Thursday, September 22, 2011

What Do the Ratings Mean?

Gweilo's Guide uses 3 different categories to rate individual movies:

The WTF Meter is the overall level of weirdness, surprise, and delightful confusion, from the gweilo's perspective.  If you are a gweilo, it a measure of how often you will say "What The F#ck?!" while watching this film, usually in shocked amazement and wonder.  Weird plot twists that make no sense, seemingly crazy film editing decisions, dialog (poorly translated or not) that would be bizarre in any context:  All these things can contribute to the overall WTF level.

I'm talking about moments when you wonder How in the world did this movie ever get made in the first place?, but you're really, really happy that it did, because they make the film so refreshingly different.

Please note, from the gweilo's perspective, a high score on the WTF Meter is a Very Good Thing indeed!  If you grew up with Hollywood, then a formulaic Hollywood movie would only ever score a zero or one on this scale.  If there are formulas that produced some of the wilder examples of WTF on this website, I don't want to know them!  I'd rather just be delighted with the result!

MST3K-Ability  Fans of B-Movies know exactly what this one is about.  Based on the venerable and masterful Mystery Science Theater 3000, the MST3K-Ability number is a gauge of how easily you can watch this movie with friends and amuse yourselves by talking back to the movie, creating a running commentary by wondering aloud what they were thinking, basically riffing off what you see on the screen. If this makes no sense to you, track down any single episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000 and you'll get it right away.

Sometimes a movie is the perfect straight man.  It sets up such weird, zany, leaden, or awkward moments on the screen that the jokes just write themselves.  A movie that scores high on MST3K-Ability will turn even the dimmest, dullest gweilo viewer into a witty, riffing genius.  Such a film is perfect to watch together with friends for your mutual delight, or by yourself (if you like to hear yourself talk and you laugh at your own jokes).

You might think that the MST3K-Ability score and the WTF Meter score would be pretty similar, but this isn't the case.  Sometimes a film is so WTF weird that your jaw just hangs open in amazement, and there's really nothing to say.  Sometimes a film's unique qualities aren't over the top in the WTF sense, but still provide perfect fodder for delightful contemplation and conversation.

This is a rating of how good the film is by "conventional" standards.  Things like good acting, good directing, good cinematography, and having a good script all play into this.  It's the closest thing to a normal rating that this site has to offer, but it's also the least interesting of the three in my opinion.  Remember that this site is more about appreciating how different these films can be from the normal standards of Hollywood.

But if you've never seen a Hong Kong movie before, and you want to start with one that's "good" in the conventional sense, this number is for you.

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