Aliens in the attic

Why is Aliens in the Attic a masterwork?

Okay, first of all, it’s poster sucks.  Probably the worst movie poster I’ve seen that wasn’t for some kind of bad video game adaptation.  The first impression you get from this film is that it’ll be a really cheap video game movie, or worse still, a knock off of a video game movies.

33% Rotten Tomatoes, 91% google Users.  Wow, that’s a pretty big spread. Continue reading Aliens in the attic

Evan Almighty

Religion has a huge element of why people don’t like this film.  Some people like religion, but it’s often hard to like a film about it, especially a comedy.  Is it making fun of your religion?  And at the same time, criticising you for not being religious enough.

“I go to church every week.”  they look at her.  “Every other week.”  More stares.  “I’ve been to church.”

Now, religious films sometimes get high ratings, but this appears to be a Christian film.  Almost a “faith based” film.  It’s not about the Buddha, or some exotic religion.  Orientalist film critics get bored of the religion of their grandmothers.  It’s like watching a “Humble and Kind” music video.

Not only does this film cover religion, it’s like a sermon.  God himself talks about “acts of random kindness.”

Now, for the critics who like religion in films, even Christianity, this can be offensive.  It can even seem like blasphemy, putting words in the mouth of God that aren’t in the Bible. Continue reading Evan Almighty

Benchwarmers (2006)

The second in our series of underrated masterworks is Benchwarmers.

Why critics hate: Benchwarmers.
Reminds them of their own lack of skill at sports.  And, rather than gaining the skill to win a game through some crazy routine, they kind of stay mediocre.  Ouch.  As the film title says “reality bites.”

Rather than getting revenge, the nerds merely make peace with their enemy.  And, with the sun.

Critics prefer films in which the outsiders aren’t shown to be truly nerdy, but kind of beefed up, like they are in the film-within-a-film at the end of Disney’s Chicken Little. Continue reading Benchwarmers (2006)

Underrated masterworks

What is a masterwork?  It’s like, a really good film, right?

I started to debate the meaning of masterworks at university.  In the essays titles to choose from, one was, “The Greatest Masterworks are also some of the most immoral.”

Something like that.  I didn’t necessarily agree with the films chosen in “Masterworks of the cinema.”  I think included in the curriculum were Battleship Potemkin, Triumph of the Will, some gory horror film, Bring Me The Head of Garcia Alfredo, and a few other movies that I didn’t like either.  Some of these films could be called immoral, but masterworks?  I would have chosen different films.

So, I guess I’ll start a series of reviews called Underrated masterworks. Continue reading Underrated masterworks

Why I don’t review short films

Hi Vasco – thanks for sending me your review. I deliberately chose mediocre films, because that’s more of a challenge than describing excellence.

While your review was fun to read, and very well written (actually the best of all the submissions), its tone was far too negative, to the point of sourness, for what I have in mind.

I want the site to be used regularly by the average/casual/new short film fan, not just by sophisticated film-buffs and film-makers. Many people wouldn’t return to a site that did such damning reviews. […]

I also want film-makers to submit, and not many would come knocking if they fear they’ll get taken apart like that!


So if you feel you could write to a more emollient brief, maybe you could have a go at the other one (or something of your own choosing).

Sourness?  Sourness at what?  Maybe the low rate of pay offered, if I got the job as a film reviewer.  But, I didn’t think that showed.

Okay, so you say, why not just be nice, or emollient?

I was nice.  I said there was a good scene on the bus, and it looked like the actors left the script in their seats, because the film went downhill afterwards.  I discussed its merits, and where it could be improved.  (Within a very short word limit.)  And, sadly, I didn’t get paid a red cent for my work.

I wasn’t being offered enough money to be in marketing, so I didn’t write anything that could be used for publicity.  But, I was honest, fair, and I thought very gentle.

The thing is, if you spend more on the festival submissions than you do on the script, the movie’s probably not going to be very fun to watch.  It’s really hard to find nice things to say, and be honest at the same time, when someone sends you something that was thrown together in a weekend.

Just because you win a festival, that doesn’t mean your film was any good.  It just means the judges thought it was the least bad of the films that were entered. And, you might not have the same taste as the judges anyway.

But, anyway, don’t ask me for honest feedback unless you really want it.

Well, I discussed other films, and to make a long story short, they expected me to watch two films and churn out two reviews in about an hour.  Not only that, find nice warm fuzzy things to say about the films in that time.  All for an unskilled wage, and with a zero hour contract.  And no, I didn’t get paid for “sample” reviews.  No wonder my submission was the best one!  Try being less sour after hearing those working conditions.

Okay, I guess I’ll go back to focusing on fiction and fantasy now.  It seems non-fiction is a bitter pill to swallow.

5 Remakes that pass for originals

We’re growing tired of remakes.  Some rehashes claim to be better than the original, but we’re not sure “better” is the right word.

Do we need another Karate Kid, another Dr Doolittle, another Ghostbusters, another Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, another Steel Magnolias?  What was wrong with the first film?

(The second Karate Kid was okay,  but “Pick up your coat” is incredibly lazy compared to “wax on, wax off.”)

However, some remakes add something, and in some ways improve upon the original.  A few, in fact, are so good that we sometimes think that the remake is the original. Continue reading 5 Remakes that pass for originals

Apocalypse Now Redux: review

Walter Murch, yes the Walter Murch, travelled all the way to Aberystwyth to take questions on his film, Apocalypse Now.

Okay, so Murch was only the sound stylist, right? An editor, not a director, star, screenwriter or even a producer. Producers take home the best picture award, directors get to be thought of the auteur, actors get famous, screenwriters can say they thought it all up, but without people working below the line there’s only so much you can do.

Continue reading Apocalypse Now Redux: review

How to send a rejection

We all receive rejections from time to time.  Perhaps there are some masochists who enjoy the experience, but I’m not one of them.

To add insult to injury, a few people feel the need to give mountains of unsolicited feedback in their rejection letters.  Others are terse, with annoying cliches like “you’re not a good fit.”

However, we sometimes receive a well written rejection.

Below are two examples of the right way to write a rejection: Continue reading How to send a rejection

The Disaster Artist (review)

At Ptara, I directed two microbudget feature films. Make that nanobudget.

One had a crew of two (excluding the three actors, who also crewed, and a few kids who helped out on sound one day), the other was basically me editing a large variety of footage to make it coherent. There were challenges in both, and everyone learned a lot.  And, what these films lack in production values is made up for in performance and story line.

By contrast, Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room” had a budget that was about 1000 times either of my films.  He worked with much more expensive kit and a more experienced cast and crew. Yet, “The Room” was filled with continuity errors, bad acting, and an incoherent plot.

Continue reading The Disaster Artist (review)