Metascoring, in case you aren’t aware, is the process of gauging a movie’s quality through aggregating lots of different reviews and spitting out a score based on the percentage of positive reviews it’s gotten. Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic are two very popular websites that metascore, and you’ve probably visited one or both at some point in your life.
The entire concept is bunk.
Even just the idea of applying a ‘score’ to a movie is stupid, and yet it’s become customary for critics to tack them on at the end of their reviews for some reason. We’ve all seen the five-star system, the four-star system, the percent-out-of-a-hundred system—or out of ten, but with decimals—or maybe the most offensive, the A to F grading, which treats the film as though it were a High School essay on Wuthering Heights rather than a comprehensive piece of art.
Continue reading I Hate Metascores, And You Should Too
Directed by Zachary Levy
A day after I posted my How To Watch a Film essay, I received an email from the director of this film. He reached out because loved the essay and he’d gone through, with his own film, exactly what I described going through with my film, Rehearsals—people that were ambivalent about it when watching a screener and then blown away in a theater setting.
For a long time, he avoided releasing his film on DVD because he felt that a theater was the ideal setting to see it, and he wanted to do whatever he could to make sure as many people as possible could see it properly. However, he’s recently decided to finally take the plunge and release it on DVD and Digital, and it’s due out this month.
Zach was kind enough to send me an advance copy of the DVD in the mail, which I watched this past week, and let me tell you—this thing is plenty powerful on an average-sized flatscreen. I don’t know that I could even handle this thing in a movie theater. This is one of the most gripping vérité docs I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s no surprise at all that it has a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, was on Roger Ebert’s Year’s Best list, and was a New York Times Critics’ Pick.
Continue reading Strongman: Pitch-Perfect Cinema Vérité
I don’t really get into my political leanings here at Smug Film, for the obvious reason of this being a site about movies, not politics, but also because I hate creating arbitrary ‘dividing lines’ in my work. It’s petty, and I can’t stand when others do it. For instance, I’m a huge Woody Allen fan, I think he’s our greatest American filmmaker, but I cringe whenever he peppers little jabbing jokes against the Right in his films when the story doesn’t even call for it. Those sort of winks to the audience take you out of the film momentarily, whether you agree with them or not. It’s distracting and wholly unnecessary. So rest assured, people who disagree with me politically—there will be no lazy digs, or insults, or other ‘playing to the base’ bullshit in this post whatsoever.
This list will be of particular interest to libertarians, that’s a given, but even if that ain’t your particular alignment, it should at least be a unique window in the the sort of things we, or at least I, care about, both politically and philosophically. And don’t worry, there are no propaganda docs on here; these are simply great movies, many of which (hell, probably all of which) aren’t even made by libertarians. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, they just so happen to contain, within their myriad elements, certain elements that we get a kick out of. Enjoy!
Continue reading 10 Films Every Libertarian Should See
It’s not hard for comedies to slip under the radar. Like any ‘genre film’, so many are pumped out each year that it’s almost impossible to keep track of which ones are good. Unless something gets an alarmingly high rating on Rotten Tomatoes, or was made by people you trust no matter what the Tomatometer says, you probably aren’t going to see it. And then you’re going to forget it even existed. Here’s ten great ones that probably passed you by.
Dan in Real Life (2007) | Dir. Peter Hedges | 98 min.
Continue reading 10 Woefully Underrated Comedies
William H. Macy and Joe Mantegna talking about stuff. I don’t want to tell you what they’re talking about. I just want you to see the god damn movie please god jesus fuck.
Directed by Stuart Gordon
Written by David Mamet
This review is spoiler-free.
Edmond is one of those movies that just sort of exists, and you can’t remember it ever coming out in theaters, and you can’t remember hearing anything about it, and the poster and DVD cover are completely generic and unmemorable, so you always skip over it when browsing for something to watch, but then one day, as a result of no other movies particularly jumping out at you, you take a look at it, you consider it, you think to yourself, ‘well, Mamet is usually good’, and ‘well, Stuart Gordon is usually good’, and ‘well, William H. Macy is usually good’, and so you decide to give it a try based on that, but even though those things are true, you know with every fabric of your being that it can’t possibly be a good movie, because how could a movie, one with juggernauts such as these involved, slip through the cracks, unless it were a piece of useless shit, but then after the first fifteen minutes, you’re fucking floored, because it is definitely not a piece of useless shit, or even a piece of regular shit, in fact it is the opposite of shit, it is a legitimately good movie, and even though you aren’t too far into it, you feel a sense of calm, because you know you have nothing to worry about, and that you are in safe, masterful hands.
Continue reading Edmond: A Movie that Just Sort of Exists and is in Dire Need of Viewing Eyes