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Added by Xanadon't on 4 Jan 2013 09:50
2623 Views 14 Comments

Let's Talk About Feelings - A Guide to My Ratings

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.5 star movies; 1/10 movies

I didn't see this movie. Half-star movies are seen by Professional Film Critics who are paid by the publication that they write for to see anything and everything that opens locally. And people who have zero ability to make educated guesses about the quality of a product and how it might affect the next 100 minutes or so of their life.

In the all-together rare case that I watched this movie, chances are fair to good that I didn't get all the way through it due to the fact that it was an unbearably worthless experience without indication of ever getting better. I may not have watched the entire film and I may have assigned it a rating anyways. This is not irresponsible or dishonest. Again, I don't get paid to do this. So I'll let out a cry of warning towards others if I damn well feel like it.

Feelings most associated with 1/10 rated movies:

Outrage / Nausea / Severe Offense / Crippling Despair

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1 star movies; 2/10 movies

I didn't slog my way through this one either. That's because it looked like a really shitty movie. There are generally all kinds of warning signs swarming all around 1-star movies. Directors with shitty track-records, cringe-inducing trailers, casts that feature the likes of Adam Sandler or Anna Farris or, in some cases, talking chipmunks or a variety of animated animals that make fart jokes while voiced by... fucking Tim Allen or somebody. It's extremely unlikely that I bothered with any of these movies.

Feelings most associated with 2/10 rated movies:

Embarrassment (with myself for choosing to watch such an atrocity)

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1.5 star movies; 3/10 movies

It's three or four times more likely that I saw this movie than any of the previously mentioned movies combined. One-and-a-half-star movies happen like that sometimes. And when they do happen, it really sucks. In such cases, it's possible that I simply walk out of the theater early in search of a better way to spend my time. Or maybe I just sit and suffer through it, depressed by the general incompetence and severe lack of entertainment happening before me. A great many things went terribly wrong with this movie.

Feelings most associated with 3/10-rated movies:

Embarrassment (for the people that chose to be involved with such an atrocity) / severe disappointment / utter boredom / disbelief that I didn't realize that this movie would suck until it was too late

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2 star movies; 4/10 movies

There are tons of these movies out there getting released all the time, so avoiding them can get a bit tricky. 2-star movies are often lifeless and stubbornly bland efforts into any genre of film under the sun: action, romantic-comedy, horror, "inspiring" drama, you name it. They are rote, unimaginative, and generally stale tasting. They lack intelligence and assume that their audience suffers from the same deficiency.

I generally run into these most often when a once decent film franchise has gone awry, when I have doubts about the film but like a particular cast member or two that star in it, or when I just finished the arduous and unhappy task of grocery shopping so I head over to the Redbox on my way out of the store to cheer myself up. "Oh, but wait. I already saw everything that looks decent during its theatrical run. Shit... Ah, what the hell- The Sitter might be good."

Feelings most associated with 4/10 rated movies:

impatience / listlessness / frustration toward inexplicable cult-status / frustration toward Emily Blunt for appearing in such a generic movie / frustration with self for continuing to watch films from a director that I just don't care for / sharp lack of enthusiasm

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2.5 star movies; 5/10 movies

2 and 1/2 star movies are a pain in my ass. They leave me too indifferent to work up the gusto to bitch about them-- I mean to really give them a proper scolding. And since I obviously didn't like them, what good are they then?

Sometimes a likely candidate for a 2.5 star movie is my least favorite film from an established director and one who I typically really enjoy. Because the work in question is delivered by a talented director whom I have affection toward, I won't generally find myself or my opinion landing firmly in "hated it" territory. But maybe I feel major aspects of the story or key characters are mishandled and that the subject matter is a bore and that the pacing is all fucked up and that the movie never achieves any kind of thematic resonance. Other common 5/10 movies for me are well-intentioned indie efforts that simply do far too many things wrong to ever add up to anything enjoyable.

Feelings most associated with 5/10 rated movies:

annoyance / passivity / discouragement / momentary flickers of amusement / prematurely snuffed out joy / unfulfilled hope

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3 star movies; 6/10 movies

3-star movies are somewhat decent, or maybe even mostly decent movies, but not generally good and in no way remarkable. They take on many different forms and I find myself applying the 3-star rating for myriad reasons. These include: "It was pretty dumb but I liked it", "It was pretty good in several ways but I didn't like it", "It was fine", "It passed the time well enough but I'll forget all about it by tomorrow", "It held my interest throughout but I really wished they did several things diffently", etc. I don't deem a 3-star movie to be recommendable, as a general rule.

Sometimes 3-star movies could've easily been 4-star movies, but just didn't shape up that way. A lot of times seemingly sure-bets for 1.5 star movies defy the odds and charm their way into 3-star territory. And often 3-star movies do several things very well and several things quite poorly to become awkward lopsided animals that one can't help but feel sorry for, and maybe even feel a bit of actual affection for.

Feelings most associated with 6/10 rated movies:

modest amusement / labored interest / shaky goodwill / surprise at the fact that it doesn't suck / gracious tolerance / uneven engagement

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3.5 star movies; 7/10 movies

While many --perhaps most-- people consider a 7/10 rating to be a pretty darn good rating, it's really what I consider to be the bottom of the "recommendable" realm in most cases. By this logic, it's safe to assume that even with a 7/10 rating, I've still spent a fair share thinking about how things might have been better. But I probably enjoyed myself more than I didn't.

In most cases, a movie that I've awarded 3.5 stars is one that consistently engaged me and promoted a certain level of interest in what's happening in front of me and how it's being told, even if there are a number of "flaws" present. 3.5 star films are worthwhile as I'm experiencing the movie, even though I may be frustrated with certain choices, characterizations, methods, etc.

Feelings most associated with 7/10 rated movies:

general emotional,intellectual commitment to the film / enjoyment / mild displeasure / conflicting internal response / vague dissatisfaction (depending upon the movie) / perfectly acceptable levels of satisfaction (depending upon the movie)

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4 star movies; 8/10 movies

4-star movies are good movies and in some cases very good movies, but are probably not what I would consider "special" movies to me on the whole, though they may in fact have some pretty special things in them. I like my four star movies, and it might be that I really liked it. I award a whole lot of 4-star ratings around here, because I really enjoy cinema and enjoy enjoying cinema. Movie-making strikes me as hard work in which a lot of things must go right, so if I enjoy myself I'm eager to recognize the effort that went into a film and communicate my enjoyment.

If I'm in the mood, I'll rewatch a 4-star movie if it's something I had enough fun with the first time around. In other cases, I may more or less forget all about a 4-star movie, but chances are I found plenty to enjoy as I sat down with it the one and only time.

Feelings most associated with 8/10 rated movies

pleasure / fun / involvement / surprise / consciousness of slight faults,unevenness,problems,etc. / forgiveness / goodwill

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4.5 star movies; 9/10 movies

4.5 star movies are movies that I greatly enjoyed and that I would happily watch again. They may contain a flaw here or there, but they are overall effective and admirable cinematic efforts that achieve what so many other films do not. They are leading examples of their genre and/or exercises in strong and coherent film-making capable of affecting me with their story and techniques.

4.5 star movies are generally "special movies" to me-- memorable, smart, neat, evocative, and interesting. A 4.5 star movie may have missed a perfect rating for any number of reasons. Possibly a certain sub-plot underachieved in comparison with the rest of the film. Maybe the plight of a certain character didn't quite ring as true as I'd have liked. Or maybe it's just that the film was limited in scope or potential from the onset, and was never likely to completely and absolutely earn my highest level of favor and praise. In any case, the film still won me over in most all respects and made me happy to have spent my time with it.

Feelings most associated with 9/10 rated movies

excitement / acute fondness / unwavering involvement / admiration / strong affection / considerable happiness with the film itself and my time spent with it

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Yep- this is going to be a wordy one. If that's not your thing, don't worry: in many ways this list is as much or more for myself than anything else.

But, best-case scenario, you might be interested in how I approach and evaluate movies. And you may even have a few questions answered. Questions like:

"How come Xanadon't gives out such high ratings all the damn time?"
"Why does it seem like Xanadon't rates movies when he's under the influence of mind-altering drugs?"
"Just who does Xanadon't think he is giving this 92% fresh-certified dramatic juggernaut a 6/10 and then giving that shitty-looking indie rom-com a 9?"
"How can I take Xanadon't's 4 and 5 star ratings seriously when he so seldom uses 1 or 2 star ratings?"
"Does Xanadon't automatically award a star every time Naomi Watts appears on-screen in a snug-fitting tank-top?"
"Does Xanadon't automatically subtract a star every time his man-crush Mark Ruffalo isn't included in the cast?"
"Does Xanadon't even understand the basic principle that the more stars colored in yellow, the better the movie? Are you sure? Okay, well then why the fuck is there so much yellow filled in next to The Spirit? That movie was an ungodly shit-fest!"
"Who the fuck is Xanadon't?... Who?... Oh, that guy? Yeah, whatever."

All fair questions. Whether or not this list provides answers, well, of that I can't be sure. What I am certain about however is this: I feel as though I am always and forever learning how to watch movies.

I'm continually learning about the hows and whys of my own personal responses to films, and about the hows and whys of what I deem good, bad, so-so, terrible, or amazing. I'm still continually learning about the way I approach movies, the way I manage my expectations of them, the way I actually watch them, and the way I evaluate them.

And it's the way that I evaluate movies that this list is primarily concerned with. Nobody reading this (or any of my various lists/journals/reviews/etc.) can see the movie that I saw, precisely the way I saw it. (and vice-versa, naturally) But all of you can see precisely the star-rating that I've assigned any particular movie. This is merely an effort to clarify (both to you and to myself) some of the things that inform these ratings.

One thing that should be said before I go: As I put together this list, it struck me that a great, great many of the ratings that I've assigned to movies are completely and totally unreliable or, at best, somewhat arbitrary. I'm speaking primarily (though I hesitate to say exclusively) of movies that I've rated but haven't actually watched inside of the last 4 or 5 years.

And truly, it's only in the two or three years that I've been an active listal member that a level of consistency and consciousness has truly developed around my movie ratings. Participation with this site has naturally helped me to be more active and thoughtful in my consideration of movies as I watch them and respond to them.

For these reasons the movies that I use as examples are mostly newer films and films that I've watched as recently as 5 years ago and less. I also made a deliberate effort to steer away from straight genre-films like Horror titles, Action titles, Animation titles, etc. where possible, as well as "Classic" movies. Pretty much every title found in this list was released after 1990, and the vast majority are post-2000 releases. This was a decision I made for the sake of simplicity and clarity.

That said, the actual movies included really aren't the main point of this list. Although, if you noticed that I included more examples of 9 and 10s, well then you've also likely figured out that this is simply because I enjoy celebrating the good in cinema over dwelling on the not so good.

Okay, well to anyone still with me: Thanks so much for reading. You deserve an extra scoop of ice cream.

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