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Halle Berry in a scene from the gross-out sketch comedy <i>Movie 43</i>.

Halle Berry in a scene from the gross-out sketch comedy Movie 43.

When a film gets a score of zero from most of Australia's critics, and when US critics call it "the Citizen Kane of awful" and "a piece of s--- that actually looks and sounds like a piece of s---'', of course you have to rush out to see it.

Well I do, anyway. My plan was to count the number of times the audience in the cinema laughed, to prove the critics were up themselves and had missed the point, which is (I surmised) that the film was crafted for a particular niche (teenage boys of all ages) or was meant as a satire on Hollywood's greed.

My plan was thwarted by a detail: I was the only customer at my showing of Movie 43.

True story? ... Jessica Chastain in <em>Zero Dark Thirty</em>.

Jessica Chastain in Zero Dark Thirty.

No other life-form entered the cinema from the time the first trailer rolled to the time the closing credits faded - not even the usual staff member assigned to stroll through and check what the audience is up to (in my case, eating a chicken and avocado wrap I'd purchased outside the multiplex and smuggled past the threshold guardians).

I hoped I might be watching the first film in history to total only $16 in an entire weekend, but when the box-office figures came out on Monday, I found Movie 43 had grossed (an appropriate word) $557,000. That means about 40,000 other Australians defied the critics and (presumably) shared my feeling that the best you could say about Movie 43 is that, in a cinematically slow period, it would be worth the ticket price to see how a lame script can be improved by good actors.

But right now is not a slow period, so there is no reason to see Movie 43. We're drowning in a tsunami of cinematic riches. At the BAFTA awards in London this month, the screenwriter for Silver Linings Playbook noted that the world had just been through ''a wonderful year for film and a wonderful year for writers''. The best of that wonderful 12 months is concentrated in our cinemas this month.

Stills from the motion picture. Quartet.

Experience pays ... the British comedy-drama Quartet and its Maggie Smith, pictured right with Pauline Collins, are beacons for older moviegoers.

Every year, between the end of the summer holidays and the announcement of the Oscars, a brief window of quality opens at the cinema. This year's window offers the best view in decades. The day after seeing Movie 43, I went to Lincoln, sharing the experience with about 140 people in the cinema that afternoon and more than 120,000 people across the nation that weekend.

The only (tiny) complaints one could make about Lincoln might be that the opening scene is a bit implausible and there are too many concluding scenes. Otherwise, it's the most fascinating insight into the political process since All the President's Men.

If you were to create a spectrum of quality for the films on wide release in Australia in present, Movie 43 would be at one end and Lincoln would be at the other, with most of the other flicks clustering up near Lincoln and only Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters anywhere near Movie 43.

Check out the film-quality thermometer on the left side of this page. Next to each title I have put letters that describe the demographic niche for which each film was created. These abbreviations may need some explanation. C for Children

and A for Adults are obvious, but S (Seniors) is a niche

only recently embraced by Hollywood - the over-65s still mobile enough to want more than Midsomer Murders.

The S audience is assumed to enjoy stories about history, retirement, late-life love, cancer, dementia, paralysis and travel to colourful (but safe) places. They have a problem with violence but no problem with subtitles. Recent examples of product created for them are Quartet, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Why Don't We All Live Together, Amour and The Intouchables. Maggie Smith is their magnet.

By contrast, TM stands for ''Teenage male'' (boys between 13 and 29).

Hollywood has long recognised that TMs need the three Ds - destruction of property, disrespect for authority and dirty jokes - to see a film more than once.

The multiplexes have nothing much to offer the TMs or the TFs right now, but that's OK - they should be concentrating on their textbooks.

This is the month of the As. Enjoy it while it lasts.

For more details, see smh.com.au/opinion/blog/the-tribal-mind.