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View Full Version : How to improve your choice in movies?


Rodgers01
12-04-2006, 10:24 PM
I'm supposed to give a Toastmasters speech tomorrow in which I, essentially, am supposed to teach the audience about something or other of my choosing. I'm thinking I'll give a talk on how people can improve their choice in movies. My thoughts so far:

1) Pay less attention to who stars in a movie than to who made it. As discussed in a recent thread (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=397799), an actor can be the auteur of a movie, but most of the time it's a safer bet to go with the director, screenwriter, or producer.

2) Read reviews. Good movie critics don't (as most people seem to imagine) trash all Hollywood movies and praise only artsy French dramas; a good critic will try to tell you what's good or bad in many different genres.

3) Find a critic whose taste you like. The reviewer for the Village Voice is not going to have a similar taste as the reviewer for the Christian Science Monitor.

4) Don't just go by what's big at the box office. "Deck The Halls" has been a huge hit, but neither the critics (08% fresh at RottenTomatoes) nor the public (4.4 out of 10 on IMDB) seem to like it much.

What do you think of these ideas? Any you would change or add? Is the topic too pretentious? I was going to add a joke at the beginning of the speech about how I know some in the audience won't like my topic because some people just bristle at the idea of someone telling them how to pick their movies.

Cat Whisperer
12-04-2006, 11:02 PM
I think it's a good topic, and I agree with most of your points. I don't know if I would agree with you about reviews; people who watch movies for a living are looking for something different in movies than I am; I'm mostly just looking to be entertained for a couple of hours in a way that doesn't insult my intelligence too deeply.

Rodgers01
12-04-2006, 11:08 PM
I don't know if I would agree with you about reviews; people who watch movies for a living are looking for something different in movies than I am; I'm mostly just looking to be entertained for a couple of hours in a way that doesn't insult my intelligence too deeply.Oh, you reminded me of another point I meant to add: find out what your peers liked, if you don't like critics. Go to IMDB and check out the ratings of other average people who saw the movie. If you think only teenaged boys do those ratings and you don't care about their opinions, click the button to see the ratings breakdown by gender and age group.

Snooooopy
12-04-2006, 11:34 PM
Most importantly, NEVER talk to my dad. For such an intelligent man, he sure is a sucker for anything with explosions and well-placed quips.

Green Bean
12-04-2006, 11:38 PM
It's a good topic.

Maybe instead of approaching it as how to "improve your choice in movies," you could frame it more as a primer on how to choose movies you're actually going to enjoy. The former sounds a little too much like "how to have better taste in movies," which is definitely pretentious.

To address your particular points:

1) For some of us, the actors in a movie are often more important than who made the movie. For example, I'll gladly watch a Jerry Bruckheimers crap-fest like Armageddon or Con Air because the ensemble casts are just so great. Maybe you should make this section about how one should pay attention to both the director/writer/producer and the actors.

2 & 3) These are really two parts of the same point--that movie reviews can be relevant to the average viewer. I haven't read any of her reviews recently, but in the past, I've found that Janet Maslin of the NYTimes reviewed movies in a way that was helpful to me. If a movie was a shoot-em-up action flick, she commented on whether it was a good shoot-em-up action flick, or a cheesy and boring shoot-'em-up action flick. She wasn't reviewing for cinema snobs. She was reviewing for the average Times reader.

4) This is an excellent point. Big box office, Oscar buzz, and tons of rave reviews are bad ways to choose movies. Those things don't tell you whether YOU will like the movie. But if something is a "sleeper hit," then that is a clue that it's probably pretty good.