Archive for January, 2014

Movie Critics and Audience Viewers Never Think Alike

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

Is it just me, or has the gap between critics and regular viewers become wider than usual? Movies that critics love, viewers find disappointing. Current examples include Wolf of Wall Street, Her, 12 Years a Slave. All of these were loved by Critics and given 5 stars very frequently. But by the public… mediocre, ripped into by many, deemed overrated. The exact opposite is true for the likes of Lone Survivor (which viewers particularly loved) and Ride Along, yes the one with Kevin Hart and Ice Cube.

The latter is what tends to make money (Grown Ups 2 being an example you often hear, critics hated it, yet it banked $120+ million). Perhaps Hollywood has the average human mentality and preferences understood as a money making blueprint after all. They like silly comedies that let them forget their days otherwise and the theme of underdogs overcoming in conflict, particularly war movies in the US (less so in other markets).

I looked around the web for a bit, to see if it was a “is it just me” moment. As usual with the web, those moments are quickly crushed. There are some interesting comments and analysis of this so called gap, one that was worth a read was this one on the NY Times – not just as a post itself, but the user comments (which perhaps is a biased audience and publication in itself, but that’s another post).

Some of general consensus included a bit of bias for both sides such as:

– Reason for the discrepancy is that the public writes reviews for movies they LIKE more often than for ones they don’t. (hmmm…. totally not true, public love to complain actually)

– Most moviegoers watch a film to enjoy it for what it is, and don’t necessarily mind formula or cliche dialogue. These films are comfortable escapes. (yes, that I agree with)

or

– Just because the masses seek easy and cheap movies to wash away their daily routine does not make them better movies (similar to above, and often mentioned in this way).

– It’s basically an intelligence gap! (ouch, as if you never found a bad song/movie/restaurant/bar/person/etc to be good)

– Imagine that Michelin food critics were required to rate all restaurants, including fast food chains, airport concessions, etc. (ha, amusing analogy), which went well with…

– Just because McDonald’s is convenient and easy and cheap it doesn’t make it a good meal (um, but movies aren’t cheap these days).

– The conversation should be less about the difference between expert-popular taste, and more about why the people no longer value expert opinion (not quite, there may have been a gap all along, they just openly disagree in places you can see nowadays such as online)

Look further back and you find another open debate at Screenrant – which kicks off with:

– “Opinions are like armpits – everyone has them and some of them stink,” so the old adage goes. This phrase rings doubly true when it comes to movie critics and their reviews of films.

There’s more analysis of the top flicks that experienced this large disparity (both ways) at The Guardian and I’m sure there’s often many articles and discussions about this, the more I look, the more I ask people, etc.

Perhaps this post is guilty of catering to users (viewer equivalent on the web) rather than experts. I’ve covered the point, the topic at end, cited examples and trends instead of digging too deeply into my own thoughts and put some one-liners that sound all too familiar in context. Hmmmm, I feel like I’ve got the movie formula down pat now.

In the end, see what you want to see. I used to get annoyed when people went to see movies that I thought were pointless (e.g.: most sequels and remakes, rehashed romcoms, overdone war movies, etc). But these days I get it. Movies are entertainment. Paraphrasing what a friend of mine says about indie film making in general – sure, you want it to be an art, but if you also want people to like it and you want to make a living out of it, you have already compromised.

Let us know what you think. Does it even matter what viewers or critics say, and why its often the opposite of one another?

Top 10 Football Movies

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Ahhh, Superbowl hype week, where one has to wait two weeks for the big game, and the first week is just a load of trash talking (Richard Sherman had a head start and got on it right at the end of the game yesterday) and commercial build up. So why not spend the days leading up to football big game by watching movies. Here are ten of the best football movies, in no special order, though number 1 in my book is……

1) Any Given Sunday: 1999: Still my favorite football movie to this date. Yes, its a bit overdone at times. But its got a real edge to it too, whilst Lawrence Taylor’s acting done quite well (though disturbingly real in his “life after football” speech).

2) Remember the Titans: 2000: I didn’t really like this the first time I saw it, as it felt like a Hollywood blockbuster about team camaraderie during times of separation – where winning takes it all in the end. Then you realize there’s nothing wrong with that.

3) Big Fan: 2009: Film about an obsessed NY Giants fan in Staten Island who has no life otherwise, calls sports radio repeatedly at night (hey, I heard it got another caller a job doing shows there), finds he favorite player and finally meets him, but not in the ideal way. Not that this list is in any order, but perhaps being a NY Giants fan helps.

4) The Program
: 1993: As you may have seen from the DRE blog, 90’s movies are a weak-spot for me. As a kid I had more time to watch movies and tend to remember them for more that what they are.

Of course now-a-days, you can just find them online (full length movie below!). This one has that “Straight off a tape” authenticity. Despite that, it does touch base ahead of its time on topics such as NCAA bribery.

5) North Dalls Forty: 1979: You think some of this life that some of the NFL players lead now is new? Here’s a movie that depicted this in the 70’s, starring Nick Nolte.

6) Rudy: 1993: Ru-dee, ru-dee. Based on a true story and while not a big box office winner, it still gets plenty of showing on cable TV to this date.

7) The Waterboy: 1998 – Great football comedy. Its an absolutely stupid movie, but that’s the point. Take it for what its worth, its an Adam Sandler movie. But I found this to be one of his more amusing ones – couldn’t name one since though!

8) Friday Night Lights: 2004: Bonus points for director Pete Berg who last month stated there will not be a sequel to the original movie that spun into a TV miniseries. I have never actually seen the series that happened after, but this list is about movies.

9) Necessary Roughness: 1991: not the recent TV show but the 1991 movie with a 30 year old rookie called in on an otherwise mediocre team, the story line won’t surprise you. But its got a lot of familiar actors in it even some I forgot were in this. It’s a dumb comedy of old and see the reference made earlier regarding the 90’s.

10) League of Denial: 2013: Time to get serious though. The game hits hard. The fans love it but the players get the worst of it in many cases. Even the big names are not immune. This documentary reminds us that the biggest story about the sport is the sport itself.

It may even change how some people view football. It didn’t in my case, as I think its not exactly a new discovery on how such hits can cause harm….but it did slightly change how I view the NFL and how it put business first and players last.

Any one we missed out on, let us know and we’ll try and check it out at least. Knute Rockne: All American? Never seen it. Blindside, Jerry Maguire, yeah we know those, but it wasn’t top 10. Brian’s Song, well that one is technically a made-for-TV movie, but will have to check that out sometime soon regardless. Have a great Superbowl wherever you may be watching it from.

So You Want to Make Movies (Part 1)

Monday, January 13th, 2014

A couple of years ago I had a mid-life crisis. I was feeling a lack of meaning and that I had a lot more to contribute to life than what I was giving. I always knew that hidden underneath the layers of bitterness from working jobs I hated and the beer gut I put on over the years that I have a voice that is unique, powerful and needs to be heard. I decided that I wanted to pursue the one true passion I have in life and produce movies.

No, you probably never heard of me. Hell, even some of my closest friends have never heard of me. Even after reading this article, you probably will still be unaware of my existence. But the fact is that I got together with people who wanted the same thing: we wanted to make movies. And so we did. No, you won’t see our shorts as nominees at the Oscars. Yes, we made some mistakes and need to improve. But our movies are out there, forever. This all happened simply because we wanted to make movies and we made it happen. That simple.

First let me say this: do not waste your time and money going to film school. Why should you get into colossal debt so you can hear Professor Hoity-Toity Thompson give you 1,001 reasons why Citizen Kane is the greatest movie of all time because the NY Times critics or whoever film farts says so? If you want theory, go to the library and take out theory books or look up theory stuff on the internet. Better yet, form your own theories merely by watching all kinds of movies. Unless the courses are teaching technical skills such as camera operations or sound recording, save time and money and find a way to get onto a set and learn from the pros.

Film Set

For years I had let myself become intimidated by the stigma that comes with starting a film career: not finding work because I don’t have a film degree, finding work but it’s not steady, finding work but not getting paid for it or getting paid very little, struggling to make a living, arrogant film people squashing your pipe dreams of becoming the next great director. These thoughts must be controlled or overcome in order to achieve your goals. Whether you have the stomach to take on these challenges will tell you whether you have the desire to last in this business. I find that it’s best not to think, just do!

Once you decide to jump in, unless you have skills with a camera, lighting or sound recording; you will most likely have to get started as a production assistant. While it may not be the most glamorous work, it can be an opportunity to get experience and network with people for future work. It all depends on how you approach it. Chances are you will not get paid for your first few PA jobs. That is the unfortunate reality. Try to look at it as an investment for potential paying work in the future. If you stay the course, those paying jobs will come.

How do you go about getting on a set? Stay tuned…