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April 1995, Week 1


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edwin jahiel <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 3 Apr 1995 15:32:49 CDT
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----------------------------Original message----------------------------
This is addressed to film lists of various persuasions, as well to some
friends and/or unseen acquaintances whose opinion I value. It is not an
earth-shaking, scholarly, film-buff, info. or trivia question as you will
When I first started publishing film reviews in newspapers, I did not use
star (*, **, ***, ****) ratings.You give your opinion(s) ands this ought to
be clear enough,even to casual readers.  The * rating does force  you to
play God (well, Godlet anyway), which is hubristic and adds a kind of
carved-in-stone judgment to your ideas and taste.
Eventually though, Richard J. Leskosky --and old (not in age) friend and
colleague with whom I've shared newspaper reviews for many years -- and I
had to conform to the prevailing giving of stars,zero to 4.
[I no longer disagree with the star-giving principle:  many
critics,talented ones too, use no stars at all but seem to sit on the
fence,seesaw  between positive and negative remarks and dialectics,and
rarely come out with a clear judgment as possible. Please don't ask me to
name names.]
Later (notwithstanding the skepticism of my friend Richard) I prevailed on
our then-editor to go to 5 stars, so as to have more elbow room, with MANY
more nuances. It is  like giving grades from A+ to E- with "NO stars" for
what deserves the guillotine.
This lasted a short time only. We reverted to 4 stars primarily to avoid
confusing the readers used to the most commonly used system = 4-stars.
Of late,however, I have been noticing more 5-star ratings than before. My
question to you,then, is what do you think, how do you feel/react to the 4
vs the 5 stars. And BTW, what would be the best method if most reviewers
could agree on one.
Edwin Jahiel, Cinema Studies, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
" Le mauvais gout mene au crime" (Stendhal)