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The Arbitrary Rating System 
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Post Re: The Arbitrary Rating System
Does anybody else view a zero star grade as a stronger endorsement than 2 or 2.5 stars? The middle of the scale makes me think the movie is so unremarkable that it doesn't inspire much feeling either way, but zero stars makes me curious about what could provoke such a strong reaction.

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Tue Apr 16, 2013 1:07 am
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Post Re: The Arbitrary Rating System
Ken wrote:
Does anybody else view a zero star grade as a stronger endorsement than 2 or 2.5 stars? The middle of the scale makes me think the movie is so unremarkable that it doesn't inspire much feeling either way, but zero stars makes me curious about what could provoke such a strong reaction.

Sometimes yes, I found myself wanting to see most of the films JB gave zero stars to and ended up enjoying quite a few of them.


Tue Apr 16, 2013 1:52 am
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Post Re: The Arbitrary Rating System
Ken wrote:
Does anybody else view a zero star grade as a stronger endorsement than 2 or 2.5 stars? The middle of the scale makes me think the movie is so unremarkable that it doesn't inspire much feeling either way, but zero stars makes me curious about what could provoke such a strong reaction.


Depends. If it's a comedy, nah. If it's any other genre, maybe. Remember, you can always laugh at a bad film, but you can't laugh at a bad comedy ;)

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Tue Apr 16, 2013 7:58 am
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Post Re: The Arbitrary Rating System
Thief12 wrote:
Ken wrote:
Does anybody else view a zero star grade as a stronger endorsement than 2 or 2.5 stars? The middle of the scale makes me think the movie is so unremarkable that it doesn't inspire much feeling either way, but zero stars makes me curious about what could provoke such a strong reaction.


Depends. If it's a comedy, nah. If it's any other genre, maybe. Remember, you can always laugh at a bad film, but you can't laugh at a bad comedy ;)

But everyone has their own definition of what a "bad" comedy is, humor is subjective after all. For example I did not find the critically acclaimed Superbad very funny, but I did laugh my ass off at the much maligned Miss March(try saying that three times fast).


Tue Apr 16, 2013 12:35 pm
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Post Re: The Arbitrary Rating System
I think from JB, 2.5 stars is supposed to be "recommended with caveats". That is, this film is generally recommended if you have a strong interest in one of the actors, genre, subject matter, director, etc. I always read Ebert that way, whether or not that's how it was intended...

In any case, I've toyed with the idea of rating a film on individual elements, but could never come up with a simple enough system but also came with enough nuance to make it worthwhile. For example, rating the films entertainment value, technical achievments, artistic merit, etc on different scales.

As applied to individual films using a 4 star rating system:
Avatar
Technical achievment: 3.5
Artistic merit: 2
Entertainment: 3
Citizen Kane
Technical Achievment: 4
Artistic Merit: 4
Entertainment: 3
2001
Artistic Merit: 4
Technical Achievment: 4
Entertainment: 2.5

My other problem was how to assign overall grades. I couldn't just assign grades based on an average, because usually my opinion of a film was based one particular element that would overwhelm the other elements. For example, sitting through certain "art" films can be so excruciating that any artistic achievement overwhelms the sheer pain of sitting through said film. This pretty much applies to any of the films I've seen by David Lynch, with the exception of Dune, which was just bad...
-Jeremy

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Tue Apr 16, 2013 12:54 pm
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Post Re: The Arbitrary Rating System
thered47 wrote:
In any case, I've toyed with the idea of rating a film on individual elements, but could never come up with a simple enough system but also came with enough nuance to make it worthwhile. For example, rating the films entertainment value, technical achievments, artistic merit, etc on different scales.

This verges on what I had in mind, though I would consider technical achievements to be a function of how well the film works as a whole. Cinematography, for example--a lot of the time, when people say they didn't like a movie but thought the cinematography was good, what they're saying is that the pictures were pretty. In this case, the cinematography was actually bad, because it didn't convey the material in a way that successfully resonated with the audience. Who cares if the pictures were pretty? That's only the cinematographer's job if pretty pictures are the best way to get the message across. Otherwise, the cinematographer might as well take a job with a postcard company.

I guess what I'm getting at is that if the movie is really good, it's implied that the technique is doing its job. The storytelling--the sum total of the technical achievements--is succeeding at creating an experience that moves people.

I would also say that it is perhaps unnecessary to evaluate whether or not the movie is good or bad at entertaining, or good or bad at being art. I think that's more a matter of description than evaluation. Hence my compass idea. First, define where it sits on the spectrum between art and entertainment (ludicrously simplistic, I know, but that's the thread we're in), then evaluate the quality of the movie on the other axis.

If the technique wears its stylistic flourishes on its sleeve, then perhaps that would be a case for moving it away from entertainment, toward art. Some movies keep their style on the DL, but that doesn't mean that the technique isn't working, or that the movie is working despite its technique. It just means that the images and sounds are intended to interact with your brain a little differently, a little more subtly.

Well, it can mean that the movie is working despite its technique, but it's not necessarily so.

Jeez, I do ramble.

Thief12 wrote:
Depends. If it's a comedy, nah. If it's any other genre, maybe. Remember, you can always laugh at a bad film, but you can't laugh at a bad comedy ;)

Such a movie would fall deep into the "entertainment, bad movie" quadrant of the compass. I'm actually digging this idea more now than I did when I first crapped it into existence.

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Tue Apr 16, 2013 3:38 pm
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Post Re: The Arbitrary Rating System
thered47 wrote:
My other problem was how to assign overall grades. I couldn't just assign grades based on an average, because usually my opinion of a film was based one particular element that would overwhelm the other elements. For example, sitting through certain "art" films can be so excruciating that any artistic achievement overwhelms the sheer pain of sitting through said film. This pretty much applies to any of the films I've seen by David Lynch, with the exception of Dune, which was just bad...
-Jeremy


My initial thought would be to weigh "Entertaining" 2 points, and the others 1 each to come up with a final rating while averaging (I mean...that's why we go to movies, right?), but then that may turn something like Schindler's List from a deserved 4 star affair to a 3-star rating.

Yeah...you're stuck.


Tue Apr 16, 2013 3:43 pm
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Post Re: The Arbitrary Rating System
This reminds me of a college course where we grappled with "What is art?"

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Tue Apr 16, 2013 3:59 pm
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Post Re: The Arbitrary Rating System
Awf Hand wrote:
This reminds me of a college course where we grappled with "What is art?"
Or that scene in Dead Poet's Society where the students are instructed to analyze poetry by graphing its qualities on an x,y grid.


Tue Apr 16, 2013 4:16 pm
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Post Re: The Arbitrary Rating System
Johnny Larue wrote:
thered47 wrote:
My other problem was how to assign overall grades. I couldn't just assign grades based on an average, because usually my opinion of a film was based one particular element that would overwhelm the other elements. For example, sitting through certain "art" films can be so excruciating that any artistic achievement overwhelms the sheer pain of sitting through said film. This pretty much applies to any of the films I've seen by David Lynch, with the exception of Dune, which was just bad...
-Jeremy


My initial thought would be to weigh "Entertaining" 2 points, and the others 1 each to come up with a final rating while averaging (I mean...that's why we go to movies, right?), but then that may turn something like Schindler's List from a deserved 4 star affair to a 3-star rating.

Yeah...you're stuck.


You're overthinking red...period.


Tue Apr 16, 2013 4:33 pm
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Post Re: The Arbitrary Rating System
Said the guy who hangs around an online forum where almost everyone is an analytical person by nature.

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Tue Apr 16, 2013 6:13 pm
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Post Re: The Arbitrary Rating System
Vexer wrote:
Thief12 wrote:
Ken wrote:
Does anybody else view a zero star grade as a stronger endorsement than 2 or 2.5 stars? The middle of the scale makes me think the movie is so unremarkable that it doesn't inspire much feeling either way, but zero stars makes me curious about what could provoke such a strong reaction.


Depends. If it's a comedy, nah. If it's any other genre, maybe. Remember, you can always laugh at a bad film, but you can't laugh at a bad comedy ;)

But everyone has their own definition of what a "bad" comedy is, humor is subjective after all. For example I did not find the critically acclaimed Superbad very funny, but I did laugh my ass off at the much maligned Miss March(try saying that three times fast).


But so is every rating and every review. Not everyone will enjoy the "acclaimed" ones, and not everyone will hate the "maligned" ones. That's the way it's supposed to be, and that's the beauty of it all. It's all in the eye of the beholder, and I find I can get more insight from a dissenting opinion than from an agreeing one.

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Wed Apr 17, 2013 12:07 am
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Post Re: The Arbitrary Rating System
Thief12 wrote:

But so is every rating and every review. Not everyone will enjoy the "acclaimed" ones, and not everyone will hate the "maligned" ones. That's the way it's supposed to be, and that's the beauty of it all. It's all in the eye of the beholder, and I find I can get more insight from a dissenting opinion than from an agreeing one.


Definitely. A dissenting opinion, no matter how jaw-dropping it is (like Dustin Putman's half-star review for Lincoln and one star for Warrior, and just about anything from Armond White), ultimately gets me fired up in a good way. I feel stronger about my own opinion knowing there are such eager contrarians out there.

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Wed Apr 17, 2013 12:27 am
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Post Re: The Arbitrary Rating System
KWRoss wrote:
Thief12 wrote:

But so is every rating and every review. Not everyone will enjoy the "acclaimed" ones, and not everyone will hate the "maligned" ones. That's the way it's supposed to be, and that's the beauty of it all. It's all in the eye of the beholder, and I find I can get more insight from a dissenting opinion than from an agreeing one.


Definitely. A dissenting opinion, no matter how jaw-dropping it is (like Dustin Putman's half-star review for Lincoln and one star for Warrior, and just about anything from Armond White), ultimately gets me fired up in a good way. I feel stronger about my own opinion knowing there are such eager contrarians out there.

Me too, Ebert's review of kick-Ass certainly got me fired up, (too bad he didn't live to see the sequel, maybe he would've liked it better). Nevertheless, it's nice to see i'm not the only one who likes films like "College" and "I Know Who Killed Me".


Wed Apr 17, 2013 12:30 am
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Post Re: The Arbitrary Rating System
I don't find ratings necessary for individual reviews. The "TL;DR" culture is something I detest.

However, I love ratings mostly for my own purposes. For this reason I like a 10 point scale (no halves). It's great for tracking and an easy way to use numbers (NUMBERS!! :D ) to produce averages.

Do you prefer Stephen Spielberg or Stanley Kubrick? Well, sure, you have an opinion. But it's always nice to back these things up with figures. You may have rated Spiely's movies at an average of 7.3 whereas Stan the Man comes in at a 7.9. Can you dig that, sucka?

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Wed Apr 17, 2013 11:42 pm
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Post Re: The Arbitrary Rating System
ed_metal_head wrote:
Do you prefer Stephen Spielberg or Stanley Kubrick? Well, sure, you have an opinion. But it's always nice to back these things up with figures. You may have rated Spiely's movies at an average of 7.3 whereas Stan the Man comes in at a 7.9. Can you dig that, sucka?


The next logical steps in your pathology would then be to determine the medians and modes and then maybe employ some sort of 4-quadrant scatter diagram for your Powerpoint presentation.


Thu Apr 18, 2013 9:12 am
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Post Re: The Arbitrary Rating System
I recently read Lisa Schwarzbaum's farewell article from February after she did movie reviews for 19 years at Entertainment Weekly. This quote from it reminded me of this thread so I thought I'd pass it along.

"Grades, stars, thumbs, and assorted icons are inevitably crude, if handy, quantifiers of quality—they’re shorthand, attention-getting invitations to the party. Once we’ve both shown up, though, let’s have a good time pondering both the complexities of Django Unchained and the simplicities of A Good Day to Die Hard. Because then we’ll never run out of things to say to one another."

http://insidemovies.ew.com/2013/02/19/l ... ell-essay/


Thu Apr 18, 2013 9:22 am
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