Saturday, 30 May 2015

Movie Clichés (in quotes)

Bumptious military types, disbelieving bureaucrats, and young and handsome earnest assistants. (imdb commenter on X the Unknown)

It contains every single cliché known to boxing movies: the nervous novice, the washed-up ex-champ looking for one more shot at the 'big time', the anxious wife who threatens to leave if he doesn't quit, the behind the scenes 'fix', camera close ups of ringsiders screaming for blood and of course the rows of spectators throwing imaginary punches during the fight scenes. (imdb comment on The Square Ring, Ealing 1953)

'Let's have a look at its DNA' she says looking down a microscope. #Prometheus (@AdamRutherford)

A BBC informant tells me the sounds of horses hooves in racing is in fact a generic recording of a buffalo stampede made years ago. (TheLondonSoundSurvey ‏@LondonSounds)

A dysfunctional family whose issues are quickly and easily resolved through token efforts.
The wise fool, an apparently foolish character who possesses greater wisdom than his educated peers. (Wikipedia)

Usually you are palmed off with a few well-rehearsed anecdotes and some meaningless guff about how great it was working with such-and-such and several sentences containing the words “blessed” and “happy” and an affirmation that they are “in a good place right now”. (Observer April 2015 on interviewing actors. It used to be “I’m not happy, but I am content.”)

I'm absolutely sick of sub-Hugh Grant/Gervais awkwardness in lieu of jokes. ‏(TV critic Paul Whitelaw)

It's weird, I know, but it is possible to ride a horse not silhouetted against the sky or sea. I've seen it done, by daring specialists. (@melindahaunton on Poldark)

‏ People that carry a torch are never involved in supernatural shenanigans. Kooky folk always drive VW beetles. The really zany ones have yellow convertible ones. #thingsfilmshavetaughtme (Some Bloke in a Hat ‏@toolegs)

Read a quote today saying when a boy finds their secret power, it's a superhero movie. When a girl does, it's a horror film. (Sophie Heawood ‏@heawood)

Movie rule no. 3,946: The bigger the difference in size between the hero and monster, the more wooden the acting. (@‏HamishMThompson)

I really enjoyed Mr Turner. It avoided, for the most part, the 'revelatory moment' trap of art bio-pics. (Charles Holland ‏@ordinarycharles)

It's part of a history of films that start out all Sciencey and then go woo without warning. (@AmyDentata)

This song makes me think suicide. Or... like I lost an important battle and my life is now meaningless so I fall to my knees in the blood-soaked snow and quietly shed a tear as I realize my failure... or something. (Commenter on youtube vid of Japanese song)

20 minute expositions, slow closing doors and men in waistcoats calmly discussing myth by fire = further ideals for horror. #TheMummy (Lauren Johnson ‏@History_Lauren)

An episode packed with cliches, from sunny pastoral love-making in the last days of peace in 1914 to maternal anguish at approaching war and a well-informed populace explaining mitteleuropaeische politics to one another. The dialogue had the colourless articulateness of earnest television drama with no indication of class background. (FT on Passing Bells Nov 2014)

‏Ancient Times film cliché no. 1: gladiatorial forearm-clasping handshake. Usually with "brother" somewhere in the exchange. Clichés in ALL films set in Ancient Times: mosaics, grapes, oily abs, knee-high sandals, remarkably elaborate metal hats, men in skirts. (@lucyfishwife)

Trying to remember a recent period drama that wasn't leaden and/or heavy handed. Can't. (Anna Carey ‏@urchinette )

Waiting for the inevitable "You can't prove a thing" "But you " "OK I'll tell you everything" #CrimesOfPassion (Colonel Blimp ‏@adamcreen)

"Ah, my vassals, I look forward to you showing me the same respect you showed my Fath - OMG WHY ARE YOU ALL REBELLING"/(20 minutes later, in dungeon) "Well, that escalated quickly." (Novelist Will Wiles)

Practically every large inner-London estate has featured in some film in the role of Ominous Backdrop. (Aditya Chakrabortty Guardian May 2014)

Anime Law: every otherwise good show must include a guy with purple hair who sits in a castle and broods all day. (Fred Scharmen ‏@sevensixfive)

Drama cliche 39: Woman chopping food in kitchen has fraught emotional discussion w partner; chops frantically until abandons in despair. (Lee Jackson ‏@VictorianLondon)

In Ridley Scott’s Black Rain, 1989, two New York City cops, maverick Nick Conklin (Michael Douglas) and happy-go-lucky (ie obviously doomed) Charlie Vincent (Andy Garcia) escort a Japanese gangster by the name of Sato (Yusaku Matsuda) back to Osaka to face charges.

And when will the new DC get a bizarre, tragic back story? (Celestial M. Weasel ‏@celestialweasel)

DOCUMENTARIESWas so excited about this Rome documentary but it's one of those with a synopsis after each ad break. And now they want to sell me a tour! (Harry Webb ‏@websofsubstance) 

#DragonsDen Why do you keep shoving spoilers out going through the show! Totally ruins shows don’t you know! (@DaveyBoi73)

We knew that they were fit for ridicule because every time they appeared on screen they were accompanied by a familiar musical cue – that jaunty upbeat jangle, with a dash of clarinet, which was once the preserve of puppets on children’s TV but has now been co-opted by factual entertainment to signify that the human being we’re watching is a contemptible idiot. (Kevin Maher Times 2014-08-23)

I mean, seriously BBC, for how long will you think it acceptable to score migrants, working class or overweight people with "comedy music"? (Alex Andreou ‏@sturdyAlex)

What wasn’t amazing was the amount of padding that – sorry – Kerri’s presence added. As lovely as she was, so much screen time was taken with her emptily repeating obvious soundbites about being put out of her “comfort zone”. (Alex Hardy in The Times on Tigers About the House, Jan 2015 Those participants’ pieces to camera are scripted, aren’t they? They even put them into Cash in the Attic, but I notice they've taken them out again.)

Modern TV history doc cliche no.1: "In this programme, I want to find out ..." No, you're making a TV show about it. You already know. (Lee Jackson ‏@VictorianLondon)

Half of it is a sort of combined travelogue/hero's quest/chat show, before they even start trying to cover any actual information. (AG on documentaries)

The producer’s attempts to make the story more dramatic meant hammy acting and low production values... A voice-over guided us through a series of reconstructions, but the lack of dialogue forced the actors to converse entirely through urgent facial expressions. Unsurprisingly, nuance was not forthcoming. Richard III, who looked like Alan Rickman in the Harry Potter films, with curtains of greasy black hair, spent the entire hour narrowing his eyes in distrust, and standing hunched in a corner, draped in black velvet, like a bat lurking at the back of a cave. The other suspects: Richard’s friend the Duke of Buckingham, his servant James Tyrrell, and his successor Henry VII, were no more subtly drawn. We were introduced to the “greedy” Duke with a shot of him stabbing an unidentifiable piece of meat with his knife and shoving it in his mouth. He even managed to chew suspiciously. (Daily Telegraph on Richard III: the Princes in the Tower)


Cautionary words in positive film review: "rambunctious" "ramshackle" "colourful" "zany" "yarn" "fun" "romp" "unique" "on a second viewing". (Andrew Male ‏@AndrewMaleMojo)

Bergmanesque: grey and depressing
Wenders-like: colourful and depressing
Capraesque: sentimental but sharp
Scorseseian: Catholic guilt
Allenesque: Jewish guilt
Hitchcockian: the director makes a cameo appearance
Lynch-like: could be significant, but who can tell?
Bertoluccian: floral
Spielbergish: childish plot, adult budget
Cormanesque: adult plot, childish budget


Star Trek computers have audio feedback in a vacuum. (Keith Judge ‏@KeefJudge)

Spaceships make that metallic rumbling screech. (RI And so do oil rigs.)

And computer displays say things like WORKING... in large letters, while making strange beedly-biddle-beep sounds. And in adverts, telephone support people and others wearing headsets have to hold a hand to the earpiece or microphone. (GH in response to observation that people in movies can talk normally with a rock band playing in the background.)

Men in Suits with Guns, Expensive Explosion" and Men Running in Corridor in Front of Flames. (RI on Netflix movies)

You've also got Men in Long Coats with Guns (with different sub-genres
depending on coat colour), Men in Historical Costumes with Guns, and don't forget the ever-popular People Shouting at Each Other for No Apparent Reason. (AG)

Don't forget the ever popular People Chasing Each Other. How many innocent fruit stalls have had to be knocked over in this worthy cause. (JS)

And Men/Women with Bald Heads for No Reason. We need some new cliches... (RI)

More here, and links to the rest.


  1. We all know US HIgh Schools are miserable places, but my favourite scene is always the one where the lonely but talented outsider walks the corridors, arms clasped over some books against their chest, looking miserable. Either empty corridors with many doors off, or else every other pupil is ignoring him/her while going in the opposite direction.
    This was certainly still going strong in Glee in recent years.
    This scene probably does feature in some Brit films, but I can't think of any.

  2. Maybe UK schools not as miserable - I hope!