Wednesday, December 01, 2010

This Week In Tickets: 22 November 2010 to 28 November 2010

How does a person who likes movies spend a long holiday weekend?

This Week In Tickets!

... by boosting his blog's hit count and profile on eFilmCritic. It is a weird weekend when I'm the guy posting reviews of the major studio releases as I get to seeing them. Usually, one or the other of the folks who get to press screenings do them, and I just toss links out on the eFilmCritic Twitter account between very important things at work or when I get home. It's been fun to see my reviews at the top of the "most read" list on EFC with a little staying power - at least until Brian's reviews went up yesterday and we wound up splitting the people jumping to "eFilmCritic review of Tangled" as opposed to "Jay Seaver's review of Tangled on eFilmCritic".

Not that it's a competition, but I do enjoy looking at readership stats for this blog and eFilmCritic. Not even to gloat or whine about the total numbers, but to track trends and figure out what's most likely to get hits. I don't know that I'll ever change how I write based on these numbers - really, something involving not just actually getting paid, but enough money to make writing SQL code a part-time gig. Still, some things worth noting:

* I get a lot more hits on "Next Week In Tickets" than "This Week in Tickets". For November, my top 10 posts include three "Next Week" entries and no "This Week"s. That's cool, because the implication is that people find "Next Week" useful. It'd be kind of cool to hear that, every once in a while. Hopefully the "This Week" stuff doesn't come off as self-indulgent.

* Of the three new movie reviews I wrote over the weekend, the review of Tangled has shown pretty good staying power at EFC, not dipping too far in the daily counts even as the new review smell wears off - it's stayed ahead of Faster and Love and Other Drugs. On the blog, Faster has actually gotten half again as many hits, despite having less time to accumulate them, and Love and Other Drugs is right on its tail, and that was posted nearly three days later. Suspected rationale? In terms of the relative positions on the blog, Tangled doesn't mention in the title that I'll also be talking about the previews that played before the movie, and mentioning that either makes it a more enticing click or increases the number of hits it gets in a search (as in, some people are searching for "Faster Trailer", not a review of Faster). At EFC, where it's a more level playing field? I'm not sure, quite honestly.

* My most consistently popular reviews on EFC are Diary of a Nymphomaniac and Cummings Farm, though the latter only really spiked when it got a DVD release under the title "All American Orgy", with a terribly misleading cover photo (it makes the movie look like an American Pie sequel) to go with a relatively misleading title. It seems pretty likely that people who land on those reviews were searching for, shall we say, something else. Neither is actually porn - Diary is a European erotic drama distributed by IFC in the US, while Farm is a comedy that never actually gets as raunchy as its title implies - and indeed, kind of recoils in horror when it comes closest. But, that just counts hits, not people actually reading all the way through or finding the review useful. I was briefly kind of happy when they dropped in the past few days (with Diary actually dropping below numbers I can see for the first time in nearly ever), as I don't know if that's not exactly what I want to be known for, but they've rebounded, darn it.

* The most consistently popular review on the blog is Triangle, by a long shot. I suspect that's because it's one of the few where I spend some time talking about the end of the movie. That's interesting, and something I might try to do more, because it does sort of point up an area where online movie discussion is rather lacking - talking about the film as a whole. It's not just that everybody writing about movies wants to be Siskel & Ebert, or replace their local film critic, or join the lineup of some review site, so we default to writing reviews that emulate the form. I also think that in regular life, we have so little opportunity to talk about the end that we shy away from doing it even when we can.

Half my conversations about movies is people who haven't seen anything currently playing asking me what's good, so I shift into playing by the "review rules" then. People bring out the phrase "spoiler" when we get too deep into the film, and most folks would like others to first experience the film at least as cleanly as they did. When one person in the conversation hasn't seen the movie, everybody else clams up, and the internet is the ultimate multi-party chat; millions of people could see what you're writing, and few have seen the movie. But it's useful, every once in a while, to remember that it doesn't have to be that way. As long as you make a clear delineation between "for the people who haven't seen the movie" and "for the people who have", most people won't be upset, and that second group is under-served.

Seriously, if a review and discussion of a direct-to-video movie from March that I only found so-so gets three times as many hits and comments as anything else I've written nine months later... Well, I wish there were more movies I felt like going into the full film in-depth. The hits don't hurt, and you can get burned out of writing newspaper-style reviews after a while ago.

Okay, enough navel-gazing. Well, okay, maybe one more bit: I do with that I'd had a little more time to hit the 20th Century Fox retrospective that played the Brattle for about a week. I've seen most of it, but I wouldn't have minded seeing the familiar ones again, and the ones I hadn't seen looked interesting. Ah, well.

Oh, one other thing before getting to the bit of the Fox series I did see: Being quoted on a DVD is fun. Being quoted on the German release of a Serbian animated film makes you realize just how simultaneously big and small the world is these days (Image courtesy of Twitch's Kurt Halfyard).

Leave Her to Heaven

* * * (out of four)
Seen 24 November 2010 at the Brattle Theatre (20th Century Fox 75th Anniversary)

Leave Her to Heaven is a fairly enjoyable film from 1945, although when trying to pay tribute to a studio's entire history within a week, I'm a bit surprised that something that one could more comfortably hang the word "classic" on doesn't fill its slot. Leave Her to Heaven is interesting mainly in that it is able to straddle the lines between melodrama and film noir, although it's not always a comfortable overlap.

As the film opens, Richard Harland (Cornel Wilde) is returning to his isolated home in Maine, a broken man from his time in prison. His friend Glen Robie (Ray Collins) tells the story to the local who asks, saying it started when Richard came to visit him at his ranch in New Mexico years before. On the train, he met Ellen Bernet (Gene Tierney), a beauty who initially doesn't recognize him as the author of the book she's reading from the dust jacket. Both, it turns out, are going to the same place, and it's not long before they are falling in love and getting married, although both Ellen's mother (Mary Philips) and cousin/adopted sister Ruth (Jeanne Crain) express their concerns. It's not just that Ellen was already engaged to Russell Quinton (Vincent Price), an ambitious district attorney back east, but that she can be tightly wound and possessive. Returning to Maine with Richard's ailing brother Danny (Darryl Hickman) and longtime friend Leick (Chill Wills) was not how Ellen had planned it.

For contemporary moviegoers, Ellen is going to have a neon sign with the words "Daddy Issues - Stay Away!" hanging over her head from the start, though I suspect that it might not have been quite as much of a cliché sixty-odd years ago. In a way, those somewhat snicker-worthy scenes make the job that Ms. Tierney does all the more impressive; despite the ample warning that we're given that there's something potentially not right about her, Tierney is able to seduce the audience somewhat, if not so completely as Ellen does Richard. We're able to see love instead of just pathology, convince ourselves that maybe Richard is just what she needs, and when the darker elements of her personality come out, she makes them shocking but also believable and perhaps inevitable.

Full review on EFC.

I Killed My MotherLeave Her to HeavenTangledFasterLove and Other DrugsThe Joy of SingingInspector Bellamy

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's quite a thoughtful and well-put analysis of Tierney's character. I enjoyed reading it. Thanks.