A Thousand Acres Recap


It’s not that bad! It’s not that bad! Every once in a while we at BMTHQ stumble across a film that, for whatever reason, was underappreciated at the time. This doesn’t mean that the films were good by any means (looking at you Freddy Got Fingered), just that it seems odd that they got such bad reviews. A Thousand Acres is one of those films. Perhaps it was due to the fact that it was based on a beloved (at the time) book or maybe it was because there was a bit of drama in the pre- and postproduction stages of the film. I don’t know. All I know is that this was essentially a straight adaption of a book I loved (read: good story) which some really good acting. Could it have been better? Sure, there is a bit of a tonal problem when the film seems to set out to be a family film (or at least a film about families) and then shift into the realm of incest. But despite that shortcoming the rest of the film seemed perfectly reasonable. At the very least it shouldn’t have ended up at 23% on RT. That seems ridiculous.

Alright, it’s been a little bit since our last MonoSklog so you can thank A Thousand Acres for providing a gem for this week. I call it Mi Hermana [EDITOR’S NOTE: Link to video has been removed for rights reasons] (I don’t think we used that one yet). That is some serious staring-at-each-other-and-crying action. I can’t wait to use that in my regional theater auditions and shush the casting director if he doesn’t let me stare and cry long enough at the end. “It says 40 seconds of staring and crying God damn it and that’s what I’m going to do! Geez! Can’t an artist get a break in this town!”

Before I throw it to Patrick I would like to note that this is not the first film involving incest that we’ve watched for BMT. Not even the first on the map. That would be Georgia Rule, set in the great state of Idaho. And thinking about it, that film also suffered from a significant tonal problem as it vacillated between a family comedy and incest… And with that I’m out.


It’s not that bad! It’s not that bad! ‘Ello everyone. A Thousand Acres wasn’t that bad:

  • Actually, I rather enjoyed it. Sure some of the complex ideas from the book seemed to have been slightly lost in translation, but the performances were, dare I say, excellent?
  • I had two (minor) complaints. First, a little boring. It isn’t the most exciting movie you’ll ever watch. Second, Colin Firth’s character probably played a bigger role in the book, but in the movie the character just kind of melts away after the climax of the film. I understand the point of the character, but the movie as written kind of doesn’t need him.

That’s it! That’s the complaints. I’m not sure why it got such a poor reception at the time. I think a few years later and this guy does just fine. Whatever, not my problem, and a poor poor (but necessary addition) to the map (for another example, see this week). Since this is so short let’s get really into some BMT:CSI:SVU, non-Thousand Acres addition.

[NOTE: The following discussion was fleshed out in later posts, and then collected into this Institute post. I’ve removed the plots because, for the most part they are old and non representative of the ultimate analysis, but left as mch of the discussion as possible for archival reasons. Enjoy!]

So in the past few months I’ve become more and more fascinated by IMDB user ratings. The value is enigmatic, but I can’t get over how useful a measure of “popularity” is in assessing potential BMT candidates. The thing is it can’t be used for 2015 films because films gain a ton of their lifetime votes in their first year of release. So, using the way back machine (the internet archive) I’ve been collecting the IMDB vote and rating trajectories from the past. Rough, but kind of fascinating.

But … there is something weird. Baiscally there is an inflection point in 2011, so what is happening? That inflection point is often there regardless of the age of the movie. At first I thought it was a cult-film thing with Grandma’s Boy … but Big Momma’s House isn’t a cult film. Then I thought maybe it was something to do with non-US users, but the proportion of votes coming from outside the US has been steadily rising since the early 2000s, no weird bump in 2011. Then I thought maybe bots. It could be bots, but you’d think since they have to “trick” bots into thinking they are voting by actually recording (but ignoring) their votes that you’d see a larger and larger discrepancy between the calculated rating and real rating, but nope, nothing special in 2011.

I’m now convinced the answer is simple: 2011 marks a point in time in which smartphones became effectively universal, and a point in time in which IMDB upgraded their site, the iOS app was launched, etc. A point in which IMDB went from auseful tool (for people who knew about it), to basically the first resource people access. Looking at Google trends for IMDB you do see this weird bump around 2011. It is subtle, but it is there. It appears to coincide, indeed, with their app going “universal”. So then, if you look at a films which have been pretty stable over time it still seems to get the same bump!

Phew … Cheerios,

The Sklogs


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