Introduction to Cinema Film Review Critique
Purpose: Film criticism has existed as a genre nearly as long as cinema itself has. It has its own rules and norms and film critics are, perhaps, the vanguard of the efforts undertaken by the culture industry of film to sidestep the revolutionary aura-destroying potential of their product.
You are the hero we need. Turn the weapon of choice for the critic, the critique, against them by finding a film review of some sort [article, blog post, video essay, podcast, etc] and use the ideas and tools we’ve been discussing in class to criticize the review itself. This can be a simple matter of disagreeing with a film critic about Birdbox or as nuanced as agreeing with a critic but criticizing with how they arrived at their conclusion about Black Mirror Bandersnatch. Your conclusion and purpose is less important than your method, and your method needs to accomplish the following objectives:
- Determine who the review was written for by analyzing the terminology used in the review [general audience, film makers, film buffs, film school dropouts, children, etc]
- Make a case about the goal of the review by analyzing the particular criticisms in the review [is it to get people watch or avoid the film? To get filmmakers to make movies differently? To educate the public into enjoying or hating certain things in film?]
- Make a determination about whether the review succeeded in reaching its audience and accomplishing its goal. Determine this using whatever evidence you want to use, but make sure you back it up somehow [more analysis, box office numbers, popularity of the site or podcast or periodical, etc. . .]
- Conclude by doing a brief analysis of the film being reviewed and use your knowledge of
mise-en-scene [with a focus on at least one element of cinematography, sound, or editing]
Requirements: This paper will be 3 – 4 double spaced pages with one inch margins in size 12 Times New Roman font. I will be mildly annoyed if you use anything else, especially if it’s done to help you hit the page count [which given all you have to do should not be a problem in the slightest]. As far as the page count goes, I round pages. So two pages full of text and a third one half filled will count as 3 pages and four pages with a fifth one line less than half filled counts as four. If you do that thing where the first page is half taken up with your name, my name, the name of the class, the date, the University’s name, your favorite color, etc, I will be VERY annoyed. Don’t do that. Just put your name at the top, a title if you want, and start the essay.
Your intro should include a thesis which in this case, given the requirements, practically writes itself. It will probably go something like “Mr. John Jacob Jingleheimerscmidt, film critic for the Bradford Era, is wrong about Movie Title, it is not a super generic comedy only a simpleton would like but rather a masterpiece of sound mixing rarely seen in our era.”
Your support for this argument will be the rest of the paper, so you’ll have to work in your argument about his audience. This will come across as something like: “One of the main reasons that Jingleheimerschmidt is wrong about Movie Title is that he clearly writing for an audience composed mainly of rich, monocle-wearing 19th century oil barons. This comes across clearly
in his constant description of ‘Nickleodeons’ as ‘dens of working class vice’ and making Movie Title ‘a film no gentleman of means would ever want to be seen viewing.’ By writing for the wrong audience for the film, he clearly comes to the wrong conclusion about it.” Work in your argument about the critic’s goal in a similar fashion. Your own small bit of original analysis should go last, either just before or as you conclude.
Your conclusion should be a brief summary of what your paper has done and an assertion that your thesis has been demonstrated by the analysis you have written. Don’t worry about anything fancy, just conclude and drop the mic.
You should only have two sources for this paper, the review of the film and the film itself. Perhaps a third if you use box office receipts or some other evidence when writing about the efficacy of the film review. I won’t require a particular citation format [though it is well known that users of the Chicago Manual of Style and its footnotes are smarter, more attractive, and live longer lives than users of MLA or APA], but make sure you cite each one appropriately whatever style guide you use. The bibliography does NOT count towards the page count [fun fact, Chicago style doesn’t require a bibliography!].
I am a somewhat tough grader with papers because you have lots of time to write them and I am happy to look at drafts and help you spitball ideas. I therefore expect a polished product, one with minimal grammar and spelling errors. If you don’t take advantage of either the time you have to think about it nor the opportunities to talk to me about your ideas, if, for instance, you write your paper the Wednesday night before class, odds are pretty good that will be a poor paper and I am not afraid to give poor papers the grades they deserve.
This is a weird paper asking you to do weird things, you should definitely at least start thinking about it now and come to talk to me about your thoughts soon!
Grading: Excellent papers get A’s, Good papers get B’s, Okay papers get C’s, Disappointing papers get D’s, papers that don’t do what is required get F’s.
- Excellent papers do everything the rubric asks for and does it with attention to detail and by making great use of ideas and concepts we’ve learned about in class. Few or no spelling and grammar errors.
- Good papers mostly succeed at everything the rubric requires, but may slip up a bit in the execution or in poor use of class ideas/concepts. A few errors of grammar and spelling.
- Okay papers often fail to do something the rubric requires or have failed to make use of anything from class when making their arguments. Too many grammar and spelling mistakes for a college level paper.
- Disappointing papers are often the result of not looking at this rubric until the day before the essay is due and trying to think through the weird requirements of it in crunch time. Don’t be this person.
- Failures often make me wonder if they even read the rubric. I know it’s a lot of text, I get that, but this is your grade I’m writing about, and most of the words are meant to help you figure out what I want! You should care enough about that to read this!