I’ve been thinking about how I judge movies, and I’ve discovered some big problems. Or potential problems. I’ve never seen anyone talk about how movies are judged outside of the technical aspects… “good” directing, “good” acting, etc.
This post comes about partially because of the argument that reviewers who don’t like a genre should not be able to review a movie from that genre. My old solution, which I have not seen implemented, is for each review to carry at its beginning a brief numerical analysis of the reviewer. Perhaps break the reviewer’s average scores down by genre, to see what he favors. Or some other method that achieves even more accuracy. That way the review can more easily be put in proper relative perspective.
This argument I was addressing implied one truth that I dispute, that all genres are EQUAL. So if a reviewer doesn’t like a genre its the REVIEWER’S fault rather than the genre’s.
This argument has many flaws, but perhaps the biggest is that while it says that all genres are equal, it means all genres currently in existence are equal. The same people who use that argument attack movies outside of existing genres for being “strange”, or in movie reviewers’ cases simply don’t watch them (arthouse movies).
Movie reviewers who are affected by this argument warp their own perspective so that it fits the “ideal” reviewer, who has no genre-bias. Ebert, who is the only reviewer I’m familiar enough with to address, did this, by sometimes saying the movie is “for certain audiences”. That is to say, he doesn’t personally enjoy it, but he still gives it the thumbs up.
The Matrix springs to mind. Its definitely within current genres, so its given Equal standing, but its critically underrated since much of the value of the film lies in its cultural effect. It doesn’t do so well if you give it the cold technical treatment.
Why isn’t there debate over which genre is best? Aren’t there strengths and weaknesses to each genre? Aren’t some genres simply better than others, at least in the particular movies made in the genre?
It would be funny to abuse this… simply create a genre that becomes popular but is truly banal and watch the reviewers give many of those movies “thumbs up”. Oh, wait… something similar has already happened. Its called the Horror Genre. Or the Action Genre.
“Yes, the movie was about watching a piece of shit. But some of the views of that piece of shit were great and the acting was stellar. 9/10! A great movie in the Shitty Genre!”