Groucho Reviews FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

What is this site all about?

Groucho Reviews is a platform for my film and DVD reviews, some of which have appeared in other publications and some of which were produced exclusively for the site. In addition to the theatrical, Blu-Ray, and DVD reviews, I occasionally find time to interview film talents, and to write soundtrack and film-book reviews. I also post "Top 10" lists of my favored "best" films and cover film festivals in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Who are you?

My name is Peter Canavese, and I hail from San Jose, California. I am a professional film writer and teacher. In what I laughingly refer to as my "spare" time, I act, direct, and write. I've been writing film reviews and articles since 1987.

Who do you think you are?

Well, everyone's entitled to an opinion. My reviews have appeared in the San Jose Mercury News, Palo Alto WeeklyAlternate 101 (a Bay Area arts-and-entertainment weekly), and ON Magazine (a monthly published in San Jose). My reviews also appear at Rotten Tomatoes and Additionally, I am the chief film critic for Celluloid Dreams, a weekly, local radio show devoted to film (Celluloid Dreams runs on KSJS—90.5 FM—every Monday at 5pm).

How many films do you see in a year?

I see about 300 movies a year.

It's a lot of movies.

Too many.

Somebody help me.

Why "Groucho" Reviews?

I'm a Groucho Marx devotee (and I've been occasionally described as a sort of malformed Groucho clone). The name also seemed apt for a movie criticism site. Finally, my general disillusion with the state of Hollywood films may, from time to time, lend a certain grouchiness to my reviews.

To what standards do you hold films?

Well, I use the old-fashioned four-star system as a scale. Film criticism is, of course, largely intuitive and highly subjective.

To me, a four-star film should have a distinctive character and "voice," and essentially represent a certain perfection in and of itself. For the most part, if a film inspires notions of how it could be improved (despite an overall quality), it is probably not a four-star film. (Four-star films can be described as "great"...A+.)

Three-star films are good, deserve recommendation, and have both vision and a unique set of valuable attributes. (Three-and-a-half-star films are "excellent"...A/A-. Three-star films are "good"...B/B+.)

Two-star films are average, marginal, and recommended only for those with a special interest in the subject matter or artists involved, or plenty of time to kill. (Two-and-a-half-star films are "on the fence": if they sound like films you might want to see, take the plunge; if not, trust your instinct...B-/C+. Two-star films are "fair"...C.)

One-star films are poor in all or most areas (narrative, acting, direction, and production value) and not recommended. (One-and-a-half-star films are "weak"...C-/D+. One-star films are "poor"...D.)

A zero-star rating (on my site, represented by the turkey) is, like the four-star rating, reserved for truly exceptional films and not handed out lightly. (Half-star films are "barely watchable"...D-. Turkeys are "terrible"...F.)

In general, I favor films which challenge the audience or strike new ground, especially given this late date in art history (though film is, of course, a relatively young medium, "mainstream" Hollywood usually reflects a state of creative exhaustion). However, I recognize the value of pure entertainment, even of the mindless variety, if it is supremely skillful. If a film moves me (laughs, tears, shocks), it gets props.

What if you're wrong?

The world will continue to turn.

You always say you're so busy. How did you manage to launch this site?

With a lot of help. The site was put together by my elder brother Paul, with an assist from my younger siblings Julia and David. Paul's the webmaster, the genius who made my interface idiot-proof and low-maintenance. While I sat annoyingly over her shoulders, Julia designed my banner. David provided additional graphics support. Me, all I know how to do is write.

Anyone else you want to thank?

The Academy, of course. Also all of my movie buff cronies, friends, students, and family for their interest and support over the years. I owe a particular debt to my father, Richard (a formerly published film critic himself), from whom I inherited my film obsession and to whom I go for advice and a sounding board to hear myself blather.

How do I get in touch with you, with offers of JOBS, large sums of money, marriage proposals, and other correspondence?

Well, I don't promise voluminous correspondence (with the obvious aforementioned exceptions) due to the demands on my time, but you can contact me here.