How It Works

I love movies, but I hate most movie reviews. I hate them for two reasons: First, they always begin with a 3-5 paragraph in-depth description of the film. I don't want to know the entire plot, I want to know if it's good! I may say generally what the movie involves but that's it. Second, most movie reviews are unclear. I've read countless reviews that left me with absolutely no indication as to whether or not I should even see the film. Not here. I developed three methods to rate television and movies:

1. Just your average 10 point scale.
10 is obviously the best and 1 is the worst. Although, Something Borrowed might make below a 1 if I ever get around to reviewing it. I consider myself quite harsh, so if you see anything above a 9, it's probably in my top ten of all time.

2. What's it Worth?
I will tell you if I think it's worth paying for and worth the 2 (and ever more increasingly 3) hours of your time. I also make an educated guess as to whether or not you can multitask during the film.

3. The (not-yet) Patented Clairometer
In honor of my college friend Claire, I developed this rating system in order to display how "appropriate" the film is. It is designed to tell you a more detailed rating system. I find this helpful. Sometimes you want to know ahead of time so you're not stuck watching Black Swan in an empty theater with your mom. The range between PG-13 and R is more vast than the plot holes in a Michael Bay movie. I hope to combat this. The scale shows photos and descriptions of a few well-known women in film and television. The rating is the farthest woman to the left of the scale who would approve of the film. For example, June Cleaver would not approve of
Tequila Sunrise. The woman who would is probably Mathilda.





With this blog, I write as though someone will read it and enjoy what I have to say. I am under no false pretense that I have a wide readership. It is mostly for me and for the one other person who accidentally stumbled across this blog. If that is you, I'm glad you are here. With this blog, I send my thoughts about what I watch on a black box into the abyss of the world wide web. I hope you enjoy reading these thoughts as much as I enjoy writing them.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Movie Break for TV

5 Quality Television Shows You Probably Haven't Seen... 
(in no particular order, they're all great) 

1. Quite Interesting (QI)
Where you can watch it:
Why you probably haven't seen it: it's British
Clairometer: Mrs. Doubtfire 

It's the most intelligently funny quiz show out there. Hosted by Stephen Fry and features British comedians and actors. Not only will you laugh out loud but you will learn something.

2. Arrested Development 
Where you can watch it:
Why you probably haven't seen it: it was canceled, due to lack of viewership (who knows why)
 Clairometer: Holly Golightly
 Maybe they didn't originate on AD, but it seems to have perfected quick flashbacks, holding the scene too long to become awkward, documentary-style filming and hilarious overacting. It's probably funniest and most well-written sitcom I've ever seen.

 3. Columbo 
Where you can watch it:
Why you probably haven't seen it: it's from 1960
Clairometer: Ethel Thayer

To quote Emily Gilmore, I'm not as fascinated with forensic work as the rest of the country. This is detective work at its finest. It's not about poking dead bodies or determining which angle they fell off a bridge with equipment that no detectives would have funds to use unless it was the murder of JFK. It's simply a man, his dopy car, his pipe and his mind. It stands the test of time beautifully (apart from the sexism).
Don't underestimate Columbo, like all of his suspects do!

4. The Inbetweeners
Where you can watch it: and
Why you probably haven't seen it: it's British
Clairometer: Jenny Curran

Ok, so it's immature, stupid and perverted, but it's hilarious. But do beware, it's not for everyone. It makes me very glad I was never a teenage boy in England.

5. Important Things with Demetri Martin

Where you can watch it:
Why you probably haven't seen it: there are only  12 22-minute episodes, and canceled due to lack of viewership. (again, who knows why)
Clairometer: Mathilda

Demetri Martin marches to the beat of his own comedy drum. If I had to describe the show, it's like if George Carlin dropped out of law school and joined the cast of The Big Bang Theory - all with a handy dandy large legal pad.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Liberal Arts

Liberal Arts (2012)
Starring: Josh Radnor, Elizabeth Olsen, Allison Janney, Richard Jenkins, Zac Efron
Written and Directed by: Josh Radnor

My Rating: 6.6/10
Worth: On Demand/DVD rental, 2 hours, 3/4 paying attention
Clairometer: Mathilda

Jesse: You think [college] is a prison? 
Peter: Any place you don't leave is a prison. 

"College was the best four years of my life." I hear this said frequently. But if you're a dorky dad you make the "best 6 years of my life joke." Perhaps people say this because it was their first look at freedom. Or perhaps for some, it's sex, drugs and rock and roll. Or perhaps people just tend to romanticize the past in general. Who really knows. Jesse, the main character is a man in his thirties unhappy with the current state of his life - like all of Josh Randnor's roles. He returns to his alma mater at his former professor's request to attend his retirement party. To say that he goes back to college isn't accurate. That phrase might lead you to think it's a Hangover-type film. He somewhat goes back to the classrooms of college and encounters a plethora of interesting characters - including Zac Efron's character in whom I still can't quite find the purpose. If you can, leave a comment and let me know. Jesse finds himself wanting to stay in college, where he thought anything was possible and he learned new and artistic things daily. But is it that he was so focused on the past that he did not life out his present? Living in the moment is a cliche for a reason, because we can be trapped by any place that we never leave - even if it's the past.

"You know [David Foster Wallace] said that the purpose of fiction is to combat loneliness. Although spending most of your time with an eleven-hundred page book tends to put a dent in your social life."

I've often wondered who is smarter: a person who is well-read or a person who is well-lived. As with any philosophical question posing two sides, the answer is finding a balance. But what happens when our tendency is to retreat and live out the lives of others through fiction? I fall prey to this desire far too many times. Do we revert to our pajamas and a good movie or book because that's what we like? Or because that's where we feel safe and we are afraid to be the leading ladies of our own lives? Liberal Arts is a good film, in that it challenges us to do both - that is, to read books, watch films and hear scores because they enlighten our souls; but also, to live today well. If you want to feel more intelligent, while you're sorting files or cleaning out your hard drive, this is the movie to watch.

"Grace, I realized, is neither time-nor place-dependent. All we need is the right soundtrack."

This film left me wanting to read a good book, put on Bach and contemplate the meaning of life. Good soundtracks can change your day. Liberal Arts challenges us to step away from the latest alternative band and play something that can be a score to the film that is our present life. Who decides that that particular Indie band is good? Who decides what is good taste? Zibby, Elizabeth Olsen's character, challenges us to answer "ourselves" to those questions. Read something because it's fun. Listen to something because of the way it makes you feel. Don't be weighted down by the thought that someone might flip through your iPod and see Sister Hazel. Don't jump at the chance to toss the phrase "guilty pleasure" around. Embrace the things you enjoy and stand by them because they are what make you unique. 

But what would Jesse say to this? Taste is taste, some people have it and others don't. People like Jesse might never find joy in discovering his own brand of the arts. And people like Zibby might never be quite as knowledgeable. But I ask you, who will have the better life?