Wednesday, December 17, 2008


1. My argument is NOT that either box office receipts OR critical consensus (with Rotten Tomatoes used as shorthand) constitute grounds for an objective evaluation. We shouldn't replace your list with either of these things, nor should we assume that when all three of these things correspond that we have suddenly found an objective trifecta. My point is that BO and CC complicate any claims to aesthetic objectivity. I don't need to argue that they make their own absolute standard. Of course, popularity doesn't equal "good." Of course, the critical oligarchy aren't absolute arbiters of taste.

2. Ultimately, the only aesthetic judgments that mean anything to me are the answers to these three questions:
a. Would you insist that someone else watch this movie?
b. Would you watch this movie again?
c. DO you want to write about/talk about this movie in an extended format elsewhere?

I still think the re-watchability is probably my go to evaluator (for instance, I tried to watch The Dark Knight again last night, and I fastforwarded everything but the Joker scenes, and I have to say that the film has taken a serious hit in my book after my initial ecstatic response).

But of course, how do you judge something like Schindler's List according to that? That's a movie that I appreciate, but that I really don't want to rewatch. So, the recommendation that someone else NEEDS to watch the film replaces the rewatchability criteria.

Finally, does a film provoke further thought, conversation, and writing? If so, the film is working on some level (i.e. there's enough there to reward engagement).

Notice, each of my criteria relate specifically to practices: watching, telling someone to watch, or writing and talking about the film.

3. My job isn't to argue for TF's perfection. I maintain it's a two star movie. I watched it again, and if someone digs the idea of robots transforming, then I would recommend it in a heartbeat (!). Even if we stipulate your criteria for TF, your evaluation is far from definitive. I've finally decided that the film WANTS to keep the deceptacons indistinct in order to approximate the affect of confronting these evil robots from a clueless human point of view. The F/X and action pacing is enough to earn a star and a half (that is, the accomplishments of the film are NOT slight; they are significant); all I have to do is cobble together half a star from the rest of the film. Easily accomplished.


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