Author Topic: Jon's Alphabet Marathon 2010  (Read 38129 times)

Offline Antares

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Re: Jon's Alphabet Marathon 2010
« Reply #105 on: July 31, 2010, 03:08:31 AM »
I gave up long ago trying to write 'likable' reviews in the hopes of receiving glowing acknowledgment.

I think you're misinterpreting what I wrote. I don't write a review looking for someone to heap glowing praise upon my prose. I want them to read the review, view the film, and maybe say to themselves, It's honest and to the point, he understands the highs and lows of the film and I would look forward to other films he suggests are good, and stay away from films he thinks are subpar.

I don't care if they like me or the review per se, but I do want them to respect my thoughts.

Offline Jimmy

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Re: Jon's Alphabet Marathon 2010
« Reply #106 on: July 31, 2010, 03:21:23 AM »
When I write a review I write it for me first and I write it the same I would talk (except that I don't talk in english). For me the job is done when somebody comment on what I've wrote in any way, of course I always like it when someone buy a film because I praised it in a review and tell me later he/she had liked the film.

What I now hope to achieve through my reviews is to convey to you all my own personal tastes which I concede are not for everyone!
KC it's a chance I don't write as much as I did, you would see that my tastes are a lot not for everybody :laugh:

Try my reviews depot to get an idea

KinkyCyborg

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Re: Jon's Alphabet Marathon 2010
« Reply #107 on: July 31, 2010, 03:40:58 AM »
I gave up long ago trying to write 'likable' reviews in the hopes of receiving glowing acknowledgment.

I think you're misinterpreting what I wrote. I don't write a review looking for someone to heap glowing praise upon my prose. I want them to read the review, view the film, and maybe say to themselves, It's honest and to the point, he understands the highs and lows of the film and I would look forward to other films he suggests are good, and stay away from films he thinks are subpar.

I don't care if they like me or the review per se, but I do want them to respect my thoughts.

Well said. :) The word that clarifies your intent for me is maybe.  I've seen people get all pissy if even one person out of 50 aims some criticism towards their thoughts.  I too feel a bit warm and fuzzy if even one person finds my insight to be useful... enough to encourage me to continue writing reviews.

Offline Antares

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Re: Jon's Alphabet Marathon 2010
« Reply #108 on: July 31, 2010, 04:53:54 AM »
I've seen people get all pissy if even one person out of 50 aims some criticism towards their thoughts. 

If that were the case with me, then Jon and I would hate each other, because we disagree strongly on a few films and directors. But here's with the respect comes in...Though we don't always agree, Jon knows what he's talking about and I highly respect his opinion. He doesn't take it personally when I call him out on something, and neither do I when he does the same to me. That is what film discussion should be, and I'm thankful for having that kind of intellectual arrangement with Jon.

Now I criticized Jon's rating system, but he knows that that doesn't diminish my thoughts on his film knowledge or appreciation. He knows that I'm trying to bring out his best, as he does with me when I write something he finds disagreement with. It's adversarial admiration, to a degree.

Najemikon

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Re: Jon's Alphabet Marathon 2010
« Reply #109 on: July 31, 2010, 09:35:21 AM »
And I thank you for it, Antares!  :thumbup:

I know exactly what you are saying. In this thread alone I have crossed several extreme genres and yes, giving the same rating to X-Men 2 as M seems absurd, but hopefully the way I write communicates to people the real difference that they will be looking for. I would hope people who take the time to read my reviews are doing that anyway.

The problem is that we're dealing with a very changeable medium. I review Bicycle Thieves as a progression of the art form and social commentary, but X-Men 2 as a progression of its genre and how cool comic books are! Between the two, you can split hairs on ability and technique, but at the end of the day, they are for very different audiences. To lower the rating of X-Men 2 simply because it isn't an important contribution to film as an art is elitist.

I reviewed Kick-Ass as a development of the comic book movie and an intelligent satire on modern American comedy that would communicate well with fans of both. To finish the review with "but it's no Lawrence of Arabia, so I'm only giving it 3" would insult the readers intelligence.

Action movies are a good example. I'd rate Die Hard or Bourne Ultimatum as 5/5, but are they as good or as important as Straw Dogs? No, not by a considerable margin, but give me a few months and I might be able to get someone from a hack like Michael Bay to a genius like Sam Peckinpah. And then you start considering his influences and suddenly a Transformers fan is thinking about watching something black and white, French and subtitled!

But just because someone then discovers such films, should they re-evaluate where they started? I don't think so, because films are released for their time and audience. Like you I could also name a few gangster movies "better" than The Untouchables. But in the 80s? No, the genre was dead. Plus you have to consider that De Palma wasn't trying to make a straight gangster film. It has a cartoonish enthusiasm that was really quite unique for its time considering its a period film. Personal preference accounts for a lot and I know a lot of people who love that film like myself. If I can encourage them to dig deeper from there and find Angels With Dirty Faces, then I'm happy.

My biggest regular influence regards reviews is Empire. They stick to a strict 1 through 5 rating and also can be found giving full marks to very diverse films and will occasionally re-evaluate come the DVD release. Ok, they use contributors, but there is still an editorial voice. Sadly their forums regularly attack ratings choices in either direction and it's clear the people doing it didn't read the review.

At the end of the day, ratings are a bit daft! I can understand why some don't use them, but they're fun.

Offline Dragonfire

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Re: Jon's Alphabet Marathon 2010
« Reply #110 on: July 31, 2010, 09:47:25 AM »
I try to consider each movie on its own merits...so I have given 5 stars to some very different movies.  For me, I rate movies I really enjoy higher most of the time.  I don't set out looking for problems, but if I notice them I mention them.  I like some movies that are very silly...and I also have really liked very serious and dramatic movies. 

Like for example of movies I've seen in the theater in the last few months.  I loved Toy Story 3, The A-Team, and Inception.  Those are very different movies and I liked them for different reasons.  I do think Inception is one of the best movies of the year, but that doesn't mean that I'll lower ratings on other movies because they aren't as aren't as amazing as that one.  Some people may not agree with me on how I rate movies, but that's all they all...my ratings and opinions on the movies.  Others can form their own opinions.

If someone can discuss a movie and back up why they like or dislike it, then I see it as a valid review.  Maybe that comes from me writing and reading movie reviews at Epinions for 9 years.

Najemikon

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Re: Jon's Alphabet Marathon 2010
« Reply #111 on: July 31, 2010, 11:53:38 AM »
Yeah, that's essentially how I approach it, Marie. I never shrug it off as an opinion though as I do want to stand by it and open someone elses mind to why. If anyone disagrees, as has happened here, then I want to talk it through.

Matthias is very good at that. He'll challenge a flippant statement and I don't mind standing up to it. If anything it is more important for films you might rate very low. I always get frustrated when someone says they disliked a film so much, they can't be bothered to review it! They're the best ones!

I will say this; I write reviews as much for my benefit and frequently ask myself just why do I think it should be whatever rating. When I start feeling it's a five, I put a lot more time into justifying or proving it to me first.

You've been using Epinions a long time, Marie! That's about when I was hosting Virgin.net's movie forum too. Do you get feedback on that site?

Offline Antares

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Re: Jon's Alphabet Marathon 2010
« Reply #112 on: July 31, 2010, 06:46:40 PM »
OK, I think I found the best analogy for my point of view. Remember the episode of Seinfeld where Elaine meets the pediatrician who describes her as breathtaking?

She gushes over this compliment, because no one has ever thought of her as breathtaking. Later in the episode, the gang is visiting a couple who have the ugliest baby in the history of mankind, and the pediatrician calls the child breathtaking also.

This elicits a look of shock on Elaine's face as she can now not understanding what connotation breathtaking means to this person.

That is what I meant in my description about the rating of films .

Najemikon

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Re: Jon's Alphabet Marathon 2010
« Reply #113 on: July 31, 2010, 07:58:25 PM »
Well, I haven't seen Seinfeld. Not my thing, really.  :laugh: But I already understood and I have wrestled with it in the past. I just don't know what the alternative is.  :shrug: As I tried to say before, it's good enough for most 1-5 review systems used by professionals, such as journalists in magazines like Empire. I've never had a problem realising what they mean.

I don't think you're paying people enough respect. They aren't just going to watch any old film because we stuck five red stars on it! Pete likes horror and not musicals (neither do I, but ignore that for the moment. I'm not allergic to them, at least). Lets say I reviewed The Exorcist, 5/5 and Pete had never seen it. He'd read the overview, he'd read my comments and then say to himself, that it must be worth a watch. Maybe he'd ignored it before I said it was a must-see. Next day, I review The Sound Of Music and again, I give it 5/5 (we're still hypothetical here remember!). Is Pete really going to think, "oh my, even though I can't stand any form of music, Jon rated this the same as The Exorcist, so it must be just as good!". Of course he won't. Doubtful he'd have bothered reading it at all.

Also, what about people seeking an opinion on a new film they've heard of? They don't care where it fits against decades of cinema, they want to know where it fits now. So if I call Inception "breathtaking" -because it actually is in one bit at least- are you saying that undermines comments I made about Vertigo or something? Even though the two audiences might be entirely different.

It would be dishonest to rate it a 4 because it's the best film it could be right now, and then it's even a bit better. That's my criteria for five anyway.

hal9g

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Re: Jon's Alphabet Marathon 2010
« Reply #114 on: July 31, 2010, 11:34:30 PM »
I don't know about the rest of you, but this review thing is just an aside for me.  I think you're taking it way too seriously.  It is an art, not a science.  There is a considerable amount of subjectivity involved...more for some than for others.

To be honest, on any two different days I could possibly give the same film two different ratings, depending on what's going on in my life at the time and possibly other movies that I had recently seen.  My reviews are strictly a point in time evaluation.

As much as I love movies, and trust me I do, evaluating  them kinda spoils things for me to some degree.  I just like to watch, absorb and be entertained (or not) without spending a lot of time on why I did or didn't like something.

For me, knowing what a good movie is, is the same as the Supreme Court's definition of pornography....I know it when I see it!

Najemikon

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Re: Jon's Alphabet Marathon 2010
« Reply #115 on: July 31, 2010, 11:45:56 PM »
That's true, Hal, but I do get a kick out of analysing them! :laugh: Like any art form, they are there to be analysed if you want. There is a degree of science involved, but still it is a subjective, manipulative and often just blind lucky medium. But that's why I see the actual rating as something rather flippant.

All this about how I rate them is delaying me reviewing the last one!  :training:

hal9g

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Re: Jon's Alphabet Marathon 2010
« Reply #116 on: August 01, 2010, 12:07:00 AM »
That's true, Hal, but I do get a kick out of analysing them! :laugh:

That's very obvious given the extensive thought that you put into them.  They are among the best I've read anywhere!   :thumbup:

Najemikon

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Re: Jon's Alphabet Marathon 2010
« Reply #117 on: August 01, 2010, 03:06:16 AM »
You are a gentleman, sir, but too kind. Thank you. I think we can all be proud of the tone of this site. It's getting to be pretty extensive. :thumbup:

Offline Dragonfire

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Re: Jon's Alphabet Marathon 2010
« Reply #118 on: August 01, 2010, 04:51:42 AM »
Yeah, that's essentially how I approach it, Marie. I never shrug it off as an opinion though as I do want to stand by it and open someone elses mind to why. If anyone disagrees, as has happened here, then I want to talk it through.

Matthias is very good at that. He'll challenge a flippant statement and I don't mind standing up to it. If anything it is more important for films you might rate very low. I always get frustrated when someone says they disliked a film so much, they can't be bothered to review it! They're the best ones!

I will say this; I write reviews as much for my benefit and frequently ask myself just why do I think it should be whatever rating. When I start feeling it's a five, I put a lot more time into justifying or proving it to me first.

You've been using Epinions a long time, Marie! That's about when I was hosting Virgin.net's movie forum too. Do you get feedback on that site?

Oh I stand by what I rate movies too.  I just meant that different people can feel differently about the same movies.  I don't get worked up if people don't agree with what I think about a movie. 

Members of Epinions can leave comments on reviews and rated them.  The ratings are Very Helpful, Helpful, Somewhat Helpful and Not Helpful. 
There have been a few times when I've suspected that someone rated one my reviews lower because they didn't agree with what I thought of a movie..the one time, the person left a comment about how the movie was obviously horrible based on previews and not worth watching.  I enjoyed the movies in question, and I talked about why I liked them in the review, backing up my opinion.  When I rate movie reviews, I don't rate lower if someone likes a movie I hated or hated one I liked.  If a review is just all plot summary without some analysis, then I do rate lower.  That is pretty much how most rate movie reviews there.  We don't have to get into a lot of depth with the analysis, but there should be some.


Najemikon

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There Will Be Blood *****
« Reply #119 on: August 01, 2010, 06:42:24 PM »
There Will Be Blood
5 out of 5



This widely acclaimed masterpiece and must see American epic features the Academy Award®-winning performance of Daniel Day-Lewis (Best Actor, 2007). Daniel Plainview and son are independent oil men, looking for prospects in California at the turn of the 20th century. They are challenged by a young preacher, Eli Sunday (Paul Dano), whose own ambition is matched by Plainview's. Their battle forms the center of a scary, darkly comic historical journey into an abyss of madness.

Frequently listed as a decade best and occasionally one of all time, There Will Be Blood, along with The Assassination Of Jesse James By The Coward Robert Ford and No Country For Old Men (released the same year), proves American cinema is healthy and vibrant, which is reassuring considering the current CGI 3D obsession. Perhaps a simple way to introduce it is, The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre, as seen through the eyes of Robert Altman (the film is dedicated to Altman and director Paul Thomas Anderson sent a copy of John Huston’s classic to Daniel Day Lewis in preparation for the role).

The story is a simple one, but encompasses a lifetime of greed and stands a great deal of contemplation long after the credits role. Daniel Day Lewis plays Daniel Plainview (“when I say I am an oil man, I think you will agree”) and the story charts his development to oil tycoon, with his son (“and partner...”) H.W. (Dillon Freasier). It’s a parable on capitalism in conflict with religion, embodied by young Eli Sunday (Paul Dano).  Dano also plays Eli’s twin, but that character has one brief scene yet is essential.

I have found some of Anderson’s previous work to be too obvious and rigid (Boogie Nights was well made, but left me cold). This feels like a departure and there is a welcome playfulness here, despite the cynical Nihilism (neither capitalism nor religion come out of it well!); an abstract nature throughout, frequently underlined by the incredible score from Jonny Greenwood. The music is organic and expressive, often seeming to use all sorts of unusual sounds (one sequence of Daniel’s growing oil field has a wonderful rhythm), or even abrasive and more akin to a horror film. The changing tone unusually brings your attention to that score and for good reason. Take the very opening scene, a shot of the mountains before focusing on Daniel, mining alone. It’s accompanied by a horn that is almost a long shriek. If you knew nothing else about the story at this point, you might already consider Plainview a monster.

That is an assessment you are unlikely to lose throughout the film. Daniel Day Lewis is astonishing as Plainview. He seems to become him utterly, that every movement, every tick is beyond acting.  This is Daniel Plainview. You will especially note his distinct, measured tone of voice, based somewhat on John Huston, which is so hypnotic to the characters and us the viewer. I’ve called him a monster and he is such an accomplished creation that the film, so centred on his performance, could be classed as Horror from a certain perspective. He won the Oscar for this work. Well... duh.

Every good performance needs support though and Paul Dano as Eli Sunday is fantastic. He is so much younger than Daniel, but he holds his own with a confident turn as the manipulative preacher. He is softly spoken, yet with a penchant for sermons where he appears possessed, full of fire and brimstone, that doesn’t convince Daniel for a moment. Both men are opposites, but both manipulative and see the hypocrisy in each other. And finally there is the boy, H.W., who represents an enigma in Daniel, in that this is the only person in the world he could possibly love. Young Dillon Freasier is excellent. He and Day Lewis complement each other so well that the relationship is convincing.

Take an early scene where Daniel is introducing himself to the townsfolk whose land he plans to buy. H.W. stands impassive to one side and never says a word, while Anderson’s camera gently shifts from Daniel to H.W. and back, taking our focus with it, yet Daniel’s voice is the constant. It is an incredible shot that most won’t notice (I’m sad like that!) but is worth looking out for.

It’s pacier than you might expect, and a dark plot, but beautiful. Some shots might stand out as being particularly breathtaking, but Robert Elswit’s photography is consistently striking throughout.  Anderson’s direction is subtle and focused. He wisely lets Daniel Plainview do all the talking and while there are uncompromising moments that pack a punch like a oil drill bit to the head(!), he resists turning them into set-pieces and doesn’t even resort to zooms, quick edits or slow motion. It’s such a change from his usual style of bringing attention to the craft, though there isn’t anything wrong with that approach. For example, Boogie Nights had a raw Scorcese feel about it and Magnolia even had a musical number to emphasise its story of shared fate. These are fine films and when I say There Will Be Blood is better, I mean only in a consummate realisation of a larger ambition.

What few critics there are of There Will Be Blood seem to find the ending a challenge amongst other things, or even a betrayal of what has gone before. I argue they were not watching closely enough and the brilliance of that closing scene is in the contrasting absurdity. It is a terrifying scene, yet you may laugh nervously, as the film is brought to a simple and effective close with a single line of dialogue. If you do find it odd, just let it simmer on your mind for a couple of days and hopefully you’ll see what was intended; that all the threads of a life dedicated to obsession, hatred and existing on the edge of madness, are so beautifully tied off.

As I said before, The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre was a proud influence on Anderson, but it also bears a resemblance to Citizen Kane and occasionally has a Kubrick feel to it (more so than Altman, I think). That this is indelibly Anderson’s film and can stand to be compared with the very best, is testament to a visionary director who has clearly made his Masterpiece and struck black gold.