Tuesday, November 3, 2009

How We Review: A Look at My Reviewing Process


So, after some discussion with a blogging buddy of mine I've come to the decision that there's a bit too much ambiguity with my reviews rating system. I have to say some of that ambiguity is intentionally there because even if I give a film 10/10 it doesn't mean you'll unarguably like it so I don't bother much with rating my films based on recommendation value. My rating system is based on a mix mash of things but the overarching point is: Personal Feeling.

Personal feeling? What the hell do I mean by that? Well when I do a review I sit down and just write it. I don't plan things out, I don't go a,b,c structure, it's just not me. My reviews are very raw, they touch on the things that I feel most strongly about at that particular time. I never do a review right after having seen a movie, I allow it to sit for 1 to 3 days (schedule depending) and really absorb what I liked most and disliked most about a particular film.

Now for perhaps the most ambiguous part of the entire thing, the rating. What does it mean when I give a film a 10 or a 5? Is there a difference between a 6.75 and a 7? Well the answer to that question is, yes and no. The process I go through when deciding what to give a film is so personal I'm not sure it would make much sense to anyone else, but alas I shall describe it anyways.

The way I come up with a score is simple. After having written the review I go to the top of the article and throw up a number, let's say my gut reaction is to go 8. Well then I sit back for a minute and ponder that 8, is that what I really mean or me just concentrating on one aspect of the film. So I go in and I'll mess with that score, maybe I go higher, maybe I go lower, then I think about that, and reflect on the film some more. I do this for maybe 4 minutes (on and off) before I settle on a particular score and leave it at that. As you may have noticed most films I rate fall into the 4 to 8 range, so getting any higher or lower than that takes a real act of amazement or annoyance (for example I was absolutely blown away by When the Last Sword is Drawn and incredibly annoyed by the attempts of Transformers 2).

How does a film get a 10? As you may have noticed all the films in my top 100 automatically get 10's, no argument, discussion, or debate allowed. Why? Because I loved them the first time I saw them, and they have so powerfully stood the test of time I can revisit them over and over again having never once felt like I was forcing an ounce of affection. That's what it takes to get a 10, that's what it takes to get on my top 100. Even the greatest films I'll ever be privileged to witness won't garnish over a 9.50, it's just the way it is. Perfect films are the ones that stick with you, not the ones that satisfied you for 2 hours once (in my humble opinion).

So what does all this mean to you? What does a 4 or a 7 mean when you're reading my review? Well in and of itself it means nothing to you. The overall rating as I've said is a personal score, based entirely on the way I process a film. Because, let's be honest you have a personal way you evaluate films yourself, right? Maybe you give it a 6/10 because you feel you enjoyed 60% or perhaps you gave it a 6 because you felt it was a D film on a certain grading scale, etc. etc. To be honest it is all so open to interpretation I'm not going to tell you how to interpret but rather to say this:

You take the synopsis, you take my written remarks, and you take the score, you look at all three of them and you see how you interpret that. It may be that you interpret as me not liking the movie, or not thinking as highly of it as you do, and that's perfectly fine. It could be I liked the movie just as much as you but only gave it a 7 while you gave it a 9, does that matter much? Eh, not really. It's all so personal it's not in what I write but how we interpret. It could be I gave a film an 8 but only wrote bad things about it because that's what I was most passionate about at that time... Who knows, time changes everything. Something I gave a 4, years ago might garner a 6 out of me today. Or perhaps the opposite.

The point of my reviews is to express my opinion of a film in the best way I know how, using what skills I have, and in that regard I hope I have been able to perform as such. Don't be afraid to call me out if what I score and what I say don't match up. If you don't understand why I gave a film a 6 but had nothing bad to say about it, just ask :). There's a reason I blog and not try to become a film critic. I look for interaction not declaration. So, while I'm sure this has done nothing to assist you in understanding my reviews, I hope it helps you in understanding my process some, so that it may become more apparent to you what I'm trying to say about a film when I review it.

Oh, and if you're reading this line just because you couldn't believe how long this thing is, but still wanted to be a good friend and comment just write: "I love muffins too" :)

6 better thoughts:

DEZMOND said...

oh, lord, nine long passages on the process of your reviewing!!! :)))) You should have studied philosophy instead of computing :PPP

Univarn said...

Hahahahah. Well Dez I would have but then I'd probably still be writing it. I started out planning to write a simple 3 paragraph explanation then I got to 4 and well it just kept adding up, thanks for commenting though figured nobody even looked at this :P

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

I hate numbers. Which is why I don't use them in reviewing. Despite the crap he sometimes writes Ebert sagely noted that if you only look at a film's grade in a review something is wrong with you...and he's write. the review is more important than the grade.
Oh, and I like muffins too. Really. I do.

filmgeek said...

I love how this turned into muffin love. I love blueberry muffins :D

And I like the way you review films. I wait a coupla days too but my initial score is pretty instant

Univarn said...

@Andrew that's very true. I think the score exists because we like to simplify things, and I enjoy giving films a score because it helps me understand how I felt about it at a time, some films I'll debate the score I give it forever, but it shows I'm passionate enough to care.

@filmgeek haha that's sort of a carry over from RT. On my long posts I'd always end it with some random statement because people would just read the last line of an article/review and agree/disagree with that. Thanks for the compliment :).

DEZMOND said...

Just keep in mind that there's a thin line between a thinker and a "pooper" (like the one in your picture) :PPP

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