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Shower Thought #1: Stop calling movies formulaic #fb

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Movie reviewers will often deride a movie by calling it formulaic. I claim this characterization is useless for casual moviegoers, the target audience of a movie reviewer.

11:59 Restate my assumptions

  1. Movie reviews exist for the purpose of telling somebody with a busy life whether he should spend spend upwards of $10 to see it.*
  2. A formulaic movie is defined as one that follows a plot with a common progression shared by other movies that fall into that formula and contains characters that fall into standard archetypes.
  3. A successful movie is one that makes more than its costs. The free market has spoken.

Formulaic movies work. The Bond movies all follow the same exact script. It’s a script that moviegoers have come to expect and enjoy, so much so that there has never been an unprofitable Bond movie. Look  up the movies from this article. All of them made gobs of money, with budget/earnings ratios exceeding even those of the Bond movies. So clearly, some segment of the population enjoys these movies even in the face of movie reviewers who call the movies formulaic.

Nor should we expect these people to care whether a movie is formulaic. These people haven’t spent four years sitting through film criticism courses in college or watched a movie daily for a decade in order to form a base of comparison. To them, the word formulaic means nothing because they have no preconceived idea of a formula to compare a movie against.

Therefore, reviewers who call a movie formulaic are not helping their audience, but they are simply engaging in mental masturbation.

*Of course, assumption #1 is wrong. Movie reviewers try to review the movie as art rather than as a recommendation. By starting from this view, they fail to inform the greater public and do a disservice to the newspapers they serve.


Written by notatypewriter

2010 October 3 at 1:18 pm

Posted in Thoughts

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Roger Ebert (@ebertchicago) finally wrote something comprehensible.

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.Roger Ebert, in his usual long-winded self, finally wrote something that I found comprehensible, even enjoyable to read, though long. He wrote about the how the web destroyed the film critic business, mostly by destroying newspapers’ revenue streams, but enhanced greatly the art of film criticism by lowering the costs of publication to widen the pool of non-professional[1] film critics.

He’s definitely right. But writing about things I agree with is boring, so why am I writing about this?

He wrote one paragraph on a potential future of newspapers, but sadly didn’t elaborate on this more.

In the vast sea of the internet, readers need brands to help them navigate. The Chicago Sun-Times is a successful brand.

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Written by notatypewriter

2010 May 1 at 12:06 pm

Posted in Thoughts

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Don’t confuse excitement for political bias

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Michael Yon, a blogger and (self-funded!) journalist that has my utmost respect for his bravery and his commitment to his mission of informing the public about war, posted this thought today.

Have seen a good number of rallies and also press covering the rallies. Noticed a unique tendency that held in every case. This is important. When rallies truly are large, the press pans back with cameras to gather the crowd. When the rallies are small or tiny, the photos are tight. Usually the tight photos focus on a tiny group that is doing something particular, like burning a flag or effigy of our latest President. Please remember this and as you see rallies, please check the press and see for yourself.

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Written by notatypewriter

2010 April 3 at 6:28 pm

Posted in Thoughts

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Perfect Description of Maureen Dowd

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From Salon:

On the surface, Sunday’s “A Nope for Pope” looks like just another Maureen Dowd column. There is rhyming. There is a simple solution (make a woman the Pope) to a complex issue (child molestation and corruption in the Catholic Church) that does not quite satisfy.

I hate Maureen Dowd’s columns for this exact reason. Her lack of intellectual depth shows in her lame writing. All she writes is feel-good articles that do nothing, say nothing, and mean nothing. She should be fired.

I think the same applies to David Brooks, though with less relevancy. Occasionally, he writes something brilliant, but then follows that up with a series of lame articles of zero substance where he tries to describe the emotional state of the “average American,” as usual with zero evidence. He’s like an armchair sociologist and psychologist, an uneducated practitioner of a soft and illegitimate science, confusing his own biases with that of Americans.

Written by notatypewriter

2010 March 30 at 2:36 pm

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