Will I "Really Like" this Movie?

Navigating Movie Website Ratings to Select More Enjoyable Movies

Archive for the tag “Christopher Nolan”

Vacation, My 100th Post, and a July “Really Like” Movie Hot Streak

I arrived in the city of Seattle yesterday in the wee hours of the morning. I’m here to introduce myself to my new, beautiful granddaughter. So if there is a contemplative, or distracted, feel to this week’s post, there is good reason.

This is also my 100th post. Not quite as momentous as your first grandchild, but a marker worthy of reflection nevertheless. It has been a labor of love and a challenge. Blogging was new to me when I started out 99 posts ago. I discovered that you don’t find your voice in the first post. Little by little though you develop a style that you become comfortable with and readers of your blog become comfortable with. If you’re lucky, enough people become engaged in your passion and come back for more. Thanks for your support if you’re one of those loyal followers, or even if you’ve just stopped by for an occasional “check and see”. On to the next 100 posts beginning with a look at what’s caught my eye at the Cineplex this coming weekend.

Dunkirk, which goes into wide release tomorrow, is poised to become the fourth high quality mega-hit in four weeks. As of this morning, it is 94% Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. And, the early overseas feedback on IMDB has produced an impressive 9.6 average rating. This Christopher Nolan depiction of the rescue of the surrounded British army at the beginning of World War II is being compared to the classic Saving Private Ryan. The Saving Private Ryan comparison benchmarks to keep an eye on are Certified Fresh 92%, IMDB Avg Rating 8.6 and Cinemascore “A”. Pre-wide release Dunkirk is exceeding the Rotten Tomatoes and IMDB scores. We’ll have to wait until Saturday for Cinemascore results. I’m excited about this one.

In addition to off schedule posts to this site, vacation for the Mad Movie Man invariably involves a trip to the movies. With an unusually high number of Certified Fresh movies at the theater it is almost a can’t miss proposition. But, the absolute can’t miss feature of this vacation is the incredible miracle of my granddaughter Addie Rose.

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It’s a Mad Movie Man Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown.

Thanksgiving is a day to be thankful for those blessings, however small, that we can claim for ourselves and those close to us. It is also  a day that we petition that which is good in each of us to strive to make the lives of those less fortunate a little better. It is a day that we draw those who we cherish most even closer to us. If you think of the day in this way it acquires a certain solemnity. With the sacred nature of the day so close to my heart, it seems almost crass to express my gratitude towards the movie industry. But, if you can be thankful for football on Thanksgiving, certainly there is room for movies as well. So, here goes.

First, I’m thankful for these eleven new releases that I’ve seen since last Thanksgiving.

My “Really Like” Probability My Actual Score (100 pt. scale)
Spotlight 96.5% 98
Brooklyn 96.5% 96
Bridge of Spies 96.5% 88
Big Short, The 96.5% 88
Mad Max: Fury Road 48.1% 86
Star Wars: The Force Awakens 96.5% 86
Steve Jobs 86.3% 85
Hell or High Water 74.8% 85
Sing Street 74.8% 85
Captain America: Civil War 96.5% 85
Room 96.5% 85

It is movies like these that fuel my passion. It is particularly gratifying to discover so-called “little” movies like Hell or High Water and Sing Street that don’t get the promotion dollars that bigger budget movies might get.

When you watch around 100 movies a year, you realize that there aren’t enough new releases in a year that are of sufficient quality to fill your hopes for those “special” movie experiences. I am thankful that there are vintage movies that meet that need even when your experiencing them again for a second time, or a third time, or more. Here are 18 movies that I’ve watched in the last year that I still love after multiple viewings.

My “Really Like” Probability My Actual Score (100 pt. scale)
Godfather: Part II, The 94.5% 100
Silence of the Lambs, The 94.4% 99
Lawrence of Arabia 74.8% 99
Saturday Night Fever 49.7% 95
Courage Under Fire  62.5% 94
From Here to Eternity 96.5% 90
American Beauty 96.5% 90
Hustler, The 74.8% 89
Erin Brockovich 96.5% 89
LOTR: The Fellowship of the Ring 94.4% 88
Cast Away 96.5% 88
Insider, The 96.5% 88
Memento 92.5% 88
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone 82.6% 86
Body Heat 61.0% 86
Remember the Titans 89.7% 85
Frequency 96.5% 85

I am thankful that Christopher Nolan is still directing movies. I’ve watched eight Christopher Nolan directed movies and have “really liked” all eight. The six listed below are movies of his that I love.

My “Really Like” Probability My Actual Score (100 pt. scale)
Batman Begins 96.5% 97
The Dark Knight Rises 96.5% 95
Inception 94.4% 88
Memento 92.5% 88
The Dark Knight 94.4% 87
Interstellar 74.8% 86

I am thankful that another Christopher Nolan movie, Dunkirk, will be released July 21, 2017.

Finally, I am thankful for well written screenplays. Without an engaging story with crisp dialogue, a movie will fall flat on its face. Based on my ratings, there is no screenwriter I enjoy more than Aaron Sorkin. I have seen six of the seven movie screenplays he has written. I have loved all six movies.

My “Really Like” Probability My Actual Score (100 pt. scale)
A Few Good Men 96.5% 98
The American President 96.5% 96
The Social Network 96.5% 89
Moneyball 96.5% 87
Steve Jobs 86.3% 85
Charlie Wilson’s War 96.5% 85

I’m thankful that Aaron Sorkin has two 2017 projects he is working on. He is directing, as well as screenwriting, an adaptation of the memoir Molly’s Game about the high stakes world of underground poker. The movie is filming now and has Jessica Chastain in the lead. Sorkin is also working on a live TV presentation of A Few Good Men.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

When It Comes To Movie DNA, Do Directors Have It and Has Netflix Mapped It?

I can’t wait to see Christopher Nolan’s next movie, Dunkirk, which is due to reach the theaters in 2017. I’ve seen 8 of Nolan’s 9 feature films and have given those movies an average rating of 87.5 out of 100, my highest average rating for any director with at least 8 movies seen. On the other hand, I’m bored to tears by Wes Anderson’s movies. I’ve seen 2 of his 8 movies and I’ve awarded them an average rating of 43.5 out of 100. Not included in the two movies I watched were Rushmore and Grand Budapest Hotel, both of which I tried to watch but couldn’t finish. Each of us has a distinct movie taste that guides our movie selection. It is our own unique movie DNA, if you will.

Do movie directors have a movie making DNA?  Do movie directors make movies with common traits,  a movie making DNA, that particular viewers might be drawn to or repelled by? Netflix has made millions of dollars by identifying movies and TV shows that we are predisposed to enjoy.Does Netflix, indirectly or directly, draw you to favorite directors and push you away from directors you just don’t get? These are the questions I’ve been researching the past week.

I haven’t successfully come up with a broad systematic answer to these questions yet. But, by looking at a couple of directors, one I like and another I don’t, I can begin to develop a hypothesis. The two directors I looked at have a sizeable body of work. The director who I enjoy is Ron Howard. In the last 15 years I’ve seen 9 of the 21 feature films he has directed.. The director I just don’t get is Stanley Kubrick. Everyone praises his genius but I don’t “really like” his movies. Here are my average ratings for these two director’s movies that I’ve seen over the last 15 years compared to the average ratings of all Netflix customers for the same movies. For purposes of apples to apples comparison, Netflix ratings have been converted to a 100 point scale (e.g.  3.8 out of 5 Netflix Rating is 76 on a 100 point scale).

My Avg Rating Netflix Avg Rating My Rating Difference
Ron Howard 77 76 +1
Stanley Kubrick 52 76 -24

My enjoyment of Ron Howard is fairly consistent with everyone’s enjoyment of Ron Howard. He makes movies that appeal to the general audience. This probably suggests that well done mainstream movies are in my movie DNA. On the other hand, there is a clear difference between my taste for Kubrick and everyone else’s taste for Kubrick. He is not mainstream.

So does Netflix recognize the different appeal that these two directors have for me?  Here’s the same table as the one above, except with the Netflix Best Guess average rating for how I’ll rate the movies instead of how I actually rated the movies..

Netflix Best Guess Avg Rating for Me Netflix Avg Rating Netflix Best Guess Difference
Ron Howard 83 76 +7
Stanley Kubrick 72 76 -4

Directionally it is consistent with my ratings. It is more bullish than my ratings for Ron Howard’s movies and less bearish for Kubrick’s movies. Interestingly enough it is most bullish for Ron Howards best movies as displayed below:

Ron Howard’s Movies I’ve Seen
Netflix Best Guess Avg Rating for Me Netflix Avg Rating Netflix Best Guess Difference
Netflix Avg Rating > 76 92 78 +14
Netflix Avg Rating < 76 72 73 -1

Netflix highly recommends Ron Howard’s best movies to me while taking a neutral position toward his middle of the road movies.

If there is such a thing as a director’s movie making DNA and if Netflix is successfully factoring it into the Best Guess Ratings developed for me, then that DNA relationship should exist in the movies I haven’t seen in the last 15 years as well. Here’s a look at the sample for those movies:

Netflix Best Guess Avg Rating for Me Netflix Avg Rating Netflix Best Guess Difference
Ron Howard 67 70 -3
Stanley Kubrick 55 70 -15

Again, the results are consistent with the results for the movies I’ve seen. My additional observation is that the director I like gets a Netflix recommendation boost for the movies that the Netflix universe rates the highest. Conversely, Netflix more aggressively drives me away from the movies rated lowest by the Netflix universe for the director I don’t like.

Without a broader study, I can’t say for sure that there is such a thing as movie DNA specific to a movie director, or that Netflix’ algorithm indirectly recognizes it in their recommendations. But, based on this isolated comparison, it sure looks like there is and Netflix might have it well mapped.

 

 

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