I sometimes watch movies like a baby, just taking everything in and not thinking about it one bit. I love movies but am not very discerning. I don’t mind bad ones. I’m easy to please. I’m not talking about questionable content, I’m talking about ones with a predictable plot, no compelling story, and no character development. Last week one of my best friends Dave and I watched Point Break. Not the original cult favorite but the remake. We felt like we owed it to Johnny Utah and Bodhi. I mean, who spells Bodi with an “h”? except Patrick Swayze. This one was terrible. More like Point Bust. Or Point Broken. It had some breathtaking scenery and adventure cinematography but it wasn’t a movie. Confusing plot. No characters. No logical progression. Extra bonus trivia for those of you over the age of 35 (most who loved the original): “Bodhi,” in Sanskrit, is short for “being of wisdom.” It can also mean “enlightenment” or “awakening” pertaining to the Buddhist faith. In Hawaii, “Keanu” means “cool mountain breeze.”
How did we decide on that movie? Well, we didn’t trust our usual guide: Rottentomatoes.com. (RT) Maybe we should have. RT has 2 scores for each movie—a critic score and an audience score. It also has an app partner for iPhone called Flixster. This is a good app that has solid movie info, ratings, and trailers. Here are a couple things to watch out for on RT as you use it: When a movie has a
HIGH CRITIC/LOW AUDIENCE rating. Beware! This means that it appealed to those movie critics but not to the average joe like you and me. Usual busts.
LOW CRITIC/HIGH AUDIENCE rating. Yes! These are usually fun flicks that don’t take themselves too seriously.
HIGH CRITIC/HIGH AUDIENCE rating. Of course these are the sure fire winners. Zootopia, 10 Cloverfield Lane, The Jungle Book, Star Wars Episode 7, Revenant, Spotlight, The Big Short, just to name a few of the most current ones.
The movie nominees for best picture and best actor/actress are often incredible movies and worth a look. Two other places for movie ratings and info are Imdb and metacritic but I don’t use them very often at all.
2 most important questions in processing and discussing a movie (to keep you from watching it like a baby):
- What did it say?
- Is it true?
Here is a list of some more questions to help process and experience media. Two people who are experts in this arena are Drew Trotter and Walt Mueller. I am indebted to them for much of this material.
OTHER QUESTIONS TO EVALUATE MEDIA (music, movies, ads, TV, etc.)
-What is the music’s main topic and theme?
-Does the music offer suggestions on how to think, talk, act, or live?
-What does the music say about the way the world is? Does it say anything about the way the world ought to be?
-What is your gut reaction to it?
-Is there right and wrong? What is right and what is wrong as taught in the music?
-How is God portrayed? What does it say about God?
-Is there something suggested (self, sex, money, power, etc.) to bring value to your life? Maybe even in place of God?
-What does it say about how to treat others?
-What does it say is the source of happiness and satisfaction in life?
-Who or what is glorified in the music?
-What does this video tell its watchers to find their identity in?
-What does it say about where peace and hope are found?
-Is the music hopeful or hopeless?
-What should we do with it?
-What was your favorite scene/part/song? Why? What do you think was the writer’s, producer’s, composer’s, author’s, etc. favorite part? Why?
-What was this movie’s message/summary in one sentence or less? (what was it trying to communicate?) Why do you think it said this? Do you agree with it? Is it true?
-What part/character do you most identify with? Why?
What questions would you add? How do you process/experience movies and media?