Reading Film (Fall 2011)

a qwriting blog for ENG 110

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Investigative Proposal

October 18th, 2011 by Jeen Kim · 3 Investigative Proposal

Time changes virtually everything, and film is no exception. The director, as an idea, too has changed drastically. There are many differences between the contemporary director and the director from film’s “baby” years. So, what has changed about the director, with respect to film history, and why did these changes happen?

Such topics are important to offer insight on the changes in film history and the film industry as well. The well known role we know as the director wasn’t always what it was. Since film’s inception the director has changed, regarding responsibilities, qualifications, training, etc. Also, the organization of the film making process and each individual contribution in the industry has changed as well.

A historian might offer background information as to what was happening during film’s evolution. For example, advancements in technology would be a simple answer. In fact, the subject of history would be perfect to accompany this research. It may shed light on information during the time period (locally and globally) that might have affected the director.

Various interviews on directors old and new will be helpful to this research. Also, books on the history of film exist that can also help. Sources such as databases and the library will also be beneficial.

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10/12/2011 Class Summary by Steven Rengifo

October 12th, 2011 by Steven Rengifo · Class Summary

For those who missed todays class, first we caught up with what Professor Herzog lectured and showed us. We spent a couple of minutes discussing “Umberto D.” and Italian Neorealism. Since we are almost half way through our first semester in college, Prof. Ferguson asked us how we felt with our other classes. Somehow he transitioned smoothly into a small lecture about a recent New Yorker article article. It mainly focused on how medical practitioners go to school for 8 years and basically spent the rest of their lives practicing medicine. This is obviously different for people like athletes, where they have trainers and coaches with them, constantly teaching and improving the player as long as they play. To make a long story short, the lecture was a bit inspirational because it taught us how humans go through several stages of learning. From consciously to unconsciously. Ferguson doesn’t just want us to know the material, but know in that it unconsciously is memorized in our heads.

(Here is the article in case your interested in reading it. Coaching a Surgeon: What Makes Top Performers Better)

We reviewed some of the “Learning Objectives” that we have covered and some that we have not. This led us to our possible major research projects topics. Each one of us shouted out several research topics and introduced the issue of avoiding broad topics. After a couple minutes, our topics got narrower and narrower, reflecting more towards how a 10-12 page research paper should look like. The majority of the class was spent on narrowing our topics down and Prof. Ferguson read Gordon Harvey’s “Thesis” element. Its important to have a thesis statement that is “true, but arguable”.

During the last 20 minutes, Prof. Ferguson divided the class into those that needed help with Prof. Herzog “Shot-by-Shot Analysis” project due this Friday and those who needed help narrowing down their research topic. The students who did not attend the class… missed out. This was different than the other class sessions because it helped us brainstorm different and specific topic for our big final project. Ferguson helped us brainstorm and narrow the topics because most of them were very broad. Volumes can be written from some of the topics that were shouted out. Its important that the topic is specific and “true, but arguable”. I know that can be a bit confusing, but take the time research and come with a specific argument. Hope to see soon.

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Reviewing the Reviewer

October 12th, 2011 by Denisha Bayley · 2 Reviewing the Reviewer

Denisha Bayley

English 110

October. 7th, 2011

Reviewing the Reviewer: Film, Through the Eyes of a Ditizen

Some years ago, I found myself on a journey to Earth. With the help of a college scholarship, I was allowed to closely explore, observe, and learn the culture of Earthlings. I was intrigued by the primitive species, also referred to as “humans.” Their way of life was far different compared ours back home on Turanga. The things I took for granted that i used growing up were deemed impossible to even consider existing on Earth. The transition to the human lifestyle was difficult but after a couple of human months, I began to get the hang of it. Originally, I planned the purpose of my fieldwork to be on researching the vast differences between our species, Ditizens, and those that are of Earth. However, I found one of the few similarities we seem to share was far more interesting. Humans and Ditizens, alike, shared a love and passion for the cinema. Our species tend to watch movies all the time yet we never question any of them, we see it as pure entertainment. The humans, however, don’t just watch movies for fun but they critique them as well. By reviewing and analyzing film, humans distinguish whether or not a film is “good” or “bad”. This concept is entirely foreign to our species but it is something I believe we should adapt and benefit from. We can even devote a weekly article for the film reviews in your newspaper, The Ditizens of Turanga. With my extensive fieldwork with film reviews, I too, like the humans have come up with my own theory of review, in hopes of writing for your newspaper.

I first began my fieldwork after watching the summer blockbuster “Fast Five.” Using the humans’ resources, I soon gathered three different reviews of the movie and began to analyze the concerns the reviewers shared. The first thing I noticed was that the reviewers felt the need to include a summary or “synopsis”,as the humans called it, of the film in their review. This is not what i found to be a concern of the reviewers but it was simply standard for every review. These summaries gave insight on the plot of the film. Although, all the reviewers had an synopsis in their reviews, each critic took a different approach to introduced the plot. James Berardinelli of Reelviews, took the more straightforward approach as he devoted a paragraph to the pure synopsis, holding back on his critique. While Scott Tobias of the Onion’s A.V Club, introduces the plot along with his snide remarks towards the film embedded within the synopsis. The renowned human film critic, Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times, spread his synopsis through out his review, giving some insight on the film and then followed it with his remarks on the plot. In theory all of the synopsis’ would have explained that “Fast Five” is an action-package movie about how three on the run American fugitives in Rio, who decided to assemble a team of accomplices to take down and rob Brazil’s most powerful drug kingpin. This is all happening them while they’re being pursued by a US Special Task force.

I have learned from the humans, that reviewers of film have to take a lot into consideration in order to critique them. They pay attention to the camera work, dialogue and even special effects, they also most definitely play attention to character development. This was one concern of film critics in “Fast Five.” They felt as if the supplementary characters, and in this case, the team, was not given much back story. They felt that even though this was the fifth installment of the franchise, the audience still needs to be reminded who these characters are. Ebert goes to say “You couldn’t say the supporting characters are developed beyond their defining labels, but at least they’re in the mix.”(Ebert,“Fast Five”) Character development plays an important role in the progression of a film and with this lack of detail, reviewers could give a movie a low rating.

Another concern the human reviewers I studied, seem to focus on were on the aspects of realism. They believed that the actions scenes in “Fast Five” were so outrageous that most of them couldn’t even be plausible. Scott Tobias, throughout his review refers to the film’s action scenes using words like: frivolous, audacious, ridiculousness and even absurdity. He also describes “Fast Five” as being “lizard-brain escapism” (Tobias, “Fast Five”), implying that the filmmakers were mindless. Berardinelli  tunes in and says that the film seems to divorce things completely from reality. In regards to the laws of physics and the laws of man, Berardinelli believes “Fast Five” elects to ignore them altogether. Ebert on the other hand seems to just poke fun at the lack of realism in his opening two paragraphs. Even though these fantasy-like action scenes are completely unrealistic they don’t seem to impact the review on the film as much as the other concerns.

The last and most important concern the human critics seemed to draw attention to, was the lack of plot consistency in the film’s franchise. In all of the reviews I encountered, the reviewers felt that the premise of the movie had changed from what it was known to be. “Fast Five,” is in fact the fifth installment of the “The Fast and the Furious” series. This series is known for producing fast-paced, action-packed car racing movies. However, in this installment, the reviewers all seem to agree that the film has turned into more of a heist film, inadvertently altering the plot. Earthling, James Berardinelli, even compared “Fast Five” to other known heist movies such as the “Italian Job” and “Ocean’s Eleven,” he also goes on to say that the characters might be the same but the purpose behind them have shifted. In fact, all of the reviews mentioned “Fast Five’s” likeliness to “Ocean’s Eleven.” Instead of having the movie focus on actual stunt-like driving of the cars, the majority of time is spent on setting up for the heist. All of the Earthlings made sure to mention this in their film reviews, putting emphasis on a need for consistent plot on movies, especially when it comes to a film series.

From these reviewers, I learned that character development, realism and plot consistency are all important factors in determining the quality of a film. However, I am aware these aren’t the only contributing factors to the films rating. So it seems rather imperative to do deeper into the critique of film. I decided to the focus my fieldwork on the way a review is written. For this research, I chose to study the rhetoric style of the most popular reviewer from the previous three, Roger Ebert.

I rather enjoyed the reviews of Roger Ebert. This well respected reviewer earthling was known for his distinct and enjoyable type of writing style. Reading Ebert’s reviews of “Maria Full of Grace,” “Crazy, Stupid, Love,” and “Slice,” I learned that poking fun at movies seems to be Ebert’s signature. He doesn’t make jokes in his reviews to blatantly ridicule the movies but more to make his reviews light in a sense. The films he reviews could be of the darkest or worst matters, like in “Maria Full of Grace” and “Slice,” but it is still customary of Ebert’s funny remarks. This is what I feel makes Ebert’s reviews fun to read and not tedious like the other reviewers.

I also noticed that along with the jokes, Ebert seems to have a system of writing his reviews. All three of the reviews start off the same way, with a joke or two about a piece of the plot. Ebert then proceeds to introduce the film’s plot, settings, and actors. He then makes references to other movies like the one being reviewed or to the other movies the actors in the film acted in. Ebert then likes to included background information on the film, talking about the film’s director and screen writers. The earthling then returns to talking about the plot, again included with his jokes or snide remarks. Finally, Ebert like to end his reviews with his take on the film, stating his opinions and whether he enjoyed it or not. This systematic take on writing reviews seem to make the whole process of critiquing a bit easier.

Finishing my fieldwork, I came to the realization that determining whether or not a film is “good” or “bad” is mainly subjective. Yes, a good film would have phenomenal character development and plots but the defining factor to the film’s rating seems to rely on the reviewers taste. This concept of critiquing film is completely foreign to our home planet but I believe this will bring out a lot of fresh ideas in our own film industry. If I am able to write film reviews for our nation’s paper, I will make sure to use my own method of film review based on the methods I learned on Earth. My reviews will include an synopsis on the film and will be filled with my opinions but unlike the earthlings I will end on a question in each review. “What is your take on the movie?” This will make the idea of film critiques an interactive one for the Ditizens and hopefully instilling it in our culture like the humans. I hope that after reading my fieldwork on human film critics, I have inspired you to take interest of the idea of film reviews in the, “The Ditizens of Turanga.”

 

Work Cited

 

Berardinelli, James. “Fast Five” Reelviews. 28 April. 2011

http://www.reelviews.net/php_review_template.php?identifier=2306

Ebert, Roger. “Crazy, Stupid, Love.” Roger Ebert Review. 27 July. 2011.

http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20110727/REVIEWS/110729985

Ebert, Roger. “Fast Five.” Roger Ebert Review. 28 April. 2011.

http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20110428/REVIEWS/110429986

Ebert, Roger. “Maria Full of Grace.” Roger Ebert Review. 30 July. 2004.

http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20040730/REVIEWS/407300303

Ebert, Roger. “Splice.” Roger Ebert Review. 2 June. 2010

http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100602/REVIEWS/100609991

Tobias, Scott. “Fast Five.” The A.V. Club. 28 April. 2011

http://www.avclub.com/articles/fast-five,55266/

 

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Reviewing the reviewer

October 11th, 2011 by nlobello824 · 2 Reviewing the Reviewer

Film criticism is the analysis and evaluation of films, individually and
collectively. Film reviews are often the case of objective criticism towards a “new
release” of a movie and can greatly impact whether or not people decide to see
any particular film. I have chosen three different films with three different
critics. The first movie is Moneyball with the reviewer being Scott Collura,
the second movie is Avatar with the reviewer being Manohla Dargis and the last
movie is E.T. with the reviewer being Roger Ebert.

The first film Moneyball centers on the 2002 Oakland Athletic baseball team who
were led by general manager Billy Beane and his attempt at looking at the game
from an analytical point of view by employing a computer generated analysis to
draft his players for the upcoming season. One concern that Scott Collura
brings to the attention of the readers is that although the cast in the movie
had all the talent possible to make this film great, there was “steam lost in
the seventh innings stretch.”(This being a baseball metaphor). He believes the
movie, although it started out like a movie that is fresh and brings about a
new “idea” to the game of baseball, is just like any other baseball movie that
has been created; the losing team that starts winning. Haters being proved
wrong. The big game, and so on. Another critique Collura brings to the reader’s
attention is that not only is this a baseball movie just about baseball and
everyone affected with the Oakland Athletics baseball team, but it also
incorporates Billy Beanes personal life with the reoccurring theme involving
Beanes daughter “uncanny” ability to play the guitar and sing; which becomes
Beanes personal song at the end of the film that emotionally affects Beane at
the end. This was a nice change of pace from the mainly athletic view that most
people would have overlooked. Another topic Collura brings up is Beanes
reasoning between trusting your gut and the hard numbers and statistics of the
game. Another way of looking at this, that Collura questions, is determining
how you feel against what really makes sense with this decision to use for the
ball club. The last critique Collura brings to the attention of readers is that
of how the movie producer goes from Billy Beanes golden days as a high school
baseball stud that eventually gets drafted and does horrible in the majors and
brings in the present with how Billy deals with his ballclub in the present.
Billy Beane, based on Scott Collura’s review, truly asks readers if it’s worth
going against the moral code of baseball by not trusting the scouts to look for
players based on how they perform in person and rather go by prior stats to
make an executive decision which makes this film questionable to watch for the
readers of this review.

The second film Avatar, which was directed by filmmaker James Cameron, is a story
of a marine Jake who travels into this new world in a new and improved body
where “avatars” rule and live about in peace and harmony yet there is a
business man in the real world who wants certain resources from this land
Pandora which, later in the movie, sparks a fight between the avatar people and
the humans. Manohla Dargis brings up a lot of concerns to the viewer of the
review. One concern that is brought up is how film maker James Cameron had
spent 230 million dollars on this intense, action packed movie that the money
made no difference in how the movie was going to come out, yet rather that
Cameron is a filmmaker whose ambitions elevate a single movie or mere series to
embrace cinema as an art. Cameron, as Dargis explains, has had many box office
hits in the sci-fi genre of movies with films including “Titanic”, “Aliens”,
and one of his more memorable movie series, “The Matrix”. This bit of
information shows the readers of this article that this particular movie,
“Avatar”, is right up there with movies that have been up there in the box
office charts with other big time movies. Dargis also brings up the fact that
this film grabs the attention of the audience immediately with one “eye-popping
detail after another” with the bright colors, 3d features, and intense action
that occurs throughout the movie. Details such as this will grab the reader’s
attention right away, creating a positive outlook for the readers. Dargis also
brings up the fact that filmmakers that produce films rarely try to carry us
away and that few even attempt to do so in the process of creating films. This
statement shows how producer James Cameron truly pays attention to detail by,
in the film Avatar, showing a new “species” of people the Na’vi along with the
earthly display or bright, fresh colors of the environment. Cameron really hit
it head on with his visual effects, and his creation of this unreal fantasy
sci-fi world that a human being travels into, using the “avatar” body presence
according to Manohla Dargis and the review of this movie.

The last movie is E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial, produced by extraordinary filmmaker Steven Spielberg and the reviewer of this
movie Roger Ebert. Roger Ebert took a totally different direction in how he had
written this review, in comparison to the two previous critics. He had written this
review as a letter to his grandson and granddaughter, Emil and Raven, to
express his experience of watching the movie with them. Most people might have
read this review and could have possibly questioned Ebert’s motive, but as your
read more of the article every aspect of the movie is greatly expressed through
his letter. Ebert grabs the attention of the reader right off the bat in his
third paragraph where he says, “Raven, you never took your eyes off the
screen…” This shows the readers how this is a great family movie in the fact
that his 7 and four year old grandchildren were immediately glued to the screen
as soon as the movie started, as Ebert had gone back and forth from watching
the movie to watching the reactions of his grandchildren. Ebert uses his
grandchildren’s emotions as they watch along to show the action scenes in the
movie. One scene he talks about is the action scene where the FBI agents come
in their black trucks to see what this “extra-terrestrial” debacle was about.
Another scene Ebert recalls was the scene when the scientist come in the main
character Elliot’s house to conduct this grand science experiment on E.T; he
talks about how the grandchildren were frightened and worried about the life of
E.T. and how emotionally attached these youngsters were with this fictional
character. A scene of excitement is expressed as Ebert recalls not only his
grandchildren but people in the theatre, when he went to see the movie,
“oohing” and “ahing” to the part of the movie when E.T takes Elliot on two
magical bike rides through the air with his alien powers. One of Ebert’s last
critiques, comparing his grandchildren’s actions throughout the movie to an
actual adult, he states how both of his grandchildren were able to not only
determine, but also understand the point of views that were presented
throughout the movie with the characters Elliot and E.T. This statement he
presented shows that people of all ages could relate to this movie and
understand the overall morals of the movie that Steven Spielberg had shown in
the course of the movie.

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Assignment #2: Reviewing the Reviewers.

October 7th, 2011 by Huy Le · 2 Reviewing the Reviewer, Uncategorized

On my recent trip to Earth, the home of a species name Homo sapiens also known as Human, I’ve found that they are a very interesting and complex. Humans have the abilities to learn and process knowledge like no other. As a matter of fact, we as a separate species might even think their crazy to be reading so much into something. Take films, for example, we watch films for simply entertainment and nothing else, we don’t have film reviewer because films are easy to understand. Humans on the other hand are complex, for every film that they make there are thousands of reviewers who watch the film and write about it, they not only write what they see but they dissect the movie looking for “cinematic expressions” whether it’s there or not.

Film reviewer has the option to judge a film because it’s the perks of their job, and in fact they do constantly criticize. Film reviewer gives opinions which people sometime won’t agree with, but people looks to film reviewer for a guideline, they break down the movies and tell their point of view, they are educated in what Humans call media studies. Media studies are the studies of films.

When reviewing films, films reviewer ;( critic) write comments about a film without telling too much about the story. They critique the quality of a movie’s plot, filming and directing. A movie critic requires a deep analysis of why they feel a film is good or bad. A.O Scott who is a film critic wrote about Transformer: Dark of the Moon, a movie that featured a war between 2 races of robots with one trying to enslave the humans living on earth while the other trying to prevent that from happening. Scott didn’t really criticized instead he wrote “I’m not judging, just describing”. Scott did however point out that the movie plot was unnecessary. Also he didn’t see the point of Rosie Huntington low angles shot, In human terms low angle shots tend to make the character more powerful, and commanding and in this case to make the audience fall in love with Rosie Huntington beauty and nothing to do with the film. . To some Scott is not really doing his job dues to the fact that Scott being a film critic has the power to judge whether the reader likes it or not.

On the other hand we have a well-known critic named Roger Ebert, Ebert who had written many books and review on movies seems qualified as someone who we can look to for an opinion to what he thinks about the movie. Apparently to Ebert Transformer: Dark of the Moon was not one of the good one. Ebert described the movie as “a visually ugly film with an incoherent plot, wooden characters and inane dialog” Ebert goes on to say that the plot of the movies in term of structure could not be found, there is no style with in the dialogue.

The same movies reviewed by Scott Ross have a different perspective than Ebert and A.O Scott. Scott believes that entertaining films and good films are in fact two very different things. The movie plot to Scott is nothing less of worthless. He didn’t see the point in the “objectification of Rosie Huntington. Scott loved the movie because its graphical features and actions were in fact magnificent. But the constant action and destruction for 2 hour is just too much. Scott saw the movie for what it was, just entertaining and required no brain power to figure out.

After future research I’ve found that most films reviewer in fact agreed that this sequel of the Transformer franchisee was a terrible one but somehow the movies made tons of money.

In order to understand what a reviewer look for in films, I’ve decided to analyze Roger Ebert in more detail. The research takes me to a review of Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark, a movie where a little girl name Sally who is being haunted by scary creatures. Ebert unlike the movies goer finds the films more interesting than the viewer who only gave the film 2 stars. Maybe it’s the fact that when people go to a scary movie, they just want the thrill and excitement of being scared.  Ebert on the other hand likes the movie because of its plot, and its ability created by the director to keep us in a trance and “milks our frustration deliciously”.

In another movie review of Bridesmaids by Ebert, he found that the movie in the aspect of, it is funny which is what a comedy supposed to do. Also the director made sure not to shine the light on what one person but keeping the whole cast that was introduced in play. He found that the movies connect with the audience. And that the director who is known for connecting with the audience did just that. Ebert wrote “the movie has a heart. It heals some wounds, restores some hurt feelings, confesses some secret, and in General ends happily”.

When Ebert writes a review it tends to be very direct and short, he gets straight to the point, include a short recap and just pour his opinions onto paper. Movies review over all is just opinion with a bit of education. It allows the person who reads it the ability to disagree or agree. It can also be used as a guideline.

 

Bridesmaids by Roger Ebert May, 11, 2011

http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20110511/REVIEWS/110519990

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark by Roger Ebert August 24, 2011

http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20110824/REVIEWS/110829997

Transformer : Dark of the Moon by Roger Ebert June 28,2011

http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20110628/REVIEWS/110629981

Transformer: Dark of the Moon By A.O Scott June 28, 2011

http://movies.nytimes.com/2011/06/29/movies/transformers-dark-of-the-moon-theyre-at-it-again-movie-review.html

Transformer: Dark of the Moon by Scott Ross July 05, 2011

http://www.nbcnewyork.com/blogs/popcornbiz/module-placement-list/Review-Transformers-3-No-More-Than-Meets-the-Eye-and-Thats-OK-124666844.html

 

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Reviewing the Reviewers

October 7th, 2011 by Jeen Kim · 2 Reviewing the Reviewer

Earth’s View on Film

On planet earth, film is taken somewhat differently than on our planet. They delve deeper into it and see it as more of a higher art form than what we usually see it as. Upon my visit, earth’s perspective of film opened my eyes to a whole new underlying world of analysis. For example, on earth, there are people whose sole purpose is to review and critique films.

It may seem odd to us, that some life forms’ contribution to their planet only consists of writing about films. However, it would be wise to keep an open mind and possibly learn from the culture of our neighbors. The recent film, The Ides of March, by George Clooney, has been receiving much attention from the people of earth. Peter Sobczynski, one particular film reviewer, starts his review right off by giving his opinion on the film. He makes his stance clear and states that he didn’t like the film; that it disappointed him. Also, his stance assumes the reader has not yet saw the film, so he orients the reader by giving him/her the setting and plot summary. He is concerned with the director’s skills, the performance of the cast and the reality of the film. He then identifies the film’s flaws, the main one being that it was not believable. He could not believe the character’s decisions and the plot development.

Peter Travers has a similar review of the same film yet not quite identical. Similarly, Travers also assumes the reader did not watch the film and he orients the reader with a plot summary. Travers puts a big emphasis on the actors’ performance and also the script. Compared to Sobczynski, Travers seems more optimistic and doesn’t give a direct opinion on the movie. However, the evidence suggests he enjoyed the movie.

Anthony Lane’s view on the film is quite a different one. For example, Lane does not orient the reader much. He gives a very minimal amount of information about the plot- unlike the other more extensive plot summaries. I feel like if one were to watch the film first, Lane’s review would make more sense. He is concerned with cinematography and, again, the performance of the actors. He notes that in this political film, the G.O.P. is absent. Like Sobczynski, Lanes too gives importance to the reality of the film.

Even though these film reviewers have their own opinions and focus on different aspects, some concerns are shared. For example, all three critics focused on the strength of the actors’ performance. It makes sense too, if a film has terrible actors it ruins the experience of watching it. This brings us to the reality of the film. Another shared concern was the level of believability. This was the main concern of Sobczynski and the reason he disliked the film. Lane mentioned the absence of a political party, obviously something that bothered him.

Something that all three reviews contained was the mention of the Farragut North, a 2008 play by Beau Willimon. This play was the source material from what the film was based on. It is not exactly an adaptation, but I get the sense that if a film is based on something, it is a rather important piece of information.

One of the reviewers, Peter Travers, has a specific rhetorical style that virtually follows a uniform structure. His reviews on Moneyball, Real Steel, and Drive all share his use of stance, orienting and evidence. His critiques usually begin with a small personal bit, establishing a stance closer to the reader, and to the side of formality. His stance also assumes the reader has not watched the film, so in every single one of his reviews, you can expect to find an extensive plot summary that of which accounts for a lot of the review.

This brings us to orienting, where he gives the reader information on plot summary and/or setting to give the reader a better sense of understanding. Because of his orienting we can better follow along with what he is trying to say. If a film reviewer did not orient, the reader would have no idea what he is talking about.

Along with everything Travers states, evidence is always apparent. Some general scenes are written out without exposing too much to accompany what he says: “Violence drives Drive. A heist gone bad involving a femme fatale puts blood on the walls. Ditto a pounding Driver delivers at a strip club.” Here, we can see that the two scenes are proof of how violence drives the film.

Determining whether a film is good or bad is controversial because everyone has conflicting views and opinions. However, based on the above information we might be able to devise a strategy to review films. A good film might typically consist of great acting performances, realistic situations, and appealing cinematography. A bad one would lack in all of these categories. To really enjoy a film you must immerse yourself in the image and situation of it, and you cannot if the acting is poor, situations are not believable and the cinematography is unappealing. These three categories, it seems, creates an experience what one might call a “good” film.

Works Cited

Lane, Anthony. ““The Ides of March” Review.” The New Yorker. 10 Oct. 2011. Web. 07 Oct. 2011. .
Sobczynski, Peter. “Ides of March, The.” Efilmcritic.com. 07 Oct. 2011. Web. 07 Oct. 2011. .
Travers, Peter. “Drive | Movie Reviews | Rolling Stone.” Rolling Stone | Music News, Politics, Reviews, Photos, Videos, Interviews and More. 15 Sept. 2011. Web. 07 Oct. 2011. .
Travers, Peter. “Moneyball | Movie Reviews | Rolling Stone.” Rolling Stone | Music News, Politics, Reviews, Photos, Videos, Interviews and More. 22 Sept. 2011. Web. 07 Oct. 2011. .
Travers, Peter. “Real Steel | Movie Reviews | Rolling Stone.” Rolling Stone | Music News, Politics, Reviews, Photos, Videos, Interviews and More. 06 Oct. 2011. Web. 07 Oct. 2011. .
Travers, Peter. “The Ides of March | Movie Reviews | Rolling Stone.” Rolling Stone | Music News, Politics, Reviews, Photos, Videos, Interviews and More. 06 Oct. 2011. Web. 07 Oct. 2011. .

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Assignment 2 Reviewing the Reviewer

October 7th, 2011 by sandra411 · 2 Reviewing the Reviewer

I am back from my visit to planet Earth! It is amazing how much their ways of life differs from ours. I have learned so many new cultures and met some new and interesting people. These earthlings looked nothing like we do! so at first it was weird because to them I was the one who looked odd. Over there they have a totally different way of analyzing film which I just found extremely fascinating. Back on our planet movies are just taken as what they are, literally, but on Earth they actually have these people called critics who analyze every aspect of film. They have these people who review the movies in newspapers and on the internet, its just very interesting to see. I have read a lot of these reviews and have picked up so many new ways of interpreting what makes a good movie good and what makes it bad. I want to bring forth this “theory” that will help us to see that movies are so much more than what we see! I’m hoping to present all these new ideas and take what I learned from their rhetorical styles and put them to use in our very own newspaper.

After gathering much information I looked at other critics reviews to get an idea of how they analyze movies. First I wanted to look at the perspective of three different reviews of the same movie. The movie I chose was “The Others” written and directed by Alejandro Amenabar. The movie is about a woman named Grace who resides in a mansion with her two kids, this takes place towards the end of the second world war. Her children have a disease which prevents them to be touched by sunlight. The three of them live alone with oppressive and somewhat strange religious rules. They than hire a group of servants and upon their arrival the children accidentally begin to break the rules and are faced with unexpected consequences.  The first reviewer I decided to look at was Owen Gleiberman. He uses stance as he starts to analyze the movie by going over the synopsis and telling us information about the main characters. He used quotes from the movie and gives examples of how the movie compares to other movies similar to it. Some evidence is also presented in the review as he goes over the details used in the film. In the end the movie received a grading of a B which on earth is pretty good for a movie. A is usually the best and even better than that is an A+ !

The next critic who reviewed this movie was Dennis Harvey from the Variety website. He goes into more description about the synopsis and adds more details in about each of the characters. He gave this movie 2 and 1/2 stars out of 4. What I noticed so far is that both reviewers start of by saying how eerie and spooky the atmosphere this film has. As I read the last review done by James Berardinelli from the ReelViews website I started to notice patterns in all three critics. They all share similar concerns when it come to this movies. These concerns include their disappointment with the main character played by Nicole Kidman. They all feel that something was lacking in her character development. They agree that she gives a somewhat solid performance but it is definitely not her best work.  A second concern shared by all three of these reviewers would have to be about the rest of the character choices. They focus upon the trio of the Irish servants hired by the main character, the feeling I picked up was that they all felt the characters had a sense of a lack of energy. They sort of fell flat with each of their roles. All three of these critics compared this film to other movies such as ” The Sixth Sense” (James) , ” The Hunting Of Hill House” (Dennis) , and “Amityvill” (Owen).

The last concern that the critics all shared was how slowly the story progressed. The movie moved at a slightly slow pace and lacked a sort of energy that it should of brought. The ending was the only thing that really tied the whole story together. The big twist at the end was according to Owen ” a nifty one that almost– but not quite– makes you want to see the movie again”. None of the reviewers spoiled on what the ending actually was so it must of been very good since it had that kind of impact on bringing unity to the whole movie.

As you can see all of the reviewers share a lot in common with each other. Whether its agreeing upon good aspects of the movie or pointing out the obvious bad ones they all share a common ground. They each approach their work with their very own styles of writing and each have different rhetorical styles. All of them try to break the movies down and not only take them for what they see but try to analyze every little detail about each of them. With all of this they can determine what makes a movie bad and what makes it good.

I also read three different reviews written by Owen Gleiberman which included the movies “Friends with Benefits” directed by Will Gluck , “Limitless” directed by Neil Burger, and “Insidious” directed by James Wan. I wanted to get a better feel of the rhetorical style this reviewer used. In the first review of Friends With Benefits ( which he gave a B- to ). This movie was about two characters played by Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis who try to have a friendship which just revolves around sex, but soon they realize that that friendship leads to many complications.Owen goes right into talking about the two characters. He uses humor to express how the two of them did nothing but talk the whole entire movie. He has a specific style that I found appealing when he reviews each film. Also his way of structure is very similar in each of his reviews. After talking about the characters he goes into most of the synopsis and talks about the director of the movie. He has a tenancy to compare  the movie to other movies similar to it and to look back at other roles of the actors/ actresses. He reflected on the small role Justin Timberlake has in The Social Network and praises him for it as he explains that Justin ” knows how to play a young man who puts his hustle right on the surface but what makes him a crackerjack actor is that he always shows you whats behind his words”.

I than looked at his  analysis of the movie Limitless( which he gave a B+ to ) ,he starts of by saying he had major doubts about seeing this movie because of the character choice. He did not think that Bradley Cooper could deliver the role he needed to play in this film, which was the lead. The movie is about a man who takes a new form of drug called NZT that activates the 80% of the brain we do not use which just plainly makes him more intelligent. And just like in the review before he goes right into analyzing and putting in his opinions on how the main characters preformed. He uses sources such as quotes that help support his arguments. There is again some subtle humor added here and there.

The last movie reviewed by Owen is Insidious ( which he gave an A- to). The movie tells a story of a family in search of help for their son who has fell into an mysterious coma. They soon realize that it is paranormal and they have to find the key to getting their son back. Owen starts of by saying that this movie has ” some of the most shivery and incredible images i’v seen in any horror film in decades’. After that once again he starts to go into character analysis and telling us the plot of the movie. He again mentioned a film similar to this one, which is a low budget classic by the name of Carnival Of Souls. He definitely does a lot of comparing with all his reviews.

I feel like after analyzing all these different reviews of  films it opened me up to so many new theories on what makes a good film good and what makes a bad one bad. I have accumulated so much new information about identifying different theory’s  that different critics have and share. They all have different styles and they differ in their structures of writing. They all try to create a stance with the reader but some just do it better than others. After gathering all this information I’m sure I can help the readers of our very own newspaper see what movies are good ones and which ones are the bad ones.

After all my findings from my visit to Earth I would like to share now what my methods would consist of when I review films. I feel like I have a new grasp on analyzing and reviewing all these movies which I thank the earthlings for teaching me. When watching a good film I have noticed that all these reviewers look for pretty much the same thing which is a clear idea, good acting, and it being intriguing enough to keep the audience glued to the screen. Character choice is extremely important, people want to see the right people chosen for the right roles. If an actor/actress cannot do the role they are playing justice and give it their all the movie will fall flat. Right away the film should make the people want to see more. In some cases the moviegoers want the movies to be somewhat relatable and they look for is a good plot that keeps them watching.

Now moving onto what makes a bad movie bad. Films that usually give off the not so great vibe are the ones with bad story lines, poor acting, confusion in the plot, it being not relatable, and or uninteresting. No one wants to leave the theater being disappointed in what they have watched but all those aspects can lead to a bad movie experience.

This is where I conclude my research , I’m glad I had this adventure to Earth and I think I learned so much about the movie reviewing concepts and I’m glad to have picked up on many new theory’s. I’m hoping that our planet learns something from how they view cinema on Earth. I looking forward to sharing and putting all my finding to use in our very own newspaper.

Owen Gleiberman  The Others,  Aug 08, 2001

http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,170503,00.html

The Others ,Review by James Berardinelli Aug 08,2001

http://www.reelviews.net/movies/o/others.html

The Others, reviewed by Dennis Harvey Aug, 6,2001

http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117798625?refcatid=31

Limitless,  Owen Gleiberman, March 25th, 2011

http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20474057,00.html

Insidious, Owen Gleiberman, April, 5th, 2011

http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20477495,00.html

Friends With Benefits, Owen Gliberman, July 27th, 2011

http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20483133_20483526,00.html

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Reviewing the Reviewer

October 7th, 2011 by martinvukaj · 2 Reviewing the Reviewer

 *sorry for the tardiness, Cablevision was down in my home for the better part of this morning*

Martin Vukaj

English 110

Ferguson

 

 

Reviewing the Reviewers

To the Editor:

Film. A one syllable, seemly easy word to pronounce and spell. On my home of Jupiter, we view film as an entertainment vice. Films provide us with an alternative way to enjoy ourselves. I recently visited planet Earth, where film has taken full seize of the world and is now viewed as an art form by much of the population. The world is full of famous actors, directors, and mega producers unlike Jupiter where our population of film workers is minuscule in comparison to Earth. The amount of movies that Earth has is unbelievable, ranging from comedy and musicals, to gangster and political films. Movies on Earth are not so obsolete, they have curves, often telling narratives, or perspectives in which the viewer can empathize with. Emotions are also aroused through relations built through the story line of the film as well. There are other aspects in film which I have discovered as well, such as lighting effects and the importance of body gestures. The differences between the Jupitorian and Earth films are quite vast, please take a look at the following data with an open mind, and open heart so that we may start our own film review section.

My research began with the viewing of The Godfather directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Marlon Brando and Al Pacino, just a few of the big name actors that are familiar on Earth today. At first, the movie struck me as a three hour waste of time, with minimal action sequences and a seemingly boring plot. I then stumbled upon reviews from the film, the first being from Roger Ebert (The Sun Times). After thoroughly reading Ebert’s review, I found it to be very helpful. He looked at the film in which I never devoted my senses to. He spoke about the the lighting qualities and how the earlier scenes had reddish-brown tints to spur emotions that this was made in the 1940s, to make the movie have that sort of feel. Ebert also goes into detail about how the gestures of the Don (Marlon Brando), are utilized so that the viewer can comprehend the amount of power he has. He says that Don Corleone’s “physical movements lack precision; the effect is of a man so accustomed to power that he no longer needs to remind others.” After watching the film, I understood what Roger Ebert meant here. Don Corleone didn’t have to move for anyone, and that’s because he was the boss. His power in the film is immense, how he has an almost unlimited supply of politicians and congressman at his disposal, and just by his gestures, I got that feeling. Don Corleone would move at a pace of his own, he was never in a hurry and had no need to be. Often in conversation he would put his hands to his chin and almost ponder, but those around him would just stare admirably. His presence on film was felt by the characters and viewers. Ebert also speaks of the essence of time, how the novel was much longer and went into detail about the minor characters but how the film is unable to do so and is already pushing 3 hours. Ebert ultimately gave this movie a rating of 4 stars out of 4 but being the good researcher that I am, I did not solely rely on Roger Ebert’s opinion.

I quickly found another review, this time from Variety Reviews. After reading the review, I found some similarities between the two. The use of lighting and The Variety also spoke of the tinting in the scenes which gave the film an “antiquity” feel, and a post-war vibe. The reviewer for The Variety goes into detail about two terms not mentioned in Ebert’s review, mood and time. The mood of the film is quite present with the strong bond that the Corleone family has starting with Don Corleone at the top of the head, and the rest of the family filled in by his sons Michael (Al Pacino), Sonny (James Caan), Fredo (John Cazale), and the Irish adopted son Tom Hagen (Robert Duvall). The emotion of the family may not always be shown but the bond they share and the unity depicted is felt off camera. The use of props and old school 1940 cars and attire also contributed to a mood felt throughout the film. The Variety also continues to say how the time factor was also very important, as mentioned in Ebert’s review as well. The Variety likes how the film utilized the time. The events in the film did not just happen overnight but the film does a great job of stitching the events in order to show a smooth progression of time. For example, in the beginning of the film, it seems to be summer time with the wedding of Carla, the youngest daughter. Mid-film, news of Don Corleone being shot echos around the city and Tom Hagen is apprehended by rival thugs outside a department store seemingly winter time. Now it may not be important to some, but the way the events in the film lead us from summer to winter is a great job of compressing the time aspect. The Variety gave a good look into the film of The Godfather and gave the film a 95 out of 100 rating.

The next review was New York Times review. To get a better grasp of the film, I felt that studying three review would be helpful in noticing patterns. The Godfather review by Vincent Canby was similar to the previous two as well. Canby discusses the physical presence of Marlon Brando on screen as the Don, how his actions influence those around him. He also goes on to discuss how the film was transcendent for it’s time and how it is still one of the best movies of the century. The Film received a 5 out of 5.

Through research of the same film, I found many similarities in which movie reviewers often discuss. The use of lighting, gestures, emotions, and acting ability all play large roles in determining whether a movie is good or not. The cinematography is also quite important, the use of lighting and props would fall under this category and are often used to depict a setting and pull the viewer into the film. Examination of characters and plot examining are also abundant upon reviewers as well. To get a better look at specific examples of writing aspects used by film reviewers, I divulge into three different movie reviews by Roger Ebert.

I began with Drive, directed by Nicolas Winding. Ebert first tells us that the driver is for hire and has no name. Then he goes on to explore the character build of the driver (what makes the driver the character he is? Gestures, physical presence, etc.) Ebert goes on to explain that the character (the Driver), is unemotional, that his “personality is deep beneath the surface,” and that the character has to be examined entirely by his behavior. Right here, I noticed something important. Ebert deeply analyzes the characters on screen and I find that to be on of his unique aspects. This is one thing he focuses upon, which is exampled here and in The Godfather, when he examines Don Corleone. Along with character examination, Ebert also looks at cinematography methods and the use of CGI, leading to the next review.

Captain America, directed by Joe Johnston is a classic Marvel comic book movie. What I noticed in this review, besides the character examination of Steve Rogers (Captain America played by Chris Evans) was how Roger Ebert examined the use of CGI. The use of CGI, as I discovered, is a cinematography method. CGI are computer generated pieces of film used to create extraordinary scenes unable to be made in real life. Ebert likes how the CGI made Chris Evan’s 6 foot frame into a puny character before the transformation to Captain America. Then Ebert finds out that when Evan’s is all buff, its not CGI, its his actual self. Ebert says that the use of the CGI were “done seamlessly.”

In Real Steel , directed by Shawn Levy, Roger Ebert examines the film on many scopes. He does his examination of the characters, his look for cinematographic methods, such as CGI (which are also utilized in this film) and a new aspect I’ve noticed, is his plot examination. Ebert delves into Real Steel, noticing that the plot of the story is one that has been repeated before, “a rags-to-riches journey where the father and son develop a deep bond with each other.” This is where I learn that Ebert has much knowledge, knowing that the film is following an archetypical genre with the main premise being a rags-to-riches movie. He also goes on to say that the movie has a compelling plot and easy to love characters.

Throughout my research, I have found much information about a topic I was thought to be primitive in design, learning many aspects of film which I never thought existed. The use of character examination, plot examination, the use of cinematographic methods, depiction of physical gestures, and the ability to create mood on film were some of the things I have stumbled upon. With these aspects at hand, I have given my try at reviewing.

The film, The Dark Knight, directed by Christopher Nolan is a film masterpiece, using the aspects discussed prior. The story of Bruce Wayne as Batman is continued as this sequel picks up where Batman Begins left off . The characters are greatly defined and an extraordinary acting display by Heath Ledger as the Joker is one of the major talking points of the film. Although Christian Bale is the main character in the film, he is not really. The film does a great job of revolving the story line and that plays a great part in developing the supporting characters;. The plot is also key in the film as well. Its simple to understand and also complicated at the same time. The overall premise is obviously that Batman saves the day against the villain the Joker, but the sub-plots and the relationships between them complicate the story even more. The relationship between Harvey Dent, Rachel Dawes and Bruce Wayne could be a story in and out of itself. These aspects of the film just play into making a great film.

Along with the the character and plot examination, the use of cinematographic methods are also astounding. The movie is rather a dark one, low key lighting, a lot of natural effects and when the movie does use CGI scenes, they look extra realistic because the dark lighting. Many factors thrown into this movie attribute it great success. It does many things right, great acting, great plot, interesting sub-plots, the use of cinematographic methods, lighting and CGI, and the way the film gives viewers that mood.

Finally, my research has concluded with me learning a better overview in the world of film. Thanks to Roger Ebert, Vincent Canby, and AD Murphy, they have provided me and hopefully our home of Jupiter, insight to film, one of the universes great arts. With a deeper thought into film, we as Jupitorians, can watch films in their true essence. To be one with the film, and arouse emotions we haven’t experienced before. We can finally know what it means to watch a good movie and to experience true quality like the films, The Godfather and The Dark Knight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Works Cited

Ebert, Roger. “The Godfather.” Roger Ebert review. 07 Oct. 2011

<http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/19720101/REVIEWS/201010312>

Canby, Vincent. “The Godfather.” NY Times review. 07 Oct. 2011

http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=EE05E7DF1739E464BC4E52DFB5668389669EDE

Murphy, AD. “The Godfather.” The Variety review 07 Oct. 2011

http://www.variety.com/review/VE1117487974?refcatid=31

Ebert, Roger. “Real Steel”. Roger Ebert review 07 Oct. 2011

http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20111005/REVIEWS/111009985

Ebert, Roger. “Captain America”. Roger Ebert review 07 Oct. 2011

http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20110720/REVIEWS/110729997

Ebert, Roger. “Drive”. Roger Ebert review. 07 Oct. 2011

http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20110914/REVIEWS/110919988/1023

 

 

 

 

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Reviewing the Reviewer

October 7th, 2011 by Eric Dorcean · 2 Reviewing the Reviewer

Eric J. Dorcean

October 5, 2011

ENG 110

 

What makes a movie a good one???

Early in June of 2120, I had arrived on earth, third planet from the sun, in order to fulfill my education requirements on a college scholarship. During my time, I became interested in studying the inhabitants (who we dub as earthlings) as well as their different forms of art and culture. Of the various different styles I came across, a particular form that caught my eye was that of cinema. I had decided to view Science Fiction genres of film due to the fact that they would also help me understand the earthling’s interpretation of us so called aliens. I had heard of such things on my home planet but never did I imagine that films could be so captivating and intriguing. The number of genres I enjoyed began to increase and watching films became part of my usual routine.

 However, I found my interests questioned when I decided to read a review on a particular film in the paper. Apparently on earth, there are some earthlings who are known for viewing films, rating them, and writing reviews based on their own interpretations. Some of these reviewers, or critiques as some like to be called, include Scott A. Mantz, Manhola Dargis and Peter Travers. Based on my own opinion, I had guessed one of my favorite films, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, would be well reviewed. Unfortunately I was mistaken as many things are considered in reviewing a movie.

First thing critiques consider when viewing a film is the director. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is the sequel to the well known film Transformers and directed by Michael Bay. The story revolves around alien robots from another galaxy, the autobots (the good guys) and the deceptacons (the bad guys), fighting it out on earth. There’s plenty of comedy and even some romance but most of the movie is comprised of fist fights between three dimensional 4 story high robots. Michael Bay is well known for directing movies that revolve around “flashy blockbuster mayhem” and according to reviewers, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen was no exception. What I viewed as interesting fighting scenes between robots, Scott A. Mantz claims gave him a headache. Dargis described some of Bays scenes as “hard to keep track of” and Travers says that sometimes you don’t even know what’s going on. Even though Dargis does praise Bay’s ability to get his audience laughing and interested, he is at the same time slandered for his approach at filming as though these reviews are indirect ways for the critiques to settle a grudge.

However, they know people are still going to want to see this movie and they also know why. One obvious reason is based on the popularity of the movies prequel Transformers. They know that if people considered that a good movie then the sequel must be good to right? I say yes however it has already been established that my opinions are different from that of some earthly film critiques. This brings up another concern critiques share as they will take their time to compare and contrast a movie with ones that posses similar concepts. This is made easy in this case were the film could be compared to its prequel Transformers. And aside from an additional sexy icon, Isabel Lucas, alongside Megan Fox, and the addition of some rather comical robots, the film is viewed as no different than the original.  

Another shared concern had to do with the films story. Some reviewers saw the plot as lacking. Between the confusing fight scenes, longs takes of Megan Fox and Isabel Lucas, and occasional rude humor, what was the plot? You could consider it a continuation of the never ending fight between good and evil, but that is such a recurring plot line in films that it makes the story almost predictable because always know the good guys are going to win in the end. Even when we saw the mighty Optimus Prime die, almost everyone already knew he was going to come back.

There are obviously many things to consider when reviewing a film. However, what is it that makes a “good” film different from a “bad” one? Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, according to critiques, was going to be the worst film of the year when released. However, why was it such a hit once released? The movie was viewed negatively in terms of quality and plot, yet many, myself included, found themselves wishing for more when the movie was done. So whose interpretation on the film was right, the critiques or the public?

To answer this question, let’s take a step back and isolate the rhetorical style one film reviewer uses when looking at a film. Roger Ebert, for example, writes in a way that’s not only personal and humorous, but he also uses other sources to build on his points. By creating a personal style in his reviews, Ebert is making us feel more comfortable with the points he tries to get across. He even lightens the complaints that he may have with small jokes and quirks. This is an interesting style to use in a review since it can make us appreciate the compliments Ebert would give a movie and make us look past the negativity of his critiques. I personally find this approach made his reviews more enjoyable to read compared to those of Scott A. Mantz, Manhola Dargis and Peter Travers.

            Also, like the other critiques that I mentioned, Ebert analyzes his reviews by using evidence found in prequels and sequels. However, unlike some critiques, he also compares movies that the generation is familiar with as well as ones that share similar concepts to the films he reviews. This can be noted in his film review of Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark were he introduces the concept of how we were all afraid of the dark when we were young as well as comparing the main characters to those that you would find in other scary and suspenseful films.

            It appears that even if critiques are looking for the same things in films, that doesn’t mean they will always reach the same conclusions when reviewing them.  By observing the perspective of the critiques, they need to take the films at face value since they are viewing them before they enter theaters. Because of this, they don’t have outside opinions influencing their reviews. They take the time to make note of the aspects that the audience will appreciate in a film even if they themselves did not appreciate it.

So getting back to the questions I mentioned before: what separates a “good” film from a “bad” one? Personally I think a “good” film is one which appeals to the majority of its viewers, has good structure, and in some way makes us use our imagination. Films are meant to be enjoyed and although not all movies have these characteristics, if you could isolate at least one of them within a film then I personally don’t think it should be considered a “bad’ one.  Rather a “bad” film would be one that doesn’t meet any of these characteristics.

            How should our kind go about reviewing these “good” and “bad” films then? If we want people to see these movies, we need to tickle their imagination and give them a clear idea of what their seeing without spoiling the story.  I believe we should take a page from Roger Ebert’s book and review films in a way that make people relate to the film by comparing it to other well known classics or to personal experience that we find on our home planet. However, if we don’t consider the movie to be good then we should isolate the main problem without trying to slander the director, actors and other aspects that the movie wouldn’t be without.

Work Cited:

  • “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen | Movie Reviews | Rolling Stone.” Rolling Stone | Music News, Politics, Reviews, Photos, Videos, Interviews and More. Web. 05 Oct. 2011. <http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/reviews/transformers-revenge-of-the-fallen-20090624>.

 

  • “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen :: Rogerebert.com :: Reviews.” Rogerebert.com :: Movie Reviews, Essays and the Movie Answer Man from Film Critic Roger Ebert. Web. 05 Oct. 2011. <http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090623/REVIEWS/906239997>.

 

  • Dargis, Manohla. “Shia LaBeouf and Toys Tossing Cars as If They Were, Er, People – NYTimes.com.” Movie Reviews, Showtimes and Trailers – Movies – New York Times – The New York Times. 23 June 2009. Web. 05 Oct. 2011. <http://movies.nytimes.com/2009/06/24/movies/24transform.html>.

 

  • “MovieMantz Review: ‘Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen’ | Access Hollywood – Celebrity News, Photos & Videos.” Home | Access Hollywood – Celebrity News, Photos & Videos. Web. 07 Oct. 2011. <http://www.accesshollywood.com/moviemantz/moviemantz-review-transformers-revenge-of-the-fallen_article_19580>.

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Reviewing The Reviewer Assignment 2

October 7th, 2011 by Stephen Mahoney · 2 Reviewing the Reviewer

As you know I have just returned from Earth where they watch movies and actually analyze them for more than what is just seen on screen. They even have many people who write reviews for every movie that is released in which they give some information and their opinion on the movie. Many reviewers will review the same movie, sometimes these reviews are similar and sometimes they are different, but they all tend to judge a movie on the different concerns that the reviewer has about what the movie is made up of. Each of the writers has their own rhetorical style of writing which consists of many different elements. I have looked at several reviews by one earth movie reviewer by the name of James Berardinelli and I’ve noticed some reoccurring elements in his work. I think that a film review column will be a great addition to our paper, and I have a theory about how to differentiate a good movie from a bad one.

Recently on Earth a new movie was release called Drive. I read reviews from four different movie reviewers writing for different establishments, Lisa Schwarzbaum for Entertainment Weekly, James Berardinelli for Reelviews, and Robin and Laura Clifford for Reeling Reveiws. They all had generally the same feeling toward the movie (that it was a good one), but some of the reasoning was different from writer to writer. They all look at similar things from the plot of the movie, to whose acting in it and what characters they play, and the production elements such as cinematography special effects music etc.. Apparently there are different concerns the reviewer will have of each of these aspects that makes them either work in benefit to the movie, or they take away from the movie.

There are so many different things that go into a movie between pre-production, production, and post-production. Within each of these stages there are different elements that go into each. One thing the reviewers writing about Drive considered were the elements of production, such as: cinematography, lighting, casting, directing, sound, and special effects. All of these elements need to be worked on individually and also combined in a fashion that allows the audience to get a true feeling for the film. The more harmonious these elements are in a movie, the better the movie is as a whole.

Another concern the reviewers had about the movie were the characters. Specifically the protagonist, their love interest, and the antagonist. They like to see how the character develops throughout the film, and how they interact with one another. The writers also like to analyze they way the actor plays their role, if it looks natural or if you can tell that it is someone acting. Sometimes the writers like to compare an actors role in the movie they’re reviewing to a role the actor has played in the past.

The biggest concern the movie reviews had about Drive was the plot. All the reviews I read gave a summary of the plot of the movie, some reviews went in depth and spoiled the plot by giving away too much information, while others just gave a basic outline on what the movie was about. The reviewers were concerned with how the plot unfolded, if it was realistic, and if it was presented in a logical manner. They also cared a lot about if the plot was predictable, or if the were surprised while viewing the film. For instance Berardinelli writing for Reelviews said about Drive “…but the best thing about Drive is that you don’t know what’s going to happen.”

I read three different reviews by James Berardinelli, one for Drive, one for Moneyball, and one for Rise of the Planet of the Apes. After reading three reviews by him I started to pick up his rhetorical style. There were different writing elements in each review that started to stick out to me. All though they were not always consistent throughout all three of the reviews, some were reoccurring and really gave the reviews his own style.

When writing anything it is often a good idea to orient the reader and give them extra information incase they are unfamiliar with the subject in order for them to be able to follow the argument more intuitively. In Berardinelli’s work he does this often. He will give his readers a little bit of background information on the movie; whether it be about the actor, director, or the genre of movie. He will usually put his orienting information in parentheses and use it in a comical manner. This allows the reader to form a better overall idea and feel for the movie, while not feeling like they are being talked down upon.

The one writing element that always sticks out to me, and that I always notice first is the writers stance. It’s easy to tell if the writer is writing to you as friend, or if they are writing and believe you have no clue on what they’re writing about. Depending on a writer’s intended audience the writer will defiantly change his stance, for instance you will write with a different tone if one is writing a textbook then if your writing an essay arguing a topic that you and a colleague have been talking about. In all three of the reviews I read, Berardinellis stance was pretty clear, it was as if you as an acquaintance with a basic knowledge for film, asked him for advice as to wether or not to see a certain movie that he has already seen. His response would be friendly and informal, without becoming too personal. All in all I enjoyed the stance Berardinelli uses, it really shapes his reviews to his personality.

The last element i noticed was the style in the reviews. The choices of words Berardinelli made to structure his sentences really give his reviews a feeling to them. Depending on what he thought of the movie he would choose words that fit the mood perfectly. For instance in his review of Drive, a movie that he was fond of, he uses epic words to form a sentence like: “The movie opens with an explosive pulse pounding prologue set to a throbbing score…” Now that sentence gives the movie an appropriate sound for a good new action movie, where as the style is different in the Rise of the Planet of the Apes review. In that review, a movie which he was not extremely fond of, he structures his sentences to sound more like this: “Unfortunately, the same terminology cannot be used to describe what transpires between the beginning and end credits.” The words “unfortunately” and “transpires” give the movie a pretty dull sound.  In the end I feel that Berardinelli choses his word very wisely to give each review the same feeling as he had while watching the film.

After evaluating the concerns and styles of movie reviewers I believe that I am capable of writing my own movie reviews for our planet.  Between reading the reviews and films I can formulate a method on how to write a movie review based on concerns about the films and what rhetorical style i should use the convey the right message to the reader. I will be able to let our readers know how to distinguish a good film from a bad film.

First thing our paper would need to do to write our reviews for movies would be to send me to go view the movie screenings before they come out, this way when they are released our readers will know what to expect when they see the movie opening week. While at the screenings I will take many notes on the cast, the plot, the production elements such as cinematography, lighting, set design, etc.. Once I return home to review my notes I will be better fitted to write an appropriate review for the movie.

After seeing the movie and reviewing my notes I then need to start forming my opinion on the movie to let our readers know if it was good or bad in my opinion. To tell whether the movie made the cut or not I will take the plot as a huge part of whether it was good or bad. The narrative being presented may be the most important part of a movie. If it is silly and too unrealistic then the movie is not a good one. But if the plot is intense and keeps you guessing through out the whole film, where you really want to know how it is going to end, then the plot is a good one. Also the plot can’t leave many things unanswered, sure the ending can be a mystery but most of the events that take place through out the majority of the film should be easily explainable.

Next I will need to consider the rest of the aspects I discussed earlier, basically everything but the plot. Not that these aspects aren’t important but the plot is really what the people want to see. I will need to discuss the characters and how the actors fill the rolls. If the actor looks natural in his or her role in the film then they have done a good job and made the film that much better. But if I feel that the actor is someone playing a role similar to how Nicholas Cage plays a role, where the actor overshadows his character, then they are not doing a good job and that will take away from the movie. For our readers who enjoy analyzing film, I will need to include descriptions of what the director and director of photography have presented on screen. Did they use good camera shots with a style of lighting that is similar to the mood set in the scene? Questions like this will allow me to describe how well the productions elements work together to create one unified piece of art. If the have, that will add a lot of value to the film.

After visiting earth i feel that we really need to put more attention into the cinema of our planet, we need to evaluate these works of art more in depth, and take them for more than just face value. A film column is going to be a great addition to our paper, and being that I am the only one from our planet who has studied how to write a film review by looking at common concerns and rhetorical style, I believe that we will be setting a precedent that other papers on our planet will follow for years to come.

 

Works Cited

Berardinelli, James. “Drive.” Reelviews Movie Reviews. Web. 07 Oct. 2011. <http://www.reelviews.net/php_review_template.php?identifier=2349>.

Berardinelli, James. “Moneyball.” Reelviews Movie Reviews. Web. 07 Oct. 2011. <http://www.reelviews.net/php_review_template.php?identifier=2354>.

Berardinelli, James. “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.” Reelviews Movie Reviews. Web. 07 Oct. 2011. <http://www.reelviews.net/php_review_template.php?identifier=2336>.

Clifford, Robin and Laura. “Reeling Review’s Review of Drive.” Welcome to Reelingreviews.com the Online Home of Reeling: the Movie Review Show. Web. 07 Oct. 2011. <http://www.reelingreviews.com/drive.htm>.

Schwarzbaum, Lisa. “Drive Review | Movie Reviews and News | Fall Movies – Calendar, Trailers, Movie Photos, Movie Clips, Movie Guide | EW.com.” Entertainment Weekly’s EW.com | Entertainment News | TV News | TV Shows | Movie, Music and DVD Reviews. 21 Sept. 2011. Web. 07 Oct. 2011. <http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20483133_20518295,00.html>.

 

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