What criteria do you use to evaluate movies

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I agree with you in a sense, but I think a movie can most certainly be criticized on a technical aspect. Whether Apocalypse Now's philosophical point of view is good or not is entirely up to the opinion of the viewer, but there's no denying that the films pretty beautiful from a technical point of view, if a little boring.
Honestly I found Apoc Now one of the easiest "weighty" films to get into from a relatively(mid/late teens) age exactly because I think it sells its perspective so well, maybe it doesn't present massively detailed character studies but I think it does create an environment in which people losing touch with reality or their pre existing morality is quite easy to accept.

Generally with cinema I think your often looking at significant differences between films aiming to entertain and those asking more of the viewer, theres obviously a lot of overlap but judging the two against each other isn't exactly easy, how do I weigh Ghostbusters against Andrei Rublev?



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If all of art is subjective, then what good are critics. Why should their opinions get published and not yours. As you say, in most cases there are clear distinctions between your list of favourite films (or films you consider to be the best) and other critics polled lists and the question is why is there such a huge difference? Now you're asking if there exists an objective criterion for determining what films are genuine great and what films are just personal favourites. I think that any attempt at developing such an objective criterion for judging films is both futile and self-defeating. It discards the most sacred feature of cinema, its ability to speak to everyone differently. One is defined by one's biases and I see no purpose in judging a film from an unbiased perspective (if such a thing is even possible).
I would think it's because the people who made it their life's work to deepen their understanding of the art form are the closest to an authority on the subject (though not necessarily so) and earn more of the right to have their opinions considered (if not necessarily agreed with). The guy who sees maybe one blockbuster a year is as entitled to his cinematic opinions as Roger Ebert, but there's still a significant difference between the two.

Let me give you 2 examples to illustrate what I'm saying. For instance Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now is widely regarded as not only one of the great war films of all time but one of the greatest films, period. Now although I can admire its technical virtuosity, its beautiful visuals and its narrative ambition, from a philosophical point of view, I think it's a big bag of hooey. It seems to have a lot on its mind with regards to the corruptibility of men in the face of war, about men becoming killers and so on but it doesn't know how to say any of it. It's 3 hours of preaching with no justification or truth behind any of it. Also if Coppola wants to examine the subject of war honestly, I don't think he can do it with by starting with a preconceived notion of war being the worst thing that's ever happened to human beings. Don't get me wrong, I'm completely anti-war and I'm very saddened when I see footage of what's going on in Iraq and Syria today but these grand claims of war being very unnatural and having fundamentally political origins are largely unfounded. Our entire history as a species has been entirely defined by wars so Coppola's statement about "war corrupting man" is the sort of pseudo-intellectual drivel that fills the books of Pharaoh's magicians. Does he really think humanity conquered the earth whilst suppressing all other species, by being loving & caring? War is at the heart of evolution, natural selection at its absolute pure. I've always hated it when film-makers pretend to be philosophers without having anything meaningful to say. This is a subject matter that requires a certain level of intellectual maturity that lacks in Coppola.

Clearly I already had strong opinions on the subject matter before I saw the film and perhaps if I didn't have any I might have enjoyed it more. So one could say that it's not the film's fault, because in both cases the film was the same, it's about the thoughts I bring with me. But I think this point of view is about as unhelpful as it gets. I think the fact that I personally feel a certain way about this subject defines me as a viewer so the fact that I completely despise how the film explores its ideas is indeed a valid criticism of the film from my point of view which is all that matters to me.
I wonder what you do think is the worst thing that ever happened to human beings if not war. Even assuming it wasn't, I don't think that necessarily makes it good enough that a strongly anti-war film like Apocalypse Now automatically looks stupid for saying it's bad.

Anyway, I was under the impression that Apocalypse Now agreed with the idea that humanity is already inherently warlike, but it also balanced it by saying that humanity was also capable of seemingly irreconcilable levels of love and compassion at the same time (as emphasised by Kurtz's monologue about the soldiers who could cut off children's arms before going home to their own families). It gets more complicated than vacuous "war is bad" moralising - if "war is at the heart of evolution" then the film chronicles a de-evolution as it progresses backwards in time (figuratively) and deeper into the heart of darkness from the generals' neat and pleasant office to the corpse-strewn Kurtz compound.

But yeah, this is the kind of stuff you can miss if you let strong opinions override your ability to judge the film on its own terms, but I guess that might well be true of all of us.
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I'd consider that a solid reading.

As for the actual question, I do try to observe the craftsmanship and how the technique aids the storytelling while also questioning whether or not it's in service of a story that's worth telling on any level - as pure audio-visual experience, as thematically potent artwork, or even just as straightforward fun. Maybe it does boil down to asking three questions - 1) what is the film trying to do? 2) does it succeed at doing that? and 3) was it worth doing in the first place?



Anyway, I was under the impression that Apocalypse Now agreed with the idea that humanity is already inherently warlike, but it also balanced it by saying that humanity was also capable of seemingly irreconcilable levels of love and compassion at the same time (as emphasised by Kurtz's monologue about the soldiers who could cut off children's arms before going home to their own families). It gets more complicated than vacuous "war is bad" moralising - if "war is at the heart of evolution" then the film chronicles a de-evolution as it progresses backwards in time (figuratively) and deeper into the heart of darkness from the generals' neat and pleasant office to the corpse-strewn Kurtz compound.
I always held Apoc Now, Deer Hunter and Full Metal Jacket above most Nam films partly because as you say they don't look to simplify characters as inherently warlike or peaceful but rather a mix of the two. I mean by comparison I always felt Platoon came across as rather too simplistic in its eagerness to push characters one direction or the other and offer equally simplistic judgements on them.

Both Coppola and Kurbick as well I think clearly move beyond mere "craft", in Apoc Now especially the environment I think clearly functions as not just as influence on but also a reflection of the characters/story.The sense of social order and modern thinking declining and a devolution into a more primitive state is I'd say pretty clearly gotten across by the visuals.



It is just about the feeling a movie makes you feel... l always judge subjectively if l like a movie or not. Some criteria for me is the plot twist (suspence, interesting story), action, music, direction/cinematography (if the movie is visually striking), if l like the sequences, if the characters are interesting and l can understand how they feel or act, and performances of course.
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Story has to be important to me. Even in a martial arts action film. The standard revenge plot is one that is done to death, but when it comes to that, fight choreography is important. I want to see the fight, not extreme close-ups and shaky cam. If the story has elements that lead to breathtaking action scenes, then I get excited.

When it comes to indie dramas, I look at chemistry between the actors and the story as well. If the film is revealed to be somewhat realistic take then I get goosebumps.

One example: Best of the Best in 1989. The film is hailed as a martial arts film, but it is also a drama about five members of a team who must overcome their differences to become a team. Some great training scenes from both the U.S. and Korean teams that lead to some exciting tournament scenes, notably real-life brothers Simon and Phillip Rhee going all out with their taekwondo skills as arch-rivals Dae Han and Tommy. The final scene however, is a total tearjerker. To this day, seeing that scene tends to make me shed a tear.
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28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
My criteria is in two categories:

Boobs or No Boobs
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Suspect's Reviews



  • Cultural, Historical and Aesthetic significance
  • Acting/Casting
  • Soundtrack/Music/SoundFX
  • Re-watchability/Replay value
  • Opening/end credit fonts
  • Nostalgia



If it's a comedy, it should make me laugh. I've been reevaluating some films recently myself and it's been about a 50/50 hit rate. these being older films that I either didn't want to watch at the time or couldn't get hold of etc. lots of fun with Dirty Dancing as I had never seen a white man do the Stepin Fetchit bit. Plus they dance their way to Socialism at the end ...
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Entertainment, quality, story, cinematography, and story telling



How well does it keep me engaged?
How well does it do what it's trying to do?
How much do I like what it's trying to do?
Does it offer anything unique in terms of story, effects/artwork, perspective?
Does it offer any nostalgic appeal?



Only three categories for me plot, plot and plot. Everything else is secondary.
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Welcome to the human race...
Now that I think about it, for me it's plot that's the secondary criteria - but then again, I guess it depends on how we define "plot".

Also interesting to see people actively cite nostalgia as one of their criteria.



I judge a film by the three A's....atmosphere, acting, attitude.
I evaluate a movie by the three B's: Balance, Beauty, Brains



I've always depended on the kindness of strangers
I lump everything together, and just list them..... 5/10 means I broke even. No regrets, but not a good movie, and it goes up. I do occasionally "handicap" --- if there's a movie made in my lifetime that wasn't bad, I usually add an extra point because I'm surprised and I also know some will only watch new stuff, so an extra advertisement. I also grade my favorite directors a little more tough, because I expect more, especially when there are better movies. If I give a 7/10 for example, I think of all the other 7's I've given to make sure its accurate on my behalf.

I think professional critics are almost worthless. I don't read them --- I rather read everyday people in here, etc.