Things I watch out for:
1) Certain movie directors. There are directors whose body of work I am an unabashed fan of, so I watch carefully for whenever they make a new movie. Even if there’s an occassional miss, I generally know the type of film I’m getting into. These include Quentin Tarantino, Spike Lee, Michael Moore, Tim Burton, Peter Jackson, Terry Gilliam. I’ll also see anything by sibling filmmakers like the Wachovskys, the Hudlins, the Hughes, the Coens and the Farrellys.
2) Certain performers. There is a small body of actors and (increasingly) these days, musician-performers whose movies I support: Robert DeNiro, Denzel Washington, Anthony Hopkins, Meryl Streep, Morgan Freeman, Laurence Fishburne and Bill Murray. Also, Queen Latifah, Mos Def, Ludacris, LL Cool J and
**3) Buzz from movie festivals, independent filmmakers and international imports. ** I still keep my ear to the ground for movies coming from Cannes, Sundance, Toronto, Venice and, infrequently, the new Barbados Festival of African and Carribbean Films.
4) Subgenre favorites. I like heist films. I like cold war movies. I enjoy comic book superhero flicks. I like African-American family movies. I enjoy animation. I usually enjoy a good postmodern western.
5) The plot or gimmick. Every one in awhile I’ll hear about a movie’s plot or gimmick and go see it just to see how well it’s been executed. Some examples: Movies shot in real-time. Movies where a broad ensemble of actors make up the plot and dialogue as they go. Movies where one actor in make up plays multiple characters.
6) The opinions of Roger Ebert, with a grain of salt. If he intensely dislikes a movie, I probably will, too. If he likes it, it’s usually a good sign but I’ll beware if it’s a format I haven’t seen before (this year’s Prarie Home Companion being something I might try, with trepidation. I volunteer at a radio station so I know the kind of work that goes on air but I’d be wary if this makes a good film. Last one last thing about Ebert: if the movie stars Sandra Bullock, even if it sucks donkey turds he’ll give it a good rating. But he’s a great movie critic in that he’s fairly consistent without being slavishly so and his writings are very-well done.
Things I try very hard to ignore, or don’t pay attention to, or avoid:
- Hollywood releases from late January through mid-April.
- Hollywood promos/hype.
- Movies heavy on Special effects/explosions/violence
- Nudity plugs for starlets
- 90% of most trailers