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All Movie Talk

Welcome to All Movie Talk! In this audio podcast, Samuel Stoddard and Stephen Keller talk about old and new movies, famous directors, historical film movements, movie trivia, and more.

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Movie Cliches I'm Sick Of

I'm not usually one to complain about unoriginality. Every story reuses themes, plots, characters, settings, and everything else from earlier stories. The movies are all about finding interesting takes on familiar subject matter. But there are some cliches that are so overdone, I feel they're just crutches for lazy filmmakers. What follows are some elements I can do without ever seeing again in the movies. Be sure and chime in with some that particularly bug you.

The chess metaphor

I don't even care what your chess game is a metaphor for (not that it's ever anything other than a metaphor for some other conflict between two sides) I don't want to see it. The one exception is if you're adapting Raymond Chandler. Otherwise, I don't need to see anyone explaining the current war in chess terms, I don't need to see God and the Devil playing chess, etc. If you have chess, it should be just a literal chess match. To a lesser extent, this is true for all games. Most of them are a little less overdone, but some of them run a real risk of getting worn out. I'm looking at you, poker.

Redeemed by sports

Similar to my chess gripe, I'm sick of sports being used as a metaphor for personal redemption. The guy who's washed up and has to prove something both to his team and himself? Seen it. Look, if your movie has central plots that have entire South Park episodes devoted to making fun of them, you can go ahead and cut that stuff out.

Small towns with big secrets

Memo to David Lynch: we get it already. Small towns are full of people whose lives are just as sordid as everyone else's. There's evil lurking under the surface everywhere. Spare me. Have you writers ever lived in a small town? I did once, and my recollection of it was that everyone was too into everybody else's business for them to secretly harbor torturers, murderers, space aliens, etc. On a related note, there are exactly zero small towns in the world where everyone is on the scheme to lure tourists and campers to their unsuspecting demise. I've seen that enough times, too.

Wise beyond their years

Ever notice that very few columnists and professional pundits are under the age of 30? Do you know why this is? It's because the younger a person is, generally, the fewer interesting things they have to say. Ever have a conversation with a child? It's pretty much pure hell to actually discuss a single issue for more than 30 seconds with them. Yet in the movies the younger a person is, the wiser they seem. I don't ever want to see an eight-year-old giving profound advice to an adult again.

It's the little things in life

When a character gets some little trinket at the start of the movie, just once I'd like for it to never matter again. But, no, it always ends up being just the thing needed to save the day. I can't remember this ever happening to me in real life, and I don't think it comes up very often in history. "Thank heaven that Eisenhower had that jackknife his father gave to him or else D-Day would have been a failure!"

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