How do you choose what movies and TV shows to watch?

Not long ago I was talking to my brother Johnny about the latest X-Men movie. I told him that I wasn’t eager to see it because Brett Ratner was directing, and his movies tend to annoy me, at best. (I only ended up seeing it because I was on a date and she chose.) Johnny replied that he never notices things like who is directing a movie; he decides to see a movie based on the actors and the presence of special effects.

Which brought this to mind: what makes you decide to see a movie or watch a television show, Dopers?

Beyond an intriguing ad or good buzz, for me it’s the director and writer. I started watching The West Wing because I love the cadences of Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue, and when he left, I swiftly lost interest (though I stayed with it for a while out of interest in the characters.) The main reason I’m interested in seeing Superman Returns is because Bryan Singer’s directing; if it were a Michael Bey film, I wouldn’t see it for love or money.

What about the rest of you, dopers?

Lucas and Speilberg have both failed me - I now retain no illusions of director-based loyalty.

If Joss Whedon had anything to do with it, at any point, I’ll give it a shot.

If Lucas or Spielberg was involved in any way, pass.

Other than that, I look for buzz, story potential and actors I like. Oh, and actresses I like getting nekkid.

Man, that’s a toughie. Mood is often the biggest factor. Some days, my tolerance level for pap or schlock is quite low, and your typical dose of Orange Fireball cinema goes down pretty sour. Other days, I want nothing better than to see something git blowed up real good, and acting and script can take a back seat.

Whatever mood I’m in, a well-reviewed movie, be it an action or art-house flick, will be favored over another from a similar genre with poorer reviews. That said, I’ve had some pretty bad experiences trying to rely upon the consensus view of the critics lately. For example, I used the Tomatometer to decide, against my better instincts, that Prairie Home Companion (79% fresh) would be a good movie to try. It wasn’t. My gawd but was it not a good movie at all. I cannot recall seeing a more self-absorbed, self-indulgent, plotless, pointless, and utterly uninteresting film in many years. Lindsay Lohan has got to be one of the worst actors, cast for one of the most poorly-developed and cringe-inducing characters, I’ve ever seen. Virginia Madsen, an actor I do like, was totally, utterly wasted as a supposed Angel of Death who wanders somnambulantly around the set muttering some of the most spectacularly stupid little observations and platitudes I could ever imagine an angel saying. The rest of the cast I merely wanted to beat with a wooden club, excepting Garrison Keillor, who should perhaps be dipped in lye-soaked lutefisk juices until the rest of him is as much a gelatinous goo as his brain seems to have become. What a fucking waste of my time and money.

So, the big question I now have is, how do you pick when reviewers are prone to fellating unworthy writers and directors of attrocious films because said creators posess a measure of cachet? If I can get an answer to that question, this thread will be more than worth the price of admission.

Theater: stuff that will go well with popcorn, although I don’t actually buy popcorn. Things going BOOM are my most important reason to go to a place where I risk being close enough to the huge screen to see acne marks on the actors, through a latex face.

TV: there’s a couple movie programs that usually carry interesting stuff. In one of them, the comentator before is worth watching even if the movie ends up sucking. Those get recorded and watched next afternoon (when there’s absolutely nothing on TV, ffwd the ads).

DVD: depends on the mood and company. If the company is a bro, the movie chosen usually has things going BOOM; if it’s Mom it’s mushy.

First, I’m a genre-oriented person. I have some genres I just won’t watch unless something really jumps out and grabs me. Something like an irresistable ad campaign, a favorite actor or director, or some other factor like writer, composer, special effects, whatever.

Second, I’m a favorite actor person. There are some actors I’ll watch in anything, even if I have heard the piece is trash. Then there are some actors I wouldn’t watch unless they happened to be in a movie or show I just had to see because of another favorite being in it.

My mood at the time dictates which movie or show I’ll watch after I have satisified the favorite actor or director criterion. Some occasions I could watch a comedy or even a musical if the mood was just right. I’ll favor a thriller, action/adventure, drama, western, or crime show over the lighter fare for the most part.

Finally the time things are on helps me decide. I rarely go out to a theater (for several reasons) so it’s usually a choice of:

  1. Netflix DVD
  2. non-commercial cable channel
  3. On Demand
  4. commercial channel

If a movie or show is about to start, even if it’s not in the favorite category, I’ll watch it. I may make note of another one I’d prefer to see that comes on a little later and then switch over to it when the time comes. I’d guess that at least half the time I’ll stay with the one that started first.

Well, if it’s on TV and it’s reality-based, I’ll probably watch it at least once (unless it’s on MTV). I am perpetually amazed at the different ways in which reality-TV producers can get people to air their dirty laundry and/or eat bugs for money. And how they can still get me to watch. I have no shame.

As for movies … that’s a little harder. I can never predict what I’m going to be drawn to, seriously. Like, I’m totally going to see “Snakes on a Plane” when it comes out, even though it’s most likely going to be dreck. But as someone pointed out in another thread, “Awesomely terrible is still AWESOME!”

So maybe I am not the best person to answer this question.

I don’t go to movies that I’ve seen before. This includes remakes and movies that closely resemble other movies. Upon recognition of a recycled plotline I’ve been known to walk out. Consequently, I haven’t seen many movies in the last few years.

I’m surprised you’ve seen any at all. And if you had been living in London 400 years ago, you wouldn’t have gone to see any of Shakespeare’s plays live, because they all had plots recycled from somewhere else.

Just to carry this hijack a little further, I quite like the BBC’s Shakespeare Re-Told series, which I picked up in one of the BBC shops on a visit to England earlier this year. It’s often interesting to see how an old story can be updated. And one really good recent movie is Pride & Prejudice, even if Jane Austen’s story has been made into movies or TV series at least a dozen times before, one way or another.

Well, duh, I go to totally new movies because of the discussions among fellow Dopers. I saw “Shaun of the Dead”, “Harry and Kumar go to White Castles”, etc. because of the thoughtful reviews I read here. I found out about the genius of Joss Whedon through the dopers here and I have no doubt that many of my choices in the future will be heavily influenced by the dopers here.

I may keep this as a sig line.

Actors are good, yes…but more important is the genre. I may watch sci-fi, action, and comedy just because of the genre if a couple of other IRL people recommend it to me.

I don’t watch TV, so that’s kind of moot. But I do own some TV shows.

I don’t pay much attention to directors. I pay attention to actors only in a negative way: there are actors I will not watch, but there are no actors I’ll watch no matter what.

My taste in movies is pretty limited by two adamant criteria.

  1. It has to have a happy ending, and
  2. No gore.

Because I’m not sobbing or barfing in a movie theater for entertainment purposes. Ever.

OK, I admit it, I’m a promo sucker. If I see a promo ad for a television show or a trailer for a film that interests me, I’ll try what’s being promoted. That being said, I DO NOT watch tv situation comedies. At all. Ever.

I do like tv reality shows, except for icky stuff like FEAR FACTOR. But give me SURVIVOR, BIG BROTHER, DANCING WITH THE STARS, SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE or my most favorite of all THE AMAZING RACE and I’m a happy camper. However, I have given up on AMERICAN IDOL.

I like police procedurals and adore 24 and HOUSE.

I like NFL football (Green Bay Packers) and NASCAR, but don’t like NBA Basketball or NHL hockey.

For films, I tend to be persuaded by buzz on top of trailers. I see a lot of movies. I don’t like really violent or really stupid stuff. But aside from that, I really have a pretty wide area of interest.

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:

  1. Hollywood releases from late January through mid-April.
  2. Hollywood promos/hype.
  3. Movies heavy on Special effects/explosions/violence
  4. Nudity plugs for starlets
  5. 90% of most trailers

Too many factors play into my decision making process. It’s easier to pick what I definitely WON’T watch. Nothing with Tori Spelling, for instance.

If you sig-line it, may I recommend the tighter “You have failed me for the last time, George Lucas.”?

Not even “Mother, May I Sleep With Danger?” I mean, the title alone …

OMYGOD…I’ve been avoiding that on cable for months on the title alone. I had no idea that talentless little rich girl was in it. I’ve certainly dodged a bullet here.