Film X’s Total Grade = (3 + 2 + 1 + 4 + 3 + 2 + 3 + 1 + 4 + 2 = 25 points) B*
*Exception: Instances of wildly imaginative or terribly inept occurrences within specialties can influence the reviewer to raise or lower the grade by a single letter above or below the sum.
Movies with a total grade of ‘A’ are automatically in this blog’s Recommended Movies category. Entertaining titles with an ‘F’ may gain Guilty Pleasure status. Recording movies’ solitary outstanding components, the A-level categories direct the reader to these specifics.
After comparing just over a dozen reviews, it becomes apparent how audio’s contribution to film is often underappreciated by this engrossed viewer. Unlike other specialties, its categories (Audio, Audio Editing, Audio Effects, and Musical Score) show a disparity in high marks as seen in the spreadsheet below:
Visuals tend to have a higher priority in the mind, distracting from the ear’s ability to distinguish excellence from competence in the sound. This affirms the separation of sound effects from sound editing category in order to weigh the audio ranking and to attempt a slight correction for visual bias inherent to the reviewer.
Grading criteria for each specialty:
The difference between More Sorority Stewardesses (1996) and Karate Girls (1986) rests in the effort expended on each production. Both fail, but one has charm. Apathy throughout dooms MSS by insulting its audience, where KG earnestly attempts to improve itself mid way regardless. As the best enter the Recommended category, Guilty Pleasure notes the enjoyably terrible.
In general, consistency matters. Solitary errors are expected in these smaller scale productions with limited crews and budgets. Each project has its own oversights, mistakes, and restrictions. Shortcomings should be adapted to become an advantage whenever possible, or distracted from with innocent simplicity (recall the shoddy artificial shark in Jaws left largely unseen to build menace in the imagination).
The notes below are not comprehensive summaries of techniques and options available in each technical category but common, elementary practices found in film. See this Wikipedia page for definitions of any unfamiliar cinematic terminology that creeps into these reviews.
Screenplay (Criteria for scoring story complexity pending)
Is the work plot or character driven? On the surface, CD seems easier to create for erotica–just a day in the life of character X, but it is more difficult to satisfy an audience’s expectations with. Most people naturally prefer clear resolution–open-ended situations leave doubt and confusion.
For this blog’s reviewing purposes, two categories divide a film’s acting, sexual and chaste. See this article regarding quality acting specific to sex scenes. Good chaste acting requires natural or believable script reading, emoting, postures, positioning, expressions, and movements (actions/reactions).
Smooth camera movements (pan/tilt/dolly/crane) are used. In-camera effects break monotony (zoom, change focus fore/background) while keeping necessary lens focus. Variety is realized in frame composition and camera angles beyond horizontal tripods and the standing cameraman standing close and looking down on subject. Important visual information is not overlooked in tight close ups, or vice versa (missing the forest for the trees).
Post production editing unobtrusively inserts apt titles, credits, fades, wipes, animation, and special effects sequences into the film’s final cut.
Smooth clarity and continuity, most notable in scene transitions, are key for time perception and story emphasis, without drawing attention away from the events on screen. Is the screen time used efficiently to not bore or bewilder the audience? Has extraneous A/V information been removed in shots (e.g. a boom mic dipping into the shot or cameraman shadows in frame)?
Simply, is the subject’s volume adequate and clear for the viewer’s attention with no extraneous elements? No unwanted echoes, tinny reverberations, electric feedback, or avoidable ambient noises are picked up?
Simple ambient sounds are created or added in post production, which are best left off the boom microphone while filming, so they do not interfere with dialogue or other audio.
Dialogue is clearly audible when it needs to be. Ambient sounds and music should be at balanced levels necessary to aid the visual information, with appropriate changes for transitions, and neither audible stage directions nor crew noises remain in the final cut.
Instrumentals and original or licensed songs are not cheap/simplistic sounding/repetitive, prepackaged electronic/software accessories in post prod equipment, even if stock pieces populate the soundtrack. Not just for sex scenes, music should set the tone at key moments by either heightening or lowering the audience’s mood.
Are sets, locations, props, costumes, and lighting all appearing appropriate and credible to the story?