The Latest Picture Show’s rating system explained…sort of…

One of the underappreciated nuances of tackling film reviews is understanding the reviewer’s ratings system. While the words on the (web) page give the clearest indication of what the all unknowing critic is condemning the film for, it’s usually the final tangible score at the foot of the page that garner’s the reader’s attention and inspires irrational commenting below. The problem with living and dying by a score out of 10, or 100, or in stars, or in fractions, or in abstract fractions, or even with no score at all (simmer down you devil!), is that they are entirely subjective and largely incomparable from IGN, to The Latest Picture Show and beyond.

Here, in this cesspit of Smith’s cinematic ramblings, the ratings system is slightly off centre, meaning that the usual theoretical considerations stemming from numerical figures 0-10 don’t quite apply. In order to clarify my imperfect and confused thoughts I’ll present the ratings system in an annotated format usually reserved for GCSE maths textbooks (I’ll even put the equivalent stars in for those still baffled):

0-2/1 star: Bloody awful, just a diabolical mess that provides neither entertainment nor insight beyond making you realise that filing your taxes or trapping your extremities in car doors for 2 hours isn’t that bad at all. Examples: Miami Vice, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and The Bling Ring.

3-5/ 2 stars: Thoroughly lacking in any original ideas and on the whole a grand waste of time for you, me and everyone in-between that hasn’t got rich and prospered from its creation. A rare beast to spot in the wild; I’ve probably either forgotten to review it or thought a puff of the cheeks was adequate appraisal. Additionally it could just be that a a good idea hasn’t worked out…at all.  Examples: Rocky VI, Transformers (Any) and Indiana Jones (The Crystal Skull One).

6/2.5 stars: A fine film, enjoyable for the duration, yet likely to make your eyes squint and face scrunch if you attempted to recall it two months down the line. I’m usually on the negative side with a 6, often the consumerism steamroller has hyped the film to unreachable level, thus shattering any chance of it stimulating anything other than disappointment in me. Examples: The Selfish Giant, Made of Stone, Dead Ringers, Anchorman 2 and most Woody Allen films.

7/3 stars: Like the above but with a positive spin on mediocrity. In my mind 7 is a good, solid film filled with enough quality, laughs and intrigue to make you sleep happy in your bunk bed or bedsit. Every film should be gunning for a 7 on The Latest Picture Show, it’s really a stamp of quality. Examples: Don Jon, A Field in England and American Hustle.

8-9/4 stars: A truly spanking film- rousing and emotionally stimulating cinema. To hit these dizzying heights you’ve probably left the cinema with one of the following: a spring in your step, a face contorted from the gush of emotions or shell-shocked with delight at the innovation on show. Examples: The Wolf of Wall Street, Sexy Beast, Vertigo and 500 Days of Summer.

9-10/5 stars: Fucking brilliant, the reason why cinema is the most joyous medium for making sense of the irrationalities and complexities of mankind. These are the masterpieces of filmmaking that should be shoved down the bleeding eye sockets of all who dare question the power of the moving picture. Examples: Blow Up, If…, Pulp Fiction, 12 Years a Slave, Rear Window, Taxi Driver and Five Easy Pieces.

While it’s hardly fool proof, and I’ve probably contradicted myself more times than Johnny Rotten on Country Life Butter adverts, it’s a vague insight into where my thoughts and ponderings take me when I formulate ratings. Method in the madness…something like that.