Monday, February 18, 2008

Movie Ratings

#361 Movie Ratings

We need a new system to rate movies. The old one works okay. This one would rate aspects of the movies we don't get in "X" or "R" or "PG" or "G."

But this is something that can help you decide whether to buy a ticket to or a DVD of a film.

Movies used to be made collaboratively. Now, they're made by committee.

Think about the credits for some of the old movies you see on TV. They're on and off in an eyeblink. The stars, the major supporting players, the producer, editor and the director, and that's it.

In today's films, you don't see the credits until half the movie's over. And then it takes 20 minutes for them to scroll by. AND they repeat them at the end, with plenty of editions.

What would DeMille or Hitchcock think if after five of the ten commandments or while Tallulah Bankhead gets cast adrift, the credits start to roll, with more junk than the lower third of a CNBC financial show screen or a CNN "Breaking News" banner?

Paramount Pictures Presents a LaGrande film. A Fognozzle Production. A film by Warren F. Tutankhamen. "The Ten Lifeboats."

These guys would retch. So would Jack Warner or any other Hollywood mogul worth his Armanis.

But it doesn't stop there. Not by any means.

Hollywood has borrowed some terms from television. Executive Producer. Senior Producer. Line Producer. These titles did not exist in "cinema." No one knows what they mean, not even the people who do them. But one each of Executive, Senior and Line producer isn't enough anymore. Now, you have GROUPS of them. And STILL, no one knows what they do.

Here's a tip: the more of these committee members listed, the worse the film.

And this brings us to the need for new ratings. In addition to the content, there needs to be a "staff rating." The more people of dubious function, the lower the score.

A movie with a Staff Rating of, say, 10, would have a dozen or so of these new people. A five rating would mean there may be only one Executive Producer, four Seniors and two "Lines."

So if you discover that "Halloween Part LXVII" has a rating of ten or 12, you keep your wallet in your pocket.

If "Rocky XXII" has a rating of, say, four or five, you might consider it.

And if "Dracula Meets Godzilla" has a rating of two, it's a definite "go."

I, for one, have always been fascinated with the credits. I may be the only guy on the map who knows who all the caterers were for all the location crews for all the movies made from 1975 to 1999. Rarely does anyone get the job more than once. That's because in movie parlance, "caterer" means the guy who buys the bagels and packaged donuts -- and occasionally a bunch of pre-made sandwiches and supplies the folding table (which he is not allowed to carry on set unless accompanied by a union stage hand,) on which they are set, and on which they generally remain, uneaten.

But back to the real issue: movies by committee are like anything else by committee.

If you settle for a producer, director, director of photography, a couple of makeup artists and a location coordinator, you're not only ahead of the game financially, but ahead of it artistically, as well.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©2008 WJR -- And that's a wrap.

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