Movies you like more than your rating.

Tools    





Without singling you out at all, I think that very last sentiment--the conflation of critical admiration with "reputation"--comes up a lot in these discussions and does not really represent the best version of the argument.

When I say critical admiration, I mean each person's own understanding of the art form, not a consensus of what other people are saying about it. I don't really "like" Schindler's List, but it is a technical and artistic achievement. I give it high marks because I can recognize those achievements as distinct from my own immediate reaction to it. That's the distinction I'm talking about, and not "well it won Best Picture so it gets an extra star from me" or what have you.

I'm usually the guy on the "criticism as distinct from personal affinity" side of the argument and I'm always a little surprised by how often people seem to think I'm saying we should give higher ratings to things just because other people like them, which is not the case at all. I'm saying our own taste and appreciation for art is made up of more than just our own immediate and/or idiosyncratic reaction to something. Our ability to step outside those reactions, outside of ourselves, is what makes big-c Criticism possible, and meaningful, I think.
I just logged on, so I'm not caught up with the entire discussion and sort of skimmed through it. I'll read it later. As much as I agree that influence/cultural impact/etc. should be factored into a film's rating when you're evaluating greatness, when I said "free pass", I was referring to not including the issues you have with the material into your rating due to its influence, which I'm not a fan of doing (sorry if my wording was confusing). Like, The Birth of a Nation is one of the most influential silent films, but that doesn't excuse it for its inherent racism. Also, Forbidden Planet influenced both Star Wars and Star Trek, but that doesn't excuse it for the gross romance depicted in the film.

If I give a film high marks due to its reputation while not taking the issues I had with the film into account, that wouldn't be fair considering the other influential classic films I give the same rating to that I like a lot more and find less/no issues with. I prefer to consider both influence and the degree to which I like the film into my ratings. Like, if it's one of the most influential films ever, it's unlikely I'll give it a negative rating, but it also won't get a 10/10 from me if I personally dislike it.



If I don't know why someone is giving something a 3/5, that rating can mean very little to me. Maybe the only exception is when you look at enough of someone's ratings to see if your ratings generally align with theirs.
I totally agree with that. I almost always try to voice my reasoning for my ratings. And of course one needs to know what another person's 3/5 means. To me a 3/5 is in the middle, it's average...but to others a 2.5/5 is middle of the road.

But isn't a flaw your opinion? In other words, we can probably all agree that Al Pacino's performance in Heat is turned up to 11. I personally found it to be a flaw (because it totally pushed me out of the "reality" of the film and made me roll my eyes), but other people consider it an asset to the film. I'm not pretending that it made the film less enjoyable for me, and they aren't pretending they liked it. So is it a flaw?
I haven't seen Heat...but if Al Pacino's performance is so over the top as that it doesn't match the style of the film making and doesn't intentionally add any nuances or special-ness to the film, then I'd say it's objectively a flawed film.

That's why it would be cool to have you in the next general HoF which starts late December. That way everyone who joins is watching the same movie at around the same time and so can actually discuss the details, nuances and emotions. Otherwise it's like, 'I haven't seen this or that', so I can't comment on most movie opinions.



I think I misinterpreted what you said as meaning "Are we seeing people rate films lower just to counter-act the common consensus?". Maybe that's not what you meant?
Oh, I see. Sorry, I could've been clearer. Yeah, the counteracting I meant was having this argument at all and/or explicitly deciding to care less about some things as a means of counteracting people who care too much about them. And I thought it unanswerable in the sense that, whatever goes into how much we "like" a thing is always a little mysterious even to us and there's probably a lot of unexamined emotional stuff in there.

Yeah, but the Minions movie IS the best movie ever made to that child. I take your point about the value we put in opinions increasing as they have more expertise and breadth of viewing. This just loops back to the distinction between ratings and reviews. If I don't know why someone is giving something a 3/5, that rating can mean very little to me. Maybe the only exception is when you look at enough of someone's ratings to see if your ratings generally align with theirs.
Yeah, which comes back to "this rating is about the viewer and not the film." Even though they're not really presented that way.

I won't pretend to have a good answer here. As I said, I'm just as annoyed with "here's why my opinion is objective" as I am with "well art is subjective so I don't feel I have to defend my opinion at all." It's one of those facts I feel we need to acknowledge even while we operate as if it's otherwise. Like admitting some questions are unanswerable while doing our best to answer them anyway. Not to get too philosophical.



...I was referring to not including the issues you have with the material into your rating due to its influence, which I'm not a fan of doing (sorry if my wording was confusing). Like, The Birth of a Nation is one of the most influential silent films, but that doesn't excuse it for its inherent racism.
Agreed, The Birth of a Nation is blatantly racist, which is a good reason to watch for it's cinematic history, albeit notorious history. But even with the racism removed, I found it bloated, disjointed and silly. And that's coming from someone who loves silent films and loves many of D.W. Griffith other films.

Also, Forbidden Planet influenced both Star Wars and Star Trek, but that doesn't excuse it for the gross romance depicted in the film.
Ya talking about robot lovin' Nah seriously I have zero idea what you mean about 'gross' romance in Forbidden Planet. What was gross about it? I assume you like Star Wars? The 1st Star Wars hints at incestuous romance between Luke and Leia (even though nothing happens and it's mostly one way feelings by Luke for Leia), that didn't bother you?



Agreed, The Birth of a Nation is blatantly racist, which is a good reason to watch for it's cinematic history, albeit notorious history. But even with the racism removed, I found it bloated, disjointed and silly. And that's coming from someone who loves silent films and loves many of D.W. Griffith other films.

Ya talking about robot lovin' Nah seriously I have zero idea what you mean about 'gross' romance in Forbidden Planet. What was gross about it? I assume you like Star Wars? The 1st Star Wars hints at incestuous romance between Luke and Leia (even though nothing happens and it's mostly one way feelings by Luke for Leia), that didn't bother you?
As for Forbidden Planet, I was referring to the romance between Altaira and Adams. While Altaira's naivety could've potentially made for an interesting dynamic if it was handled properly, I found it disappointing how Adams and at least one other crewman took advantage of her by kissing her despite clearly knowing about her lack of knowledge concerning romance. This was portrayed as romantic and it was really hard to watch.

As for Star Wars, it's been years since I've seen the films, so I really don't remember them much at all. If there was an incestuous romance between the two of them though which was being hinted at, that would be really creepy.



Oh, I see. Sorry, I could've been clearer. Yeah, the counteracting I meant was having this argument at all and/or explicitly deciding to care less about some things as a means of counteracting people who care too much about them.
I don't know if people decide to care less about certain entries in the film canon. Most of the "WHY is this considered a classic?!?!?!" style reviews I come across seem to be from a smattering of reviewers, many of them with what we'd call more "mainstream" taste. In other words, I'm not sure that most people who really want to explore film are the ones trashing Casablanca.

I do think that it's healthy to question art and be open to our own instincts about it. It's also realistic to say that things that meant something to people in the 40s might not have the same heft or impact on a contemporary audience.



Yeah (this is a general response to you and Speling), I legitimately have no idea how to value something like influence, which intersects with this discussion a bit since what order you see each film in changes your reaction to them on that front.

I'm convinced originality and influence matter some. It seems really off to like something derivative more than something it's derivative from just because you saw the latter first. But it's also true that you enjoyed it more because you saw it first and it's possible it did The Thing better in a standing-on-the-shoulders-of-giants kinda way. I don't feel too strongly about how to parse that, I guess I just feel strongly that it needs to count for something, however much that is.



I can articulate lots of objective standards with which I use to rate a movie, but the standards I ultimately choose to use in my evaluation, and how I apply them, can only be almost purely subjective, no matter how many cinematic or narrative or artistic theories I want to throw into my reasoning.

Unless we start devolving into some kind of Robert McKee fascistic interpretations of there ever being a correct way to tell a story, trying to defend the notion that there are ever indisputable flaws in a film is a fool's errand. And usually the death of any kind of interesting discussion. More often than not, what I like it a film, is what others find to be its fatal flaw and there is nothing more exhausting than talking with someone who tries to deny what works for me, because they've decided it doesn't work for them. They've got some kind of stone tablet somewhere to prove their case if you aren't convinced. The worst. You can have your own interpretations of the value of a film without needing to turn it into a ****ing science.

This isn't to say that all opinions are necessarily 'equal' though. I don't think they are, but not due to the conclusions they reach on whether on not something is good. It has more to do with if they can prove they've actually put any work into their criticism or praise. To do this adequately, I think it is important that we become as informed as possible about all the different objectives a film can have, learn some cinematic history, decide from what has been learned what matters to us as a consumer, and then use this to justify their emotional or intellectual reactions to the film. Without any of this, there is literally no reason why I should care about anything they have to say, even if they are agreeing with me. I'd rather have someone who knows what they are talking about, and has an interesting point of view different from me, defend Babydriver then nod in agreement that it a steaming turd. No matter how steaming it may be.

Frankly, I don't even quite get why we would ever want there to be any kind of objective agreement about what makes a movie successful or not. Criticism should be as free form in thought as the thing we are evaluating. Why limit contrarianism?. Without it both art and criticism would become static, and what a horrible world it would be where we are all nodding and stroking out chin in approval at the same things



Setsuko Hara is my co-pilot




Quite perfectible but the subject matter and the leads make it . The story is cuter than life itself and made me cry from happiness instead of sadness / wistfulness / artistic beauty, and that doesn't happen that often. Too bad the director's subsequent movie was trash.
__________________
In the strictest sense lesbians can't have sex at all period.



I'm convinced originality and influence matter some. It seems really off to like something derivative more than something it's derivative from just because you saw the latter first. But it's also true that you enjoyed it more because you saw it first and it's possible it did The Thing better in a standing-on-the-shoulders-of-giants kinda way. I don't feel too strongly about how to parse that, I guess I just feel strongly that it needs to count for something, however much that is.
I think that you can give something credit for being original while still preferring something that is partially or even entirely derivative of it. For example, most people agree that both The Godfather and Jaws are better tellings of their stories than the original novels.

I don't think there's anything wrong with saying that one person did an amazing job coming up with a concept, but someone else came up with a better way to execute it. Or, in a different vein, that you find a different creator's focus more resonant in its approach. The 80s version of The Fly adds an entire subplot about his love interest's desire to
WARNING: spoilers below
abort her pregnancy
. That and the explicit body-horror angle of Cronenberg's approach add something to the story that isn't present in the original. Even something like Black Orpheus having a non-white lead cast could make it a more valuable incarnation to some viewers than, say, Cocteau's version of the same story.

Really, the nature of innovation is that people build on the discoveries and experiments of others. Just like we can respect Willis Carrier for inventing the first air conditioner, I think that we can admit that we prefer the latest Fujitsu incarnation.

I actually think that this is where what we're calling "capital C criticism" can be really cool, because it can help you trace the lineage of stories or techniques that we liked in a film. I've discovered many neat films by reading an essay about a movie I liked and finding out that it built off of another film.

there is nothing more exhausting than talking with someone who tries to deny what works for me, because they've decided it doesn't work for them.

This isn't to say that all opinions are necessarily 'equal' though. I don't think they are, but not due to the conclusions they reach on whether on not something is good. It has more to do with if they can prove they've actually put any work into their criticism or praise.
Amen. One of the hardest things to teach my students about giving each other feedback on their essays is that you don't score someone down because you don't agree with their claim. Just like I can give two essays the highest mark even if they have completely opposite claims. It's good writing if they make a claim, support it with evidence from the text, and include reasoning to explain how their evidence supports the claim.

I totally agree with you that I'd rather have a well-informed, civil discussion with someone who disagrees with me. In fact, I find that it's in defending films I like that I really articulate and solidify my own feelings and why it worked for me. By the time I was done having a discussion/debate about Do the Right Thing (all the way back on RT!), I went back to the IMDb and gave it another star.



... The 1st Star Wars hints at incestuous romance between Luke and Leia (even though nothing happens and it's mostly one way feelings by Luke for Leia), that didn't bother you?
I was on a work break when I wrote that so I want to elaborate a bit more. I should've said some people perceive the 1st Star Wars as hinting at an incestuous romance between Luke and Leia.

The point I was trying to make and in a big hurry, was that people can perceive all sorts of social evils in old films because they view them agaisnt the social filter of today's world...But one has to ask themselves what was the film's original intention?

In the case of the 1st Star Wars, it was to explain a special bond between Luke and Leia...and for a bit of comic relief too. It was only Luke who at first tried to impress the Princess, she of course new better and nothing happened.



The point I was trying to make and in a big hurry, was that people can perceive all sorts of social evils in old films because they view them agaisnt the social filter of today's world...But one has to ask themselves what was the film's original intention?
What if you happen to think that the film's original intention was kind of garbage?

I think that it's possible to be interested by the way that a film tries to achieve its goals (the argument that many people use when praising things like Nazi propaganda), but I don't think that viewers have any kind of moral obligation to engage with/root for characters and ignore our own sense of morality.

I read a book in college (whose title I'm now blanking on EDIT: Pamela) in which there was a running "joke" about the main character trying to rape his female servant (EDIT: Who is 15 years old!). He would do things like hide in her closet and jump out at her, or get in her bed and pretend to be an elderly female servant. And each time she would be frightened and faint so he wouldn't rape her because he wanted her to "submit" to him. Long story (VERY LONG STORY) short, she runs away, he eventually goes after her and is like "So, I should not have tried to rape you all those times. Would you like to get married instead?". And this was supposed to be a romantic ending. Now. I can appreciate the technical merits of this book. I can appreciate some of the commentary it made about class inequality. But there's just no way I'm going to throw away my "social filter" and root for a wannabe-rapist as a romantic lead.

It's so interesting the way that people will bemoan the lack of "morals" in modern society, and yet at the same time be like "Oh, taking sexual advantage of a naive person. Why that's just how it was back then!". I get that most people don't have the vision or the strength to stand up to harmful cultural norms, but it doesn't mean we can't criticize artists who played into them or honestly let our scores reflect the way that the events/character made us feel. I enjoy a movie less when characters we are meant to like in it are racist or homophobic or commit casual sexual assault/harassment or animal cruelty. Pretending otherwise seems dishonest.



Let me mention Elm Street 4. I know of the story's derivative but some scenes are so brilliant that I'd probably find myself watching it over and over again.



...I enjoy a movie less when characters we are meant to like in it are racist or homophobic or commit casual sexual assault/harassment or animal cruelty. Pretending otherwise seems dishonest.
What about movies someone might like that have murders, say like Pulp Fiction? Are we to hate that movie because the main characters, who are likable in their own way, are also killers? I don't see a lot of socially aware people judging murder in a movie as a condemnable social offense, and I find that near sighted.



Welcome to the human race...
I think that might be because it is easier to find narrative justification and/or redemption for murder than for the other crimes that Takoma mentions. Pulp Fiction takes place entirely in a world of criminals so none of the people who are murdered in it qualify as innocent and even the quote-unquote sympathetic murderers have to have their justifications tested (I elaborated on this in a recent thread about the movie, but you can contrast how the three protagonists - Vincent, Jules, and Butch - approach murder differently as the film progresses and how things ultimately turn out for each of them).

As for films I think would fit the topic, I think there are more than a few films where I like the concepts and certain aspects of the execution but don't consider the actual experience of watching them to be satisfying enough to warrant a particularly high rating. Two titles I thought of instantly were Highlander and Mortal Kombat, two films that get by on elaborate and colourful premises with some engaging performances but are admittedly a little lacklustre when it comes to the mechanics of their action and drama so I have trouble justifying a higher rating to myself.
__________________
I really just want you all angry and confused the whole time.



What about movies someone might like that have murders, say like Pulp Fiction? Are we to hate that movie because the main characters, who are likable in their own way, are also killers?
It's not about liking the content itself, it's about being asked to side (sometimes unambiguously) with characters.

For example, I really love the film Blue Ruin which centers on a man who commits several murders. But even though you are on his side, and even though we understand his motivation for them, they aren't presented as "good" things and we understand how his violence is impacting him as well. Compare this with the Forbidden Planet example, where taking sexual advantage of someone isn't seen as a negative aspect of the character and he suffers no consequences for his actions (because the filmmakers clearly have no problem with those actions).

Do you actually root unambiguously for any of the killers in Pulp Fiction? (Honestly, it's been so long I can't really remember who gets killed and why in that movie).

I can't think of a movie I like where the protagonist commits murder (distinct from killing) and I was expected to unquestioningly continue to root for them. Maybe Grosse Pointe Blank? But even then this is different because the movie is clear that murder is wrong. Forbidden Planet is just fine with the hero taking sexual advantage of a naive person. Holiday Inn thinks blackface is just a-okay. It's knowing that this was considered normal and acceptable that's gross. Outside of fiction, no one thinks murder or being a hit man is okay.



...Compare this with the Forbidden Planet example, where taking sexual advantage of someone isn't seen as a negative aspect of the character and he suffers no consequences for his actions (because the filmmakers clearly have no problem with those actions)...
You're wrong about Forbidden Planet, the story shows that the men on the ship are acting like 'cads' (a 1950s term). They are not chivalrous, they're more interesting in chasing skirt (another 50s term) and having the robot make booze. The Captain ends up moving in on the girl, basically disrespecting the first guy who liked her. I believe there was a line in the movie explaining that the crewmen were like 'horny space marines' (that's paraphrased obviously) after being coped up in the ship for such along time. None of their actions are suppose to be virtuous or are shown to be so... AND their actions do tie in with the overall theme that humans aren't evolved enough to control their desires and fears.

Have you seen this beautiful filmed movie and if so your thoughts?:Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring (2003) - IMDb




You're wrong about Forbidden Planet, the story shows that the men on the ship are acting like 'cads' (a 1950s term). They are not chivalrous, they're more interesting in chasing skirt (another 50s term) and having the robot make booze. The Captain ends up moving in on the girl, basically disrespecting the first guy who liked her. I believe there was a line in the movie explaining that the crewmen were like 'horny space marines' (that's paraphrased obviously) after being coped up in the ship for such along time. None of their actions are suppose to be virtuous or are shown to be so... AND their actions do tie in with the overall theme that humans aren't evolved enough to control their desires and fears.
I will have to rewatch it at some point to elaborate more on why I thought even the male hero (who I'm pretty sure we were meant to root for) was a tool. Doesn't he basically blame the woman for her clothing being too skimpy? Maybe I'm conflating it with another sci-fi film.

Have you seen this beautiful filmed movie and if so your thoughts?:Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring (2003) - IMDb

I saw it in the theater when it came out and had a lot of appreciation for it. But the director's repeated use of real animal cruelty (and his pathetic attempts to justify it) combined with abusive behavior toward his actresses has steered me strongly away from Kim Ki-Duk.

If you want to discuss it thematically, you'll have to remind me a bit of the character dynamics.



I will have to rewatch it at some point to elaborate more on why I thought even the male hero (who I'm pretty sure we were meant to root for) was a tool. Doesn't he basically blame the woman for her clothing being too skimpy? Maybe I'm conflating it with another sci-fi film.
I've seen Forbidden Planet three times, but I don't remember all the details either.

Most likely this is true: "Doesn't he basically blame the woman for her clothing being too skimpy? " But that really isn't some morality speech by the director. It's a reaction of a character to the very real world fact that Anne Francis wore for the first time in a mainstream movie, a very short and sexy dress. I'm sure the writer intended the crewman in the movie to be parroting what the studio heads would say about this controversial dress. I mean the film makers were pushing the envelope of how much skin could be shown in a movie, which would ultimately help give rise to the mini skirt in the mid 1960s.


I never really felt like I was to root for any of the men (except for them not getting killed). I thought the Captain was kind of a jerk at times to the 1st guy who liked the girl. But the story isn't really about the men, it's about humans desires, fears and urges being the source of suffering (giving rise to the monster).


I saw it in the theater when it came out and had a lot of appreciation for it. But the director's repeated use of real animal cruelty (and his pathetic attempts to justify it) combined with abusive behavior toward his actresses has steered me strongly away from Kim Ki-Duk.
It's fine that you appreciated Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter... and Spring (2003)... I asked because it's outright nauseating to me, what was done to the animals in the film. And that animal cruelty wasn't implied by a character's actions, it was done for real. And that's one film I object to, not that I want to ban it or anything like that. I just object on a personal level.