Sunday, September 20, 2009

At the Movies (the TV show)

For future reference, At the Movies, with A.O. Scott of the New York Times and Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune, airs on our ABC station on Saturdays at 6:30 p.m. (I happened to catch it yesterday).

Here's the web site, which has clips from the show:
At the Movies

I read a review at Entertainment Weekly's site, and I agree with their reviewer that Scott and Phillips still don't capture the fire—and sometimes outright hostility—of the classic days of Siskel and Ebert. It is strange that, in an increasingly rude and abrasive culture, a show about contrasting opinions lets people agree to disagree. Well, the show is owned by Disney . . .

I also agree with EW that the rating system is something of a cop-out: "see it," "skip it," and the profoundly ambivalent "rent it." I saw Phillips say "rent it" to a movie he didn't think anyone should see. I should still spend time and money on this? It's a puzzling solution. They're not allowed, for trademark reasons, to say "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" as Siskel and Ebert did, but they could at least give movies stars or numbers or some clearer designation.

I'm a big fan of the system used by the San Francisco Chronicle: it's a drawing of a little man in a chair. If the movie stinks, he has nodded off; decent, he's sitting at attention; good, he leans forward with great interest; outstanding, and he's left the seat to applaud, mid-air.

Read reviews and watch reviews, even if you haven't seen the film or have no plans to see it. You're picking up the language reviewers use, as well as references (at least by competent reviewers) to film terminology and history.

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