rottentomatoes.com features two ratings for every film--the first is a combination critics score (with critics' reviews available below). The second rating is from the public. "This Is Not a Film," from Iran scored 100 and 85 respectively. You can read about the film and see what invidual critics had to say.
Another outstanding site is Internet Movie Datebase (IMDB). It's ratings on based on viewers alone but it's far more useful than Amazon ratings because the sampling is as much as a hundred times higher or more in most cases. Here's a direct link to the same documentary:
WHERE IMDB IS BEST:
If you are looking for reviews of Masterpiece Theater, PBS mysteries, HBO movies and any television program, rotten tomatoes only concentrates on feature films. For such things, go to IMDB. Despite Amazon's small samplings, viewers' reviews are often interesting.
Things I consider in evaluating the worth of film reviews and overall scores:
1. You have to consider the target audience in considering a scores value to you personally. For example, a film intended for teens is most likely to be reviewed by teens in which case a high rating may have little value.
2. Low ratings shouldn't always deter you from viewing except where they are rational and consistently low. Keep an eye out for films that get high and low ratings with few moderate ratings. Such films might get a 6.0 out of ten or three stars out of five but could be worth watching.
3. Lots of people throw off a score and lower a film's rating by knocking a film for dumb reasons. Here's a few samplers:
--Some people comlained that Saving Private Ryan was "violent" and rated ite low for that reason. It was a war movie.
--Someone gave "Pam's Labrynth" a low rating because he dragged his wife and five kids into the movies and left five minutes later complaining that has subtitles and it was unsuitable for kids. Regarding the first complaint, it was a foreign film. Regarding his second complaint, didn't he read repeated warnings from critics that the movie was not for kids?
--How many times have I seen a film get the lowest possible rating because "my disk didn't work. It has a crack in it." What does this have to do with the movie's quality. Yet it drags down ratings.
--Not expecting much, I recently watched a romantic comedy starring Meg Ryan and Hugh Jackman entiled, "Kate and Leopold." It got a mediocre rating overall but I noticed that several of the negaiove complaints from woman about Meg Ryan's appearance (mainly her makeup and hair style). Who cares? Another complaint was that she always plays similar roles. You can say the same of Julia Roberts and her role was the secondary one. In this case, the key role was Jackman's who surprised me with how well he performed.
--The Irish film, Perrier's Bounty, got a moderate rating mainly because of strong language and because the language was "unrealistic" for mobsters. In modern films, gangsters, soldiers and gang members curse a lot, as they do in real life. What the readers missed also was that the contrast between the gangster's often poetic language and above average vocabulary and their social status was part of the joke. Jim Broadbent's performance was Oscar level. Also great: the mob boss. Both were highly individualistic and did not play to standard type. Fans of the great Downton Abbey will recognize another cast member.
SOME NON-IRANIAN FILMS RECOMMENDED FOR IRANIANS
OSAMA (Afghanistan)--The corrupt mullah in the end will remind you of someone we all know. This film has nothing to do with Osama Bin Laden. It's about a girl who tries to survive by dresssing as a boy.
GOYA'S GHOST--This one scored poorly with critics and only so-so with reviewers though some of the latter rated it highly. It deals with theocracy--specifically the late Spanish Inquisition. Javier Bardem plays Goya. I though Natalie Portman, in a kind of double role, was much better than in her recent Oscar-winning performance.
DOWNFALL--the German film about the final days of the Third Reich. What Iranians will most identify with are: 1) Hitler's attitude toward the fate of the German people which recalls Khamenei's attitude toward the fate of Iran and Iranians; 2) Hitler's unrealism in his insistance that it will all work out in the face of massive evidence to the contrary, and 3) the divisions between "loyal to the end" Yes Men and long-time regime supporters who just want to be someplace else as doom approaches. Their quarrels recall that among regime insiders now.
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