It can be incredibly difficult to get a feel for the “critical consensus” for a new film, if there even is such a thing. But, online review aggregators like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic do their best to provide their readers with a general idea of the quality of a film, which I have discussed at length before. Today, I’d like to show a crystal clear example of why another metric, the User Ratings from IMDB.com, borders on absolute uselessness. Put bluntly, the site does not require that a person giving a rating has even seen the movie. The result is blatant vote-brigading, either artificially elevating a substandard film through the sheer size of the fanbase of its underlying intellectual property, or unjustly punishing a film for its perceived transgressions that are unrelated to the quality of the filmmaking. In the former case, we’ll look at Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and in the later, the more recent A Dog’s Purpose.
As I mentioned in my State of the Blog post this month, I am planning a series of in-depth essays on the films of Stanley Kubrick. Near the end of each month, I will publish an essay on one of Kubrick’s films, and I intend these pieces to be worthy of the films that they are analyzing, not mere “reviews”. This will not be a trivial pursuit. And, I acknowledge that I may not be up to the Herculean task. Regardless, these are some of my favorite films, and I hope to enhance my enjoyment of them (and yours!) through analysis and discussion.
We’re just into 2017, and the time-honored tradition of celebrating a new year by accidentally writing down its predecessor first continues unabated. Though the early months of the year often struggle movie-wise, there are interesting things going on. These include a few intriguing films, the meaningless over-evaluation of Awards Season (and the vitriol it inspires), and even the beginning of the festival season. Here at Plot and Theme, I’ll reflect backwards a bit, mention some cool things I’m looking forward to, and then set some goals for the year.
As 2016 draws to a close, it is the ideal time to reflect upon a fantastic year for film. Though the major tentpoles disappointed and suggest that the Big Hollywood machine is starting to sputter, this may be the single best year for film of the century, and I intend to argue the merits of each film on my Top Ten List.
In the Northern Hemisphere, darkness insists upon our waking hours earlier each day. The country is full of crybabies and fascists, and nothing in between. It’s cold. But at least there’s a new Star Wars movie to over-appreciate.
The second-scariest month of the year has passed, and we now find ourselves in the most-scariest. Something about an election (to paraphrase Barry Crimmins, the problem is that someone will win). Fortunately, there is a high chance that fans of film stand to win as well, as November appears to the month with the most intriguing array of releases. December looks fine too, but we’ll deal with that one as it comes. For this month’s base-touching, I’ll lament about the relatively disappointing October (briefly), wig out about November flicks that I predict will be worth seeing, and do a little managerial upkeep on Plot and Theme.
Autumn is upon us in the Northern Hemisphere, and with it comes sweater weather, pumpkin-spiced everything, and Oscar contenders. While I was a little harsh on the cinematic offerings of September, I was pleasantly surprised by most of what I saw last month, both at home and in the theater. I also began a new writing venture, which you should see reflected on this site soon. And, my readership seems to be increasing with each month, to boot! To make matters even better, October is stocked with an outstanding array of films, from high-dollar Hollywood fares all the way down to some of the most widely-regarded and weird indies out there. Let’s get into it.
Speaking generally (which never upsets anyone, ever), September is the month when the studios start to release their Oscar darlings. Then, in a counter-programming move, you can find some bigger films, genre flicks, or other stuff that will impress the crowds that simply aren’t concerned with the Oscar-bait. This September is no different, but it strikes me as odd that the films being released this year are much less interesting than we are used to. So, for this State of the Blog, I’ll likely just complain a bit about the flicks, try to find something that I think will end up being cool, and then I’ll also talk about a few flicks that I would like to see.
I got a little off the rails during the month of July. The big tentpoles that were released last month just didn’t float any boats in my mind, so I ended up skipping a lot of them. In fact, the only one out there that I still want to see before it leaves theaters is the new Star Trek sequel, which has gotten reasonable reviews. Everything else, from Ghostbusters to Lights Out I can comfortably play the waiting game and see later in the comfort of my own home. August, which is usually the second dumping ground of the year (after January), is doing an interesting about-face this year and actually has some amazingly exciting releases scheduled (far better than September and October, imo). So, I’ll preview some of those, talk about other pieces I am writing, and then carry on with the rest of my life.
A semi / biannual tradition begins here at Plot and Theme as I decide it is time to rank movies again according to my very own standards. My opposition to lazy list-style articles notwithstanding, every now and then taking a glimpse of the best trees in the forest offers potentially interesting observations. That is certainly true in this case, as I will not only briefly summarize and recount my favorite ten movies that I’ve seen released in 2016, but also discuss the relatively poor output of the big blockbuster landscape for this year. I’ll also predict whether there are any saviors on the horizon, or if 2016 is doomed to be remembered as a year of flops, both critically and commercially.
I’ve got some cool things brewing here at Plot and Theme, so I wanted to make sure I did my due diligence and let my readers know what is up and what they can expect in the near future (both of them). I’ll detail the posts that I expect to publish, the flicks I hope to see, and a few other random ideas that are kicking around in my head. All-in-all, June looks like it is going to be quite exciting.
The minimally observant among my scant reader base may have noticed that I neglected to post a State of the Blog update at the beginning of the month. Though these posts are among the easiest to draft and write, they still require an amount of focus that I was just not prepared to express for the last couple of weeks. My professional life has taken over the vast majority of my headspace for the last month, and only now do I feel like I have a window of respite to think and talk movies. So, instead of simply ignoring the SotB post for this month, I’ll deliver it a couple of weeks late.