Maybe it's all in the context.
Earlier this week, I saw He's Just Not That Into You, which took place in Baltimore and may as well have taken place in the Mojave Desert or on a blank stage; the filmmakers didn't incorporate that city's personality in the slightest. It's a totally generic cityscape, and it doesn't help the already underwritten characters. The other thing that movie did was to drag on past the two-hour mark, obsessively wrapping up even the tiniest scraps of plot thread, or, in other words, flogging a dead horse. But then, the following night, I saw Paul McGuigan's Push. While not a classic by any stretch, I was endlessly impressed by how thoroughly the filmmakers incorporated its Hong Kong location; it feels like they actually spent real time there, and understood some of the local customs. And, at the end, the film merely stops when it gets to a satisfying stopping point, even though there's a bit more plot left to go. (It's the old showbiz adage: "always leave them wanting more.") It felt great, like someone was alive behind the camera, actually thinking about ways to make the movie.