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#1 of 53 OFFLINE   Dustin Elmore

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Posted July 26 2005 - 06:12 PM

Am I the only person who’s extremely dissatisfied with state of movie reviewing? Every week there are hundreds of notable reviews written and none are done so with any consistency or practicality. To rate the films people use thumbs, some use stars or points, they’ll use a 5 star, or maybe a 4 star system. Or they’ll grade it, but they won’t have any reasoning behind the grades, they just arbitrarily say “B-.” When you wrote papers for English class in college, were there not clearly defined terms for how the material was graded—despite it being a work of art in some cases. Would it be too much for the MPAA or some other organization to institute some kind of review standard?
Personally I don’t like to read reviews before I see a movie, I just want to see the grade so I won’t be spoiled. Roger Ebert always has heavy spoilers in his written reviews, and there isn’t any kind of score at the end. Not even a stupid thumb. However, after seeing a film there are a number of reviewers whose thoughts I like to ponder. I always go to see the percentage at rottentomatoes, but that really is a misleading number. They would have you believe that it’s a percentage of how good the movie is, when in reality it is nothing of the such. And worse is that often it’s up to their own interpretation whether a review is positive or not. And there are plenty of Tomatoes on there that read like splats to me.
When I review a film, I like to use a 10 point scale, with sub-points in between if I want to be very specific. Like the Olympics. And I don’t just watch any crap film and say “Wow, that was great, I don’t see how that could have been any better,” just because there was one area or two that I happened to enjoy. I look at the major pieces of a movie; Direction, Cinematography, Editing, Music, Acting, Screenplay, and so on, and then rate each one of those individually. When a movie comes along that needs something extra taken into account, then you do so; like the originality of a remake. And then you look at the overall picture and see how it all comes together. There are so many movies that come out now, and it cost so much to see them. I can’t see them all and often don’t want too. It would be nice if all those overpaid film reviewers were actually helping me choose which films I want to spend my money on instead of just filling up space and wasting time.

#2 of 53 OFFLINE   Alex Spindler

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Posted July 27 2005 - 12:17 AM

Wouldn't this be to your liking?

http://www.metacritic.com/

#3 of 53 OFFLINE   Jason Walstrom

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Posted July 27 2005 - 02:05 AM

Quote:
Am I the only person who’s extremely dissatisfied with state of movie reviewing? Every week there are hundreds of notable reviews written and none are done so with any consistency or practicality. To rate the films people use thumbs, some use stars or points, they’ll use a 5 star, or maybe a 4 star system. Or they’ll grade it, but they won’t have any reasoning behind the grades, they just arbitrarily say “B-.”



Quote:
Personally I don’t like to read reviews before I see a movie, I just want to see the grade so I won’t be spoiled.

I think I know what you mean. The review talks about the movie and sometimes does and sometimes does not go into detail on why the film is good or bad and just gives a grade. I enjoy Eberts thumbs up or thumbs down but I don't really take reviews all that seriosly. How many times have you loved a film hated by critics etc.
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#4 of 53 OFFLINE   Dustin Elmore

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Posted July 27 2005 - 07:09 AM

Wow, thanks Alex, I've never heard of Metacritic before. I'll try them out for a while instead of Rottentomatoes, they sound as if them may be more accurate.

#5 of 53 OFFLINE   Mark Pfeiffer

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Posted July 27 2005 - 08:56 AM

Quote:
To rate the films people use thumbs, some use stars or points, they’ll use a 5 star, or maybe a 4 star system. Or they’ll grade it, but they won’t have any reasoning behind the grades, they just arbitrarily say “B-.”

From my discussions with other critics, many would prefer to write reviews without ratings (stars, grades, etc.) at all. I don't agree with that thinking 100%, but the argument is that it reduces complex opinions to an oversimplified score. Also, there's the belief that it makes all of the writing extraneous because people are looking for a rating only. And yes, some do consider their rating arbitrary.

Quote:
Would it be too much for the MPAA or some other organization to institute some kind of review standard?


The MPAA, or no other organization I can think of, has no authority in this area. It's up to the publication.

RE: the Tomatometer
Quote:
And worse is that often it’s up to their own interpretation whether a review is positive or not.

It may be different for the "cream of the crop", but the rest of us select "fresh" or "rotten" (along with any other rating) when we add our reviews to the database. In other words, if it reads positive but says "rotten", then either the critic made an input error or should have done a better job clarifying. (The fresh/rotten rating has no room for something in between, which is why you might be better served looking at the average rating score.)

Quote:
It would be nice if all those overpaid film reviewers were actually helping me choose which films I want to spend my money on instead of just filling up space and wasting time.

Can't say I know any who are overpaid. Many aren't paid at all or just scraping by. You don't get into this racket looking to get rich, that's for sure. The best advice I can give you is to find a few critics whose opinions are a good gauge for you. As far as I'm concerned, someone who you disagree with most of the time is just as valuable as someone who mirrors your tastes. (There are plenty out there to pick from.) Both help you figure out if you'd like the films in question.
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#6 of 53 OFFLINE   ThomasC

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Posted July 27 2005 - 09:21 AM

Quote:
Many aren't paid at all or just scraping by.
So how much do you think Frank Gabrenya makes (you better know who I'm talking about :P))?

#7 of 53 OFFLINE   Mark Pfeiffer

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Posted July 27 2005 - 10:05 AM

Quote:
So how much do you think Frank Gabrenya makes (you better know who I'm talking about )?

Yeah, I know him. Saw him at this morning's screening of The Great Raid.

He probably does okay for himself. For that matter, anyone writing full-time for a daily city newspaper is probably making decent money. After that, who knows?
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#8 of 53 OFFLINE   Dustin Elmore

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Posted July 28 2005 - 08:12 AM

I'm only referring to the more well known and supposedly professional film critics who work for major publications and such. The reviewers in the non-cream of the crop section are often just film fans who write reviews for a website. I wouldn't hold them to the same standard. I expect the professionals to have a background knowledge of film making, and be able to critique all the areas aptly. I don't think thats asking too much. And even if reviewers don't want to print their rating, wouldn't it be nice if they made it available to Rottentomatoes and similar publications to use for their data.

#9 of 53 OFFLINE   JohnRice

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Posted July 31 2005 - 08:46 PM

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Wow, thanks Alex, I've never heard of Metacritic before. I'll try them out for a while instead of Rottentomatoes, they sound as if them may be more accurate.
I sense a fundamental flaw in what you are seeking.

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#10 of 53 OFFLINE   DaveF

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Posted August 01 2005 - 05:45 AM

Quote:
Would it be too much for the MPAA or some other organization to institute some kind of review standard?


They can use my rating system, if they like. Posted Image I've added a simple numerical scale to suit your particular desires.

$10 = Worth paying full theater price
$7 = Worth paying matinee price
$4 = Worth renting
$2 = Worth watching at second-run theater
free = Worth watching on an airplane
-2hr = Two hours of your life you'll never get back

#11 of 53 OFFLINE   TonyD

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Posted August 01 2005 - 05:54 AM

quote:
"Wow, thanks Alex, I've never heard of Metacritic before. I'll try them out for a while instead of Rottentomatoes, they sound as if them(they?) may be more accurate."

"I sense a fundamental flaw in what you are seeking."


accurate?

a review of a film really only offers an opinion.
what accuracy are you looking for.
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#12 of 53 OFFLINE   Dustin Elmore

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Posted August 01 2005 - 07:34 AM

Specifically I meant the accuracy of how they judge the review, not the movie. But it brings up a good point. A lot of people like to think film is subjective, and it is to a small extent. But when a movie is well made, then thats a fact. Take a classic like The Wizard of Oz. No one is really going to say it's a bad movie, they might not want to watch it, but just because it isn't for them. Anyone who were to say it was actually bad would probably claim something stupid like "It has singin' in it" or "those FX are sooo outdated". If film were truly 100% subjective, then you would never be able to run a business off of it. Well made films get good reviews, poorly made ones get bad reviews. Thats a fact. Good Direction and editing, thats fact. There are specific ways its done, specific times to make a cut. Good cinematography, thats a fact. Color balance, Lighting, Shadow details, all are technical jobs just as much as they are Artistic ones. Good sound design, thats a fact. Good writing and acting, sometimes its muddled, but for the most part we all know it when we see it. Film is made up of technical processes that have small artistic spins on them, thats where the small amount of subjectiveness comes in.

#13 of 53 OFFLINE   JohnRice

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Posted August 01 2005 - 07:46 AM

Oh my. Where to begin?

Quote:
Good Direction and editing, thats fact. There are specific ways its done, specific times to make a cut. Good cinematography, thats a fact. Color balance, Lighting, Shadow details, all are technical jobs just as much as they are Artistic ones.
All art. All art has an element of science to it. Some artists, take Ansel Adams for example, are steeped heavily in the technical and not so much in the subjective. Others, Van Gogh, for example, tend to be the opposite. They each have their virtues and neither is more or less artistic, except to those who decide one is more worthy than the other.

The basic attitude of "this is the way you do this" is borderline art at best. The artist generally has enough technical ability that each decision is allowed several solutions. Choosing those solutions, particularly in a way not just anyone else would or could choose or create, is what art is truly about. Thank GOD, there is no such thing as "specific times to make a cut" or something finite which defines what is "good cinematography".

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#14 of 53 OFFLINE   JohnRice

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Posted August 01 2005 - 07:53 AM

One more thing I want to add. It is when the artist becomes so proficient in the technical that it becomes invisible or effortless that art can finally take form. Yes, technical proficiency is a huge plus, but it is the beginning, not the end.

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#15 of 53 OFFLINE   Dustin Elmore

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Posted August 01 2005 - 08:14 AM

John we are pretty much in agreement, there is really too much on the subject to type, I just scratched the surface to try and get my basic point across. Let me be clear, I'm really only talking about "commercial" films (which certainly doesn't mean they have to have less art to them), any kind of experimental film usually trys to create its own rules, and is much more subjective as a result. But for the flicks we see in our local cineplex there are certain times to make a cut, ALWAYS. Every cut in every film has to be made for a reason, and if there is no good reason then it is a bad cut. For purposely poor cinematography to be accepted as being a good artistic choice, there has to be one hell of a good reason. I actually can't think of an example though, can you? Wait, The Blair Witch Project would work I suppose. By normal film standards, the camera work in that movie was awful, but there was a reason for it and it worked because of that. The point is that many people claim film validation to be nothing but opinion (usually when they are arguing over the merits of a particular movie) when there is much more to it than that. Like you said, all art has science to it, and science is all about fact.

#16 of 53 OFFLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted August 01 2005 - 08:24 AM

Actually, science is about observation, and repeatability of such observations. That a movie is considered "good" is most likely a consensus (depending on who is asked to pass judgment on a film), but not necessarily a "fact".
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#17 of 53 OFFLINE   JohnRice

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Posted August 01 2005 - 08:34 AM

Dustin, were are actually almost in complete disagreement. Mainly due to how you seem to believe there is a single "right" time to make a cut, which seems to imply, any other choice is wrong for some reason. Just one example.

Patrick, I was using the word "science" to mean the technical aspects of art. So, it doesn't fit your definition, but I suspect you know what I meant.

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#18 of 53 OFFLINE   Joe Karlosi

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Posted August 01 2005 - 09:28 AM

Quote:
A lot of people like to think film is subjective, and it is to a small extent.

I'm one of those who thinks film critique should be mostly subjective, to a large extent. If there was only one precise and "objective", factual way to approach reviewing a film, we would not need critics and different opinions and viewpoints. We'd all be machines with only one program, and I don't accept that.

Quote:
But when a movie is well made, then thats a fact. Take a classic like The Wizard of Oz. No one is really going to say it's a bad movie, they might not want to watch it, but just because it isn't for them. Anyone who were to say it was actually bad would probably claim something stupid like "It has singin' in it" or "those FX are sooo outdated".

For me, THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939) just happens to be one of the best films ever made, IMO, because it is both "well made," as well as "subjectively appealing to me personally". The best situation of all is when a movie works for you both cinematically along with subjectively or aesthetically.

But when you say "when a movie is well made, that's a fact" I don't think it matters sometimes. Because a film can be technically and cinematically "well done," yet be a real bore on a personal level. On the other hand, a movie may be very cheap and badly made on a technical level, yet it's somehow entertaining for you in a personal way.

Quote:
That a movie is considered "good" is most likely a consensus (depending on who is asked to pass judgment on a film), but not necessarily a "fact".

VERY well said, Patrick.

#19 of 53 OFFLINE   Michael Elliott

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Posted August 01 2005 - 09:42 AM

Quote:
But it brings up a good point. A lot of people like to think film is subjective, and it is to a small extent. But when a movie is well made, then thats a fact. Take a classic like The Wizard of Oz. No one is really going to say it's a bad movie, they might not want to watch it, but just because it isn't for them.


This here can work both ways. Someone said it's a consensus and not a fact but I personally believe it is a FACT. Reviews are certainly just opinions but these legendary great (or bad) films have that rep for a reason. Some might not agree with that "fact" but in most cases, I think it's up to that person to tell us why ON THE WATERFRONT is the worst film ever made.

However, you did say knowledge should be something a reviewer has and I certainly agree. With that said, I think WIZARD could come under attack from one of these critics considering how many versions were released before that 1939 version. The 1939 version is certainly considered the champ but I'd say the majority haven't seen the silents and wouldn't bother. If a critic had seen them all, then gives a good reason, I'd take his word.

As for critics, you're a lot better off reading reviews here and at other sites because you can see how much "knowledge" a viewer has. If someone calls SUNRISE the worst film ever made, I think it would help me, a reader, if I knew this guy hated silents.

#20 of 53 OFFLINE   Joe Karlosi

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Posted August 01 2005 - 09:47 AM

Quote:
Someone said it's a consensus and not a fact but I personally believe it is a FACT.

But that's not really the definition of what a "fact" is.
95 out of 100 people surveyed may agree that a film is "well made," yet it still would not be a "fact" in the literal sense of the word.

Now, if you'd want to say "it's a fact that the majority thinks this is a well made film," well - that IS factual.


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