First of all, I want to thank all of you guys for your input. It's invaluable to me.
I wouldn't even call myself a beginning cinematographer, to be frank - I don't even have a camera yet. I'm in the process of looking for something but the prices are so damn high! My attraction to film stems from my fascination with the look of old movies. It's so unlike anything I see nowadays that I got to thinking maybe the hardware behind it all is the answer, seeing as most of my favorite films were shot before the digital era.
Guy McLoughlin, I think you may be right in saying there may be some rose-tinted glasses involved on my behalf, so perhaps with all that in mind, I should change my question to: what are the essential factors differenting the visual style of say, Wong Kar-Wai's or Terrance Malick's pictures from, let's say, The Avengers? I realise that this question can be answered by myself given enough research and that it has probably been answered a million times before, so instead, can you please point me to some place where I can learn how to recognize what makes a certain movie's visual side so special?