So today I had the distinct
of watching V/H/S
and then had to rate it. Thought it an excellent example to use in our ongoing discussions about rating films (for those who do). Giving it a
on iCM was a no brainer. I really disliked this film.
Assigning a number on IMDb has proven more difficult. As mentioned before, I start with 7 and move up or down depending on what I see to be a movie's flaws and strengths. Any other movie and there'd be no issue - constant shaky camera and video glitches/artifacts - bam, there goes a star. Two hours worth of this crap, make that two. Annoying characters I want to see brutally killed - take another star. Dumb concept - ooops! here's the rub!
That's the entire point of V/H/S
- well, that and the horror stuff. So for rating on IMDb I try to avoid just my gut reaction (what'dya mean there are no negatives
) and ask questions like: How was the acting? Did the camerawork support the goal of the film? How was set design? Do the filmmakers 'reach' their intended audience? etc.
When I approach it in this fashion, it seems pretty clear V/H/S
isn't a 2 or 3 star flick just because I didn't enjoy the experience. Given what it is, it seemed decently crafted. Sure, some of the acting was over the top - could that have been the point? Don't even expect the actors had to learn lines - seemed pretty improved to me. Again, that seems to be the idea behind the movie - to make it 'feel' like we're watching someone else's home movies and something really horrible happens.
So it's a bit of struggle between 5 and 6 stars for me. While I normally don't mention my decimals, as another has said, it's about rounding. So really I'm asking is this film more of 5 or 6. If I go with 5.5, that rounds up to 6 so I ask myself which I'm more comfortable with. I hate giving it 6 stars but don't really feel it was that poorly executed to deserve 5.
And no, I don't really compare V/H/S
with Citizen Kane
when I'm thinking about ratings. I've watched/rated way too much to say 'Hmmm, I think this falls right between White Comanche
and The Hitcher
.' (just two titles I pulled off my spreadsheet that I also gave 5 and 6 stars respectively)
The one thing though that always gives me pause is the year thing. Don't have a great example of it yet, but let's take a great silent like M
and compare it to Magnolia
- both films I've assigned 9 stars. And yet, I'd have no trouble saying Magnolia
is a better piece of work. Now some of that might be explained away with 'M
is really an 8.51 and Magnolia
is a 9.whatever', but I don't actually record decimals in my spreadsheet, so I've no idea what I really thought about each film way back when. Instead my effort is to 'grade' each film independently; I don't seek to rank them (at least not until I compiled my list of favourites).
Is it even fair to compare a modern film with something released a century ago? Probably not since it's quite clear they didn't have all the technology we have, especially today, let alone in the next decade. But does it make any sense to give the best actuality ever made - and don't ask me what that might be, I've no idea - 10 stars? Probably not. And while an actuality from 1900 can't be judged on story, camerawork, and acting the same way we might critique M
, I have no trouble asking questions like: Was it interesting? How was it framed? Did something happen? I'd be pretty hard pressed to give an actuality anything over 7 stars for just this reason. For example Hindenburg Disaster Newsreel Footage
got 7 stars. Yes, the immediacy of the footage pulls me towards an 8, but there just isn't anything else to support that and two things actively work against the film: the closing narration is vapid, especially given the march of time, and the footage lacks the actual explosion. Memorable? Quite, but not really a complete, resounding success.
So for the binary and ternary raters, yeah, it might seem tortured, but it's the system I've worked with for well over a decade. And no, it doesn't bother me that someone else is using the "10s for films I like, 1s for those I don't" system. It all works out in the math in the end.