Movies, we all know what one looks like after it’s had its 15 minutes and then walks the path of inevitable DVDism. And even though I gather most of my film consumption via DVD, I have even been known to do the occasional theater experience as well. I’d like to say it’s better, but you know how it goes, once you get there you find need for a tub of popcorn and a soda usually costs you slightly more than your first born, and if you want to get some Junior Mints to go along with that, you have to haggle with yourself on whether making your car payment that month is really more important than a box of processed dark chocolate stuffed with a foreign substance that is the equivalent of a aftermath of a candy canes sneeze. Sad thing is, sometimes we actually decide that chocolate covered peppermint boogers are worth being a little late on the car payment for the month.
There are some films that I think are enhanced by seeing them on the big screen. Granted, most of this enhancement comes from watching a film in a theater full of devoted fans as opposed to watching it with a group of people that are only in the theater because they want to get out of the summer heat. Fan excitement is a power to be reckoned with. Because of fan excitement I have found myself in the past enjoying the hell out of an incredibly mediocre film. Then again the opposite can happen as well. You can go to a rather exciting and entertaining film and if you happen to be surrounded by a collection of people jacked up on Ritalin, there is a chance it’s going to lose some of its splendor.
One of the magical aspects of the cinema is that it is an entertainment medium that gives every person that watches it the self proclaimed title of film critic. When first starting out as a film critic the initial practice of rating a film is very Roman in origin. A film either receives a thumbs up, meaning that it should be allowed to live so that others can experience the same viewing pleasure that you received. Or you give it a thumbs down, which simply means that you would recommend going to the dentist for a root canal as a viable entertainment option as opposed to seeing the film.
The situation that then follows is a result of film makers not holding themselves to a higher standard, or it could just be that the industry is flooded with trite and uninspiring film makers. The result is the relentless flow of films that are not good, but they don’t really suck either. This requires the novice film critic to add a new dimension to their film rating system. Enter the three star system:
1 Star = Hated it.
2 Star = It was ok.
3 Star = Loved it.
As opinions about film grow, so does the range of your ability to review a film, thus increasing your rating system to a five points, stars, A through F or something similar. For today’s purposes and to add clarity, I’m going to borrow Netflix’s five-star system and their definitions. It breaks down like this:
1 Star = Hated It
2 Star = Didn’t Like It
3 Star = Liked It
4 Star = Really Liked It
5 Star = Loved It
The problem I have with this is that there are way too many movies out there that evoke absolutely no emotion at all, or just fail to exceed any of your movie watching expectations, thus creating a completely new movie going experience. These are what I predominantly call background movies. Something you can put on in the background, while you are doing something else. The film really doesn’t have enough merit to encourage you to pay attention to them, meaning they are easy to ignore.
For me these are movies that earn my 3 Star rating. The nice thing about these films is their utter lack of interest, so it’s easy to work on other things and focus on other things while these movies play. This is the main reason movies I disliked or hated don’t fall into this category. Movies you dislike are instilling in you a negative response or an unpleasant emotion. On a personal note, if you are of the disposition that you need noise while you create and your preferred background noise is a television, please never create while a film that affects you negatively is playing. It’s just a bad way to create in my opinion.
Here is my personal 5 Star film rating system:
- 5 Star = Loved it. I am going to purchase this film when it comes out for my personal collection and worth watching a few times.
- 4 Star = Exceeded my expectations and worth the time I spent watching it.
- 3 Star = Met most to all of my expectations. An ok film… or in other words, out of all the movies I’ve ever seen that definitely was one.
- 2 Star = Mostly worthless. Met few to no expectations I had for the film.
- 1 Star = Screw you movie! That is two hours of my life I will never get back. I am actually stupider because I have watched this film. It might also be comparable to a vomit milkshake. (There are few movies that I hate this much, but there are some.)
If it makes sense to you, please feel free to adopt it and raise it as one of your own.
Also, based on that system, here are a few movies that I’ve seen that fall into each category:
1 Star = There Will Be Blood, No Country for Old Men, and Star Trek 5
2 Star = Aeon Flux, Burn After Reading, and Jerry Maguire
3 Star = Across the Universe, Crazy Heart, and Dances with Wolves
4 Star = The Breakfast Club, Dear Frankie, and O Brother, Where Art Thou?
5 Star = Harvey, The Hudsucker Proxy, and Stranger than Fiction
I do need to point out that I think for all people there is a kind of holy writ of viewing euphoria. It is very personal to the viewer and overflows with nostalgia, carrying with it such joy and appreciation that you could have it playing nonstop for days at a time. And whether you are paying attention or not, it’s fine, because you know that when you do stop and pay attention, it is always going to put a smile on your face, unconsciously causing you to appreciate everything in life that much more. It’s a kind of bliss movie, a blovie if you will. See even the word makes you smile. For me, it would have to be MST3K (or one of its off shoots), and for my sweetie-baby-cutie-pie its old Shirley Temple films. There is something permeatingly happy about watching Angela watch Shirley. They are a bit contagious in that regard.
So, what are some of your blovies?
Google Images, key words: watching movies, thumbs up, bored audience, and MST3K.
Must agree with you on “Star Trek 5”. And I would submit “Event Horizon” and “Lost In Space” as 1-star blovies. It’s not often that I find myself asking “WTF?” at the end of 90-120 minutes of flickering images, but those two really did it for me. Gawd, what stinkers.
And I will go against the cultural grain, and submit that “Memento” and “Pulp Fiction” are barely deserving of a single pip. So there. Nyah.
Love me some “Aeon Flux”, though. How can you go wrong with Charlize Theron in a skin-tight catsuit? Sigh…
Ha. I appreciate your fervor Dave. My list was not by any means an all inclusive list, I was just offering a few examples of each. As for Aeon Flux, sure there is a certain amount of eye candy, but the story and overall performances were do difficult for me to rummage through to get to any level were the film met my expectations, I just had to admit that even with Charlize Theron in a catsuit, it could not save the film all by itself.
Loving the blog and would agree with your ratings and would use your system in future.
As a side note, tying the last two blogs together were would you rate the hitchhikers film?
And i never leave home without my towel.
Thanks Gary, I appreciate the kind words and encouragement. As for the Hitchhikers film, I think it was a 3.5 Stars for me. There were a few brilliant performances, which exceeded my expectations of the film, but there were a number of things about the film that were ok, but not brilliant. As far as an adaptation of the book to film goes, I think they did a fair job with it, and managed to avoid failing miserably. It’s not a film I’d own, but I might borrow it from a friend or rent it every five years or so… although I think the main reason for that is due to the opening credits with dolphins singing “So long and thanks for all the fish!” One of the better opening numbers to a film that I have experienced in quite some time.
Either some movies are not worth mentioning, because they are forever crest within the great seal of creation, or doing so would just evoke total chaos on the reply end of things. But, since you mention Star Trek 5, I must mention Star Wars 4-6 as being a 5 star often imitated but never duplicated reel of movie magic. I had the pleasure-I know I did not expect to be pleased either-by attending the Star Wars in concert a couple of weeks back and found myself a bumbling six year old all over again. Narrated by C-3po himself, minus the suit which would have been awesome, I think. I cannot think of another movie-aside from Mamma Mia but that was a musical first, and then movie-that can port over into a symphony and still entertain the hell out of you as though it were your first time in the theater popping Goobers like Vicodin and kicking the hell out of the seat in front of you with gleeful anticipation as the trumpets kick in-till this day there is not one other movie that gets your heart racing at the very sight of the company logo than Star Wars. ADD kicked in…anyway, This and others like it- Indiana Jones (with the exception of maybe the last effort), Lord of the Rings, Hitchhickers guide (you think they will ever make a sequel?), Barron Munchousen (sp), time bandits, The Never Ending Story (yes, I said it!), and of course, Tron. When there are so many good juicy tender loins out there, why even discuss fast food?
Cheers and Good’aye!
Loved it! Well done young Padawan… now I want to go see Star Wars in Concert!
Blovie! what an interesting new word:)… we use the word film instead of movie in this part of the world, but bilms sounds like a nasty medical condition( as in poor old granny has come down with a nasty attack of the bilms!).. so I’ll stick with blovies:). There are lots and lots of blovies in my life, just recently I watched The Magnificent Seven again and it’s still wonderful. I really enjoyed it:).
I for one would be horrified if I came down with a case of the bilms. Although, I wounder if you could make that a new medical condition. Like the mind rotting effect of a really bad movie which renders you useless for a full 24 hours. That way you could call into work with the bilms and then spend the day having a movie marathon at your home filling you back up with films that bring you back to a reality were life and the world in general are a good place to be. I think it’s brilliant!