January 05, 2012

The Shawshank Redemptions

Aren’t these internets great? Here you are, reading my printout, and you might be anywhere; Colorado, Bognor, Lucky Slap or Cockermouth, and I’m in Korea. The southern one. (I was back in England at Christmas, and lost count how many people genuinely asked “North or South Korea?”) Back to my point. Internets…

These days, computer technologicalisation rules. The web two point oh. User updates - like this one - user reviews, user input. No longer do I have to read a (probably paid) reviewer, or the advertising, to decide if I’m to buy a product, and anyway now I can steal it off the internets. But before I steal it, I can actually check if it’s any good or not, from real people.

You might use another, but one ‘real people’ site I use is the Internet MovieDatabase (IMDb) for my movie informations. I especially like the user rating – a simple mark out of ten. It’s usually a fairly accurate reflection of whether the movie you want to plunder is worth the download. But, be warned, I’ve had some Warninks. Just a little advocaat joke there.

When looking at the ratings I always consider a couple of things:

  • If it’s a comedy – add a mark, because comedy is very much a matter of personal taste. A good movie is a good movie, but one man’s joke is another man’s groan (see “Warnink’s” above). Comedy movie gets 6.7? Think 7.7.
  • New movies often get a higher rating because gushy young blabbermouths dash home and give the movie they just watched in the cinema 10/10 because it was, like, awesome.

Also on the wonderful IMDb, is a list, by user rating, of the top 250 movies of all times. As you’d expect, the top twenty is festooned with an array of cinematic exemplars: ‘The Godfather’, ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’, ’12 Angry Men’, and so on, all rightfully lauded artworks. However, one thing irks me. The bloody Shawshank Redemption! How in the name of holy fucks is that the number one rated (by users!) movie of all time? It’s a damn fine flick, great in fact, but the best ever? Who in their right flipping minds can say ‘TSR’ is better than, say, ‘Citizen Cane? Better than ‘Goodfellas’? ‘Taxi Driver’?

Maybe it’s those fancy words in the title? Maybe people like the over-riding message of freedom and justice (rather than the film’s actual technical merits)? I don’t know. I can’t help thinking that those who rate it so highly have only seen about six films in their entire lives, because there is no way whatsoever that TSR is better than most of the other 249 on the list.

To summarise then. Is TSR a good movie? Undoubtedly. Is it the best movie ever? Absolutely fucking no chance. If you think so, go and watch ‘City of
God’ (number 18 on the list) and explain to me why TSR is the better film.