The Emoji Movie reviews reviewed

as i mentioned in my “current state of film” post, there’s a level of fatalism among film fans on the nature of the medium which i simply cannot get behind. i addressed the reasons why there, so go check it out if it matters. but i feel similarly about film criticism. yes it has propagated everywhere to the point of where i have starting running this page (i have no formal education in film in any way), but seeing this as a net negative is a bit too pessimistic for my liking. because there really are so many talented writers and even when i go on letterboxd i can find a great review by someone i’ve never heard of.

anywho, with the positives out of the way, we can get to the negatives. it’s become trendy to hate on rottentomatoes for their binary metrics, but i don’t really have an issue with that. they have average ratings, user ratings, community reviews, links to the peoples’ in-depth reviews, quick quotes, etc. whatever conclusions people choose to make about Spring Breakers having a lower RT score than The Avengers are their own.

i suppose i have not yet gotten to the negatives, so here we go: rottentomatoes have an extremely low standard for what constitutes valuable criticism. perusing through their qualifications for critics, i’m led to this page. there are a number of kinds of ways you can become a critic on this site. for printed critics (literally printed; newspaper stuff), “Print critics must be currently employed as a film critic at a Tomatometer-approved publication for a minimum of two calendar years to be considered for individual approval.” similar standards exist for broadcast critics. for online critics, “Online critics must have published no less than 100 reviews across two calendar years at a single, Tomatometer-approved publication, and all reviews should have an average length of at least 300 words to be considered for individual approval.” finally, for video critics, there are a few more rules and regulations. first, a resume must be submitted with their qualifications. then they must give their written manuscripts of reviews in addition to their videos. the critic must demonstrate professionalism and a high standard as well. finally, the critic must have at least 20,000 subscribers on whatever site they use. rt also says that all critics must have at least 2 years experience in some capacity as critics.

additionally they have some tidbits on becoming a “top critic” which is primarily based on monetary circulation, as well as a literal disclaimer of how, even if these qualifications are met, the person may not get to be a rottentomatoes critic.

so with all of that out of the way, let’s get to addressing how terrible of a model this is for anything artistically relevant.

to become a print, broadcasting, or online critic, your only bet seems to be at a tomatometer approved critics site. i could make this extremely in-depth and go through all of them but rest assured, this is fully intended to marginalize critics that are not squarely within some sort of monetary status quo, especially considering their other regulations. for an online critic, reviews must exceed a 300 word average length. this is flat ridiculous. at this point in this post, we are well past the 500 word length; if i want to read a critic, this is the absolute minimum i would tolerate for their actual reviews. but this is more of a business nitpick than anything contributing to my actual thesis so moving on.

becoming a video critic and becoming a top critic is almost entirely dependent on literal popularity, that is, who has the most subscribers and clicks respectively. this is absolutely not respectable in an artistic oriented scenario. from a business standpoint sure, it makes sense, and rt is doing great on that front i am sure. but we don’t go on rt for great business models, we go on there to get informed opinions about film. or at least we should, since that seems to be the thesis of the site – aggregating all these people from different walks of life that are passionate about a certain medium. it’s not until you get to a section whose title is “THE FINE PRINT” that we discover, even if we do have a bunch of clicks, we might not necessarily be published if we suck at reviewing. are the red tomatoes – excuse me, flags – popping up yet?

the reason why i have to address all of this before i start picking off individual reviews is because i have to explain why this is a business model which anyone interested in film should be extremely leery of. it is set up in such a way that populism rules out over anything resembling quality, and if that is the case, you get what you click for. i am not here to argue that the critics consensus is always wrong or that you shouldn’t trust critics – i am all for people reading criticism to get recommendations, warnings, and insight – but rottentomatoes is definitely not a reputable place to go for any of these things.

and that’s a problem. everyone knows this site. it’s advertised in promotional trailers. your parents look at it to see if they should go see a movie. rt is very much a populist site inhabited by populist reviewers for a populist viewpoint. and if your impression of the film industry is to look beneath the surface to find great works, similarly, your impression of film criticism would be to look beneath a hub like rt to find great criticism. this does seem to be a bit of an outlandish concept – when i said i would skip out on The Revenant because a critic i liked at slant didn’t like it, i was met with confusion due to its rt percentage. but why would i care about publications i have no interest in already, as opposed to a critic i have read plenty on?

with all of this in mind, we can be brought to The Emoji Movie. a movie i have no interest in, and no desire to defend. it is, most likely, not a very good movie. but i will go through this film’s RT page and try to illustrate what i said above.

keep in mind, during the course of this, what you think of when you hear the word “critic.” it surely arouses many negative views; some see them as towering and unforgiving, others see them as artsy and pretentious. they are rarely any of these things, the good ones at least, but they are commonly not perceived as being unprofessional, silly, immature, etc. finally, keep in mind that i do not and have not ever expressed my desire to be called a critic; my standards for some dude writing a blog or doing a video review are substantially different than those for a critic.

so let’s get to the fun part teased in the title. as of 7/27 at 9:48 pm like central time or something, The Emoji Movie has a 0% on rottentomatoes, with 0 positive reviews, 22 negative ones, and an average rating of 2.2.

alex welch of ign movies: actually his review isn’t embarrassingly bad. it’s extremely straightforward though, which takes up the bulk of the review, as well as some obvious parallels to The Lego Movie. but i do like what he has to say towards the end, comparing its shortcomings to other films’ ambitions and showing how it falls flat. but there’s really no meat on this review. it’s fine, passable even. this is about the lowest standard i would have for a critic, especially one published on the go-to aggregate site.

roger moore of movie nation: haha yeah now we are in embarrassingly bad territory. i’m not going to comment much on this, you can skim through it for yourself. absolutely not someone who should be influencing significant critical trends.

don kaye of den of geek: like the ign review, this is just kind of basic. obvious parallels to The Lego Movie, other kids animated films, a whole bunch of filler at first detailing the plot, a couple of decent insights. but particularly there’s no meat to this. i’m neither wowed by kaye’s thesis nor his writing style nor anything really.

mara reinstein of maramovies: i’m seeing a trend here. like the other not-total-crap reviews so far, it’s a couple of insights met with a lot of exposition, only this one seems to take some sort of weird moral highground that made me immediately assume (correctly, i might add) the reviewer must be some grumpy older person.

johnny okelsinski of new york post: oh yeah like all of these reviews have had terrible clickbaity/quippy/punny titles that are completely unfunny and this is no exception. but this review is actually pretty bad otherwise too. terrible puns (“lol but he’s making fun of a movie with bad puns so it’s fitting xD”) that contribute nothing to anyone’s thesis, this weird elderly bitterness throughout, and…oh what it’s over? yes readers, at a length 176 words, mr okelsinski’s review is complete. with nothing really to say this time – at least he summarizes the plot yet again for me. absolutely not acceptable, in any way, for me. and it shouldn’t be for you either.

michael sauter of film journal international: i actually really dig this review. it has a strong hook to begin with, he gives me enough information to the plot that i’m at least interested in going on, and his analysis is fine (i’m not expecting rosenbaum tier insight from someone reviewing a silly film like this). no clickbait, bad puns, and his review feels personal. no real complaints.

katie walsh of los angeles times: her review is snarky but it has its own style to it that i kinda vibe with. but the tone is a bit too bitter, condescending, and unprofessional for my liking, particularly the last bit (ironically, the one highlighted on rottentomatoes), where she announces that spending time talking to someone face to face or reading a book (regardless of quality, apparently) would be a better use of time than this film. “meh,” in your words, ms. walsh. moving on.

mike reyes of cinemablend.com: hahaha oh boy another bad pun man in the vein of the bad puns of the movie hahaha i just can’t keep up with these. anywho, that aside, this is purely ebert-worshiping right down to its structure. early hook, a bit of plot exposition, obvious criticism with a neat insight here or there, obvious conclusion. everything about this review is boring.

glenn keenney of the new york times: this review took up another one of my free nyt articles so i’m already mad at this dude. terrible title doesn’t help either. this review otherwese is dece, and i mean dece. too short, that’s for sure. there’s some actually funny bits, and the dude clearly doesn’t like it. but i would like to know why these things are bad. there’s no description to anything; we just take the new york times at face value, i guess.

lindsey bahr of associated press: there is a special place in hell for people that use quotation marks around movie titles in the current year. barring that, this is barren. i commend bahr for having found a style that sticks out but one can present more to me with that style. and less exposition. the procreating emoji line made me chuckle though. but why is this considered top critical level? is this the zenith of criticism? i don’t care how good or bad or meh the movie is, this absolutely should not be the standard one strives for in criticism.

jordan hoffman of new york daily news: this review is the laziest thing i’ve read in a while so i won’t bother going in depth w it in response also haha clickbait haha poop haha cool top critic badge tho

alissa wilkinson of vox: idk how you can miss the irony of denouncing an emoji film for being a giant ad while also, like, being a mainstream critic, but whatever. i like parts of this. i like tying in the story outside of this movie back to it, and wilkinson makes good points. glancing through the length, i got a bit more excited. but it’s a lot of baseless griping, exposition, and pictures (surely not an advertisement for anything though). through it all, it does have what i want from a good review: wilkinson’s definitely got the analytic eye and the ability to communicate her thoughts, but this is way too weighed down. still, it’s acceptable.

vadim rizov of av club: man i really can’t get enough of these titles. otherwise, this review is passable i suppose. he communicates that it is overly corporate and cliched and doesn’t bore me with exposition. barebones but tolerable.

john defore of hollywood reporter: i got excited when there was just a basic title but then he had to make a Lego Movie comparison so bleh. this is another decent one. contradictory of course – praising The Lego Movie and joking about how everything is ad-infested (speaking of which, adblock counts 38 ads on this page alone) before railing on this one for being corporate requires a bit more explanation for me to take it at face value.

owen gleiberman of variety:  i really dig the hooks of this review as well as the personality of it. but there’s a bunch of exposition that drags the review down and seems to come out of nowhere which is a shame as i was enjoying it up until that point. the snark also gets upped as it goes on, to obnoxious levels. decent insight here and there. tolerable maybe.

tim grierson of screen international: okay the structure of this one is all over the place. i have no idea what grierson is doing, and he does a great job of convincing me he feels the same way. the first and last paragraph are great, insightful pieces, and everything else is either convoluted or OTT exposition i don’t care about. not sure what to make of this one.

emily yoshida of vulture: oh boy another OTT title about how bad this movie is. i honestly thought this was more of a videogame journalism thing but no, it’s very common in mainstream film publications as well. anywho, yoshida is on some weird stuff here, and if she’s being ironic, it’s hard to discern any of it. i do like that she is able to voice why The Lego Movie is better. actually this review is pretty good. i totally get what yoshida got out of this film and why she thinks it’s bad. well done.

david ehrlich of indiewire: is there like an antonym for clickbait yet? cmon millennials, you don’t work, at least make up new words like you’re so good at Ha Ha. actually you know, reading these reviews, i’m surprised that nobody has really mentioned how insulting this film is to its younger audience with the whole “words are uncool” thing. just an observation. to ehrlich’s piece, i commend how in-depth he is with his criticism, and his takedowns feel earned, though not all that well-written. but his actual criticism is fire.

alonso duralde of thewrap: the title. ugh. comparisons to The Lego Movie. ugh. like so many reviews from the start of this rundown, this is just a bunch of words and exposition that don’t come together to really say all that much about the film. and this reviews is absolutely as unfunny as any bad movie i’ve ever seen.

scott mendelson of forbes: hahaha i mean it’s not exactly unexpected but i mean the fact that forbes opens by saying that this is a studio product aimed to make money primarily and it shouldn’t be faulted on that ground is maybe the funniest thing i’ve encountered in this journey. oh wait, nevermind, there’s a box office section and a review section. still kinda funny. mendelson calls the first section of the film an obvious allegory for gay closeted kids; i have never seen this in the other reviews or anything like it. and it isn’t really added onto here. i see a typo here and there. but then after his homosexual subtext stuff he just kind of says nothing. very confusing review. but not really bad.

matt singer of screencrush: oh boy. unprofessional, unfunny, exposition abounds, although nothing of substance does. the brain expanding meme made me chuckle, though.

matt prigge of metro: while the content of this review is harmless enough, oh mannn. terrible title, terrible humor, elitist “i hate the youth” vibe, AND putting movie titles in quotes? also this reads like a reddit post and you all know i hate reddit. get this out of my face. get this person off of rotten tomatoes.

and with that, we have concluded.

while there are some quite good reviews to be found here, the majority of them teeter on “i suppose i would read this if i had no other input” and “i suppose i would not do that,” but with plenty that seem to belong on r/movies surrounded by upvotes for unfunny quips rather than on the most well-established critical aggregate to have ever existed.

please, not for any debate on whether or not a tomato matters as a metric as opposed to a solidified number (metacritic), at least consider what you are doing on this site when you go on it. are you trying to find critics you like? not actually a bad idea, i found a couple myself doing this. are you trying to get an informed opinion on a film? i would highly suggest that you seek out individual critics you can read for your own benefit rather than the benefit of rottentomatoes and their click-fetish that any site that big has.

brief rant on postmodernism, The Life of Pablo

i don’t have the intellectual, historical, or cultural chops to reliably back up any claims i make about postmodernism – or any facet loosely related to general art movements or the like. so, as in my other rants, it’s just going to be more long-winded pretentious stuff that is more how i feel than anything.

i’ve always – perhaps inadvertently – connected the concept of postmodernism with the fusion of low art and high art. i realize that most of the tenants of the concept of postmodernism are more about self-consciousness and autonomous works and contextualizing art and such, but this is something that i feel has risen – particularly in the 20th century – alongside the movement, to the extent that i would classify them together in my admittedly under-educated opinion. but the crazy thing is that this seems to be approaching some unstoppable limit of the fusion between these juxtapositions – and one of the big examples i can think of is everything related to The Life of Pablo.

not just in terms of lyrical content or anything, but the synthesis and abrasive concoctions of all of these contrasting elements just screams arty postmodernism more than anything else in recent years. i’m surely not the first to notice these things. we can all note the nutty placing of “Father Stretch My Hands Part I” – bleached asshole line and all – immediately after the arty gospel-rap-soul-R&B-whatever track “Ultralight Beam” and question what in the world kanye west could have been thinking. the album is filled with such contradictions; and ye’s insistence of his work being gospel album that works to diss people he has no reason to diss anymore (ray j, taylor swift) more than an album explicitly about anything “gospel” only fuels such perplexing reactions.

is religion at the core of these contrasting ideas? well, to some extent yes. surely religious people will be the first to call out these contradictory ideals. and kanye makes no effort to hide them – his albums are laced with profanity, worldly desires, etc. but then again, so are most peoples’ thoughts, actions, and sometimes even works. i don’t expect to be seen as a revolutionary for this line of thinking as it’s almost laughably elementary, though i think it’s something to consider with all these contradictions all over the place in the modern artistic world.

another blogger, DozensOfDonuts (who writes reviews on albums), pointed out the moment which he considered almost a turning point in this postmodern limit was during the release party of The Life of Pablo; where, after the album had played, the excessively bourgeois, rich, hipster brooklynites half-heartedly grooved out to a new young thug song “With That” with kanye and the models from his latest fashion series looking stoic, dressed in military-like fashion, with extreme vulgarity blared throughout the multimillion dollar auditorium. as DozensOfDonuts remarks, this was the moment where he realized how far hip hop had come – from poor inner city kids making untrained music to the apex of postmodern musical irony. it’s truly a fascinating sight to see.

a large aspect of this i believe is the advent, surge, and domination of trap. from what started as T.I.’s own branding of “just another subgenre of hip hop” (well, southern hip hop really, but you get the idea) to the limitless gucci mane mixtapes in the mid 2000s to the rise of atlanta as a musical capital, trap’s evolution went on unnoticed in the background with regards to any sort of high art in the art world. stuckism rages on, radiohead gets its praise, pta and weerasethekul skyrocket in the art scene, etc. and along comes the lowest-of-the-low art – a genre that is repetitive, rarely ever focused on lyricism, recommended for easy listening or dancing, easily consumed by the masses, etc. – to dominate the pop music stream for a few brief years.

and already we have various deconstructions of it that seem almost explicitly postmodern. it’s kanye west including a desiigner sample for his newest album that will surely be lauded by the inner city kids and the zeniths of pop music criticism. it’s young thug screaming, coughing, and squealing over art pop beats. it’s travis scott concocting a dreamy, abstract mixtape – again, kanye west is there. it’s all of these people that are at the pinnacle of the music game fusing such dissonant and wonky pairings to the point of abstract juxtapositions becoming the norm. lil yachty could have been predicted from a mile away.

of course, when i think of these high and low art comparisons, i don’t just think of trap. godard has been huge in popularizing this line of thinking; clips from the holocaust and pornagraphy and roman statues and b-movies are all over the place in his monumental Histoire(s) du cinema, which stands tall as a summary of not only cinema’s place in the world at the end of the 20th century, but also that of irony. of the very juxtaposition godard had been working with since Breathless – no, since his criticism, pitting sirk against bergman. it’s his mulling on art, politics, philosophy, and then his immaturity breaking through at every other moment. it’s contradictory, it doesn’t make any sense. it doesn’t make any sense how hip hop went from where it was to the “Famous” music video. those low-res digital shots and the old-style text over a black screen, alongside professionally made and photographed naked busts which call to mind ancient paintings. it’s the shockingly vulgar model line and the ethereal crooning of kid cudi over an old videotaped sunrise. it’s the cringeworthy lines of taylor swift being made famous by kanye and the delicate cinematography, concluding with the transcendent fadeout to the song in question.

it doesn’t make any sense.

it’s the people that put avant-garde films you’ve never heard of and won’t see alongside Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice in their list of favorites. it’s the concept of patrician being someone who does this. it’s rich people buying streetwear. it’s so many things and it’s just so hard to understand any of it, to adequately put such perplexing contrivances into words.

and in many ways it’s an extension of how people operate. i’ve never understood people especially well, but i think it makes sense. all of this high art low art stuff seems to be the culmination of humanizing art, not necessarily contradicting itself for the sake of doing so but finding a very human element. we all have our own shades of “postmodernism” of course; $80 meals and fast food the next day. beethoven string quartets and rihanna. religious people who sin. it’s all just a part of how we are and how we cannot rationalize everything. not everything makes sense, and we try to understand our actions, perhaps in order to understand others’ too – and as an aside, this is where i think that these sometimes alienating ironic works can be extremely human for this very reason. but it’s futile. it’s us not understanding fully how socialites went to go see a black man release an experimental, trap-gospel hip hop album live through a speaker, while thousands watched in streams. we can study historical facts but how much can we really say “i understand how this happened, how we got here?”

on memes

we all are, i believe, conscious of divisions between generations. our parents are lame, our kids will be lame, and for millennials, even our own generation catches plenty of flack. even an art form that we more or less pioneered – which underwent similar stages as the other major ones (literature, film, painting, theater, etc.) – seems to get little recognition other than being cited as a form of hate speech by potential presidents. but a large part of this does seem to be due to the omnipresent generation gap, which has no shortage in its seemingly intentional ignorance of all things internet. consider, for example, the outrage among conservative boomers when a waitress’ bush did 9/11 meme went viral, or cher buying into the idea of pepe being a hate symbol. in all honesty, i could probably write this whole post on people’s reaction to pepe of all things – which is, at this point, a normie meme to begin with. unlike more abstract or ironic memes (such as those by special meme fresh), pepe not only has been around for ages, he’s relatively easy to interpret, and to a young person, his appeal might seem universal.

meme1

but i believe that perhaps the concept of memes is not universal. we all have some aunt that might share a top text – bottom text bold impact font inoffensive meme on facebook once in a while, just as they might throw on an elvis song or reminisce on Dr. Zhivago. because for most people – young and old – exposure to art is a secondary concern of some sort. many people (in my albeit biased experience) have little interest to actively hunt down new music, films, novels, etc. even though the barrier to entry for these sorts of works is nonexistant in the physical or monetary sense now, and purely in the intellectual one. the concept of internet memes has been around for less than half of that of video games, which, of course, have had similar issues getting serious recognition – despite the multi-billion dollar industry, graduate level work in the field, various journalism and criticism throughout the years, and obvious effort put into certain ones. so where does this leave the millennial invention of wacky text over a picture of goofy with the words “don’t vote?”

meme2

it leaves it as the punk movement, of a developing art scene that shares numerous similarities to others in terms of evolution, but a number of key differences that are frequently perplexing to anyone not embedded within the culture. but i don’t see how this should be as alienating as it is. as someone who has little to no interest in theater, i always question how acting can be so important to people, or set design, when the works are just repeated time and time again; i wonder how something can be considered fresh at that point. but theater is, of course, something i’ve come to accept as just being one of those things i don’t really get. but the barrier of entry to a number of things – football, film, fashion – has its own restraints to people.

meme3

for the meme, its barrier is primarily that it seems to feed off the anonymity of the net and its extraordinarily low lifespan. while there are some that do have a timelessness quality to them, most of them are going to be “dead” by the end of the month. scratch that; the end of the day. unlike inside jokes (something i frequently compare the artform with), they will not always be funny to the participants. things that i cackled up laughing at mere months ago are now just cringe.

meme4

the humor itself isn’t the only thing that’s temporary. two of my favorite meme pages of yesteryear, Fresh Memes About the Mojave Desert and Other Delectable Cuisines as well as Niggaz Still WILIN, have forever been “purged” from facebook. there are seemingly endless examples of pages getting banned from the popular meme-hub with little to no warning or explanation, to the point of where entire artistic online movements were started over it. because of the fragility of the artists themselves (a page could just get banned out of the blue at nearly any given time over nearly any given image), the art itself has become brittle in the way that few others have. like in the early days of film, not much thought is put into the preservation of these works. if I play KORN to my DMT parents were to suddenly get zucced tomorrow, would anyone have the entirety of its work anywhere? or even a fraction? other than perhaps the page owner, surely not.

meme6

what memes do share to their more accepted brethren is a history. a history of juvenile entertainment at first (probably the stuff your friends share on facebook), recurring characters or themes (pepe), and a devolution into the abstract, the ironic, the “meme for meme’s sake” of sorts. the fact that it went through such a quick history and already seems to be facing many of the similar issues of the rest of the art world with regards to postmodernism (what comes after self-conscious post-irony?) is a testament to the legitimacy of the movement as a serious art of sorts.

meme7

another thing they share, as i sort of mentioned previously, is they are easily dismissed by people not familiar with them. just as your aunt can jive with journey, she can also detest swans. just as your grandpa might rave The Green Berets, he could also slam Wavelength. and just as your boss might share a simple image macro with an overdone donald trump joke, she might look at a THEY meme and be totally confused. and there is, of course, nothing individually wrong with older people as a whole not understanding memes as an artform; but i do wonder how long it will keep up.

meme8

i don’t have the proper historical chops to be able to make predictive hypotheses on the future of memes. their lack of journalism – aside from isolated cases and the daily dot – as well as their ability to degrade at the first sign of mainstream attention signifies that neither the general media nor the “memelords” themselves are very interested in truly expanding their reach, which as of now includes people born in the last 25 years that spend too much time on facebook.

meme9

i didn’t really have a concrete idea in mind for this post so i sort of just wrote what came to mind and posted the first memes i saw on my feed. no credit given to the original authors – since that would again be against the extremely bizarre yet specific set of meme rules. if none of this makes a lick of sense, it’s probably for the best.

meme10

various thoughts on sheik

optimal techchasing is really overrated to me. it’s telling  that there are only a few people who can do it now when the concept of it has been around for over ten years and it frequently leads into the sheik getting punished by wakeup shine or something similar. it’s certainly doable on falcon – but even still that’s inconsistent as they can sdi the jabs (relatively easy to do of course) forcing you to do faceroll techchasing, which involves either dashing back out of crouch, dashing forward out of crouch, or taking 6% every time falcon decides to getup attack. fox is perhaps a little easier as his tech away is quite short letting you punish this handily with a dash attack – but reacting to tech in place consistently is still pushing the barrier of what most people are capable of. reads aren’t exactly all that, but i feel as though they’re able to keep my momentum going vs spacies which can be very important. missing a usmash read on tech in place means i might be frame negative by a few frames, but at the very least you’ve threatened an option against them (“maybe i shouldn’t tech in place if he goes for usmash reads”). the risk is lower and the immediate reward is generally higher (one could argue that reaction techchasing has infinite rewards, but there are some issues with those numbers). from a stats based standpoint, i’ll present the following anecdote: say you are 85% accurate with your reaction techchases. this is a solid number in theory; if you get a grab on a spacie then around 17 times out of 20 you’ll get a regrab. the odds that you will get three regrabs total hovers around the 60% range – and typically missing one of these leads to a punish on the spacie’s end (usually a shine – which can always be devastating). because of this, i always insist that reaction techchasing is largely a pipe dream – but perhaps something to pursue at a higher level.

some various little tidbits

-on yoshis story against marth, when you’re edgeguarding him and force him to go low, you can roll on the platforms so that you’re just above the ledge and facing it, and up b directly below to grab ledge. this gives you a save, invincible way to get to ledge vs marth, meaning his up b will never hit as he’s recovering low. so then if he goes on stage you can do a ledgedash grab or a reverse fair or nair, and if he tries to grab ledge you can just roll up.

-needles are so important, and i think maybe a bit underused. obviously we all know they’re great against puff, icies,  and peach for when you’re platform camping them. but they have other applications as well. on fd against falco, for example, reading when he will shl with full needles can give him around 16%, and it’s pretty easy to jump around his lasers for the most part if he tries to play campy so you can get sick charges. in general, while fd obviously hinders your aerial needle game, it makes the ability of getting ground needles so much easier. by using smart ftilts and utilts, and baiting falcon into double jumping against you, you can simply needle when he lands and make him take full needle damage even from across the stage. against marth, you can at least pressure him to double jump after he does like a fullhop fair or something by throwing out needles. since fd is so huge and it’s difficult for other chars to platform camp sheik at all, she has a lot of opportunities to charge needles against most chars, and i think this can be implemented more than it is now.

-read druggedfox’s blog and watch his videos and read laudandus’ askfm and his reddit comments and kirbykaze’s comments in the sheik R&D group on fb and his old comments on smashboards and anything else you can possibly get ahold of. studying and researching is especially important for sheik because she isn’t that technically demanding so a lot of what you have to “practice” with her is theorycrafting, shadowboxing, and knowledge. i mean, what WOULD you do if a falcon just dashdanced right in front of you for 15 seconds? or if you’re up 10% vs an icies on yoshis and there’s a minute left on the clock? place yourself in weird scenarios. in top player scenarios. high player scenarios. mid player scenarios. low player scenarios. watch plup, shroomed, m2k, laudandus. watch silentswag, borp, captain faceroll, darkatma. watch plank. watch drephen. in slow motion. take notes – write them down, physically. implement them somewhere. watch analyses – not just druggedfox ones but by other players too (though these are somewhat rare for sheik). put pressure on yourself. try hard in friendlies. swag out in friendlies sometimes, but try hard too. treat them like tournament matches sometimes. do money matches; treat them in the same way. find a way to simulate a tourney environment. practice ledgedash turnaround ftilt fair and picture yourself in grands while you do it. find a way to calm down. have a game plan for when you get flustered – because it happens to all of us. think about what you’re doing during the game, so when you think “just play like i was playing” you’ll have an answer. don’t get mad at wobbling. don’t be opposed to playing to win – which usually includes camping out multiple slower characters. and don’t you ever mess up ledgedashes.

a brief rant on the state of film

in virtually all film circles, there seems to be groups that either adamantly insist there was, indeed, some sort of optimal era of cinema, which has long passed, and others who insist that film is doing great now contrary to this belief. well, there are also those who believe that film quality through the ages is static – but that’s a bit less fun to write about since it’s a more solidified philosophy of sorts. i would imagine – based on my personal experiences as well as social hypotheses – that most people fall into the new age camp or the classicist one, with little taking this purist view.

i would say that film is in a quite good place right now – not at the peak level of perhaps the 60s and early 70s – but it’s largely something i can’t really complain about thesedays. the amount of quality material being produced is huge; and the places where it’s being produced are nearly boundless it seems. for the first time, many countries and people are getting the ability to make films. and this is an objective fact of sorts, but it seems like an aside comment whenever a classicist discusses film, only to be brushed away with a yearning for the new hollywood days. but this fact is critical.

in 2016 alone, Toni ErdmannThe Love WitchThings to ComeAmerican Honey, and Certain Women were major highlights for me – all films by women that surely would have had a more difficult time being produced in any sort of studio system in any “golden era.” letterboxd filmmakers – hayes, tsao, medina, etc. – would be nonexistent as well, but the advent of smartphones and the internet has largely made both production and distribution possible for people that have little experience in the industry. even entire countries have experienced massive growth in the film industry. the romanian new wave of the naughts impacted the way films were made in the country, and there are more opportunities for filmmaking in iran than there were decades prior, and even areas like uganda (Who Killed Captain Alex? is surely one of the greatest films in this new era).

it’s no secret that american auteurism has, at the very least, faltered in this era. you can’t peruse through more than a couple of threads on the most recent academy awards without someone renouncing the academy and the studios for overlooking scorsese’s long-awaited and ambitious Silence. similar bemoaning over “serious, adult projects” (paraphrased from cumulative discussions, not attributed to any one person) seems to be all the rage nowadays to more mainstream tastes. a good chunk of this, in the past few months, was brought on by scorsese himself, who (although he was clickbaited into desperation-relevance-oblivion) seemed to insist that film was going downhill because these projects were dying off.

i do think that scorsese – a man who is and has always been extremely passionate about cinema – may have been misinterpreted here. but regardless of how he meant to say what he truly believed, this seems to strike a chord with many viewers. these adult projects – which span from artistic autueurist horrors (The Shining) to big-budget true epics (Lawrence of Arabia) to more low-key experimental projects with big actors (Taxi Driver) – have surely been in a shorter supply in recent years, and there are numerous economic reasons for this that aren’t really worth getting into here. but do we take this tradeoff?

my gut, along with the culmination of enjoyment i’ve gotten from film recently, says yes. At Last, Utah Feels Like Home is a greater work than anything we’ve received from spielberg in the past 10 years, 88:88 is perhaps a greater debut than any of the notable new hollywood directors, and Sleep Has Her House has impressed me more than every epic since Barry Lyndon. microbudget productions and outsider cinema have expanded to the point of where the former descriptor is irrelevant and the latter is a paradox; the scope of independent film and its ambitions are surely reminiscent of classical eras, and the availability of it is substantially more vast.

entire movements have progressed of recent times as well. while we haven’t had the 21st-century equivalent of Breathless, we’ve received the explosion of slow cinema in the past two decades, the vulgar auteurism movement, greater distribution of hard-to-find gems (Out 1 and A Brighter Summer Day come to mind), far better outlets of criticism and discussion (blogging, letterboxd, rateyourmusic, etc.), better resources for film and easier access to the more well-defined canons, etc. and sure, many of these perks are not strictly a product of films being made today; but they are very much ingrained in film culture and contribute to how we see film in a modern age.

i do think there is some stagnation at play in some areas. true innovation is more difficult to come by, particularly for film since it occurred at such an accelerated pace as it was the new medium on the block. i would argue that we haven’t received anything on the level of Breathless in terms of game-changing in the past 57 years. but it’s certainly possible, especially in such a radical and diverse cinematic climate as the one we get to experience today.

regardless the future is inviting for me.