Sunday, January 25, 2004

The art of the movie review

Since I decided that I was going to review some movies for this blog, I've been asking myself about what to look for in a movie that makes it worth the review in the first place. Of course, the choice of movie is going to be left up to my own personal and hopefully not too idiosyncratic whims. The big question is, basically, what does a director have to do to get the Vacuum Energy seal of approval?

Of course, it's fairly easy to decide what to avoid when it comes to criticism. One thing you're definately not going to see from me is a glowing, freshly minted, 4-star badge of honor being awarded to a flick such as "Kill Bill: Volume 1". Don't get me wrong. I think Roger Ebert is ordinarily excellent at differentiating between crap and talent, but a certain mixture of utter ridiculousness coated with enough Hollywood cool or political correctness seems to score high on the Ebert scale. Or maybe it was the cheap shot at Trent Lott in Ebert's review of "Gods and Generals" that got under my skin.

Anyway, my real critical influence, known to the coworkers at Vacuum Energy headquarters as "my" reviewer, is James Bowman, currently writing reviews for "The American Spectator" alongside his other pursuits. The Bowman scale of 0 to 2 stars ranging from awful to amazing definately has its advantages in encapsulating the favorability of ones criticism. A movie really has to work hard to earn a two-star rating, but you can at least trust a 1-star movie to be worth your money at the theaters. The vast proliferation of no star movies in the Bowman movie archives testifies to the worth of the average film being pumped out of Hollywood nowadays. I don't always agree with his decisions, but the amateur will be looking at the master's style for inspiration.

So, here's the deal. If you see a movie review posted on this site, it will be my honest opinion with at least some kind of critical reflection applied to it before it got digitalized. I'm going to look for what works, what doesn't, what gets me thinking days later, and what makes me run out of the theater screaming, all with a hopefully Bowman-esque ability to cut through the PC envelope that movies sometimes get packaged within.

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