Tag Archives: Film

Film Ratings

19 Sep

I would like to propose that what is needed to improve the rating system for films is a wider rage of ratings. Herewith some examples, for your consideration;

CT (Child Television/Child Toy association; excessive cuteness may cause actual brain damage in adults) ; example: anything involving the Care Bears

TM (Teen Male; movie founded upon bare breasts and fart jokes; no one with an IQ over 80 will be admitted); example: PORKY’S

SB (Summer Blockbuster; more than 30% of screen time involves gunfire, explosions, or screaming. Earplugs recommended); example: most of Jerry Bruckheimer’s career.

A (Adult subject matter; actual plot and characterization, moderate historical accuracy, few if any explosions. No teens admitted under any circumstances, and audience members who insist on talking will be dropped from a great height.) Examples; THE LION IN WINTER, AMAZING GRACE, IKURU.


Graphic Design

6 Jun

One of the small pleasures of life, for me, is taking the time to look at the new stamp designs when I go to the Post office. With rare exceptions, almost all of them based on children’s drawings, modern stamps are quite good graphic design. Not only are they craftsmanlike art, they are well composed, and usually even the sheets are well composed. Whatever the United States Post Office is doing wrong, they hire good designers to do their stamps.

This isn’t as common as you might think. Hollywood studios spend millions of dollars on publicity, and yet movie posters are often badly designed; cluttered, non-dynamic, and forgettable. Which just makes NO sense. Take THE AVENGERS. Not a great, thought-provoking film, I grant, but it was certainly VISUALLY arresting. The poster?

The Avengers (2012) – IMDb.

 It’s a jumble of figures, kind of standing around. In fact, an awful lot of movie posters are like that. So are DVD covers, and since they are smaller the problem is worse. They don’t catch the eye. The last really eye-catching DVD cover I saw was the Criterion Collection edition of THRONE OF BLOOD.


Throne of Blood (1957) – IMDb.


And it should be noted that the Criterion people are in the business of lovingly restoring films they feel are classics. They CARE about these films, as something more than income streams.

The Post office is in financial trouble (the Post Office has been in financial trouble as long as I can remember). Maybe they should rent out some of their graphic artists to the film industry. It couldn’t HURT.


The Video Revolution

22 Jan

I have a LOT of DVDs. I worked for Sam Goody/Suncoast twice over the years, and just plain tend to accumulate video. There are “Great” movies that I love, but most of what I watch is fun junk, and some of it actually qualifies as guilty pleasures. I own a copy of THE ADVENTURES OF FORD FAIRLANE, a movie so vulgar that it achieves a kind of perfection. I regularly watch S.O.B., which is the bad temper tantrum that Blake Edwards pitched when the world reacted to another one of his bad films by staying away in droves (that film is DARLING LILLY; if you get a chance to see it, don’t.).

I love Godzilla movies. I love cheeseball Kung Fu films. I love comic book films; not just the ones everybody else likes, but most of the others too. Every year, decade after decade, serious films come out that people attend in droves and which critics shower with praise, and for the most part they leave me cold. I see (usually under protest) a movie like RAIN MAN or THE SCENT OF A WOMAN, and I understand perfectly why the actors took part (money aside). I can see why the challenge of being those people, and putting across those performances would appeal. But I don’t want to watch the result. There are actors (Dustin Hoffman springs to mind) who have had long and successful careers playing people with whom I do not WANT to spend two hours.
I also don’t subscribe to the “they just don’t make movies like that anymore’ narrative. I’ve seen a lot of films from the silent era on, and I think I can say with conviction that the reason we remember of the films of eras past so fondly is that, mercifully, we don’t remember most of them. We revere CASABLANCA as a classic, and tell ourselves that 1942 was a good year for film. We have forgotten the many, many absolute dogs that came out that year. For which we should thank a kindly Providence.
The video revolution – the invention and spread of home recording and playing devices – changed the landscape of film appreciation. Time was when, to see old movies, you had to depend on what was released for television, what was playing in your local art-house or art museum, or plunk your money down for tuition for a course in film. Video lowered the bar. We, the rank and file, could actually get our paws on the movies the self-styled intellectuals rave about, and watch them. And many of them are absolutely terrific. Others turn out to be intellectual shell-games that don’t stand up to scrutiny.
The revolution has settled some other things. For instance; whatever Desi Arnaz was getting paid to put up with that sniveling redhead, it wasn’t enough. I have always LOATHED “Lucy”. I just don’t understand why anybody thinks she’s funny. I also don’t appreciate the “genius” of Charlie Chaplan; he strikes me as a mean sonovabitch. I much prefer Buster Keaton.
And the reason I feel I can express these heretical opinions, is that the video revolution leveled the playing field.  I don’t have to watch what everyone else watches. I don’t have to watch what my ‘betters’ think is good. The whole of film history, at least all of it that survives, is open to me. To all of us.