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Excellent Movies vs. Bad Reviews

By Crashnbur in Media
Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 10:17:15 AM EST
Tags: Movies (all tags)

Has it ever occurred to you that perhaps, if only once in a while, the movie critics get it wrong? Take, for instance, the movie Finding Forrester. The word in Hollywood is that the movie is all too familiar. It gets bashed for being unrealistic (okay, so I find about two plotholes, compared to the twenty or so I've seen elsewhere that I can easily justify) and stereotypical. Apparently this type of movie has been done before. Because of these negative reviews, the movie is doing quite poorly in the box office. However, I can sit here and tell you that this movie does not deserve its destiny. This movie is a masterpiece, in my opinion, and will be in my very small video collection when it is released in a few months.

"So what's the point?" you're asking....

My point is that the critics all too often get it wrong, and we listen to them as though they were the gods of Hollywood telling us what is good and what is bad. Tell me something: do you listen to your parents when they tell you that chocolate is bad for you, or do you eat it anyway? Do you listen to your morals when they tell you not to make fun of the weird kid, or do you do it anyway? Do you listen to music critics when they tell you that your favorite band's new CD sucks, or do you buy it anyway?

Perhaps we need some form of community-based movie review center. I'm sure something of the sort already exists, but the fact that I don't know about it would lead me to believe that the community it reaches out to isn't big enough. (Also, I'd hate to limit such a thing to just movies, but perhaps the entertainment industry in general is deserving of some sort of community review.) Then again, this would require us to get out and see the films in the first place, which takes me back to my original problem: the critics have us convinced that some truly great movies are horrible, and vice-versa.

Or, perhaps, I am just bitter because I loved Finding Forrester and not a single critic out there seems to have given it a high rating, and because of that, the movie will never reach any type of high acclaim that I feel it should. So many deep thoughts and issues are brought into light that I cannot imagine anyone like me disliking the movie. I think it's right up the K5 crowd's alley... but I only speak for myself.


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Excellent Movies vs. Bad Reviews | 79 comments (67 topical, 12 editorial, 0 hidden)
'Finding' a good movie. (3.00 / 5) (#3)
by nospoon on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 02:57:04 PM EST

I agree 100% that it was a good movie. I really enjoyed it.

I have one basic rule when it comes to movies, if the popular movie reviews hate it - I watch it. I haven't been disappointed yet...

'Desire that is Friday'
Get Yourself Some Good Critics (5.00 / 1) (#48)
by supine on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 01:25:42 AM EST

Here in AU there are two good sources of weekly movie critiques:

First is the Movie Show (Web Site) which has two excellent reviewers who I tend to agree with, but, even if I don't, it is the objectivity of their commentary rather then the number of stars a movie gets that really helps me pick a film I will enjoy.

Second is the Sydney Morning Herald (Web Site) who usually has some decent, well thought out and clearly written commentary a couple of times a week. They avoid giving things a rating, which means that they can be objective about it rather then trying to "quantify" how good a movie is.

my 2 cents

"No GUI for you! Use lynx!!!, Come back, One year!" -- /avant
[ Parent ]
Wow - did movie critics rate this comment? (OT) (5.00 / 1) (#58)
by nospoon on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 09:30:10 AM EST

Average of 2.5 with 4 ratings - must be another case of movie critics under rating something good.

'Desire that is Friday'
[ Parent ]
Collected ratings (3.00 / 5) (#5)
by sugarman on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 03:05:25 PM EST

rottentomatoes.com seems to have some of what you might be looking for. It's not "open" though. It's more a collection of all national reviews.

As for critics, I can understand how they can get jaded. That's the toughest thing. But I find that of you follow a critic for a while, you can get a sense for how "On-The-Mark" they are, or how their tastes differ from yours, and watch you flicks accordingly.

Everything is subjective. Just find the delta, and refactor.


Something similar: (3.00 / 5) (#6)
by ramses0 on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 03:09:33 PM EST

Take a look at the yahoo movie review. Now, don't read a word of the text, but instead look at the star rating.

The star rating is probably the result of 50billion internet users given the option of clicking 1-5 stars. It's a pretty good general populace thoughts of a movie.

When I check for movie times on movies.yahoo.com, I'll always take a look at the star rating first, and if it's a 2, then I'll reconsider. Otherwise, I watch what movies I want to watch, and read the reviews after I've seen the movie (so I have some context).

And by the way, Yahoo will one day rule the world, IMHO. Take a look at the links on the left: "Alert me when this is available on DVD". That's just psycho.

--Robert (my $0.02)
[ rate all comments , for great justice | sell.com ]

IMDB (none / 0) (#52)
by Robert Gormley on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 05:45:07 AM EST

I prefer IMDB's voting system. Registered users and proper statistical analysis, breakdowns by demographics. And the types of information available on films is quite comprehensive...

[ Parent ]
Look at the Internet Movie Database (4.10 / 10) (#7)
by dreamfish on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 03:10:34 PM EST

The movie rating and comment system at IMDB is the nearest thing to a community-based review. On the whole I've found most of the comments there intelligent and well written.

It's actually a blessing (3.71 / 7) (#8)
by itsbruce on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 03:13:46 PM EST

when the critics pan a film you like. You don't have to fight your way into a crowded cinema. You don't have to tell everybody what you thought of it or listen endlessly to what everybody else thought of it. It doesn't get so overdone by every media outlet that the collective idiocy and marketing spin-offs drive you to hate it.

It's not like a joke, where the punchline is more enjoyable if everybody laughs. The only people you have to share it with are the people you watch it with. Not even then, if you know them well.


It is impolite to tell a man who is carrying you on his shoulders that his head smells.
The provinces suffer... (none / 0) (#46)
by elenchos on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 11:55:42 PM EST

When you live in a podunk town like Spokane, WA, the smaller movies either don't get shown at all, or are only around for a short time. So you really get deprived when the critics pan them. For example, "Run Lola Run" was only shown one night and I missed it, and "Girlfight" was here maybe a week, and I only barely caught it.

Wait...Didn't the critics just drool over "Run Lola Run" and "Girlfight"? Yeah, they did, come to think of it. That's why I was so bummed out when I missed "Run Lola Run," because I heard it was so great. Well, aside from that, there are probably few examples of a movie doing well or poorly in contradiction to the all-powerful judgements of the critics. Except, "Independence Day," which the critics hated, but the public paid to see in droves. OK, that's one, or, um... three, I guess. But I bet you can't think of any more. Except...

[ Parent ]

We do, huh? (3.77 / 9) (#9)
by DesiredUsername on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 03:14:38 PM EST

"My point is that the critics all too often get it wrong, and we listen to them as if they are the gods of Hollywood telling us what is good and what is bad."

First of all, there's nothing to "get wrong". The quality of a movie is 100% subjective. Yes, 100%. I don't care if you can't hear what people are saying and everything is invisible--somebody will love it.

Second of all, I never read and rarely watch reviews (a little Ebert is the only exception). And I don't listen to Ebert--I just watch the clips and decide based on that and the summary of the plot. I certainly don't consider reviewers/critics the "gods of Hollywood".

Come to think of it, I don't watch many movies, either.

Play 囲碁
Hollywood (2.33 / 6) (#11)
by Seumas on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 03:15:53 PM EST

Personally, I couldn't possibly care less if Hollywood and movie creators are unfairly punished by unjust movie reviews. Of all the things in the world, Hollywood is the least that I care about being 'fair' to. So they make 40million instead of 300million and the star only earns 10million in their next film instead of 30million. They'll live and I'll find something else to care about besides Spielberg and MGM.
I just read K5 for the articles.
I feel the same way about Japanese cartoons. (none / 0) (#43)
by elenchos on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 11:43:20 PM EST

Which is why I always vote 0 on anime stories, though maybe now with the new system I'll abstain instead of voting 0, since 0 is no longer a completely neutral vote.

And of course, I refrain from posting to stories about topics that I couldn't possibly care less about. YMMV.

[ Parent ]

Reviews for thinking people (3.57 / 7) (#12)
by fossilcode on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 03:18:06 PM EST

A site offering thoughtful (and long) reviews of movies can be found at moviegeek.homestead.com. The site had a long hiatus over the latter half of last year as the guy who ran it was working too much to see any movies, let alone review them.

The site operator originally posted his reviews to a company-run internal bulletin board, but later branched out to the web. You'll find his reviews to be insightful, and not the usual industry "me too" crap. I'm hoping now that he has more free time, that the gaps in his review library will be filled in.

At this writing, he had not reviewed Finding Forrester and had not announced that is was forthcoming. Too bad.

"...half the world blows and half the world sucks." Uh, which half were you again?
You actually read movie reviews? (3.00 / 8) (#13)
by Mantrid on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 03:20:34 PM EST

Heh you actually read movie reviews from 'professional' critics? You can usually almost guess what they're going to say about any given film. I think these guys watch too many movies and become jaded, Simpsons-comic-shop-guy type people before too long, or they just get too artsy.

I basically just read movies reviews in the paper for a laugh.

It does seem like they 'don't get it' a lot of the time.

One neat movie site i go to on occasion is A.I.C.N. which is basically a bunch of movie fans that collect rumours on up and coming movies. They also do reviews;they are usually somewhat rant like, but are entertaining, and you can usually get a good feel for what the movie is like.

The only reviews I read... (none / 0) (#14)
by greyrat on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 03:42:21 PM EST

...are here.
~ ~ ~
Did I actually read the article? No. No I didn't.
"Watch out for me nobbystyles, Gromit!"

[ Parent ]
They get bored (none / 0) (#27)
by DeadBaby on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 05:01:50 PM EST

With the same movie, staring different people with the same tired plot, direction and music. You can hardly tell the difference between many of these movies. Movie critics are for people who love film and not just whatever happens to be playing downtown on any given weekend.

No one should listen to them if they don't understand this.
"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan
[ Parent ]
Never fails (2.54 / 11) (#15)
by jasonab on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 03:44:17 PM EST

Such an incredible collection of elitism in a single batch of comments....

America is a great country. One of the freest in the world. -- greenrd
Yes (4.00 / 3) (#18)
by Spendocrat on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 04:00:17 PM EST

But do you have a point, caller?

[ Parent ]
community reviews? (3.33 / 6) (#17)
by delmoi on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 03:56:21 PM EST

I'm not quite sure what your getting at. You liked a move that most critics didn't like. So, obviously the whole movie review system is broken and needs to overhauled? I'm not quite sure about that...

Look, I liked The Postman and Watterworld, (I was pretty young when they came out) but that doesn't mean that they were good movies, just that I might have different tastes then other people.

I think the thing that bugs me most about your post is the assumption that having a 'community' review system would be better (as well as the assumption that it doesn't exist already, on other sites). I mean, why exactly would the 'community' come to different conclusions the professional movie reviewers?

I'm sure finding forester might be a good movie, but to me it just likes Good Will Hunting warmed over (I mean, even the name is similar 'finding' 'hunting'). Same themes, same everything but with a black guy. ohhh...
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
The resason critics are stupid is... (3.00 / 7) (#19)
by GreenCrackBaby on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 04:07:28 PM EST

that most are "film studies" graduates who, rather than speak of a movie's entertainment value, base their review upon its message, or artistic content, etc.

Plus, many seem to be paid off. I don't know how many shit movies I've seen rave reviewer comments on. Maybe they trash forrester because they didn't get a bribe (or enough of a bribe).

Sad part is, majority of people ARE influenced by these morons.

you seem to forget... (3.50 / 2) (#21)
by cbatt on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 04:34:44 PM EST


This is evidenced in almost all commentary media. Laziness on the part of the author to actually do research on the subject at hand. Rather they regurgitate what they receveived in their press kits and then slap on an opinion based on many external factors indirectly related to the subject.

I bet that most movie reviewers really only watch about 60-75% of the stuff they review. They just make up something that sounds good for the stuff they find uninteresting or don't have time for. That's my theory as to why so many reviews sound so similar and say the same things over and over again.

I mean, read the reviews for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. They all mention something about it's similarity to The Matrix and the wire fighting and the "fluff" and never concentrate on the real meat of the movie. IMHO, that's because the reviewers actually enjoyed the movie and the press kit mentioned that it would be nice for them to cooperate and state these things about the movie rather than concentrate on the meat because the marketroids have determined that emphasis of certain aspects will draw crowds.

Did you like the movie? Please paraphrase the following:...
No time to watch the movie! Paraphrase this:...
Hate the movie? Don't expect another press kit from us.

I think that if you've read this far you can also see the parallels between movie reviews and any other sort. Such as software reviews (in commercial rags such as C|Net or ZDNet).

Before you can understand recursion
you must understand recursion.

[ Parent ]

Why Critics are Better (4.30 / 10) (#22)
by ignatiusst on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 04:34:57 PM EST

Critics are, and will continue to be, better than any community-based review system. Why? Because I may not be able to trust the opinions of critics, but I can get a feel for certain critics. If I read the reviews of the same guy/lady every week.. pretty soon I get a feel for his/her views and can adjust my understanding of that review accordingly. Ebert gives it a thumbs up? Chances are I will hate it..

In a community setting, this just isn't possible. I would have to listen to a sea of voices and take my chances that the community's majority opinion will match my own... And in this community, you guys would have me setting though every bad Matrix-styled movie that hit the market... Yuck.

When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. -- Jonathan Swift

Find a critic who is consistent (none / 0) (#31)
by Vulch on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 06:15:40 PM EST

In the UK, a critic by the name of Barry Norman used to present a film review programme on the BBC. I often found I didn't agree with his opinion of a film, but if I paid attention to the wording he used and the way he phrased things I could generally tell if I'd enjoy a film he didn't and vice versa.

Avoid the "star" reviewers, stick with the ones that actually know about films and film making.


[ Parent ]

Whose Scorecard? (4.10 / 10) (#23)
by eskimo on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 04:38:21 PM EST

Certainly the producer's scorecard is the box office. And maybe the director's and actor's scorecards use some criticism from the establishment. But on the whole, like with anything else, actors, directors and producers and gaffers and whoever know when they do a good job, and they know when it doesn't matter because the movie sucks. They also know when they do a good job and the movie is beautiful. In the end, for the people who make the movies, I think it is an inside thing.

Honestly, I think you have fallen into a trap. Grosses are not that important. Reviews are not that important. Grosses are something else the media uses to show that they are right or wrong in their reviews. But that is not what makes a movie good or bad. Tons of great movies never make the top ten. And reviewers review them too. Hell, sometimes they even review them positively.

I saw Finding Forrester and on the whole, other than F. Murray Abraham's rather flat performance, I liked it a lot. Do you think negative reviews will affect this project at all, though? Sean Connery will find work. The kid has a huge future, as even negative reviews throw him a bone. Gus van Sandt gets to do whatever he wants. Busta Rhymes also has a future. In short, it doesn't really matter what the critics or even the audience thought of the movie. Go to IMDB and look at these people's careers. This is a blip either way.

Quick, what movie did Sean Connery win his Oscar for?

The Untouchables. See what I mean. Even if you didn't have to think about it, most people wouldn't have known at all. And that is the highest possible accolade an actor can get.

There are a hundred variables that go into getting a movie, from concept to can, made. A review doesn't matter either way. Don't believe the hype. The box office tallies are not a scoreboard. They aren't there to validate or invalidate your opinion. Enjoy.

Vertigo was branded a failure, but is now viewed as among the finest films ever.

I am my own home. - Banana Yoshimoto

Two theories and a link (3.80 / 5) (#24)
by dennis on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 04:47:13 PM EST

My theory is that critics write primarily to impress other critics. Whether non-critics will agree with their take on the movie is a lesser consideration.

My brother's theory is that critics see such a large number of movies that it warps their perspective. What's overdone and hackneyed to a critic might not seem so to a person who doesn't watch movies for a living.

I rather like this bastard: Filthy Critic.

Don't forget Mr Cranky (none / 0) (#78)
by shadarr on Fri Feb 16, 2001 at 02:12:59 PM EST

Another great site for honest appraisal of today's movies is Mr Cranky. He rips on everything, and rarely says anything positive, but if he gives it only one or two bombs it's probably a good movie.

[ Parent ]
Community reviews (3.75 / 8) (#25)
by hkeith on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 04:48:29 PM EST

There are several community review sites like you hypothesize; ePinions and ThemeStream being two of the better known ones. I will usually check out the reviews on ePinions before I read 'official' reviews; it's not difficult to find good ones due to the opinion-rating system, and you can 'subscribe' to those authors whose tastes seem to match yours.

(This is not a plug for either site - I have written some stuff for ePinions, but they've pissed me off by shutting out new opinions for the past three weeks, and I personally find ThemeStream unnavigable.)


Movie Critics (3.37 / 8) (#26)
by DeadBaby on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 04:59:13 PM EST

Movie critics only offer their opinion. Anyone who tries to view it as fact is going to be upset. Many of my favorite movies were bashed by critics but that's fine with me.

You have to remember, movie critics watch A LOT of movies. How many romantic comedies can you see in your lifetime? How many "generic racial mismatch dramas" can you see in your lifetime?

I take this subject personally because I consider myself a movie critic. I don't publish my reviews, or even write them down, but I do love film and I normally see more movies in a month than I can remember.

Anyway, the point is; How many movies from say... 1960-1970 do you watch? Probably the 10-20 best of that period. Movie critics look at movies this way. Sure there were lots of other good movies in that period but they're simply not worth wasting your time on. That's why they get bad reviews.

Once you see enough bad/good/average movies they all just blend together and the great ones stand out.

"Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity -- in all this vastness -- there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us." - Carl Sagan
Who trusts critics? (3.66 / 6) (#28)
by avdi on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 05:08:16 PM EST

Everyone I know seems to be of the opinion that professional movie critics are useless. I say get your movie recommendations from a trusted friend.

Your idea for a community review database is nice... might be worth posting to ShouldExist. It would have to have a fairly well-devloped web-of-trust though, and some type of feedback so that the system could learn which reviewers typically recommended movies you liked. For a good example of this kind of "collaborative review" check out MovieLens and Movie Critic. These sites don't have reviews though, they just recommend movies to you based on the movies you rate good or bad.

I'd also suggest Rotten Tomatoes as a good resource for reviews... while they seem to collect their reviews from the usual magazines, papers, and e-zines, they at least have a very large selection of reviews for each movie.

Now leave us, and take your fish with you. - Faramir

An Amusing Example (in the negative) (4.33 / 9) (#29)
by DontTreadOnMe on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 05:17:40 PM EST

I concur with the poster's comments regarding movie critics. As an example, I would like to cite one of the truly worst films ever created: The Blair Witch Project. Indy or not, filmed on a budget or not, the movie was simply, by any measure, bad. The web page was far more entertaining than the film (and was a clever move ... it got be to go see it).

Yet the film got rave reviews, so much so that it became a national sensation. Like the old (Mark Twain?) story of a small town which gets suckered into paying money for a truly terrible stage play, mostly because everyone who went to see it were so embarrassed to have done so that they lied, telling everyone else it was great and thereby allowing the farce to propogate itself until the con man running the show made off with the takings, friends told friends how great the film was ... only to admit under questioning later that they hadn't really liked it at all, and didn't really know what they were thinking at the time, recommending it.

Two points I'm trying to make:

  • Art critics do wield inappropriate power, and in so doing kill good works of art and elevate shoddy work to fame, but ...
  • Review by one's peers is not foolproof either, and can run just as far amok (think: herd mentality). What is popular is often tripe, what is not is often brilliant.

We need both, along with a method to balance the two against one other. It would also be nice to be able to track individual critic's choices and correlate them to how well they fit our own individual opinion, such that we might more consciously weigh their opinions against our own more appropriately. We do this all the time with those we know -- the same discretionary power needs to be extended on a wider scale, to those we know less well, or not at all, who make public comments and critics we may or may not agree with.

Most of all, remember: Friends don't let friends go see Blair Witch.

http://openflick.org - Fighting Copyright with Free Media
More k5 Post-Modern Debate Technique (4.00 / 4) (#32)
by eskimo on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 07:13:55 PM EST

...one of the truly worst films ever created...by any measure the Blair Witch Project was a bad movie...art critics wield inappropriate power...

For those of us keeping score at home, lemme make sure I got this straight. You are bemoaning the critics community by criticising something (harshly)?

I am my own home. - Banana Yoshimoto
[ Parent ]

You noticed it, but missed the joke (5.00 / 1) (#56)
by DontTreadOnMe on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 08:56:51 AM EST

You are bemoaning the critics community by criticising something (harshly)?

Yup! I was pointing out, in a gentle and humorous way, that if we replace critics with ourselves, we merely become critics. Replacing one set of culture nazis with another.

My harsh criticism of Blair Witch (which I stand by, by the way) was intended to underscore that very point. Ironicly, you got the underlying point, but missed the joke I think.

I do propose a possible solution to this quandary, however ...

http://openflick.org - Fighting Copyright with Free Media
[ Parent ]
I am still on a Dial-Up Connection... (5.00 / 4) (#63)
by eskimo on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 02:17:27 PM EST

I have sarcasm and irony disabled, otherwise pages take forever to load. It's a real pain in the ass, but we all have our crosses, right?

I am my own home. - Banana Yoshimoto
[ Parent ]

Bad? Why? (5.00 / 1) (#59)
by CrayDrygu on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 11:28:37 AM EST

As an example, I would like to cite one of the truly worst films ever created: The Blair Witch Project. Indy or not, filmed on a budget or not, the movie was simply, by any measure, bad.

You know, no matter how many people I see who think BWP was such a horrid, horrid movie, not a single one has offered up a good epxlanation why.

I happened to like the movie, myself. A lot. Why? Because it wasn't like any other movie I've ever seen. It was new and fresh, not because of the content, but because of the style. It was much more believable because of the amateur filming techniques -- it looked like something that college kids running through the woods really could have filmed. Plus, it wasn't a horror film the way they tend to be today, where the goal is to see how much blood and gore you can cram into 90 minutes. BWP wasn't meant to be horrifying, just really creepy, which it certainly succeeded at.

Even my friends who didn't like the movie admit that, without all of the hype, they probably would have liked it. So I'm curious...what makes you think it was just outright bad?

[ Parent ]

Here's why (5.00 / 1) (#61)
by leviathan on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 12:19:18 PM EST

I happened to like the movie, myself. A lot. Why? Because it wasn't like any other movie I've ever seen. It was new and fresh, not because of the content, but because of the style. [snip] Plus, it wasn't a horror film the way they tend to be today, where the goal is to see how much blood and gore you can cram into 90 minutes. BWP wasn't meant to be horrifying, just really creepy, which it certainly succeeded at.

I'll admit that the hype did influence my viewing of the film; the backlash had started by the time I saw the film, so I was expecting it to be either really good or really bad. In practice, I found it a little bit bad and a lot boring.

The main emotion I felt throught the film was irritation; irritation at the stupid kids going into the woods after apparently 'preparing'. Basically, acting generally dumb so that by the time the 'creepy' stuff started happening I was thinking it was just what they deserved. Probably the style helped bring me to this conclusion rather than 'people can't possibly be this stupid - it's obviously a story', which I would have done otherwise.

I can't say I really found it creepy either. I'm glad it wasn't a gory film, as those tend to elicit the 'obviously a story' response and increasing boredom when the flashy fx aren't on screen (and little else). Creepy is Nosferatu, creepy is Halloween (the original one), it's not Blair Witch.

Oh, and the ending was pants too — maybe I'd have found that more exciting if I was vaguely interested in the characters by that point.

I wish everyone was peaceful. Then I could take over the planet with a butter knife.
- Dogbert
[ Parent ]

BWP viewing conditions (none / 0) (#65)
by rusty on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 03:23:37 PM EST

I think the "loved it or hated it" thing with Blair Witch Project was all about viewing conditions. If you saw it after the major hype hit, you probably hated it, because it just couldn't survive the hype, and because if you knew about the hype, you probably knew enough about the film to spoil it.

Another factor I noticed was that people who had been camping in similar environs were much better able to suspend disbelief and put themselves in the movie, which made it a hell of a lot scarier. My "outdoorsy" friends were far more affected by the movie than my city-dwelling friends.

The thing was, the whole movie relied mainly on the viewer's imagination. If you didn't have anything to draw from in imagining the situation, or if you already knew too much about what was going to happen, it just didn't work. Thank god I saw it when I didn't know anything about it. Scared the socks off me.

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

s (3.50 / 4) (#71)
by delmoi on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 11:28:30 PM EST

'people can't possibly be this stupid - it's obviously a story'

People can be pretty god damn stupid.
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Movie reviewers. (2.66 / 6) (#30)
by gromm on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 05:41:08 PM EST

I learned my lesson from "Titus." Back when I used to actually watch TV, I judged movies by their trailers... I carefully avoided the ones that looked stupid and watched the ones I thought looked like they might be good. I also took reviews from friends and an occasional professional into play. But since I've moved to a new city, with a less reliable source of reviews and no TV, I had to go by what reviewers said about this movie.

The reviews I had read said that it was "Gladiator for smart people." So my girlfriend and I went out and rented the DVD. I know now why Shakespear (sp?) is still alive and well in the acting community - it's because it's overly dramatic dreck where every single actor gets a long speech. While great actors can pull this off without making it look excruciatingly dramatic, none of the actors (with the possible exception of Jeremy Irons... but only a possible exception) in this movie were able to pull this off. Add to that that the script was "improved" with some nifty modern-day cliches, and I couldn't even get through the first 45 minutes. And if that makes me stupid in the eyes of whoever wrote those reviews, so be it. I doubt they could tell the difference between their asses and a hockey stick anyway.
Deus ex frigerifero
A shining example of the problem, here.. (none / 0) (#73)
by Chiron on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 06:33:06 PM EST

I loved Titus.. It's nice to see Shakespeare outside of the well-trod titles like 'Merchant of Venice', 'Romeo and Juliet', and the generally overacted 'Hamlet'. The visuals are very interesting to look at, and if you pay enough attention to the movie, the plot is very good and interesting.

Perhaps you aren't happy with it because it isn't the same as all the other screenplays on the screen today? Titus was an extremely Victorian piece, and is rooted in a kind of brutal morality that isn't prevalent in the world today.

[ Parent ]
You're absolutly right ... (2.75 / 4) (#33)
by gullevek on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 07:20:30 PM EST

Hi! I just came back from the today sneak preview (they show movies that will start in a view weeks and you never know what they will show today). So today was Finding Forrester. I was absolutly amazed about this movie. It will get a 9 or 10 in the IMDB and I give 9 or 10 only to a very view movies (actually only 12 from 130 movies got it).

I do watch a lot of movies, I go to cinema at least once a week, own a lot of DVDs and I give shit on critics. Everyone has his own opinion. A movie can be bad or ca be good. But somtimes I hate a movie and a friend loves it. Now I would give it a bid critic, but perhaps I just don't like cause it is not my style of movie, so ... and so on.

So my advice is, don't listen TOO much to critics ... make your own decision!

mfg, gul
"Die Arbeit, die tüchtige, intensive Arbeit, die einen ganz in Anspruch nimmt mit Hirn und Nerven, ist doch der größte Genuß im Leben."
  - Rosa Luxemburg, 1871 - 1919

Collaborative filtering (4.25 / 4) (#34)
by Eimi on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 08:23:58 PM EST

What we really need is a good site for collaborative filtering for movies, music, books, etc. The idea of collaborative filtering is that everyone rates bunches of (in this case) movies, and then the system finds whose tastes are most like your own. Then it checks what else they rated highly, and tells you, on the assumption that you will like those too. There used to be a site called firefly that did that, and it was great, but it seems to be down. Does anyone know of any other implementations?

MovieLens (5.00 / 2) (#36)
by shirobara on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 08:36:55 PM EST

MovieLens does just that. I've been using it for quite some time since I read a New Yorker article about it, and so far it's been accurate and useful. (Except by now it keeps giving me these obscure foreign films to go look up!)

[ Parent ]
List of Examples (4.00 / 3) (#35)
by katravax on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 08:28:58 PM EST

These are movies hated by reviewers when they came out. Which of these movies do you like? Which of the reviewers' names can you remember? I think the list speaks for itself. IMO, these are all good movies. This is only a partial list, but the critics trashed these.

  • The Wizard of Oz
  • The Princess Bride
  • Hudson Hawk
  • Wild Wild West
  • Brazil
  • Naked Lunch
  • The Postman
  • Waterworld
  • Manhunter
  • The Cutting Edge
  • Fight Club (half and half)
  • Primal Fear
  • Amazon Women on the Moon
  • Gattacca
  • 13th Warrior
  • Oscar
  • Eyes of Fire
  • Idle Hands

Re: List of examples (4.00 / 2) (#51)
by Gorgonzola on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 04:59:50 AM EST

Although I haven't seen half of the films on your list, I have to say that Waterworld wasn't anywhere near good. The same applies to Wild Wild West. Both got trashed for good reason. One has to admit though that you have a point here. Most of the times I read reviews in order to determine whether the concept of a certain film is interesting or not, not whether the film is any good. And yes, the Wizard of Oz is brilliant.
A page a day keeps ignorance of our cultural past away, or you can do your bit for collaborative media even if you haven't anything new or insightful to say.

[ Parent ]
Of course, it's still subjective (5.00 / 1) (#64)
by katravax on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 03:15:00 PM EST

I had no doubt people that didn't like certain films on the list would mention it, but I still thought the list would make its point. I was talking on the phone to a friend last night about this topic (we're both movie aficionados) and his opinion was that reviewers tend to give bad reviews to movies they don't understand. In the partial list I posted, most of them have one thing in common: clever and witty dialog.

I can't tell you how many reviews I read that complained about the singing-while-stealing in Hudson Hawk, or the learning-the-language scene in 13th Warrior, or the handicapped-vs-negro dialog in Wild Wild West. What most of the bad reviews had in common was fairly clear when you realize the reviewers just didn't understand the purpose of the scenes. I'm not saying you personally didn't understand that scene in Wild Wild West, because after all, opinion and taste play into this whole discussion, but those were clear examples I could make about reviews in general.

The same thing happened to me the first time I watched Cecil B. Demented. I thought it was just disgusting and crude in general... until it dawned on me that it was made to spear specific movie devices too common in mass market movies. I fear that's the problem a lot of movies employing satire run in to. Sometimes the satire is too thin or too thick, and may be mistaken for a serious attempt or the point may be lost in general (think Fight Club, Dogma, and the Scream series). And without meaning to be insulting, I don't think many professional movie reviewers understand satire, nor are they able to follow fast, witty dialog.

[ Parent ]
Mmkay. (5.00 / 1) (#62)
by Crashnbur on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 12:41:48 PM EST

I only like two of them, but I haven't seen at least half of them.


[ Parent ]
Rusty plays critic (5.00 / 1) (#66)
by rusty on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 03:38:27 PM EST

I think your list more proves the theory that "someone will like anything". Because I know you all care so much:
  • The Wizard of Oz: Historically noteworthy crap.
  • The Princess Bride: Crap
  • Hudson Hawk: Crap
  • Wild Wild West: Utter, egregious crap. I fell asleep during the "big climax". Oh god, was this bad.
  • Brazil: Fantastic movie, and I think you're wrong that the critics hated it. In fact, it was a group of American critics that finally got the damn thing released in the US. Check your history on this.
  • Naked Lunch: Pretty good, but weird. Liking Cronenberg is a must for this one.
  • The Postman: Crap
  • Waterworld: Utter crap.
  • Manhunter: Didn't see it.
  • The Cutting Edge: Isn't this that ice skating movie? Good lord.
  • Fight Club (half and half): Lots of fun. Not nearly as significant as it wanted to be.
  • Primal Fear: Crap
  • Amazon Women on the Moon: Crap
  • Gattacca: Boring crap
  • 13th Warrior: Dear lord
  • Oscar: Didn't see it
  • Eyes of Fire: Didn't see it
  • Idle Hands: Are the Devil's playthings (didn't see it either)
Hey, maybe we should have a new feature. "Rusty's one-sentence film reviews". If you're going to disagree with a critic, shouldn't the reviews at least be short?

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]
Amazon Women on the Moon (5.00 / 1) (#67)
by ti dave on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 04:00:32 PM EST

Was intended to be a farce, was not ever intended to be a serious flick and it succeeded! The mission was to make me laugh, and it did!

"If you dial," Iran said, eyes open and watching, "for greater venom, then I'll dial the same."

[ Parent ]
YMMV, of course :-) (5.00 / 1) (#69)
by rusty on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 04:51:48 PM EST

The main point being, everyone has different tastes and expectations. "Amazon Women on the Moon", for example, was often compared to "Kentucky Fried Movie", so I expected it to be funny. I ddin't think it was, particularly. You did. That's cool -- everyone has different tastes.

What people too often don't get about critics is that they're just giving you their opinion. Some try to fool you into believing that they're "right" somehow; maybe they believe that themselves. But they're not. They just have an opinion, like yours or mine.

Professional critics at least have the advantage that they've seen a lot of movies, so they can probably better place the film in context for you. "If you liked X, you'll like Y" is always the most useful kind of review for me.

By the way, while we're on movies that were supposed to be funny, what's the deal with "There's Something About Mary"? I had so many people tell me that was the funniest movie they ever saw that I finally broke down and rented it. What an utterly predictable, sappy, boring, unfunny piece of crap that was! Were they handing out nitrous at the theatres for that, or what? The worst movie John Cleese ever made* was light years better than that. If anyone who liked it could clue me in on what was even remotely appealing about that, I'd appreciate it.

* Which was, by the way, Clockwise, which is still worth watching for one scene:

Girl: "I'm hungry!"
Cleese: "I know you're hungry. We're all hungry. But we cannot eat now because we are in a field!"

It's funny when he does it, anyway. :-)

Not the real rusty
[ Parent ]

There's Something about Mary (none / 0) (#72)
by ti dave on Thu Feb 01, 2001 at 04:25:59 AM EST

I went into the theater on that one, expecting an un-funny chick flick (wife made me go) and I was laughing nearly non-stop throughout...
Maybe there was a Nitrous leak ;-)
Then again, any Monty Python player amuses me too!

"If you dial," Iran said, eyes open and watching, "for greater venom, then I'll dial the same."

[ Parent ]
Community review sites (4.00 / 4) (#37)
by einstein on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 09:03:24 PM EST

among the others mentioned in other posts, Hollywood Bitchslap is another site with community movie reviews. Reviewers get voted on how well the community agrees with them, and you can follow your favorite reviewers. On a side note, I don't know what this indicates, but my favorite reviewers hated Finding Forrester.

All we need are JUSTIFICATIONS for reviews (3.66 / 6) (#39)
by ToastyKen on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 10:57:54 PM EST

I think the problem is in the people who simply look at the number of stars without thinking. What a good critic does is to tell you why they liked or disliked a movie, thus letting you judge for yourself to some extent.

For instance, I find Roger Ebert to be a wonderful critic, partly because I agree with him a lot, but mostly because even when I don't agree with him, I can usually tell, directly from his review!

There are certain types of movies where he will make complaints that I know won't apply to me. (I loved Independence Day, for instance, and I knew that I would even though he hated it. That is, I could tell from his review that his complaints would likely not apply to me.) There are also certain types of movies where he will praise them, but his review gives me enough information about the tone that I know I probably won't like it anyway.

So I think it's all about having a skillful review that tells you the type and tone without giving away the plot.. giving the reader enough information to determine for themself whether or not they'd like the movie.

Good point. (5.00 / 1) (#44)
by Crashnbur on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 11:43:53 PM EST

I'll agree with you. The reviews I was speaking of all gave the movie a less than good but better than bad review. They stuck it right in the middle for the most part. I read most of the reviews in their entirity, although I admit skipping many of the details. Most of the critics seemed to be bored with the movie, while I was constantly intrigued for two hours.

I was told this once: "Don't do what you love for a living. You'll end up hating it."

So I guess I can understand the negative reviews...


[ Parent ]
Movie critics are tired (4.40 / 5) (#40)
by ToastyKen on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 11:02:51 PM EST

One issue you have to keep in mind is that average movie critic watches something like half a dozen movies a week..

Thus, they really have "seen it all" when it comes to the typical genres and formulas. Consequently, they tend to have much lower tolerances for movies that aren't innovative in some way even if they execute their formula well enough to engage audiences who don't watch over a thousand movies a year.

I'd also argue against what you said about people listening to critics. It's my experience that people do not listen to critics more often than not. In the case of Finding Forrester, I think it's the kind of movie that normally doesn't do too well at the box office anyway. I doubt it would have done too much better if a few more critics had praised it.

True. (5.00 / 1) (#42)
by Crashnbur on Tue Jan 30, 2001 at 11:40:39 PM EST

You make a good point, but just because this movie isn't innovative in comparison to others of the genre or formula doesn't mean that it isn't better. The formula shouldn't be weighted so heavily; it's the subject matter that counts. In my opinion, your first point is that which I believe makes a bad critic. I might be alone on this, but that's just me.

As for your second point, again being valid, I'll have to agree. However, this movie is much, much better than the average film that does twice as well in the box office. Of the twenty people that I surveyed after they saw the movie (as part of an experiment for a Psychology class), all said that it was worth the money, all but one said it was better than average, and half said they would likely buy the movie when it came out on VHS or DVD. Twenty is a very small sample size, I realize, so I can't really extrapolate too accurately using my survey. Not to mention the lurking factor that most people only watch movies that they are interested in anyway. But you didn't want a lesson in statistics. Still, I find the results supportive of my point and worth mention.

I will definitely be buying a copy of Finding Forrester. Will you?


[ Parent ]
for every good movie... (4.00 / 3) (#47)
by kei on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 12:19:23 AM EST

Consider the bad reviews that movies like Save The Last Dance (which is currently #1 in the box office) get. I don't think you can blame critics for a movie's success of failure. Most successful movies have effective ad campaigns, yet I can tell you that I saw all of zero trailers for Finding Forrester.

Frankly, I don't see the majority of the movie-going public (which you refer to as "we" -- surely you couldn't be attempting to identify the small subset of K5's readership on absolutely no evidence) being as influenced by critics as you claim. Obviously "this movie stinks worse than a truckload of manure" didn't stop the movie-goers who made The Grinch a box-office smash.

And about community reviews - Yahoo! certainly has them, as does IMDB and countless other movie sites. The question is whether anybody will evaluate every movie exactly the same as you, and I doubt it.
"[An] infinite number of monkeys typing into GNU emacs would never make a good program."
- /usr/src/linux/Documentation/CodingStyle

Rotten Tomatoes (4.00 / 3) (#49)
by Fyndalf on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 03:25:35 AM EST

Or, perhaps, I am just bitter because I loved Finding Forrester and not a single critic out there seems to have given it a high rating, and because of that, the movie will never reach any type of high acclaim that I feel it should.

I saw this movie tonight, mainly because I'd seen so many good reviews. Rotten Tomatoes lists 71 reviews, a large majority (53) of which are positive.

As a movie review centre, I think that site functions quite well - it outlines the main thrust of each review and generally gives you enough info to decide if you find their reasons for liking/disliking a film valid without actually reading the review. Plus it has a plot synopsis, trailer, etc.

So instead of reinventing the wheel, perhaps get them to allow users to comment on each review/movie? Then their database gets more content to impress advertisers and attract viewers, we get a better prediction of movie quality, and ads get ignored like usual. win/win/status quo situtations are pretty easy to bring about ...

Or is there a real need for a movie review site with Kuro5hin-level control?

Reviews on the 'net (4.00 / 3) (#53)
by leviathan on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 07:03:36 AM EST

A source I usually find to be good is the rec.arts.movies.reviews moderated newsgroup - out of the first two I found, one agrees with the critics and one agrees with you. It's no good for finding movies to go and see (there's too much there for that), but it's good if you want to research someone's suggestion.

Normally, I'd suggest moviecritic, but they got bought by macromedia - who sent me a mail to my moviecritic address with an evil embedded link (which I fell for, hook line and sinker). Besides, Finding Forrester isn't on there.

I wish everyone was peaceful. Then I could take over the planet with a butter knife.
- Dogbert

Critics versus the rest of us (4.00 / 2) (#57)
by wintermind on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 09:14:37 AM EST

I am not a movie critic, and like Mr. Cranky, I do not have a Ph.D. in "feelm". Given that I know nothing about the academic theory of film and criticism, I am not going to comment about the validity of the concept of the professional movie critic.

My point is simple: movie critics watch films for different reasons and in different ways than most moviegoers. I personally prefer the opinions of friends who have tastes similar to mine to Roger Ebert or Rex Reed. I suspect that most people are the same way. My suggestion: ignore the critics and enjoy yourself.

"Consider him warned." --David Wilcox
Harry Knowles does it well (5.00 / 1) (#60)
by Erf on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 11:38:16 AM EST

I like the way Harry Knowles handles his movie reviews. On those rare occasions when he feels the need to discuss the movie in detail (ie. spoilers) he gives ample warning. More importantly, he gives enough information about why he did and didn't like the movie that, even if I don't always share his taste, I can usually tell if I will like the film. (Not only that, but he tells you what kind of day he had before seeing the movie, so you know what kind of mindset he had going in.)

...doin' the things a particle can...

Critics that don't see the movies (5.00 / 1) (#68)
by randomname on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 04:26:01 PM EST

One thing that I can't stand are the reviews that are clearly written based on press clippings. Here in Austin, the 'regular' newspaper has had several instances of reviews that were written by critics who had clearly not seen the movie. It's truly pathetic when people who make their living writing short snippets on movies get basic plot facts wrong. Journalistic bias is bad enough in real news, but when a critic can't even bother to see the film he's reviewing...well, that's just one more reason why I don't subscribe to the paper.

As mentioned elsewhere in the thread, Hollywood Bitchslap and Filthy Critic are excellent sources. I enjoy the fact that the 'Net has helped to expose critics for the pretentious windbags they are.

Critics "not getting it" (5.00 / 1) (#70)
by ucblockhead on Wed Jan 31, 2001 at 06:30:01 PM EST

I don't mind so much when a critic doesn't agree. Opinions differ, and there are plenty of movies I just flat out hate, despite their obvious objective quality. (Like Pulp Fiction for instance. I hated it utterly, but recognize its positive qualities.) But what I do hate is when critics make criticisms that so obviously miss the point. A great example is the critic who complained that in the movie Dark City, "William Hurt and Jennifer Connelly seem to be sleepwalking through their roles". Well, duh...that's part of the damn point!
This is k5. We're all tools - duxup
Bad Marketing (2.00 / 1) (#74)
by thePsychotron on Sun Feb 04, 2001 at 01:55:24 PM EST

I did not see Finding Forrester. I rarely read reviews, and I did not read any reviews for Finding Forrester. I only saw the short TV preview, which for the most part _did_ look somewhat interesting. That is until the right at the end where Sean Conery says "You're the man now, dog!" What the hell was that? The moment I heard that, I mentally woke up and realized the movie sounded a bit like Jerry McGuire. Not that I'm saying those two movies are anyting alike, but it does sound like the marketing department remembered the surprise success of "Show me the money!", realized that both movies had main characters that dealt with athleats' careers, put two and two together, and tried to forcibly implant their own cache phrase into our daily speech, hoping to cash in like Jerry McGuire did. Of course, it horrifically blew up in their faces. Hearing an old Brittish actor whose voice is quite famous say "You're the man now, dog!" taken out of any type of context (it might actually make sense when he says it in the movie), just makes me say "huh?" It makes him sound like he's making fun of black people. I believe that just plain old bad marketing killed this film, not bad reviews. Anyway, I decided to go see Snatch instead.


Re: Bad Marketing (none / 0) (#79)
by lil on Fri Feb 16, 2001 at 02:18:55 PM EST

First, I apologize for messing up the rating on the previous post. I'm new and it was a mistake.

Second, I have seen this movie and I'm not sure why the preview even shows that part about "You're the man now, dog!" except to maybe show the strangeness of this relationship because who the heck would expect an old scottish white guy (in horrible clothes :)) saying something like that to a young black kid? I think it's demonstrating the fact that Connery's character is purposely outside of the norm in society's eyes.

But no one who hasn't seen the movie will get that, I think. They're more likely to get annoyed like thePsychotron here did, and who can blame them? I get annoyed and I've seen the movie.

FWIW, I thought it was an decently good movie. It definitely had potential but a few of the implementation details were lacking. I won't post my specific comments about that because I'd hate to ruin a good movie for someone else.

[ Parent ]
review sites. (none / 0) (#75)
by Quix on Mon Feb 05, 2001 at 02:28:59 AM EST

Well it seems to me that you can find good movie reviews (or should I say reviewers) out there on the net, it just takes sometime. Much like anything else.

Actually with films, the problem is finding too many reviews rather than too few. This is not so much a problem with book reviews where I haven't found a decent site dedicated solely to reviews. (any good sites anyone?)

Personally I tend to only read reviews by a couple of reviews who tend to have opinions which seem to agree with my own. However, as well as the myriad of places mentioned above you could try the Online Film Critics Society or [shameless plug] my very own baby, Quix-stuff one line reviews.

Righty ho, enough said.


In every work of genius we recognize our own rejected thoughts: they come back to us with a certain alienated majesty.
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson, _Essays, First Series: Self-Reliance_.

A big problem is... (none / 0) (#76)
by Armaphine on Thu Feb 08, 2001 at 03:48:49 PM EST

...that most of these movie critics, for the most part, have some kind of artistic background, or they've got this or that journalistic training or whatever. They're looking for things that are completely different from what we might be going to see the movie for. Prime example: any action flick. These things are cookie-cutter made. They have precisely zero plot. A lot of the time they're full of two things: Hot chicks wearing practically nothing, and lots of gunplay / martial arts / explosions (basically someone whuppin' on someone else). That's it. Nothing to it, right?

Then tell me why the Die Hard trilogy went over so well. Why they've made four Alien movies. Why John Woo still keeps kicking out movies. Why? Because we love 'em. They're eye candy. They have nothing to offer the higher pretenses, but if you just want to go shut off your brain for a couple hours, they're awesome.

That's why a lot of the time, critics and moviegoers disagree.

Question authority. Don't ask why, just do it.

Short article summary. (none / 0) (#77)
by carlfish on Thu Feb 15, 2001 at 05:42:39 PM EST

Here's a summary of the above article, for the short of attention-span:

"People have different tastes. If I want to find out if I'm going to like something, I need to find someone with similar tastes as me."

It's not exactly an earth-shattering insight, is it.

There's no shady body of "The Critics", who collectively praise or pan movies. Every reviewer sees films in a different way. Find those critics who are most likely to like the same films you do, and trust them to the exclusion of all the rest. Problem solved.

Charles Miller
The more I learn about the Internet, the more amazed I am that it works at all.
Excellent Movies vs. Bad Reviews | 79 comments (67 topical, 12 editorial, 0 hidden)
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