Friday, September 14, 2012

Film review assignment

The idea is for you to interact with the reviews of others. I often (just 15 minutes ago, in fact) read movie reviews of films I haven't seen and may not ever see; I enjoy the act of critical examination, even if ultimately it's not a movie I'll see or that even interests me. (I also like reading book reviews, of course, but additionally I get a kick out of critical reviews of new buildings or painting exhibitions. I have no ability paint or design architecture, but the kind of craft that goes into any of these forms is analogous to the craft that goes into writing, which is my own specialty.)

I want you to "interact with" two reviews by professional reviewers; we can try this, later, with movies you've never seen, but I think it's easier and more useful at this stage of things to have you reflect on a movie you've viewed. Pick something you've seen recently, so you can comment more thoroughly. I want to hear your thoughts on the movie, but I want to read them as a kind of argument or discussion you're having with these other reviewers. (It is to be written in essay form, however—not in dialogue form or some sort of free form.) Ebert does this in some of his essays, mentioning other reviewers and how they perceive something.

On the lower right of this page is a link to the Internet Movie Database ( Any movie may be found there; from any movie's site, you can, lower down on the page, link to "External reviews." You should be reading reviews from major newspapers (San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Sun-Times [those are available at]) or magazines (Salon, Rolling Stone, the New Yorker (available at, not from unaffiliated reviewers.

This assignment, of 500-750 words, is due next Friday, Sept. 21.

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