Reading Film (Fall 2011)

a qwriting blog for ENG 110

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Reviewing the reviewer

October 6th, 2011 by Roberto Rodriguez · 2 Comments · 2 Reviewing the Reviewer, Uncategorized

As you know I have just arrived from a journey to a far off planet known as Earth and I learned many things on my visit. Those Earthlings are very strange indeed and they have many different cultures and religions as well. They look kind of funny as well with those two eyes and legs instead of the 4 eyes and 6 legs that I have and their food is absolutely horrible. Thankfully I was able to find rats and dogs to eat which was a surprise because I wasn’t expecting those kinds of animals to appear anywhere else other then my home world Calibanetopia. Their forms of entertainment are also strange and their sense of humor amazes me because they purposely cause themselves huge amounts of pain and then start laughing about it or maybe it’s just those humans from Jackass that do that. Anyways the most important thing I got out of Earth is their close sense of scrutiny when watching films which I find strange because in our world films are not seen with such scrutiny because they are all equally horrible so we don’t expect much out of our films. I read many reviews and I have started to see a pattern based on the reviews on what makes a good film and what makes a bad one. I hope that my findings will be able to convince you that I have the capability to be a great film reviewer in our planet.

One of the reviews that I read was for a film known as “Money Ball” which is an underdog story about how a GM and a Computer Whiz were able to turn one of baseball’s worst and poorest teams into a    title contender. I read a few different reviews on the film and I found some similarities in the scrutiny used by the film critics in analyzing the film. Almost all the reviews that I read about the film involved the critics mentioning the story or plot as an issue in the film’s overall quality. It seemed that the reviewers were not criticizing the film for poor quality but they were criticizing the way in which the story progressed throughout the film because they felt the plot was not typical plot of a baseball film. They felt that the story involved too many stats and numbers and not enough of the beloved game that the American humans love. Their so called “Pastime” was merely an afterthought in the movie’s overall progression and there were very few scenes in which the game was actually played. They felt that the typical baseball movie should involve dramatic sequences in which the underdog team comes from behind and surprises everyone with their success. In my opinion they were just drawing on dramatic idiosyncrasies in their reviews of the film on what a typical baseball film should have and not on what the film actually had.

Another concern the reviewers shared was that they felt that the actors were overpaid and their performances did not receive the compensation that they got. But what I noticed was that they focused their criticisms on one actor whose name was Brad Pitt. They felt that he vastly underperformed his role as Mr. Beane who is supposed to be the engine that drives his team to success. What I did not understand was that they praised him as well for his acting so I am thinking that they meant that he could have done better considering his reputation as one of the best actors. They felt that his performance was good but considering his usual performances it should have been great because his expectations are to over perform instead of the contrary.

One of the most important concerns that the reviewers shared was that they thought that the film might me overhyped to certain audiences for its lack of portraying the typical sports movie. They felt that audiences who enjoy watching sports movies about teams who end up beating the odds would be disappointed by the films lack of representation of the film’s genre which is sports. The main concern that the reviewers shared was that audiences would focus more on the negatives of the movie and not on what the film was trying to represent which is the making of a successful baseball franchise.

So the question is Are these the things that we should look for when reviewing films? Should the plot and the character’s performances influence our reviews of the film? Well apparently these Earthlings think so because they focused on these aspects and much more in their reviews. In my planet we don’t do that because we don’t have the kind of expectations with films as these Earthlings do. What I find strange is that these Earthlings also focus on how the characters are performing which I find strange because why should one character’s performance influence the overall quality of the film. In the case of Brad Pitt the reviewers focused on how he should have performed instead of how he did perform without necessarily degrading his performance. So they both criticized his performance and praised at the same time which makes me think that there is more to reviewing film than meets the eye or in my case eyes.

I read many reviews on different films and they all taught me a lot about how the humans take films to a completely different level than in my world. Humans really analyze the films thoroughly and piece by piece until they have reached the core of the film and until the reader truly understands the concept of the film. I am starting to admire these humans because of their ability to grasp the concept of films and I read many reviews and among those there was one reviewer that caught my attention and the human’s name was Manohla Dargis. The reason why this person caught my attention was because I noticed that in most of her reviews I ended up having an amazingly clear idea of what the film’s main concept was. I also admired her kind of approach or stance in her reviews because she seemed more like a viewer of films than an actual reviewer. What I meant by that was that in her reviews she focused a lot on what could have made the film better as well as on all the positive and negative aspects of the film. In that sense I felt like she was addressing the director or creator of the film more than she was addressing the reader because she offers advice on what the film was lacking and what could have filled the void. I found that very strange because the human kind of changed her perspective from a reviewer into a normal viewer of films and she kind of speaks for all the viewers of the film in her reviews.

Also I admired the human’s way of allowing the reader to think about or reflect on her review’s main points and she allows the reader to think about the film and if it is really worth watching. That concept of reflecting even applied to me because after reading her reviews I found myself asking if I should go see this film or not because of the way she went into depth on the film’s concept. That really helped me a lot when familiarizing myself with the concept of film reviews because reviews should allow readers to ask questions as well as inform them about the film. The choice of watching the film should not be solely based on what the reviewer thinks of the film but also on what the reader thinks about the film and the reviews should allow the readers to ask themselves questions about the film. Her style of insight involving giving advice on the films also is very helpful in reflecting on the reviews because I was not only focusing on her reviews but also on the things that she felt was lacking in the film and all the things that would have made the film more enjoyable.

One more aspect that I found very admirable in this human’s film reviews was the way she oriented the reader about the film’s main aspects in the beginning. This was very effective because she always gave a brief summary of the film’s main points in the beginning of her reviews and then offered her insights on those points. The reader did not have to wait too long to find out what the film’s main concept was about because it was right in the beginning of her reviews so we knew what the film’s main ideas were without knowing too much yet. She oriented the reader in a brief manner because she shared the key points of the film without summarizing the whole film so it allowed the reader to keep reading on to see the rest of her analyses of the film. So I think that was very effective because she grabbed the reader’s attention right away with the main points of the film while at the same time giving the reader her insights into the film which I thought was very clever because it kept the reader interested from the beginning.

So again I ask myself what makes a good film and what makes a bad one? What concepts do all good and bad films share. As I have read these reviews these concepts have started to become clear to me to a point where I feel like I can be an effective film reviewer. Even though my race is much older than the humans and much more advanced, I think that have learned more from the humans in a few months then I had learned from my home world in my entire life. Even though I have learned so much from the earthlings the question remains unanswered and I am determined to answer it.

After reading many different reviews on films I think I have been able to grasp the human concept of films and I think I know what qualities a good film has and what qualities make a bad film. Based on what I have read about films I think that all good films should have a clear focus or main idea and the audience should not be guessing what the film is about. A good film should present its main focus in a clear and effective way and it should not wait too long to present its focus to the audience lest the audience lose interest and leave. So basically good films should leave a good first impression right off the bat and it also should not jump right into its main concept but it should allow the viewer to understand the concept of the film clearly and smoothly. Also really good films leave the viewers with a good lasting impression of the film and it should allow the viewers to think about their own lives and possibly compare themselves to the main characters. And good films should allow the audience to relate to the story and the plot and it should allow the audience to see life from a different perspective whether it’s from the main protagonist or the antagonist of the film.

As for bad films there isn’t really much to say but they would tend to not present their ideas clearly and leave the audience guessing about what they have just seen. In my opinion a bad film would not have a good story or plot and the characters would not be able to appeal to the audience in the way that the director had imagined. If you go see a film and you leave with a disappointed feeling then the film was not a good quality film and it should leave viewers with good thoughts and memories so that they can share their thoughts on the film with other people. Also a bad film would not allow the viewers to relate to the characters and their lives and the viewers would not be able to share good moments with their friends and family while watching a movie because it was not able to appeal to the audience.

After my visiting Earth I feel that I have a new sense of understanding of films and I attribute my new found knowledge to those earthlings. They taught me a lot about the concept of analyzing films and I feel that I can see films in a whole new perspective. I feel that I can go back to my planet and do a great job reviewing films because I am able to analyze films and offer my feedback instead of watching films and thinking nothing of it like I use to. I also have a clear sense now of what an ideal film should have so I think I’ll be able to offer an effective feedback on films. I hope that I’ll be able to have the opportunity to be a film critic in our planet and I hope that my reviews will help readers understand films in a whole new way. My trip to Earth was a great experience and I think that if I ever get the chance I would definitely take another trip to Earth and continue to learn new things from those strange tiny earthlings who after a while start looking delicious because their food is horrible but I guess that is just my stomach talking.


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2 Comments so far ↓

  • Kaitlin Stevens

    This was really nicely written, I liked your stance and you established a lot of keyterms. You also did a good job with analysis, specifically when you were describing Manohla Dargis’ writing style. I liked the way you went in depth in each paragraph and focused on a main point in each one, it made it very easy to follow along and understand what you were saying. Overall, this was a really good academic essay.

  • Kevin L. Ferguson

    Hi Roberto,

    I know it’s not really related to the main part of the assignment, but I laughed when I read your first paragraph–you do a nice job channeling the bewildered alien and setting up your essay’s STYLE (“graceful and a little interesting, not stuffy”). Another strength of your essay is how you use REFLECTING–keeping with the alien perspective, you take good opportunities to pause in your writing to pose questions or consider new problems, for example with ¶5. I think you could make this even stronger in revision by considering how you begin paragraphs 2, 3, and 4. Remembering what Harvey said about STRUCTURE having a “progressive” order, do you think there’s a way you can better introduce each of the three concerns you raise? That’s most obvious to me with ¶4, which begins “one of the most important . . .” and seems not to have a central point (like the prior 2 ¶s did). Part of that paragraph seems to repeat the 2nd ¶ (about the baseball movie genre), and you also don’t introduce any EVIDENCE, which also makes it seem like this paragraph is less well-structured than the other ones. That paragraph would be one to focus on when revising.

    Regarding your use of EVIDENCE: one thing I didn’t see in the second part of your writing (on Dargis) was specific evidence. I think you did offer ANALYSIS and some general claims about what she was doing, but for revision, I would say to keep in mind one of the things Harvey says about evidence: “it needs to be sufficiently concrete for the reader to trust it.” For example, look at ¶7, on “reflecting.” You say in the first sentence that Dargis allows the reader to reflect on her review’s main point, but you don’t say HOW she accomplishes that. Your second sentence kind of takes your own self as an example or piece of evidence, but readers are still wondering what it is that Dargis does that made you want to discuss her reflecting. Could you find more “concrete” evidence of the point you want to make about Dargis? Perhaps you could also find a graceful way to do this in the following paragraph, on “orienting”?

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