The best film review: 3 stars from the Guardian


I want to watch whatever movie this guy is watching…

Who do you trust to tell you about films? There’s probably only a few people you can really count on.

Everyone else is too easily pleased or too dismissive. They might go insane for a completely forgettable movie or they might trash something that would have been the best entertainment you’ve seen in weeks.

You’ve got to pick wisely because the cinema is expensive. 100 years ago that sort of money could have bought you a tiger.

I trust Empire, at least a bit. They seem to understand that films are supposed to be enjoyable. They also appreciate the arty side of things so I feel like they can tell me a thing or two and I’ll believe them.

My friend Emily says that I’m wrong. She says that Empire and other such magazines will be biased in their film reviews to keep Hollywood happy. That way they can score the best interviews and sell the most magazines.

Emily says that you have to trust newspapers because they don’t need any big movie bosses to like them. They have plenty of ways to draw in the crowds.

So why do all my favourite movies only get 3 stars from the Guardian?

If I ever did meet Peter Bradshaw, the Guardian’s main movie man, well we would struggle to have movie conversations. I’d list all my favourites and he’d tell me how they were pretty average really. Then he’d tell me his top ten and I’d give him this sort of look:


Keep smiling, he doesn’t know you haven’t seen those films. Just smile and agree.

But when I looked at the last 3 movies that really stood out to me – well I noticed that they all had three star ratings from him. Silver Linings Playbook, Star Trek into Darkness and District 9 (I only got around to watching this the other day) – I thought these were great movies in different ways. And I would have easily given them four stars and they’d be pushing for five.

Apart from Silver Linings which I’d just shove a 5-star label on straight away. Peter Bradshaw wasn’t so impressed though:

This is a date movie that doesn’t offer the sophistication it thinks it does, but is as enjoyable and good-natured as the genre requires.

My main objection to his review is that he keeps calling it a rom-com which I think is part genuine, part trying to shatter the goodwill aura that generally surrounded this movie.

Because for me it was so good that I stopped thinking about genre almost straight away.

It made it into that lofty place where you don’t dissect it – you just enjoy it. And I actually thought it was a little heavy for a date movie. I think the genre police, if they have to get involved should call it a romantic comedy drama because it spins all three at once.

All this confusion and disagreeing leads me onto my best thing of the day. To get the best film review you don’t need to go anywhere specific – just find one or two you like and keep going back.

Because a good film review is one that you can analyse for yourself. I’m pretty new to Peter Bradshaw but I’m getting an idea of what he likes. I can read his reviews, ignore the star rating and get an idea of what the movie will be like.

And do you want to know the next movie you should go and see?

Well how about Her? It’s the one where Scarlett Johansonn plays a futuristic version of Siri and Joquaim Phoenix falls in love with.. um… her.

You just know it’s going to be good when it’s got 3 stars from the guardian.

I should warn you that this is a trend not a rule. Me and Peter both agree that Gravity was really good. But he only gave The Secret Life of Walter Mitty 2 stars and I loved that movie.