WRITINGREVIEWSMOST COMMON REVIEWS AREBOOKS, FILMS, THEATER, TVSHOWS, CONCERTS, RECORDEDMUSIC, ART EXHIBITS AND RESTAURANTS
FOR JOURNALISTS,REVIEWS ARE…Informed judgments about the content and quality ofsomething presented to the publicAs a reviewer, you have the responsibility not only to reportbut also to evaluate.Also, understand the difference between a reviewer and acritic: Reviews and criticism are not the same thingMost reviews appear in mass media – print, broadcast, etc.The reviewer should conduct basic research on the subjectBEFORE he or she begins writing about it.If you don’t know the topic, don’t expect to be a reviewer if allyou can say is, “Loved it,” or “I hated it!”
CRITICSAnyone can be a film critic to their friends and families, butwriting as a film critic for a newspaper or magazine involvesa good bit more than just saying what the plot is and whatyou thought of it.The first goal of a film critic to BE OBJECTIVE – don’t beswayed by who is acting or who directed the film. Ignore any rumors or discussions you may haveheard about the film. Be prepared to compare the film to one you havepreviously seen of the save genre. This shows you knowyour stuff and people who have seen the earlier movies willknow what you are writing about.
CRITICSThe second goal is to ASSUME NOTHING. Universal knowledge is rare about any subject andyou should never drop phrases, words or names on theincorrect assumption that “everyone” knows what you’retalking about. For example, you might preface a review of “Psycho”by saying something like … “classic horror film directorAlfred Hitchcock’s 1960 movie starring Anthony Perkins…” - Adding words like this helps your readers to refreshtheir memories and to establish new information fornewcomers to the film
CRITICSThird, tell the story but not all of it - Answer the basic question: What is the movie about?Is it a drama, action/adventure, horror, comedy, musical? - Provide a synopsis but do not give away surpriseendings.You will want to identify the actors and actresses whoappear, but sometimes the story is what makes the filmfamous, not the stars or the director.Your job is to analyze their performances in relation to the story.- Don’t fall in love with one of the actors. This will directly affectyour ability to be objective.
CRITICSYou must be prepared to write about directing styles and bodiesof work as well as about the films themselves. The director mayalso be involved in helping write, produce or even get into theact by appearing in their own films.Watch: - How the director interprets the story (close ups, slowmotion, computer-generated sequences) - Does the director use color, black and white, both? - Does the director make use of symbolisms, such ashaving a noble character die with arms outspread like Jesus onthe cross? OR the villains wear black hats?
CRITICSThe screenwriter is the behind-the-camera person who havesome followings, and the critic must be aware of this.You’ll know the film you are about to see has an importantscreenwriter if his or her name appears just before the directorinstead of just before the producer.Producers get the movie made, secure the money contracts andarrange for publicity events.- You cannot use “I, me, my” in reviews even though a review is considered an opinion piece.- You still need to make sure you have justifications in your piece to back up your pleasure or displeasure of the topic at hand.
CRITICSWhile you are free to express your evaluations honestly, youalso have a social responsibility to be fair and informed.Avoid being willfully destructive. Provide insights andevaluations, not character assassinations or cheap shots onthose who cannot reply back.Improve your reviewing by READING REVIEWS: Check New York Times, Washington Post, ChicagoTribune and Atlantic Monthly magazine.Also check local reviews in the Orlando Sentinel and other areamagazines.
A FEW RULES OFREVIEWSFirst, attempt to see the movie if it is previewed ahead of thescheduled opening date or at least the day of the opening sothat it’s timely. Your job is to give the readers some clues asto the movie’s merit BEFORE they see it.Second, the review should be concise and to the point. Don’tpull punches. If you feel like the movie isn’t worth themoney, tell your readers why. Let them know what’s right withthe film, also.Third, leave out the flowery details and absolutes like “never”and “always.” Your job is to let your readers know what theyare getting for their money.
THE CHECKLISTStoryline – is it believable?Screenplay – was the dialogue forced or was it believable?Acting – which actors stand out and which don’t? Tell why ineither caseSpecial effects – are they realistic? Do they blow you away orare they mildly effective? Or distractingly unrealistic for thefilm?Music – was it overpowering/distracting? Did it evokeemotion?Editing – was the movie’s pace slow? Did it seem over-edited?
THE CHECKLISTCertain basic elements should be found in any good review.Not all may be applicable, but most should appear. They are: Title of the ReviewName of the movieDate the movie was reviewedName of reviewer and credentials, contact address (email)Movie’s rating G, PG, R, etc., length and type of movieOpening date, admission charge, hours the movie is shownPrincipal actors/are the characters easy to understand?Brief summary of the plot but no spoilersCompare to other moviesOverall rating
THE FORMAT1. Appraisal of the work2. Intent of the artist3. Synopsis of the work, performance, exhibit4. Evidence supporting your appraisal5. Artist’s intent accomplished or not accomplished. Suggestions to your readers
REVIEWING ARESTAURANTWriting a review of a restaurant is somewhat different fromwriting a review of a film. A restaurant review is a conductedsearch of a specific restaurant location, an effort on your partto help your readers find the perfect restaurant.Factors to consider: Atmosphere –lighting, bright, shadowy, dark, uplifting, depressing? Music – live, background, easylistening, ethnic, distracting? Too soft or too loud? Mellow orheavy metal? A juke box?
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