We love good movies. But…
We have three problems when it comes to seeking out the next film to watch:
- Skewed ratings: IMDb’s ratings system is flawed
- Spoilers: They are everywhere!
- Marketing tactics: Pigeon-holing and bold statements which damage our expectations
IMDb is incredible. It’s amazing how much information can be gathered in one place. Are almost all the films ever commercially released mentioned on that site? Yes, they probably are!
However, the ratings systems on sites like IMDb are flawed. Time after time we see good or outstanding films holding very average ratings. This is perfectly understandable: it is the general public who are voting, so an average rating is what we get.
I hope this doesn’t sound too pompous… but I think it is safe to say that the general consensus on matters of cinematic taste often do not run parallel to our own here on Wonderful Cinema. The average audience doesn’t like their entertainment to require effort; they don’t want subtitles; they don’t want agonisingly slow scenes; they don’t want black and white; they don’t want art house; and they certainly don’t want endings with loose ends which leaves them scratching their heads.
And that’s all absolutely fine. Live and let live, I say.
However, when a viewer such as the one described above comes across a film which doesn’t match their tastes, they tend to rate it very low. And there are a lot of viewers like this. So even though some of us may rate a film top marks on IMDb, the average score often tends to be much lower. Sometimes ridiculously low. And that is a great shame, for people will too readily discount films which have a low rating, and that film is therefore deprived of a potentially larger audience.
In the opposite direction, a new blockbuster is released, all the kids rush to vote, and in a matter of days the movie’s rating is up there with The Godfather and 12 Angry Men. It just doesn’t make sense.
So… in our experience, ratings on sites such as IMDb are pretty useless.
“Well, read the film synopsis and user reviews for a film, and make up your own minds!” we hear someone scream.
And therein lies our second problem…
We at Wonderful Cinema are an odd bunch when it comes to avoiding plot spoilers. We avoid film reviews like they are the plague, we never read the backs of DVDs, we close our eyes and stick our fingers in our ears and hum when the previews are playing in the cinema. When a friend mentions a great film they’ve seen, we start singing loudly and clapping our hands to drown out the spillage of details which is bound to follow.
So how on earth do we research good films to watch without finding out how the film begins, let alone, ends? Well, we use a variety of methods:
- We hear about films by word of mouth, through you, through our friends, and when a new film buzz hits the streets.
- We check what’s coming out in the cinemas.
- We research directors and actors we like, checking out their other work, and reading interviews to discover their sources of inspiration.
- We follow the nominations and winners at the Oscars, Cannes, Sundance, etc. Their choices are rarely bad.
- We glance through positive user reviews on IMDb, reading only the first couple of lines and last couple of lines. This gives us an idea why the reviewer thought the film was good but usually avoids the spoilers found in the middle of the text.
- We read the opening paragraphs of the film description on Wikipedia. Plot is a clearly-labelled section, so it is easy to avoid. We also read the Critical Response and Awards sections.
- We check if Roget Ebert (R.I.P., dear friend) had anything to say on the matter, check his rating and only read his review’s final paragraph, which summarizes his opinion.
- We have an account on IMDb and maintain a Watchlist there (currently standing at 400+ titles).
The third major issue we encounter when seeking out new movies are the marketing tactics used by studios when releasing a new film. The use of pigeon-holing categorisations and the deployment of bold statements can have a negative effect on our expectations.
- If a film is even slightly funny, it will be labelled a Comedy and “Outrageous!” “Raucous!” will be slapped on the front of the DVD case. We then expect to be rolling around on the floor and are disappointed when our sides don’t split.
- Let the Right One In (2008) is labelled a “drama horror” on IMDb. In fact, it is a love story. But labelling it a “romance” would also be inadequate. On Wikipedia it is described as a “romantic horror” which, unfortunately, makes it sound like a Twilight clone.
- With any serial killer flick, “Better than Se7en!” will be emboldened on the film poster. The only serial killer film to better Se7en was Zodiac, and they’re both by the same director. Again, disappointment looms.
- If the movie is cross-genre, you’ll get statements like “A cross between Dirty Harry, When Harry Met Sally and Debbie Does Dallas!” Okay, that was just a daft joke. But we’d like to see it!
Bold marketing statements need to be ignored, as do broad categorisations. Pigeon-holing is understandable, given that the general public’s average tastes do fit into major categories. But such categorisations can poison our expectations and ruin the subtleties filmmakers try to achieve.
And so we created Wonderful Cinema…
Our goal here at Wonderful Cinema is to share with you tips for the best films, both past and present, that we have seen and enjoyed. If we watch a film and think it mediocre, we won’t be posting it here. In a nutshell, we want to share our favourite celluloid discoveries with whomever is interested.
The hope is that our visitors will share our goals – if not always our opinions – and will provide their own recommendations on our feedback page. It is inevitable that many visitors – the majority, in fact – will not share our tastes and this website will not be for them. Neither will we agree with all the recommendations put forward to us. But we hope that over time a core group of people will form with whom we can share our love for and understanding of wonderful films.
Regardless of tastes or opinions, everyone is welcome to Wonderful Cinema. It would be pompous to assume that one’s taste is better than another’s. They are simply different. What we hope to achieve is a coming together of people with similar tastes.
Thank you for visiting. We really hope you like the site.