Before I get onto a long-overdue review of Gloria Bell – which may or may not be still available on any viewing platform – I think it’s important to explain The Bug’s rating system that I devised a long, long time ago.
Bearing in mind that the maximum rating is five bugs, any movie I have ever reviewed always got at least a half-bug simply for being a movie.
That’s right. Movies can be really good or really bad and even the rottenest of tomatoes get a score under this fair and reasonable system. I can’t see anyone complaining about that. Some of the worse movies ever made remain very enjoyable viewing. Even Australia was worth a half-a-bug.
An extra bug is added if there’s a steam train in the movie. Yes, I know what you’re thinking: Von Ryan’s Express is already up to one and a half bugs. And what, pray tell, is wrong with that?
Is anyone out there in Bugland going to tell me that Doctor Zhivago isn’t at least a one-an-a-half bugger? Along with Back to the Future 3, How the West was Won and The Railway Children.
An extra half-bug if the train engine is green, by the way.
Now I did say before that this rating system goes way, way back, didn’t I? It was devised in less enlightened times, long before our modern, respectful, #metoo age.
To be frank, it was designed when I was much younger and stupid and unreconstructed. I’m older now.
That’s why I always added a third bug if you got to see some sheila’s, shall we say, #metwos.
Take Wild Wild West. It races to one-and-a-half bugs very quickly, then makes the mistake of thinking that some fine hamming up by Wil Smith, Kevin Kline and Kenneth Branagh will get it a pass mark or better.
It never really makes its way past fair to middling, and it could have done that if just one of those working girls in the saloon had given us at least a five-second two-shot, like Jamie Lee Curtis all those years ago in Trading Places and Jackie Weaver in Elvin Purple.
Can a movie garner than one bug just for bare top bollocks? Well of course not, otherwise every Greta Scacchi movie made in the 1980s would be five buggers.
You’re starting to see sense in this rating system, right?
So can a movie get to five stars without a steam train or flashing funbags? Well, of course it can.
Under my system, extra bugs were (and are once more) awarded for a movie that, for example, has a storyline. Yeah, I know: a big ask in the modern world where SFX and John Wick sequels rule.
It scores better if there’s some special magic between the stars. I’m talking Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan magic here and not Doris Day and Rock Hudson fakery.
Sometimes a John Williams score could garner another half a crustacean. The appearance of Ja Ja Binks could lose a flick two.
I’m more likely to be adding bugs if the movie moves me or says something profound. Too many car chases, except for The Blues Brothers, can forfeit a bug, as can movies that feature guns for guns sake. Titanic could have been five bugs if not for Billy Zane shooting up the ship with his Saturday Night Special.
I confess that on the release of Titanic and prior to attending a preview I mentally awarded it several bugs based solely on my mispronunciation of its name.
A key consideration for a final bug in my rating system is: would I want to see that again? Would I pay to see it again?
It’s these extra bugs that make It’s A Wonderful Life and Oliver! five buggers: both have steam trains but we never get to see Donna Reed’s or Shani Wallace’s Fat Controllers.
The Graduate and One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest are five buggers; neither has a steam train and from memory Ann Bancroft and Louise Fletcher don’t flash their 44s.
So now that you understand the system, I’ll show you how it worked with The Aftermath that I reviewed recently.
The movie practically starts with long aerial shots of a steam train so the flick’s off and running with one-and-a-half bugs. But we never get an areola shot of Keira “I look rather pretty” Knightley and, to be fair, it might have only been worth a half-bug.
I am so, so sorry about that! I’ve tried my best to adapt but the 21st Century’s been very hard on me.
But you do get to see her peterdutton – or at least her bum double’s, so I tacked on a half-bug for that anyway, even though it’s not part of my official scoring scheme. I really am sorry. I wish you could see the contrition on my face right now.
I gave the movie another bug for some great CGI and reasonable acting, and then took it off again for being such an overblown piece of Pills and Moans rubbish, albeit one of reasonable style. The end result was 2.5 bugs, which is what any fair rating system would have arrived at, in my humble opinion.
So, now to my review of Julianne Moore in Gloria Bell. Bugger it, I’m a bit tired now.
I’ll do that in a day or two.
But if you want to take a guess at my rating, it is a movie, there is no steam train of any colour in it, and Ms Moore does get the girls out. She and John Turturro also act their collective tits off in a fine pairing but be warned: it is a bit of a chick flick.
Whether I take off or add on a half-bug for that might surprise.