Monday, 27 August 2012

Choosing A Film

Whether you have alacrity when it comes to deciding on a movie or just the basic need to be entertained and pick one on a whim, there are countless titles to choose from. The process of what type of genre you’re in the mood for, the length, the appeal of the film, and maybe even the stars attached to it can all become criteria of deliberation. With certain movie websites that choice is increasingly made easier and the “if you liked this, try this” recommendations, cleverly compiled lists, and hundreds to thousands of reviews, all aid with the erosion of lengthy consideration. 

"Hmm, this blank DVD case sure is interesting"

The option of reading a review for a film, and allowing that as an indication as to whether it is worth your time or not, can be both helpful and damaging. Reviewers have their own unique voice and certain tastes when it comes to films. So, if you were a fan of the popcorn flicks of Michael Bay and you read a review from a Michael Haneke enthusiast you will indubitably be told to avoid the boisterous action director. Depending on how open you are to becoming informed of style and substance when it comes to films there are obviously varying parties with likes and dislikes. For example, Heat magazine, The Sun newspaper and Cosmo are regularly fond of those quaint, formulaic rom-coms as well as other usually-trite movies. You can then read the thoughts from reviewers from publications such as Little White Lies, Sight & Sound, Empire, and Total Film, all of which give economic opinions on every release. The latter group are arguably the better choice to go with if you want advice on what to watch – purely because they want to direct you toward the best quality movie choice and not just the huge-budget, “popular” attractions (at least in most cases).

Reviews can sometimes sully a movie experience with given away too much plot or perhaps over-thinking certain details of the film. Personally, I am always interested in hearing someone’s musings on a movie but I wait until I’ve seen the film and seek out the reviews afterward. If you were to choose this approach you can still become educated on the films to watch as reviewers habitually reference other movies, giving informed, insightful suggestions. Even with recent criticism over rating systems, it is a good way to assess a recommendation by the star or numerical rating. At a mere glance you can garner decent feedback on a film without having to read over (possibly “spoilerific”) reviews. The Imposter’s poster, painted with “5 star” accreditation, was enough to sell the movie to me and a few others I know. Once I watched the film I searched for those reviews and indulged in an array of opinions, all of which were interesting as post-screening reading. Overall, I would recommend the review system for deciding on a film but only using the “thumbs up/down”, “X% rating” or “X stars” to begin with, and then the perusal of the entire analysis.

When it comes to buying or renting films most internet retail and rental websites include a “Why not try this?” (or something in a similar vein) based on your viewing/purchasing/renting choices. Using codes and algorithms the website crafts a profile on you from your previous browsing habits. Debate over the ethics of this advertisement ploy all you will; it can at times being a hugely helpful system.

Perhaps the habit I endorse the most is the list arrangement. If you type in to an internet search engine “best films” you will be greeted with over 1 million results. Over the years I have been using “ICheckMovies” – a website built on the idea of tallying your movie viewing and awarding your viewing habits. Not only is the website very fun in its incentive but it includes both fan made lists and ones created by critics, theorists, directors and institutes. I now base what film to settle on largely on the films entered in these eclectic collections. The most popular (not only on ICheckMovies but the internet in general) is the IMDB Top 250. Although the list is shaped on more popular movie choices, there still remains a wealth of classics and intellectual inclusions. Using the IMDB Top 250 as a prime indicator into film choices is certainly beneficial; film discussions will expectedly include the mention of at least one or two included in IMDB’s chart.
If you need a larger example of the best films around the ones to look at are Halliwell’s Top 1000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown, 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die, Empire’s Top 500, They Shoot Pictures Don’t They?, The Criterion Collection and Roger Ebert: The Great Movies. This may seem a superfluous amount of recommendations but by and large, the same movies get placed in each one. The reason they’re all so interesting is the ranking of some of these recurrent entries. As you become more attuned to the lists’ demographic you begin to favour ones over the others and start compiling your own list. Some, arguably, are for film fanatics and many lists include dozens of the silent era’s features. Nowadays these are less popular (The Artist being a pleasant revival) and for those of you more interested in seeing the cream of the crop from only the past 60 years you can still look to Empire and Ebert but may also prefer Reddit’s list, The 21st Century’s Most Acclaimed Films, the FOK! Top 250 and Doubling the Canon.

Whether it is the epoch of cinematic releases or the genre of the film that sways your vote, ICheckMovies caters to all areas. For the latter, ICheck breaks down each genre and lists the best of those particular styles. The site advances every day with more users and regular updates so your knowledge of new films and where they stand in terms of ranking is always refreshed. It is by far the best way to find a film to delve into – not only showing you the most appreciated and acclaimed films but also by correlating centuries of shorts and features and their extensively evolving genres.

By Piers McCarthy. Also posted on Live For Films.

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