On movie reviews and movies …

While reading dooce‘s reasons for why she stopped reading music reviews, I had a thought along the same lines, but for the movies.

A music reviewer runs into a problem that plagues most writers: coming up with new ways to say the same thing.

Why is that most of my movie review reading consists of checking the first half of the IMDB page for the movie?  (The part with title, genre, user rating, producer, and top of the cast).  Well, because that’s all I need to know about most of the movies that I get a chance to see (TV, rentals, and cinema).

Yes, most of these movies are either total crap or half crap.  They don’t amaze. They don’t make me think.  They don’t bring back the memories, and neither do they stimulate my imagination.  Most of these movies have a pretty straightforward story, shallow characters with long time coined phrases. You know the ones I’m talking about.

It’s a tough job being a critique for such movies.  You’ll indeed run out of words to describe them, and that will happen pretty fast.  I know, because I tried a movie blog ones.  It’s dead for a long time now, and I don’t have much will to revive it.

I’ve been thinking about this for some time now.  One thing that scares me a little bit is this move towards shorter time frames.  I’m guilty in participating, of course, but that makes it even scarier.

What I am talking about is this general move towards smaller pieces of information and entertainment.  We used to have printed books.  Those took a few days to read each.  Gradually, the majority of the population moved from books to movies.  Movies are much easier to consume, and then only take a couple of hours.  With the raise of the Web, the time frames got even shorter.  YouTube is one of the most popular entertainment resources on the Web, and it has a limitation of a 10 minute clip.  You just can’t upload anything which is significantly bigger than that (give or take a few seconds).   Now with mobile devices coming up strong, and popularity of short message services, such as Twitter and Jaiku, something tells me that we’ll go much under those 10 minutes of YouTube.  Of course it won’t happen in a day or two – I’m talking a general trend here.

Now imagine the reviewers going in step with the progress.  Writing a book review was simpler ( I guess).  Movies got tougher, because there are so many of them and because they are so much alike.  YouTube clip reviews turned into tiny user comments and star ratings.  You just can’t talk about a few minutes of video for hours I guess (again).  What will happen with a reviews of Twitter messages and tiny mobile video clips?  They’ll disappear.  It’ll be easier and faster to watch the original rather than spend time on the review.

Of course, it won’t all turn out that bad.  It’s just I’m having one of those pessimistic days…

5 thoughts on “On movie reviews and movies …”

  1. “Gradually, the majority of the population moved from books to movies.”


    I’m afraid this is a point from which your concept gets its flaw.

    People still read books (not printed but also through the net libraries) and write reviews and comments on them.

    Just for e.g. Every time I’m going to comment on any book, first of all I google it and never fail to be impressed how many people red it before me and how valuable their comments and reviews could be.


    Dunno whether we are a majority, but it’s a lot of us still :)

  2. Lana,

    I do realize that a lot of people read books. That’s not the point. The point is in the trend. From what I can see, less and less people are reading books. And more and more people are preferring movies, YouTube clips, and other, short than a book, types of entertainment…

    I used to read a lot myself. But for the last few years I read like one short book every six month or so. I know a few people like me.

    Also, I know a few people who haven’t read one single book in their entire life (and they are all more than 30 years old). However, I don’t know anyone who haven’t watched a movie.

    As to your point of “there are a lot of us” – if you search Google, you’ll find plenty of people who know Latin. But when was the last time you met one? What are the chances of bumping into a person like that today? What were the chances of bumping into one, say, 200 years ago? :)

  3. Lenia,

    so, we are talking not on the trend here, but on the natural selection: there are mass activities and there are other activities for finer brains :)

    I still think that it’s better to compare like with like.

    The one could argue that books are sources of info as well as YouTube clips and movies but this is a very general and broad base for any comparison (the same as mammals is the general comparison base for killer whales and YouTube clip makers).

  4. Lana,

    the trend that I am talking about is very much influenced by the number of sources. In the old ages, the number of sources has been very limited (not in absolute numbers, but in comparison to what we have today). With limited number of sources it’s harder to see the limitations of each source.

    If there is only one movie or book to read, it’s going to be the best there is. If there are two books or movies out there, then chances are one is going to be better than the other. If there are three, you won’t get them split up between good and bad. You’ll have a scale. There will be certain things that you’ll like in one book, other things in another, and yet some in another.

    If you will further increase the number of available books and movies, your scale will fraction even further… then, at certain point in time, any book or movie or movie that you spend your time on will have a tiny fraction of the value (entertainment, insight fullness, etc) scale. A concept of signal to noise, or, rather, value to time, will start to emerge.

    Eventually, you’ll see that by reading 30 pages on the web within one hour will provide you with more value than reading a 300-page book over two days. With growing number of available sources, the value of each one is decreasing. Probably it has something to do with demand-supply concept too, albeit on a semi-sub-conscious level…

    That’s how I can put books, movies, YouTube clips, music, games, and practically any other form of art and entertainment into a single mix. :)

  5. “Eventually, you’ll see that by reading 30 pages on the web within one hour will provide you with more value than reading a 300-page book over two days.”

    It depends on the concept of value then.

    One old professor said: Before reading a book you should understand first why are you reading it – to get information or to gain knowledge?

    Sometimes (most of the times) all the information obtained through vigorous scrolling of web pages is hardly equal in value to one page of a truly knowledgeable book, I think… set aside YouTube clips.

    I understand why you put everything in your mix, though, and it’s fair enough.

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