Film Criticism

Discuss films and filmmakers of the 20th century (and even a little of the 19th century). Threads may contain spoilers.
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TMDaines
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Film Criticism

#826 Post by TMDaines » Thu Dec 24, 2015 6:05 am

It does read as if it is for your consideration but I wouldn't read too much into one off lists. There's the odd year where I'm surprised by just how much my preferences tally with the Oscar contenders, then others where you can barely find an English language film amongst them.

For what it's worth, I understand The Assassin is his #11.

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MichaelB
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Re: Film Criticism

#827 Post by MichaelB » Thu Dec 24, 2015 6:21 am

thirtyframesasecond wrote:Given that Peter Bradshaw of the Guardian has been giving out five stars like confetti recently, best not to rely on his word too often anymore.
Or best to ignore star ratings altogether. I don't know Bradshaw's views on them, but a great many critics loathe having to give them because they know full well that a great many people will use them as a substitute for the actual review.

A quarter of a century ago, one of my jobs involved filleting reviews for "money quotes" to use in ads and posters. Thankfully, the current practice of just moronically reproducing star ratings hadn't yet begun, so there was an actual art to it (especially if the film had a lukewarm or even negative critical reception).

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Trees
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Re: Film Criticism

#828 Post by Trees » Thu Dec 24, 2015 6:35 am

TMDaines wrote: For what it's worth, I understand The Assassin is his #11.
All is forgiven.

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colinr0380
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Re: Film Criticism

#829 Post by colinr0380 » Thu Dec 24, 2015 12:40 pm

MichaelB wrote:A quarter of a century ago, one of my jobs involved filleting reviews for "money quotes" to use in ads and posters. Thankfully, the current practice of just moronically reproducing star ratings hadn't yet begun, so there was an actual art to it (especially if the film had a lukewarm or even negative critical reception).
I guess that is also where a good, fair review stands out, as even a generally negative piece might still throw out a few points that could be picked out to work as positives to the right audience! Or at least suggest that a film has aspects that make it worth watching to form your own opinion and join in the debate on!

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Lemmy Caution
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Re: Film Criticism

#830 Post by Lemmy Caution » Thu Dec 24, 2015 2:41 pm

On pirated DVDs in China, they sometimes put quotes about a film on the back cover pulled directly from IMDb or some other website. Including distinctly negative reviews. One of the my favorites was a quote in large white letters at the top of the back cover of Elf: "Curiously Flaccid"

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Re: Film Criticism

#831 Post by domino harvey » Sat Feb 13, 2016 8:38 am


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hearthesilence
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Re: Film Criticism

#832 Post by hearthesilence » Sat Feb 13, 2016 10:54 am

MichaelB wrote:Or best to ignore star ratings altogether. I don't know Bradshaw's views on them, but a great many critics loathe having to give them because they know full well that a great many people will use them as a substitute for the actual review.

A quarter of a century ago, one of my jobs involved filleting reviews for "money quotes" to use in ads and posters. Thankfully, the current practice of just moronically reproducing star ratings hadn't yet begun, so there was an actual art to it (especially if the film had a lukewarm or even negative critical reception).
The only time I've ever come across a detailed explanation of star ratings (and why they're rather useless) is from Jonathan Rosenbaum when he was with the Chicago Reader. Even though alternative weeklies gave him the freedom to write reviews that were in-depth (and presumably without the need of dumbing it down for a broad readership), a number of readers still approached his reviews the way many people do with mainstream newspaper reviews, like a consumer guide. He wrote the following in what was originally a review for Paul Haggis' Crash:
I saw the film a second time largely to determine whether the transparency of such plotting undermined the larger social message. I decided that it didn’t, because I valued the truth of that message — that, for instance, a racist cop is perfectly capable of saving a black person’s life — over the falsity of the plotting, and because I decided that this falsity was intended to articulate other truths. Haggis wants to implicate us as well as many of his more sympathetic characters in the round-robin of prejudice, so he plays tricks with our expectations, making us retroactively aware of our own prejudices — not unlike the surprise endings of O. Henry. That we can feel pleasure when these twists are revealed sometimes mitigates the deceptions that make them possible. And sometimes it doesn’t.

The way we determine what’s true or false, real or artificial, good or bad in movies tends to be highly individual. As a reviewer, I’m obliged to give movies star ratings, but they’re simply a summary of my personal response, not a declaration of some objective value and certainly not of any sort of consensus. I was taken aback recently when I received a couple of e-mails from Star Wars fans asking how I could have concluded eight years ago that the “special edition” rerelease of that film was “worthless” when it gave so much pleasure to so many people. I might have given it an even lower rating if I could have, but all I meant by giving it no stars was that it was worthless to me. I’m not qualified to speak about its value to anyone else.

In my reviews I try to describe the paths that lead to my subjective response so that readers can decide whether some part of my path might be theirs too. In the case of Crash I may blanch at Haggis’s narrative contrivances and think two stars, though I did enjoy them (three stars). But the vision of Los Angeles that they’re designed to express strikes me as just and vital (four stars). So I wind up with an average of three. Viewers who find the vision uninteresting and the narrative contrivances acceptable but unenjoyable will come up with ratings of their own — or arrive at the same rating for entirely different reasons.

Following the same process, I think Mindhunters has the dumbest whodunit thriller plot and the least plausible moves of any film I can think of (no stars): FBI trainees are sent by a stern instructor to a remote island to test their reflexes and sleuthing powers when putting together psychological profiles, but then each of them in turn gets baroquely bumped off. Yet parts of this idea are competently cribbed from Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None, a mystery novel I loved as a kid (three stars). The movie is filled with gross-out violence and gore (no stars), though it did give me plenty of jolts and surprises (three stars). It’s directed with gusto by Renny Harlin, who certainly knows how to make an action flick better than most (four stars), though I don’t much care for action flicks (one star). I missed Harlin’s widely scorned previous effort, Exorcist: The Beginning. But according to William Peter Blatty, author of the original’s source novel, this costly reshoot of Paul Schrader’s Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist should be credited more to Morgan Creek, the film’s production company, than to the director, so I have to factor in such judgments as well. All this averages out to just under two stars.

Watching Monster-in-Law, I admire the gutsiness of Jane Fonda playing an unsympathetic character who’s her own age and looks it (three stars) — a hysterical, self-centered former TV celebrity who’s horrified that her son’s marrying a temp and tries to make the woman so miserable she’ll flee before the wedding. But I’m appalled by the strident sitcom overkill that surrounds Fonda on every side (no stars) — every other character is a cliche or a nonentity — and by the pat conclusion: a last-minute, deus ex machina cameo by Elaine Stritch inspires Fonda’s character to undergo a complete reversal in time to guarantee a happy ending. The particles of truth clinging to her basically phony character eventually became irrelevant to me.

Her son (Michael Vartan) is a clueless twerp who’s supposed to be a perfect catch even though he can’t see the monstrousness of his mother (no stars). His prospective wife — played by Jennifer Lopez, an actress I immoderately adore (three stars) despite the dumb parts she keeps accepting (no stars) and the excessive press coverage she gets (immaterial) — is a boring simp, even after she starts retaliating with some nasty tricks of her own (one star). And I’m only half-amused (one star) by the mother’s black assistant (Wanda Sykes), who sees through all her boss’s guff and periodically fires back salty one-liners — a part that half a century ago might have been assigned to Joan Blondell (though there are also uncomfortable echoes of Hattie McDaniel). This averages out to a little more than one star, but less than two. I’ll stick with one, since to boost this movie’s rating to “worth seeing” would make me feel like a publicist or simply a dope.

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mfunk9786
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Re: Film Criticism

#833 Post by mfunk9786 » Wed Mar 02, 2016 1:22 pm

Ignatiy Vishnevetsky's F review of London Has Fallen is pretty great
Its aesthetic is cut-rate anonymity of the kind sometimes associated with direct-to-video movies (it was partly shot in Sofia, which is the capital of both Bulgaria and the low-budget action industry) and crappy TV. The Oval Office looks like a business tycoon’s mansion in a soap opera, and every shot of a building exterior or rushing ambulance appears to have been bought from Getty or Shutterstock. The surreal side effect of the wall-to-wall use of licensed stock footage—much of it featuring passersby—is that it makes it seem as though no one cares that half of London’s landmarks have been blown up and all of Europe’s heads of state are dead.

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thirtyframesasecond
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Re: Film Criticism

#834 Post by thirtyframesasecond » Wed Mar 02, 2016 6:32 pm

Olympus Has Fallen was real bad on its own and suffered from that action movie trope of bad guys being amazing at taking over stuff but being total crap at holding onto it under any kind of counterattack later on.

Does Aaron Eckhart have the most perfect descent of any film career ever?

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Re: Film Criticism

#835 Post by colinr0380 » Fri Apr 29, 2016 2:46 pm

I'm a few months late in finding this, but I thought this was a great video on 'editing as punctuation'!:
'editing as punctuation'!

Film is Life
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Re: Film Criticism

#836 Post by Film is Life » Thu May 05, 2016 9:06 pm


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Manny Karp
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Re: Film Criticism

#837 Post by Manny Karp » Fri May 06, 2016 6:30 am

Bah, no Kim Morgan, no sale

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YnEoS
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Re: Film Criticism

#838 Post by YnEoS » Sat Jun 04, 2016 10:24 am

There's a newish video essay channel called Why is Cinema doing some brilliant work parodying some of the lazy arguments that get so commonly circulated these days when discussing films, or sometimes just making amusingly awkward faux-amateur analysis.

A few of my favorites, (some are NSFWish)

SOUND IS JUST A CHEAP TRICK AND NOT TRUE CINEMA (scene analysis)
Women Filmmakers? NOT SEXIST, BUT LET'S BE REAL???
The Long Take (Cinema's Most Important Shot)
sex in film - breaking down how a master makes a sex scene (scene breakdown)
gay hollywood - a look at acting gay while being straight (film analysis)

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bottled spider
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Re: Film Criticism

#839 Post by bottled spider » Sat Jun 04, 2016 11:40 am

colinr0380 wrote:I'm a few months late in finding this, but I thought this was a great video on 'editing as punctuation'!
That was ten billion times more interesting than its plain, matter of fact title would suggest. I liked the way he used that essay on great moments of punctuation in literature as a springboard for discussing film editing, an essay I must track down. Thanks for posting this.

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domino harvey
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Re: Film Criticism

#840 Post by domino harvey » Sat Jun 04, 2016 11:51 am

This is fantastic, especially the take-down of the Internet Gaffe Squad watching movies solely for continuity errors. Also, the mislabeling of Scott Pilgrim was my favorite one

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Dead or Deader
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Re: Film Criticism

#841 Post by Dead or Deader » Sat Jun 04, 2016 1:04 pm

Reason 1003 why I don't read Youtube comments: Half of the commentators failed to catch the plain dry satire of Carpenter videos.

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FakeBonanza
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Re: Film Criticism

#842 Post by FakeBonanza » Mon Jun 13, 2016 8:11 pm

I apologize if this has already been brought to light (I'm afraid a forum search is near-impossible in this case), but I've just discovered that an effort is underway to create a digital archive of the seminal British magazine MOVIE. In my case, this is a magazine I've often encountered in reference only, as it has proven very difficult to track down in any form.

More information can be found at Cameron & Hollis' website, where there is an option to be notified of forthcoming releases. There are also physical copies of select back issues available for purchase.

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Re: Film Criticism

#843 Post by Drucker » Sat Jul 30, 2016 3:10 pm


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Re: Film Criticism

#844 Post by MongooseCmr » Sat Jul 30, 2016 3:47 pm

Richard Harland Smith left the site last month as well. More room for inane Greg Ferrara ramblings I guess

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Drucker
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Re: Film Criticism

#845 Post by Drucker » Mon Aug 29, 2016 1:17 pm

Now I look like a fan boy, but here's an interview with Kalat from Toho Online.

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Re: Film Criticism

#846 Post by Dead or Deader » Sat Nov 19, 2016 1:04 am


hanshotfirst1138
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Re: Film Criticism

#847 Post by hanshotfirst1138 » Tue Nov 22, 2016 12:27 am

I went to college and majored in English hoping to get this job. Wow, did I fuck myself over ;)!

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Re: Film Criticism

#848 Post by Jean-Luc Garbo » Mon Jan 02, 2017 10:16 pm

Superb new interview with Molly Haskell over at Ebert. There's quite a lengthy discussion of From Reverence To Rape but also her life since Sarris died.

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Re: The Mike D'Angelo Thread

#849 Post by Peter-H » Sun Mar 05, 2017 2:03 am

What are your guys opinions of the following movie review podcasts/youtube channels?

The slashfilmcast, Chris Stuckman, Mark Kermode, Whattheflick, Yourmoviesucks

The slashfilmcast is my favorite show for movie reviews and movie discussion. The reviews are 40+ minutes long, and there's a section without spoilers and a section with spoilers which I like. The conversations between the three main critics are always highly entertaining and insightful. A large part of why this show works is the personalities of the three critics and the rapport between them.

I feel like this is the way more film criticism should be these days, because our information age allows for these sorts of long form discussions of film in a way that wasn't possible before.

Chris Stuckman has a lot of subscribers, but I don't know why because I don't find him very entertaining or insightful. It also feels like I can always predict what he'll think about a movie.

Kermode is great for finding obscure and off the beaten path movies, even if he puts down a lot of movies I like.

Whattheflick is somewhere between the slashfilmcast and Stuckman in quality.

Yourmoviesucks is entertaining and funny but I don't see the point in a channel mostly dedicated to shitting on movies. Also it seems like way to many of his criticisms are minor nitpicks about the "realism" or "logic" of the story and not about dramatic issues.

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Re: Film Criticism

#850 Post by bergstruhm » Sun Mar 05, 2017 9:36 am

Never heard of slashfilmcast. I find both Stuckman and Your Movie Sucks to be pretty awful, though I'm more forgiving to Stuckman when he so clearly caters to a wholly different audience than me. Generally speaking I have zero interest in super hero movies, whereas that seems to be the love of his life. As far as criticism goes I find him quite shallow and, for the most part, bad at describing what he likes/dislikes (e.g. saying "great cinematography" but not what makes it great). Your Movie Sucks, on the other hand, obviously thinks highly of himself but has such a wrongheaded concept of how cinema should operate, often times reducing it to mere technicalities; continuity errors, sound mixing, plot holes seems to trump mostly everything else in a film (or nitpicking, as you call it). His review of Clouds of Sils Maria is bizarre, suggesting that the film is of no value as they just recite a play (thus not containing any plot progression, which it clearly does if you pay attention) and his inability to read what is obviously meant to be a highly subjective plot-point as just that is quite hilarious.

I like listening to Kermode even though I often find myself disagreeing with him. He tends to praise films whose politics he agrees with, and despite me and him probably agreeing on such topics, I don't necessarily think a good message equals a good film. I can't fault him for it but it's not how I approach film. I've grown cold on What The Flick (mostly due to Mankiewicz and Atchity being sub-par critics). I don't necessarily think Duralde is a stellar critic but the film podcast he hosts with his husband, Dave White, is quite funny and interesting and one I return to often. (It's called Linoleum Knife and is on iTunes.)

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