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Monday, April 2, 2012


#FILMSNORK110 JOURNAL - After numerous attempts to make this easy to navigate I have chosen this setup for your reading needs - a separate journal and review posting for the FilmSnork110.  I hope you enjoy my writings and can overlook the typos.

(02/01/2012)  It has begun.  The 110/100 is being kicked off with some films that are currently in the news, Oscar nominees.  Expect micro-reviews for every film viewed and full length reviews for a certain few.   I just got recommendations from Ben Mankiewicz of Turner Classic Movies and the former co-host of "At the Movies."  Thanks Ben!

I am 4 and half days in and I reach my first speed bumps a missing disc and Super Bowl Sunday.  Like a Boy Scout I am always prepared.    The first hurdle, Super Bowl Sunday - the odds of me fitting in a movie after the Super Bowl are slim to none, especially if I am out with my brother-in-laws smoking cigars if (er) WHEN the Giants win.  The solution a morning movie when we just sat down to watch.  New hurdle.  As we sat down to watch "The Help" I realized the disc was MIA.  Luckily this is 2012 and films are avaiable on my computer, mailbox, phone, TV, Xbox, BluRay player, tablet and OnDemand - I went with Amazon streaming in HD (of course) on the BluRay.  We were up and running in minutes.  On to the show.

After getting off to a good head start an illness and a visit from family has put me off track, meaning today I will need to kick it into high gear.  So far, the films have been quite enjoyable.  Currently I am watching all films that have been nominated for this year's Oscars.  Overall, I am underwhelmed with the top 9 films.  I have two more to watch and a few others in the other major categories.  Once I do I will be writing an entry ranking my least favorite to favorite of the year.   Today, in addition to some viewing, I will be adding the reviews for all the films watched in its own article otherwise this one will be way too long.  

As I sit down to begin my 16th film in 14 days I have a few observations.  First, I have noticed that I have become much more critical as the challenge carries on.  It has only been 16 films of the 110, but something has occurred that I did not expect... I am growing tired of movies.  Not viewing them, rather the time it takes to do so.  Squeezing a 2 hour film into my Valentine's Day when the theme of the week is Oscar Nominees is not easy - time constraints, spousal patience and a lack of interest are all going against me.  I would love to be watching "Some Kind of Wonderful" or another 80's Hughes romance instead of a doc on Afghanistan, but a deal is a deal.   The second observation, film flaws that may not have been voluntarily overlooked before are driving me insane right now.  An example, War Horse - not a bad film, but the English speaking Germans had me wishing I could fast forward.  My patience is wearing thin mainly because my film options are under the constraints of the selections of the Academy.   So here I go.  Valentine's night and it is time to start a documentary about war.  Romantic.

As the "Oscar Nominee Weeks" of the challenge come to a close I have reached my goal to see the majority of nominees in every field.  All Best Picture  to the point that I have seen just about every nominee I will be seeing this year, with the exception of 3.  The remaining films I have to see all come up on my list of the nominees I want to see the least.  So in order to keep up the current viewing pace I have been supplementing my vieiwng with addtional films, most notworthy "Birdemic" possibly the (no exageration) worst film I have ever viewed - check it out.  Also, after watching Oscar caliber films, many of a depressing nature, it was time to get some films in some lighter fare.   That is why I took the recommendation of one site user and watched "There's Something Wrong With Aunt Diane," another kneeslapper.  Ugh.   I had an observation about time that I will share later. 

I have worked my way through the majority of Oscar films and am so ready to move on to other territory.  Being consticted to such a narrow selection of films takes a little of the fun out of the whole experiment.  There were numerous films I would have rather been watching instead of some of the overblown Oscar duds - War Horse and Extremely Loud and Incredibly close which is why when this is all done I plan to watch whatever film grabs my fancy.  I love when things grab my fancy.

The Oscars are over.  My annual picks were quite successful, perhaps the most successful ever.  20-4.  Only misses were in a category which I did not see any of the films (Doc short), Visual Effects (chose Apes over Hugo - if I had reviewed the effects before voting I would have gotten it,) Cinematography (where Dragon Tattoo surprisingly beat Tree of Life.)  The biggest upset, for me, was Meryl Streep winning which ended my long streak of having seen every Oscar winner (in the major categories) before the awards - when Viola Davis lost to to Streep's portrayal of Margaret Thatcher the steak died.  Long live the streak.  Overall the Oscars show was a acceptable, nothing more than that.  Billy Crystal's act was tired and he did not turn off the autopilot until about mid way through when he started to improv his way through it.  I hope this is his swan song.  Eddie Murphy would have brought something new to the tired show that was surely missing this year - maybe next year.  Watching the few moments when Billy was on mad me realize why Anne Hathaway and James Franco were such busts - their scripted batter was okay, their complete lack of anything improvised was not.  When something unique occurs you need to be witty enough to comment on it, not just to go into schtick.  As for the awards themselves, I thought they were predictable and safe - just like the nominees.  Unlike some people I do not have a strong distaste for all things The Artist.  I found the film to be sweet, charming and technically exceptional.  In a year that was lacking one great film, The Artist was worthy of the trophy.  There were plenty of very good films, just not many that will be make their way into my collection or being discussed years down the line. 

I am back to picking films without restrictions (at least before I start some theme weeks.)  Surprisingly, I am finding myself to be less motivated to view.  Is it the lack of a deadline that is causing it, the films I currently have available to me aren't compelling enough or is it just plain old burnout.  The goal of this experiment is not just to watch films, it is to get something out of each film - sitting in a room while a movie is running will not do.  My guess is the lack of time, juggling daily life, family, work and of course the occasional bout of sleeping.  With the right film selection I can literally watch movies ALL day.  In my heyday during college, I would go to the movies for the first show of the day (usually around 11am) and leave after the last film of the day.  The amazing part is not the sure endurance that I am sure you are privately praising in your head, but rather the forethought put into the event.  The logistics: one ticket was bought, five films were viewed, 13 hours of film viewing, all food and beverage were brought with me.   The secret to my success was a game plan - I would figure in running time, show times and theater locations (I knew the theater quite well.)  Atop of the aforementioned details I also had to account for the actions of my mortal enemy, the cinema employees.  If I was seen too often, in the wrong theater at the wrong time or, worst of all, asked for my ticket my cover would be blown.  Being invisible was an art form which involved ducking into other theaters as my upcoming theater and previous theater were being cleaned... worst case scenarios lead me to extended stays in the cinema bathrooms - fun stuff, but anything for your craft.  Those days, as mischievous as they were are in a way missed.  Now I buy my tickets like everyone else - no 5 film days or even double features.  If you have it in you I recommend you try it out one day.  It will test your will, endurance and cunningness as well as provide an adrenaline rush that was strong enough it could even make "The Spice Girls" movie palatable.

In the middle of documentary week (a #filmsnork110 week will be 5 days) and am finding inconsistent results.  Some docs are grabbing my attention, others are making me wish I cancelled doc week.  Nothing terrible so far, but with the last few weeks of stress I could use some more light fare rather than this list:
Project Nim
Pearl Jam Twenty
Cave of Forgotten Dreams
Troll Hunter
Every Little Step

I am looking forward to the upcoming days off when I can enjoy a gin and tonic, a cigar and watch films in a state of relaxation rather than aggravation.  I use films as a way to escape and find with documentaries that escape rarely happens.  It often just adds to the stress found in life in some odd way - even though these stories are not mine they weigh heavy on me.  One film I recommend (it is streaming on Netflix now) is Microcosm.  The film consists of shot after extremely shot of the most beautiful insects.  I put it on now and then when I am reading or writing to give my eyes and mind a visually filling break.  Check it out.
(03/08/2012) Doc Week is wrapping up early after some ambitious late night viewing. #TrollHunter is the final doc on my list, a foreign film about people that hunt trolls like some people chase storms. Looking forward to it.

Some of the observant, loyal fans of FilmSnork have noticed that I skipped over entry #41. Actually I didn't - there was a numbering issue back a couple dozen films ago, ironically at unlucky #SaturdayThe14th. Unlucky for me I came across the film and decided to watch it. Once again I am winging my viewing options for a few days and I break from the norm. Next week I am going to need your help though. I must film in a few missing films for certain theme weeks. Another idea on my mind is having everyone submit and actor/actress then voting for one from the submissions (hopefully you're not too cruel to me) and creating a theme week where I will only watch films starring the chosen thespian. Look for that next week.

Until then, I plan minimal postings for a few days (even though i will continue to watch films) as I take a breather.
(03/13/2012)  I am back. A weekend of cigars, late nights, craps and Scotch, but enough about my niece's 4th birthday party at Chucky Cheese. Time to post some of the latest reviews. Surprisingly the long weekend in Vegas only threw me off by one day as my body worked double time to make up for not only the daylight savings time shift, and the 6 hour flight with 2 kids, and the 3 hour time zone adjustment, but also staying out until 4am shooting craps...and winning (only to be woken up at 6:30). As tough as it was to get enthusiastic about anything other than sleep, I knocked out 3 films in four days - one that I enjoyed tremendously. I will be tossing the reviews up the site and FB throughout the day.


(03/17/2012)  Another year, another birthday.  As I get older, I do as many people do, I reflect back on my life.  Remembering what has gotten me to this point - not only the accomplishments and victories, but also the failures and regrets.  One thing that has had a constant presence in my life has been film.  It has been a passion and a dream.  These are just a few random moments from my movie viewing history that came to mind.

The mysterious moment when we all packed into the family van on an undisclosed trip at sunset - not one of my 5 siblings knew where we were going to.  The curiosity turned to joy when my mother walked in with the cooler of drinks, bags of homemade popcorn and the pillows.  We were going to the drive-in!!!  So many memories of the drive-in theater James Bond films, 101 Dalmatians, the refreshment stand the wonderful intermission countdown videos "5 minutes til showtime."  The one memory that stands out is when my parents choose to see something beside Raiders of the Lost Ark.  Are you kidding me!  Not sure what we were supposed to be watching, but my feature (through the side window and without audio) was Indy in all it's face-melting glory.

I clearly remember crying when my mother walked me to bed as I tried for the fourth and final time to convince her that I CAN stay awake to finish watching The Ten Commandants.  It was our annual Easter viewing of the film with Grandma and Babcia taking the prime seats on the couch.  My mother had seen my eyes close and head bob multiple time.  Knowing it was the right thing to do she walked me to bed.  I cried myself to sleep pretty quickly.

Then there was the time we were all playing wiffle ball in my best friend's backyard and one of the gang was talking about how he saw Pee Wee's Big Adventure.  My focus instantly shifted completely from the game at hand to the movie I wished to so.  I wanted to see that movie.  I had to see that movie.  I had to know about that movie.  It baffled me, how HE (a common man) not me (the young film connoisseur) could have been lucky enough to learn the secret of the Adventures of Pee Wee.  My pestering for details proved to be too much for my friend.  After countless attempts to gain knowledge of the Adventure - during huddles on the mound, between at bats and during big out high fives, I was told to wait until after the game before he would tell me more... he never did.  :(

The time I went to visit my college roommate and his wife for the first time in a long time and convinced them to see Superman Returns during my short visit.  Neither wanted to, both did even though it was my second screening of it in two days (forgot if that detail was disclosed or undisclosed.)  They were underwhelmed.  I felt bad... a little.  Oh well.

Then there is a tale of romance.  It was an average Saturday night.  I was on a date with a beautiful woman with a plan, a nice dinner, drinks and movie.  Dinner and the drinks went well and off we went to an old restored theater to see Leaving Las Vegas.  We enjoyed the film and I did not want the night to end just yet so I could get more time with this girl I was smitten with.  I offered up the idea that we see another movie to which she was open to.  The challenge what film and where?   The film, easy, I had in mind the classic date film Dead Man Walking with Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon.  As for where, back in those days it was not as easy... no internet, no smartphones and for that matter, no cellphones.  In those days you would have to have a quarter to call someone that had the local listings on them or the number to the theater to check the showtimes.  The other option, carrying around a newspaper and checking the times, by hand, on paper - like a caveman.  Luckily, I was prepared and had the entertainment section in my car and off we went.  We made it to the theater just in time and enjoyed the show to the point that my date was sobbing uncontrollably.  I guess she liked it.  After she calmed down we went to a little bar and grabbed another drink.  As we sat there enjoying the cocktail and eachother's company and idea came to mind.  Let's see one more film.  There was a second-run theater on the way home that we called the dollar-fifties.  One film for one dollar and fifty cents.  You can't beat that.  To extend the evening a bit longer I decided to offer the idea of one more film.  There was no way she would.  No one would be interested in three films in a row after an evening already full of two harrowing films.  There was no way.  Wait.  Scratch that.  She wanted to go.  Off we went to see 12 Monkeys.  A perfect evening.  A few drinks, a nice dinner, a beautiful date and great movies.  Afterwards, I did the only thing that seemed appropriate, I married her.

There are additional tales I could tell, hundreds of them.  The midnight screening of the Burton/Keaton Batman film with a group of friends where we were literally chased around by two girls.  That was a magic evening.  The time my dad did not anticipate E.T. being sold out and we had to settle for a family outing to see the beloved children's film starring Ben Kingsley, Ghandi.  I enjoyed it.   My daughter's first movie and how it ended in tears after it finished and she told me, "That was my favoritist, favoritist movie ever.'  Oh yeah, the tears were mine. 

The stories go on and on and on.  I had trouble stopping here, but I will have mercy on you.  Movies have been a part of my life since as far back as I remember.  These short tales may sound like just another story, but to me they are just a few of those that shaped  my life and made me who I am.  So many people helped create these memories, from all different stages of my life.... all important.  Someday I may forget them which is why this one paragraph entry in the FilmSnork110 Journal has become the epic entry is now it.  I had a dream that my name would one day be synonymous with film and not just because of this blog.  Let it be known the dream still lives on.  It will never die.  Whenever I begin to lose focus of the dream I simply buy a ticket to my local cinema and am reminded all over again.

We are currently wrapping up the polling on actor or actress whom I will dedicate a full week of viewing films to.  I have to admit, I am not too excited about where it seems to be heading... a week of Ed Norton.  Don't get me wrong, I am a big Norton fan - have been since I saw his first major motion picture, "Primal Fear."  He came out of nowhere and made a great impact on me and most people that saw the film.  The problem is I have seen just about every single film he has done and the rest I have litte interest in.  There are not even any cheater films I can use, cameos or voice over work to pad my selections.  Based on the rules I placed have put upon myself for the FilmSnork110, I am allowed to only use 10 previously viewed films to fill out the 110.  So either it is time to sit down and watch a few films I have no interest in or take up the precious previously viewed slots of the challenge.  

I went through the rest of the nominees contributed by the site users... same problem.   John C. Reilly, Kevin Spacey,  Matt Damon - all the same problem, I have seen almost all their work.  Even Freddie Prinze Jr. (somebody's idea of a joke) is not an exception, I have seen them all.  I am not sure if I am supposed to be proud or ashamed of the fact.  Not just the Freddie Prinze admission, but the rest.  Seeing movies to me is like breathing-  it just comes natural.  The first question I ask people in conversation, "have you seen anything lately?'  No matter how many times I ask I am always thrown back when they tell me, nothing (and it is almost always nothing.)  Some people will say, "just fill in the blank," as if there is a film not worth discussing.  I usually get it out of them.  When, or better yet, IF people were to ask me that I have a list to offer.  This is not bragging.  Not sure if someone should be bragging that there life is consumed with anything, be it sports, drugs, video games, alcohol, etc... is it ever good to be that lopsided.  Sure, I have other interests, but nothing compares to film.  Maybe it is time to step away from it for awhile.  Maybe that is the greatest discovery of this whole challenge.   Maybe.

NAH.  The day I stop watching movies is the day I die.  Back to Ed Norton.  It looks like he will be the winner of the poll.  Somebody better call his manager and edit his IMDB page, this is an honor.  When he does win, I think I will have to re-visit Fight Club.   Although I have owned the DVD since its release years ago, I have not watched it since the theater.   Another victim of film is like wine approach to viewing (to be covered very soon on the site.)  I also plan to watch The Incredible Hulk again.  I know, not most people's first choice of Ed Norton films to watch, but for some reason it is the first film I thought of.  Beyond that my selections are two films I did not want to see and a direct-to-DVD film (and you know how those usually work out.)  

When I allowed users to pick an actor/actress I was expecting a John Wayne or Sam Jackson to be thrown in the mix - I could proabably fill a month with the films I have yet to see of theirs.  Oh well, you picked your poison.  Edward Norton it is.  At least it wasn't Freddie Prinze Jr.

 For years we have trusted them.  They were the experts.  They had the knowledge.  They knew what was best for us.  They were the film critics.  And for years they mislead us.  The same people whose newspaper and magazine, website and television show reviews were used to shape our film viewing schedules were unknowingly (hopefully) using an inadequate system to deliver their message.  More specifically,  I am referring to the rating systems used to review films.  Are these actions malicious in nature?  I highly doubt so.  There are many ways to rate a film; numerical scores, letter grades, thumbs up or thumbs down to name a few.  The problem, only one rating system is the correct way to deliver a review; allowing universally interpreted rating and the proper increments needed to properly classify a film - providing potential film goers an easy way to filter through the numerous films on screen each week.  If you guessed the 10-point rating system (10 Stars) then pat yourself on the back - you are correct.   Let's take a look at some of the flawed rating systems.

The thumbs up/down is probably the best known of all rating systems.  It was created by an idol of mine, perhaps the best film critic of all time, of course I speak of Ben Lyons.  I kid, I kid.   I of course am referring to critic and TV icon, Roger Ebert.  Let me clarify, the Thumb System is an effective, straight forward way to rate film and can be quite helpful if, and it is a big IF, you have access to hear the argument supporting the thumb decision.  Otherwise, films are clumped into too few categories 2 thumbs up, 2 thumbs down, split decision, thumbs sideways, sitting there with your thumb up your ass, Tom Thumb, Thumbelina, etc.  It is too broad of a rating system.  How can you give the same exact rating (two-thumbs-up) to both The Godfather and the beloved Matrix Reloaded?  Maybe they did like both films, perhaps they loved the action or the effects, but one simply does not hold a candle to the other.   It is fine to give a thumbs up to any film you see fit, but to a novice film viewer it is a disservice.  If the options are between two identically rated films he/she may skip over an evening watching Michael, Veto, and Fredo, choosing instead to watch humping rave parties, albino twins and a Colonel Sanders looking dude in the inferior Matrix sequel.  Not very responsible film reviewing.  Sorry Rog, thumbs down to your system.  Without the show's review commentary it is too flawed to recommend.  On a side note, (I know it is sacrilege) I preferred the more recent variation - the See it, Skip it, Rent it system used on the show after Roger's exit - not perfect, but less room for interpretation.  FLAWED

Onto The Letter Grade System.  Seems like a fine choice... sure ON THE SURFACE.  Upon further review, the system is flawed and can be confusing.  The biggest problem is that the letter grading system differs country to country, state to state, school to school.  There is no universal letter grading system therefore a review is left for interpretation.  The system is also affected by the fact that we are all at varying levels of intelligence our grades in school probably reflected that.  Because of that the ratings are subjective.  If I was a D+ student I may be thrilled with a C/C+ rating.  This C+ review could mislead me and have me off and running to the theater to buy tickets for "John Carter."  Big mistake.  A straight A student may never consider watching any film rated below a B-, preventing them from enjoying just about every Adam Sandler film - oh wait maybe that is a plus.  The letter grades themselves may be objective, but how we interpret them certainly is not.  FLAWED+

The most commonly used rating system is also the most flawed one, the dreaded Four-Star Rating System  (commonly referred to in many professional film circles as the Very Super Shitty Film Rating System...That Stinks Too.)  I know, very technical terminology, but as always I will try to keep this simple to everyone can follow along.  The Four-Star Rating System simply lacks enough stars to properly distinguish between the good through fair films.  If a 4 star is excellent and 1 star is poor, what is a mediocre film's star rating, a film that is worthy of viewing, but not very good?  Two and a half stars?  That seems to be the standard which makes me question how a film that is only a half star better can get a glowing review - IT IS ONLY A HALF STAR DIFFERENCE.   One critic mentioned earlier gave a 3-star review to both Burt Reynold's family film, "Cop and a Half" and "The Matrix." Either Cop and a Half is extremely overrated, the guy loves Burt Reynolds or he did not have enough stars to properly review the film.  Having seen both of these films I can firmly say, both do not deserve the same grade.  The reviewer may have enjoyed Cop and a Half, but did not want to associate it with the other 2.5-star films since they are just above the recommendable bar, so he bumped it up to the 3 star review.  Unfortunately for The Matrix and any other film that deserves a higher rating, this devalues the 3-star rating.  More stars are needed to make the subtle distinction between the films.  A half star may seem like a minor adjustment, but it makes all the difference.  FLAWED BEYOND REPAIR

That brings us to a system that offers many more grading options, The 100-Star Ratings System.  Let me start by saying rating out of 100 stars is ridiculous.  Opting for a 100-star rating system that allows the use of half stars increments is just asinine and will never be mentioned againo n this website...until now.  Sorry, I just had to mention this.  I recently saw a site that reviewed films not only on a 100-point system, but broke it down to decimals.  Are you kidding me!?!  Do you hate yourself?  Do you hate your readers?   I believe the rating was 79.2.  Even if there was some sort of equation that was used to deliver such a specific rating, for categorizing purposes why not just round it up or down to the nearest integer.  To inflict pain like this on yourself makes me fear the reviewer suffers from some sort of psychosis.  It just cannot be natural.  It is not right.   FLAWED AND SCARY

Purists will say, "FilmSnork, the only true form of review is that with no stars or thumbs, a long form essay."  To that I say, horse puckey!  In the current day and age, a time where we need an app to solve every problem and make everything "easier," the odds of people reading entire reviews that do not contain a star rating are pretty slim.  In these times, too many people are now hooked on instant gratification - obtaining the answer without really knowing the question.  Readers want to get to the point - a recommendation - a simple yes or no.  It is disheartening to those that spend hours crafting the perfect, but most readers will bypass it all to get to the star-rating.  Live with it.  Other will avoid reading the review itself for fear of being influenced too much or having the film spoiled.  Without the star rating that long form review may as well be your social security number and detailed directions to the family treasure - most people are not reading it.  The most basic rule of film review: offer a Ten-Star-Rating or be ignored.  If you have read this rant to this point you are the exception to the rule.  Congrats.    FLAWED SOCIETY

In the case of the FilmSnork110 it was necessary to choose a rating system and since I was going to be reviewing such a vast number of movies in such a short period of time, I needed one without flaws.  Of course, I went with the best system for ratings film know to man The Ten-Star Rating System (aka the jacked up 5-star system.)  10 really comes into play when you get to the upper echelon of films and need to carefully assign a score - there are few 9 star reviews, fewer 9.5 star reviews and the vary rare 10 star reviews.  There MUST be a distinction between great films and the greatest films of all time - 10-Star allows for that.  The public MUST be given proper reviews.  Doggone-it! The flawed Four-Star Rating System (yuck) has those films all clumped into one rating 4 stars.  You "professional" film critics with your 4 stars, blah blah blah... and your Thumbs ups, whip those things out with such reckless abandon, sending trusting viewers out into the world of film to fend for themselves.  YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED! Your reviews are nothing less than a disservice to the public.  You... YOU...   Hold on.  Let me compose myself.  Sorry about the outburst.  I never came hear to brow beat anyone, but I snapped.   Where were we.  The 10-star rating system (when allowing use of half stars) allows reviewers to break down a rating into required increments needed to differentiate between a good film and a very good film, but does not provide too many options to drive the reader over the edge.  Not too few, not to many, just right.  THE PERFECTLY UNFLAWED RATING SYSTEM

The critics of the world are a gift to us all, combining their passion and knowledge to provide insight to the arts.  Now is the time they accept that they may have been using the improper rating system, take the hit to the ego and correct the issue.  It is a two step process: 1) a heartfelt apology to the readers, followed by 2) the simple task of reevaluating every single one of their film reviews and translating their review using the 10-Star-Rating System will suffice.  Roger, for you that would be somewhere in the range of 5-10K reviews... get busy.

Watching movies is usually not as perplexing as this.  This last week of films had big name actors, director and buzz.  The issue was the only running theme I found was the fact they were all big letdowns.  "Cowboys and Aliens," (with Harrison Ford, Daniel Craig and Jon Favreau directing) "The Dilemma" (directed by Ron Howard, starring Vince Vaughn, Jennifer Connelly and Winona Ryder,) and "The Resident" (starring Hilary Swank) and even "The Adventures of Tin Tin" (a Steven Spielberg film) have starred and even been directed by some of the biggest names in the business, several Academy Award winners - usually a great sign of things to come.  The problem, after viewing these films once I feel safe saying I do not think I will ever watch any of them again.  Not the reaction I was expecting to have.  Sure, they may be on TV as I fall asleep in a drunken stupor or on during a party as I sit around in a drunken stupor or playing at the old folks home I donate my time to as I sit around in a drunken stupor or at the... I think you get the point. When did Harrison Ford become a has been. He has been making great films for decades and suddenly he can't make a good film. Is it a curse put on him by a gypsy for making Sabrina? Let's face it, we are closing in on two decades of 'meh.' Hillary Swank has been a bust since Million Dollar Baby... sinking down to the level of acting in "New Year's Eve." That's pretty bad. Hilary, I know you started with "The Next Karate Kid," (which I actually liked, you can too if you get over the lack of Ralph Macchio) but, you also won some Oscars. Act like it.

Where have all the good times gone? There used to be a list of people you could count on to always provide quality entertainment. That list is shrinking. Even names as big as De Niro and Spielberg are in a rut. Spielberg has not made a very good film in, believe it or not, seven years. Has he lost his touch? Is he losing his instincts? De Niro is not as bad off, at least in years, but his lows are MUCH lower than Spielberg's. Seriously Bobby Dee, "New Year's Eve." Seriously??!? I do not want to even discuss "Little Fockers." It almost makes me tear up. I do not care how much money you can make on these shit films. YOU ARE ROBERT FOCKING De NIRO!! Stop it now.

It is just sad as you watch heroes fade or in some cases crash and burn. Hopefully we will see at least one more great film for all of the mentioned here and the dozens of others that can be put in the same category - if for no other reason, do it so I can cut down on the crying.

As I write my reviews I often wonder who I am writing them for.  Am I writing them for other film fans that probably have already heard of the films I am reviewing?  Am I writing the reviews for the average film goer that may be unfamiliar with many of the films reviewed?   What are people expecting from the reviews?  Are they helpful?

My biggest hope is for my reviews to provide the reader with enough information to lead you to see a film or avoid a film  (both those films you have heard of and those you have not) but not too much detail to spoil the experience.  One rule I have imposed upon my reviews: absolutely NO spoilers.  It amazes me how professional critics will make reference to major plot twists or cameos or even a twist ending with no warning.  There have been reviews in the past that would say things like, "the film is great you'll love the big twist at the end, it's a shocker."  Yeah, really?!?!  Not anymore it is not.  Is that ever really necessary?  The same thing with cameos - "wait till you see xxxxxxx show up playing his dad."  How about shut your damn mouth and let your readers have the same joy of experiencing the moment for themselves.   Every detail noted in the review steals the chance for us to have the film revealed to us as the filmmaker intended.  If we are anticipating a twist then we watch the film different - playing the role of a detective looking for clues to what the twist will be.

If the film being reviewed is a classic film where just about everybody knows the ending, then, in some instances, it is alright to reveal some major plot points, but only if necessary to make a point.  In those situations I am still careful with my wording to keep the reader in the dark as much as possible.  If the film's hero surprisingly dies, there is no need to EVER announce it in a review.  NEVER EVER.  I would permit spoilers to be discussed in an essay that delves deeper to analyze a film or elements of a film - even then warning "spoilers ahead."  A review is a totally different story.  Reviews are often the first contact most people will have with a film besides with the viewing of the film itself.  Just because a critic has obviously seen the film, they should not act as if everyone else has.  

Another review element you will not find in FilmSnork reviews, full film recaps.  Some reviewers take a film review as an opportunity to give scene by scene breakdowns of the ENTIRE film.  Unnecessary and unwanted.  There is a reason we go to the movies to see a story unfold before our eyes on the big screen - not a recap.  If we wanted to read the story we would buy the book. 

Most people look to film reviews to provide one of two things a) direction to see or avoid a film b) if on the fence, then are they any elements of this film stand out enough to sway them.  I hope my reviews provide you with enough guidance to help you make that decision and perhaps provide a little bit of entertainment along the way.  If you know of a way I can improve them, please let me know. 

(04/06/2013)  It has been a while since I have taken the time to write down all the thoughts going through this head of mine.  Over the last year I have hit a major age milestone (if you believe in age,) been turned onto some exciting new adventures, started working toward a healthier me in hopes of extending this life long enough to enjoy copious amounts of film.  Over the last few weeks I had been completely film free.  Partially by choice, more realistically by necessity.  The time and focus have not been available for give any film the devoted attention it deserves.  If a few hundred (maybe thousand) people are going to spend years of their life to make a film then I am obliged to give it my undivided attention.   There has not been a day that has gone by which I did not yearn to watch a film, to write a review, to communicate with my audience... however big or small it is you are appreciated.  Now I have reached a point where I think my brain will allow me to return to film viewing,  unfortunately my available time outlook is not so positive.  Even so, I will be finding and making the time.  My movie marathons may be put on hold for the time being, but they too shall return.  Two days ago, Roger Ebert passed away after a battle with cancer - the guy lived film - it was amazing.  Sadly he dealt with the health issues he did, even so he lived a great life.  I look at him as a source of real inspiration.  If he could continue through multiple bouts with cancer, a half dozen surgeries (the latest which left him without a lower jaw - rendering unable to speak and eat) and he still returns back to his craft, then I can continue with this website even if my time is less plentiful than I would have like.  Expect more reviews to being soon.  How many?  That will be determined by how well I can juggle things.  Please, keep checkng back.  I'm not going anywhere.

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