for sure won’t like it. For example, I heard of the poor reviews for Solo: A Star Wars Story so I didn’t see it. I didn’t want to see a bad Star Wars movie so I let other people’s opinion change my goal of seeing the movie.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. noeltmanning says:

      Sam – Finding the “balance in characters” can be challenging for writers & directors … but if it is done well, it will benefit the story and engage the audience.

      Your baggage with “Alpha” is a perfect example of having to much backstory (or knowing too much “buzz”) about a film. Those things can provide hurdles.

      By the way … I LOVED “Solo.” And this comes from a long-time ‘Star Wars” fan. It provided a rich backstory, with humor, homage and a freshness to the Star Wars history. I also appreciated the casting.


  2. Celia García Martín says:

    1. What are some things that you feel will better prepare you as you begin to look at films in a more focused way?

    I would say that one of the things that definitely helps me to build my own opinion about a movie is try to avoid reading or hearing comments or critics about it. Sometimes I even watch movies without reading their synopsis in order to avoid creating preconceived ideas about the movie. I am not saying that this should be a strict rule before watching any movie, but I find interesting to do this every once in a while to truly find out how a movie might impress me or disappoint me while the process of watching it and not prior to this moment. Sometimes I apply these same principles to books and try to read them without knowing anything about them to discover the story little by little while reading the book.
    At the same time, it is hard to not be influenced by roles played by the same actors of a movie we are watching or not to think about other works of a certain director. We might often unconsciously look for similarities or features that we have liked in the past as some way to relive the same experiences that we have had with other films. However, we must be able to give both actors and directors the chance of seeing them play different roles or directing different genres of films to the ones that we are used to. Especially in the case of actors, they are precisely actors because they should have the ability to play many different characters and not let themselves be categorized in a certain role. Therefore, instead of always looking for similarities with other films, we should also focus in the differences to observe how actors and directors evolve and make of our film watching experience an enriching one.

    2. Was there anything new you learned from the information provided (on story, hero and character), or did it serve as a refresher/reminder? Share those thoughts.

    After doing the readings I realize that there are indeed many films that I avoid, not so much because of the actors, but because of the topics they deal with. For example, I do not usually watch horror movies and I am not a fan of stories with much violent content either. I do not know exactly the reason for this, but I think I might be to sensitive for these types of genres or topics. Nevertheless, I have watched violent movies in the past that I have enjoyed (Inglorious Bastards, Django Unchained) since I decided to give them a chance. Thus, from now on, I will try more often to get out of my comfort zone concerning movies and watch different genres that I do not usually find entertaining since many times you might be pleasantly surprised.
    I also found interesting to read that films are the sum of many components and all of them improve or worsen the quality of the film. For example, we might watch a movie whose story is not very exciting but that has a wonderful soundtrack. By this I mean that we should not only focus on the story and the characters, two main elements that many times shade other important factors for the atmosphere of the movie, but also in small details that might go unnoticed.

    3. As you examine your baggage – what positive baggage draws you into a film more: story or character? Explain why you feel that is.

    I would say both. On the one hand, I like movies whose stories I can relate to or that I would have liked to experience myself and which, to some extent, I can get to live through the movie and its characters. In my case, I also like watching movies from different countries whose stories are culturally embedded so I can learn from them. Likewise, although I must admit that I am a lover of happy endings, I also enjoy stories with unexpected turns (Shutter Island, The Departed) that change your whole perception of the movie.
    As for the characters, I enjoy watching movies with a typical hero role who gives the spectators a sense of justice many times lacking in the real world. Likewise, characters who change during the story also add a very interesting perspective to the movie. Such is the case of ‘Crash’ where neither the good ones are that good nor the bad ones that bad; or ‘Prisoners’ where what seems to be an exemplary father becomes a torturer so as to get what he wants.

    4. And as for negative baggage, what stands in your way when deciding what films not to check out? Give examples.

    As I mentioned before, horror, very violent or gore movies are not usually on my what to watch list. I have not seen many movies of this type because of my previous experience with them, which has not been very pleasant so far. However, I do think that some horror or violent films can make us think and reflect about issues that, unluckily, exist in the real world. For example, I remember watching a French film called ‘Martyrs’ when I was a teenager that impressed me and terrified me at the same time. I did not enjoy watching the movie since it deals with really difficult issues and the boundless evil of human beings, but it made me think about what certain people are capable of. The movie clearly had a message and it was told in such a vivid way that even to this day, ten years after having watched it, I can still remember it clearly.
    Thus, I have learned that some of these films, even though I do not like them, can have a very important goal: to show us the awful reality that some people go through or how the human greed can lead to perform horrible acts to the detriment of the weakest ones.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. noeltmanning says:

      Celia, It is difficult at times to avoid other comments, buzz or reviews about films (‘cause that can definitely influence opinion). But that is a great approach especially for film critics. Great connection to literature as well, I too, want the story and the characters to unfold and become real to me personally.

      Some actors, directors and producers get locked into the “same style” or “same role-different title”, but some have found ways to break through that (Tom Hanks, Michael Keaton, Ron Howard, Steven Spielberg to name a few).

      Thanks for sharing your baggage on horror and violent films, recognizing the baggage is the first step in thinking critically about film criticism. Finding meaning, purpose and reason for these films (and those stories) can help as we move forward throughout film exploration.

      You seem to have a wide tastes in films, that’s great and will come in as a benefit for you.

      Thanks Celia.


  3. What are some things that you feel will better prepare you as you begin to look at films in a more focused way?

    Simply the idea of going into a film with a more open mind, regardless of my interest in the particular genre, or the early critical buzz surrounding the film, should be incredibly beneficial. The job of a film critic is to analyze a film first and foremost, taking note of strengths and weaknesses. If you go into the film with your mind already made up that you aren’t going to like this romantic comedy simply because you are not personally a fan of the genre, then you are setting yourself up for a biased review. It is much easier said than done to go into a film unbiased, but this challenge will be extremely useful when it comes to sharpening my film criticism tools. Expanding my horizons to film categories that I have previously avoided will be a great method to further develop my skills as a film critic.

    Was there anything new you learned from the information provided (on story, hero and character), or did it serve as a refresher/reminder? Share those thoughts

    I had never thought about the extensive list of character illustrations in film. I knew that different heroes across various films portrayed a wide array of characteristics and personalities, but I was not aware that they each had their own category. According to the notes in the blog, there are at least seven divisions of heroes in film, including the anti-hero, the tragic hero, the romantic hero, the modern hero, the Hemingway hero, the epic hero, and the accidental hero. It was very helpful to have examples of each of these hero types given. I have seen most of the films with the noted characters, so it was valuable to piece that puzzle together and get a clearer idea of what each variation of hero is like. Now that I have a better understanding of this concept, it will be fascinating to watch each film with this knowledge and form a better character evaluation.

    As you examine your baggage – what positive baggage draws you into a film more: story or character? Explain why you feel that is.

    Personally, I would have to say that the story and plot of a film tend to intrigue me more than the characters. I am a huge fan of action and adventure films, including science fiction and fantasy genres. If I hear of a new film coming out from these categories, I am already interested. This is before knowing anything about the traits of the characters and what they bring to the film. Sometimes, I am fortunate enough to come across a film with great action, and well-developed characters. However, on other occasions, the characters in the films are not given as much respect as the action sequences. It often seems that the filmmakers only care about blowing stuff up, rather than creating memorable character personalities (*cough *cough Michael Bay). It is difficult to strike that balance of solid story and refined character, but the best of the best find a way to make it work.

    And as for negative baggage, what stands in your way when deciding what films not to check out? Give examples.

    While I thoroughly enjoy films with action and adventure, some categories that I haven’t always been a fan of include horror, romance, and disaster films. First of all, horror films have never appealed to me simply because I scare incredibly easily. I went to see the animated film Monster House when I was about seven years old, and I was so disturbed that my parents took me out of the theater. I think that experience has stayed with me, which is why I probably avoid horror films. In looking at my dislike for the romantic genre, I feel like this is a common trait for many guys, especially ones that enjoy action flicks. As far as disaster films go, I kind of have this “seen one, seen them all” mentality. However, in recent years, I have actually grown to appreciate a handful of these films, including San Andreas with Dwayne Johnson. I went into this film with a fairly negative mindset, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. I also was pleased with Hurricane Heist, released earlier this year. Perhaps previously, I did not even consider these films worth viewing. Looking back, I guess I did not have an excuse to say anything bad about disaster films, having not taken the time to watch them. Once I gave them a chance, I actually found some positives. If I can transfer what I have learned from disaster films, and give horror features and romance films a shot, then there is a possibility that I could learn to recognize their appeal as well.

    – Thomas Manning

    Liked by 1 person

    1. noeltmanning says:

      Thomas, Expanding your horizons & exploring films where bias exists will be something hopefully you’ll be able to do this semester.

      Gaining an understanding of the “hero classifications” will provide a great foundation for your as you examine your semester project focus. Use these as a guide into uncovering the best hero fit.

      I think that you’ll appreciate chapter two and our exploration of screenplay, story-structure and story as the genre (with Blake Snyder). It all goes back to the screenplay – strong story + compelling characters. I agree, that is not always easy to accomplish.

      The disaster/action films that DJ has explored as of late are appealing to me as well, if nothing more than for escape and fun.

      I may have to introduce you to a horror film masquerading as a romantic comedy…. That may be some negative baggage worth opening.

      Thanks Thomas.


  4. 1. What are some things that you feel will better prepare you as you begin to look at films in a more focused way?

    I guess the best thing that comes to mind is have a good amount of free time, or as I like to call it: “my Zane time.” One thing that really prepares myself is to watch more movies. I usually spend some weekends just watching movie after movies, whether it’s on Netflix or if it’s one that I just so happened to own. I’ve never had a film class, but I talk about movies all the time. I’m always going off of what I’ve recently watched or the latest movie news story that dropped and it’s always making me more versed in film and more focused on film. But maybe the biggest thing I always want to do with any movie is to go into it with an open mind because I never walk into any movie hoping it’s going to be bad.

    2. Was there anything new you learned from the information provided (on story, hero, and character), or did it serve as a refresher/reminder? Share those thoughts.

    For me personally, nothing about this felt new to me. I’ve always been able to identify who the hero is, who the villain is or something like the tragic character. I’ve always had these concepts and ideal glued in the back of my brain. The same thing goes for the story of the movie. Sure, a lot of great movies will recycle elements from other great movies that you’ve seen before, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned from watching movies, it should always be about the execution of it and that’s one aspect of film that I always need to remind myself.

    3. As you examine your baggage – what positive baggage draws you into a film more: story or character? Explain why you feel that is.

    This has always been a tough question for me because it could go down two different paths. If I’m watching a trailer for a movie, the first thing I want it to do is to present the story to me without giving me everything in 2 and a half minutes. I’ve been a hug proppant for original takes for action films and fantasy flicks and if I were to stumble upon a trailer for an upcoming fantasy or action movie and the story seems great then I’m going to give my $15 to see it on opening weekend. Obviously, positive word of mouth helps my excitement, but something that draws me more to a certain film is the cast and team assembled. But I think I’m much more story focused when it comes to any film that gets released.

    4. And as for negative baggage, what stands in your way when deciding what films not to check out? Give examples.

    I think something that’s not really considered a negative baggage but something where people overhype things with phrases like ‘Best horror film since The Exorcist’ or ‘Best rom-com of the year.’ One example of that is actually for a movie I saw during the summer and I actually really almost loved, and it was for an A24 film called Hereditary. was looking forward to seeing it because of the cast and marketing was solid, but every once in a while I would see TV-ads for the movie saying, ‘This is the scariest film since The Exorcist’, and my opinion on that is that I think people put too much hyperboles on certain films. As much as I love Hereditary, saying it’s scarier than The Exorcist sounds like an over exaggerated statement. Stuff like that really makes me take a slight step backwards because almost every movie get’s that treatment and sometimes it’s not well deserved.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. noeltmanning says:

      Hey Zane,

      Taking your “Zane Time” to explore as many films as possible is a perfect set up for film criticism. Reaching into films beyond your general comfort zone will expand your tastes, and I think you’ll discover some new styles, directors or stars that you’ll find appealing. You may even find yourself checking out more of their work. The more you watch, the more you review, the better versed you’ll be in film criticism.

      I’m glad this served as a refresher. You mentioned that nothing was new to you, had you been aware of the different classifications of “hero”?

      The review “blurbs” like the This is the scariest film since The Exorcist’, many times will come from actual critics. There are numerous times that we are asked by studios to provide a one-sentence thought or review. That is not always easy to do, but when the studios use your quote … well, that’s pretty cool.

      Thanks Zane


  5. jalissa9 says:

    Jalissa Herrera
    Noel manning
    September 3, 2018


    1. I think overall just looking at films more carefully. Last spring, I had taken a consumer behavior class and, in that class, we learned what people advertise in short videos, films and regular paper ads without it being obvious. Supposedly ad pop-ups can be anywhere especially in film. In the men and black the glasses, they were wearing was ray bans and they were just starting to get way more popular after that film. I believe that just paying more close attention to detail will make me understand film more in multiple ways. Maybe looking at the trailer before watching the movie or looking into who will be casting in the movie I choose to watch just to get a better understanding of certain characters what roles might be played. This class will definitely open my horizon even more of films and actually diving into the deeper aspects of it.

    2. I did not realize how complex hero’s and characters could actually be. What caught my attention the most is how characters can change good to bad or from bad to good. That a good character has so much detail and thought put into like in the blog it “They are so detailed that they seem as if they are real”. Also, how there are multiple hero choices and how that a hero is not just made to be perfect, but also in a human perspective where they also are driven by bad choices but are still recognized as the hero in the end. In the film, I have noticed before where some characters are “flat” where you can pinpoint bad acting or where the character is substantially flawed. It amazes me how much thought has to be put into a character for different movie genres and how you decide what category the character fits best in.

    3. Positive baggage that I carry is probably just when it comes to my favorite genre or my favorite actors. When you think of a favorite actor such as Emma Watson any film she is in I’m immediately drawn to it and want to learn more of the film and eventually watch it. If the genre is horror I get excited to see what it ends up being about. I tend to not look at the reviews or rotten tomatoes if it’s on topics I like.

    4. When it comes to bad baggage I tend to not lead to movies that are scientific base, westerns or historical in a sense. When I see genres, I don’t like I don’t even give it a chance. I sometimes even skip through the trailers. Which maybe if I did look at the trailer I might be intrigued or at least have a sense on what it is actually about instead of judging it right off the bat just because it is not my genre preference.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. noeltmanning says:

      Hey Jalissa,

      Great thought shared from the Consumer Behavior class. Many films throughout history have influenced or inspired product success (and even downfalls). Reese’s Pieces found tremendous success after being featured on E.T & Vans checker-board shows increased in amazing popularity after being featured in the film (and on the movie poster) for Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

      Continue to dive deep into character, hero and the driving-conflict. This will really help you in exploring Hermione Jean Granger.

      My next film evaluation assignment for you is a historical western based in science …. Maybe Cowboys & Aliens. 

      Thanks Jalissa


      1. noeltmanning says:

        Make that “Vans Checker-board shoes”


  6. Response:

    1. What are some things that you feel will better prepare you as you begin to look at films in a more focused way? I think letting go of worry of misinterpretation will help prepare me the most. I tend to take an empathetic and overly considerate view on whatever it is I’m taking in. I need to allow my brain to think on its own. Focusing on interpreting movies given my own experiences will help me become more emotionally invested in every movie I watch.

    2. Was there anything new you learned from the information provided (on story, hero and character), or did it serve as a refresher/reminder? Share those thoughts.

    A lot was a reminder, however the Tragic Hero was something I’ve never come across. After reading the explanation, I immediately realized that yes, this should be it’s own character category. But, I also couldn’t think of any off the top of my head. Googled it to fix that problem and SNAPE. What a perfect example of a flawed character whose demise is reasoned with within that character.

    3. As you examine your baggage – what positive baggage draws you into a film more: story or character? Explain why you feel that is.

    Because I identify as quirky and odd, I find myself liking movies just because other people don’t. I feel bad when so much work goes into a movie, and people write it off so easily for any reason. However, this positive baggage coincides with my negative baggage because:

    4. And as for negative baggage, what stands in your way when deciding what films not to check out? Give examples.

    If there is a movie, that everyone and their mother loves, that nobody stops talking about it on social media and there is a commercial for it every 5 seconds, I will inevitably hate it. My dad is the SAME exact way, so I blame him although I shouldn’t. For instance, Twilight. This was many moons ago, and I believe I’ve gotten better about it. BUT, I absolutely refused to watch twilight solely because my sister and every other white girl my age adored it at the time. Like I said, most of my pride has escaped me, but I still find myself leaning towards less popular and “spunky” films.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. noeltmanning says:

      Hey Kelsey,

      Great filmmakers can find ways to bring in audience, to engage in emotions. Hopefully you’ll find some this semester that will do that.

      Get to know and understand the hero and the character, that will help you as you explore your semester project.

      I’m happy to hear your thoughts about “films people consider bad.” I’ve often said that “real filmmakers never intend to produce a bad film, sometimes things happen along the way to derail an amazing concept.” I believe that most films were created for a reason (art, entertainment, experiment), and as critics, we should explore those reasons and evaluate if it did the job it was supposed to.

      Your negative baggage seems tied to “hype.” It really is difficult to stay away from all the buzz for “block-buster” or heavily-marketed films. Hopefully you can break through that baggage this semester … for at least one or two films.

      Thanks Kelsey


  7. drewpeden says:

    1. What are some things that you feel will better prepare you as you begin to look at films in a more focused way?
    • I have never approached movies in such a way, other than just watching them for entertainment. I feel like a way I can better prepare myself to look at movies in a more focused and studied way, would be to pay more attention to as many details as possible. Also going into a movie with an open mind, regardless of if ive seen it or not, also leaves me more open to see and hear new things I may not have picked up otherwise. Not all movies are the same, and even not all movies by the same producer is the same. Everyone has a different style with multiple visions. Knowing this will make the study and critique process easier.
    2. Was there anything new you learned from the information provided (on story, hero and character), or did it serve as a refresher/reminder? Share those thoughts.
    • I had heard most of this before, but while a lot of it was a good reminder, I did learn a lot about the different types of character. I knew about the types, but not in much detail. Now that I had thought back on what I thought characters were like and what type of character they were, I realize that I could have been completely wrong. I love how directors do such a good job at putting so much effort and detail into every aspect of a character.
    3. As you examine your baggage – what positive baggage draws you into a film more: story or character? Explain why you feel that is.
    • My baggage is without a doubt story. A story means the world to me, and regardless of if there is good characters or not or even if I like the characters or not, a movie is only worth it to me if the story is good. I personally get tired of movies with bad stories or a series of movies with a repetitive story. I like to see and experience new things, and when im on the edge of my seat at all times and if I start to sweat because of how much im getting into the film, then that to me is a good movie.

    4. And as for negative baggage, what stands in your way when deciding what films not to check out? Give examples.
    • Honestly, what sells me the most on a movie as to if I should see it or not, is the trailer. If the trailer, which is the first thing that anyone sees of a move, is not good, or if it doesn’t catch my attention, then I am not likely to see it. I wouldn’t want to go spend money on something where I didn’t even like the trailer of it. A bad movie trailer is my negative baggage.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. noeltmanning says:

      Hey Drew,

      I’m looking forward to having you expand beyond the entertainment factor, and in doing that you may also get a better appreciation why they are “entertaining”.

      As you get to explore character & hero, you’ll also find those that you’re drawn to more often, and those you wish to stay away from. That will help with understanding baggage and bias too.

      Let’s try to explore films this semester, even if you don’t like the trailer (or are not drawn in to story). I’ve found at times some of my favorite films are those with incredible characters (within a simple plot), or films I really didn’t want to see because the trailer was so-so. But your point about trailers is incredibly important, because creating a trailer that will appeal to the masses (or the target audience) is essential to the over-all success of “who sees it.”


  8. noeltmanning says:

    From Luke Gazak – Story, Character, and Baggage
    The recognition of the baggage I bring with me to the movies is more beneficial than I could have imagined. I had a good idea of the movies and aspects of it that I enjoyed and did not enjoy, but I never really pondered the impact it would have on my film critiques. What the recognition of my film baggage will do for my film criticism aside from focusing my attention on aspects of a film that I would not normally pay attention to. Is open new doors to genres and characters that I could potentially enjoy that I may not have known. Genre and lead characters are important to me in choosing and enjoying a film, and I know that. However, a romantic comedy or a musical with the main character that I might not agree with is a game changer.

    When it comes to story, character, and hero, it was a refreshing reminder as to why certain films appeal to me, and why my baggage contains what it does. I admire a story that is relatable, and a character that has drive, leadership, and reacts to adversity the way I might in a relatable situation. The actions of the character, or hero, in conflict, make a world of difference for me regardless of the conflict. Whether it be Man vs society, self, or god, I am drawn to a character and story that shows the development of the main character in a direction that I would personally go or feel related to.

    While examining the positive aspects of my film baggage and what draws me into a film more, it is clear to me that the character is most important. It is a pretty tough pick between the two if I am honest, but what compels me to say the character is more prominent in my baggage is the fact that the character can drive the story and create that atmosphere that appeals to me in the movie. A great example of this is the movie “Into The Wild“. I love the story and how Alex, the main character travels the country exploring nature free of judgment and societal pressure. But he created the story because that is what he wanted to see in his life. This is undoubtedly the positive aspect of my film baggage because the main character and characters are able to change my perspective on a film regardless of the genre or predetermined notion.

    As for negative baggage, my biggest hurdle is the genre. Despise is a strong word and I sometimes veer that way when it comes to romantic comedies, musicals, and romantic dramas. Strongly dislike is a more appropriate way of describing my feelings towards those genres. For example, 50 Shades of Grey, Grease, High School Musical, and The Notebook are all movies I have seen and could not stay awake for nor did I want to. I really don’t know the full reasoning behind my dislike for those films and genres. Possibly because they are girly or some other generic reasoning, but with the recent discovery of my film baggage I am more than willing to try things out again.


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