the first response to the question of where movie criticism takes
place would be something like, "Duh! In the theatre."
After all, as movie critic Rita Kempley of the Washington Post says,
the things a reviewer needs most are, "a strong stomach and
an iron butt." Not only to sit through the movie, but sometimes
to survive the theatre-going experience itself!4
But the reviewing process begins
before the critic ever hits the movies, with the preliminary research
done before viewing. The thorough critic will look up information
about the cast and director, see if the movie has been highly "hyped"
before release and check for anything else of note or interest relating
to the movie.
While some advocate not reading other
critic's reviews before the reviewer writes his own, there is no
real harm in gathering as much information as possible. In fact,
it would be recommended for the beginning critic to leaf through
advance reviews in order to get ideas and find the elements that
others have concentrated on.
a strong note of caution should be inserted here. Any sort of plagiarizing,
while generally strongly frowned upon in general, will ultimately
break the career of the aspiring critic. Even if a flowery phrase
or particular image strikes the rookie reviewer, he should resist
the urge to steal the intellectual property of others and instead
use the striking passage as a springboard for his own original ideas.
As Dr. Robert Lucas teaches in his
GPPI Practicum on writing, "Good analytic writers paraphrase
much of the material that they describe, and carefully cite the
"However, paraphrasing (a good
thing) devolves into plagiarizing (a very bad thing) whenever you
retain a significant amount of the author's actual phrasing but
do not properly enclose it within quotes."5
to begin the process of movie criticism may also seem like a pointlessly
obvious question, but looking beyond the obvious answer ("After
you've seen the movie, duh.") reveals otherwise.
As mentioned earlier movie criticism
often begins with intensive research. Some reviewers like to write
a rough sketch of the article they hope to produce already at that
point, the "start early approach."
Others like to take a "write
while fresh approach," by gathering the background info, seeing
the movie, taking copious notes and then beginning to write immediately
afterward. And a few like to "marinade" for awhile, letting
the movie images wash over their subconscious, not beginning the
writing process until "the muse" hits.6
However the aspiring critic chooses
to go about producing his finished product-a well-crafted and well-written
review-he must still keep a few guidelines in mind.
Know the deadline of the piece.
It does the critic no good to write an insightful, moving piece
if it misses deadline and cannot be printed.
Know the general release date of
Like the deadline, this is an essential time element. The reviewer
wants his piece to be timely and therefore should aim to have the
publish date either coincide, come slightly before, or very soon
after the general release date.
When critiquing a classic, have
a relevant reason to do so.
It needs a newsworthy factor. Basically if there isn't something
new about it, good luck being published.
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This site was created by Andra Parrish.
It was last updated on Nov. 29, 2001. Any questions or comments
should be mailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Andra Parrish 2001.