4.09.2017

How to write an IMDB review.

I admit it, I can be a little obsessed with reading reviews. Be they books on Amazon, albums on iTunes, movies on IMDB, tech reviews, furniture reviews, you name it, I'm reading all 146 reviews of it. In this way do I know the pattern that the average person tends to follow when writing what they assume is their totally unique perspective on a product. So herewith! How to write the most cliched of all things - the IMDB movie review.

1) Choose either a 1/10 or a 10/10 rating. No reason to waste any brain cells attaching the subtlety of a 4/10 or 7/10 to a movie based on an even basic list of pros and cons that you carefully weighed before logging in to the app/website. Either you hated it or you loved it. All or nothing. No shades of gray. Who has time for nuance in modern society anyway.

2) Make a bold statement. And by this I mean, if the movie isn't a part of your current favorite comic book universe, doesn't cater to your spoon-fed ideologies, or challenges you in any way, go ahead and boldly claim with absolute authority that it is in fact 'the worst movie ever made.' It doesn't matter that, technically, only one movie can hold that title (and we all know what that movie is); or that you've probably said that about fifteen different movies; or that making sweeping absolute statements on the subjective quality of an art form could be construed as lazy thinking at best in some circles. Go ahead! Declare it!

3) Critique the editing, screenwriting, special effects, etc. The cool thing about the internet is you can just say anything. You don't have to have any prior knowledge or experience in any field; you still can make definitive statements with comforting certainty. So if you loved a movie, make sure to point out that the technical aspects of it are award-winning; if you hated it (again, there's no in-between), it's important that people know that the movie failed technically in every way. This is especially true for CGI, as it's usually "terrible." Don't worry, you don't need to provide any evidence or comparison to back up your statement. People spend years, even decades honing their craft to bring the impossible to the big screen, but you know that they're really the worst at their jobs.

4) Point out exposition. Exposition can simply be defined as "the act of explaining something." So you'll have one more weapon in your arsenal when cogently critiquing a movie if you can point out the abuse of exposition. Does a character tell someone her age? Too much exposition! We should be able to tell by her actions and behaviors her exact age of 33. Does a character quickly toss off the fact that the main character's son died? Abuse! The script should waste time showing us in vignettes instead of advancing the narrative. Remember, if any character at any time gives any information at all - you can ding the movie for providing "too much exposition."

5) Point out deus ex machina. This of course means "god in the machine" and refers to ancient Greek plays in which a god character would be lowered onto the stage to save another character from a hopeless situation. Basically it's cheating. What it isn't, is the series of on-screen events woven into the plot that lead to a climax, payoff, or narrative shift. But who cares? The point is to pile up the movie's transgressions, not be honest.

6) Make outsized comparisons. Everyone knows that your five-year-old nephew could write a better script than the seasoned writer who was paid $1 million by a studio whose job it is to make money. Though completely impossible, it is fortunately now a 100% acceptable way of getting your point across. Use it! Besides, how could The Godfather win an Oscar when I had more fun watching stick figures on three sheets of paper scroll across an open shoebox??

7) Bring home the fight against gender and racial equality. Guys. Literally. Guys. We all know there are just things women and minorities can't do, like be the best in a difficult field or own their own wealth. It's all of our job to make sure the average person understands this. Besides, how detrimental would it be to show marginalized or underprivileged people positive representations of themselves and give them the idea that anything could change? Nonsense. Put a stop to it. Using IMDB.

***

I realize this is more of a 'how to shit on a movie you don't like' tutorial, but then, that's what so many IMDBers do best. It keeps things interesting, I guess (I may have misspelled "infuriating") and besides, it takes much more effort to defend a movie you did like, and using those brain cells for good is half the battle.

Happy reviewing!


1.08.2017

American Horror Story: Freak Show

After a three-year hiatus from watching American Horror Story, I finally really needed something to binge during the 2016 holidays so I picked up where I left off and began watching Freak Show, devoted to the lives, loves, and deaths of the performers in Elsa's Cabinet of Curiosities and set in Jupiter, Florida in 1952. I actually had no idea it had been so long since I finished Coven, but my hesitation about the fourth season's premise is what kept me from catching up much sooner. For me, it ended up not being a waste of time - the show's high production values, at least, were instantly familiar and comforting - but ultimately Freak Show suffers from a variety of ills that I will, of course, now detail. (As this is a season retrospective, there will be spoilers)

I'll start with what I liked. The biggest pleasant surprise for me was Sarah Paulson. I'll be honest and say normally I can't stand anything else she does on AHS but she acted her ass off as conjoined twins Dot and Bette Tattler, and when the writing didn't fail her the twins were the best part about Freak Show. She was truly believably conflicted and cautious as Dot, and simultaneously eager and naive as Bette. I thought the somewhat Hitchcockian angles used when presenting only one twin head or the other worked consistently, and co-producers Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk - the whole team, really - made genuine and sympathetic what could have been the most banally-conceived freaks in the camp.

Frances Conroy continues to be a national treasure; she was dry and knowing as the ghostly maid in Murder House, absolutely divine as fashion-loving Myrtle in Coven, and here as Gloria Mott she is perfectly polite, doting, and deeply conflicted as the mother of the season's most ambitious character. More about them later.

The best episodes of the season for me were "Edward Mordrake Pt. 2," in which we get the bleak backstory on Jupiter's resident psycho clown Twisty and watch a new, much sillier killer rise out of the ashes of his sojourn to the afterlife; the penultimate "Show Stoppers," the one episode that lives up to the promise of the darkness, horror, and very unpleasant but thrilling surprises which the series continues to struggle with delivering; and "Orphans," which deserves its own long-winded post on my blog for being the most beautiful and poignant episode of perhaps the entire anthology, during which Naomi Grossman as the ill-fated Pepper delivers award-winning scenes and makes me long for a much more expertly handled season on the whole.