It has long been my belief that film is mankind’s most ingenious creation. Sure, we have the wheel, the combustion engine, that whole ‘miracle of flight’ thing, and other rather staggering innovations, and no, film does not allow us to travel great distances like these other inventions do – at least not literally. Film does not allow us to see the world in a literal sense, but it certainly does far more to help us understand the world than any other form of art. We learn much of what we understand about ourselves from the mythology and storytelling embedded within our respective cultures and film has been an integral part of that practice since its inception. A relatively young art form, film has gone through a variety of stages of growth as well as some periods of apparent stagnancy (much like some could very easily argue it is right now – thank you, Marvel), however, no matter what the era, films are created that capture the imaginations of audiences and force them to reflect, reconsider, and even reform previously held ideas. The power of film to communicate meaning is unmistakable and is what has driven me to hold a deep passion and appreciation for the art of filmmaking.
Along with this appreciation for the art of film, comes the knowledge that the production companies have as their main focus, the selling of theatre tickets on opening weekend, and box set collector’s editions of DVD, Blu-ray, and most recently 4K discs to watch at home. While this is their primary mandate and something they prioritize over rather important traits of a good film, like quality storytelling and intricately developed characters, they do sometimes turn out films that are ‘worth the watch’ even if they were intended primarily for entertainment value. I do not profess to be above enjoying a Marvel film, for example, despite my earlier jab. There is, however, no comparison in my mind between a film that is specifically developed and carefully planned to have the audience think, and a film that is meant to have audiences empty their wallets to be entertained.
Keeping that in mind, the way that I evaluate films is meant to be as relatable as possible to all types of movie watchers, as I often find myself fluctuating between a film snob, and a guy who just wants to the see the good guys win and see the bad guys lose, really, really hard. If you are the type that enjoys a good Michael Bay film (if you can find one) where everything blows up and the characters are about as interesting as the mannequins in a storefront window, do not fear, you may not necessarily find your favourites condemned here. Films like these, which focus on entertainment and box office numbers before much else are classified as Box-Office Boomers. The ‘boomers’ part acting as a double entendre for both content and the attempt made by the production company to profit financially. On the other hand, there are films that I deem Cinematic Classics. There are obvious examples (Citizen Kane, Seven Samurai) that I would hardly be alone in considering classics, as well as films that I, (remember this is my blog, after all) consider to be of massive importance to the art of film for their beauty, grace, and meticulous attention to detail. Ah, but here’s the rub: it is possible for a film to be both a Box-Office Boomer and a Cinematic Classic! How, you ask? A prime example exists with Stanley Kubrick’s 1960 classic film Spartacus, certainly meant to entertain a mass audience with its epic storyline and to profit in a big way at the box office, but also a masterfully directed film with well-developed characters, solid acting performances and incredible cinematography.
It is possible, therefore, that just because a label like Romance Flavoured Cheese is applied to a film you have yet to see, does not mean you must run for the hills, avoiding this movie at all costs. It could also have Art House Gem or Academy’s Darling labels applied to it, and therefore fit very much into your wheelhouse. See the section on the Mullen Ranking and Categorization System to get a clearer picture on how exactly each film is ranked and categorized.
These labels accompany a grading scale I have applied to all films I have watched since late 2013. The scale takes into account the many pieces that constitute a good film such as:
- First Viewing Impact
- Music and Sound
With each category being scored out of ten, the highest possible score a film can receive is a full 70/70. While it is possible to combine, reorder, and even add to these categories, these seven have assisted me in determining what it is I like about films. I agree with all who postulate that assigning a number or ranking to a film is not necessary, and might even in some respects be a futile practice, however, for my purposes I have found it absolutely useful in determining which films to focus on for further study, and why I want to continue to focus on these particular films.
So then, after a score out of seventy, a couple of categorization labels, and a little in-depth blurb about each film, you should have a pretty good idea of what each film is about and can choose whether or not to watch, or whether or not you agree or disagree a ranking I have applied. Always keep in mind that I am aware that my word on films is far from gospel, watch whatever the hell you want and love whatever the hell you want for that is what appreciating art is all about!
Whatever your reason for visiting this attempt to appreciate the art of movies, thank you for doing so. Please feel free to let me know how on point, or way off the mark you believe me to be. I can’t be right all the time.