There is a very special film coming out this year that I’ll be telling you more about soon, but today, the first trailer for “Short Term 12” is available.
Some recent conversation (some constructive, some not) about the ratings system of reviews here on the site that I’ve had reveal that people have very different ideas about what ratings actually mean. If I give a film an “A+,” that automatically means it makes my top ten list at the end of the year, right? Because that rating means I think it’s perfect, right?
I’m giving “Short Term 12” the same rating I’m giving other films this year that couldn’t be more different, but in doing so, I’m not comparing those films. The rating is me saying how well I think they execute the film they’re trying to make. I could give a film a B+ and not like it at all. Like is one small part of my overall rating of a movie. Instead, I’m more curious to see how well someone pulls off the things they try to do, both stylistically and in terms of narrative, and me giving something an A+ is me saying that I feel like they made the best version of that movie, like they hit the target dead center.
Since my reviews end up on Rotten Tomatoes, I’ve been told that B- is the lowest letter grade I can give a film and call it “fresh,” and since “rotten” implies to me that you shouldn’t bother seeing something, I find that I give a lot of films that I am moderately entertained by a B-, because I don’t want to give the impression that they are “rotten.” “After Earth” is a film that I gave a very mixed review to, and it got a B- from me because I feel like if I pile on and call it rotten, it’s not fair. I think there’s an audience that will walk away satisfied and happy.
So even though my review for “Short Term 12” won’t be up for a week or so, I think it’s safe to tip my hand and tell you it’s one of a few films this year I’m giving an A+, and I think it’s a much stronger, more special film than this trailer can fully indicate. This is the movie, no doubt about it, but it hits so much harder than I expected, and it is so painfully, powerfully human that I decided not to see anything else the afternoon after I saw it. I just didn’t want to ruin the feeling that it left me with.
This is one of those movies that doesn’t hinge on some big high concept that’s easy to sell, but the way it executes its simple premise marks it as something special indeed, and it makes writer/director Destin Cretton someone I’ll be watching closely in the future.
“Short Term 12” plays the Los Angeles Film Festival, and will be in theaters August 23.