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WHO:
Siskel & EbertTo begin with, the prospective critic must ask himself why he hopes to write. If he has illusions of grandeur, he'd better think again. He must posses a dedication to the craft, a love of movies and the ability to fail but still be persistent.

But as Hollywood author Lisa Maliga said, "Whether you watch movies as soon as they arrive at your local theatre or wait for the video, your No. 1 reason for being a critic must be your love of movies."1

So the bottom line is anyone with the desire and the patience can write critical movie reviews, and learn to write them well.

WHAT:
woman writingMovie criticism has been around since about 1895, when the first moving pictures hit the screen and the first guy watching either "loved" or "hated" the flick. It basically consists of analyzing certain universal elements and conventions while watching the movie and then incorporating the analysis into the writing process.

Most agree that the key elements to study while critiquing consist of the writing, acting, cinematography, design, music, editing and directing.2 Critiquing can be as simple as listing reactions to each element in a long laundry list-type of document, to as intensive as developing and devoting an entire Web site to one movie and analyzing every minute aspect of it.

The reviewer should also ask himself a series of focusing questions:3

  • What seems to be the movie's main purpose?
    Is it meant purely to entertain, or is there a larger goal?

  • What kind of work is it, and who is the intended audience?
    Does it reach that audience, or miss the mark?

  • What is the principal point, conclusion, thesis, contention, or question?
    Consider how these aspects affect the total viewing experience.

  • What patterns or categories does the work use to divide up the subject matter being discussed?
    Are there noticeable "breaks" in the editing or acting?

  • What is new, different, or controversial about the work?
    Find the unique aspects and focus in.


    Of course there are many more questions the reviewer can use to focus his analysis, but this is a sampling. As the critic becomes more advanced and experienced, he will develop his own style, and often times his own "trademark" points of observation.


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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: aparrish77@hotmail.com. © Andra Parrish 2001.

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