Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Developing Your Voice as Movie Reviewer: FYI - REVIEW due MONDAY (pushed from Friday)

Since the SAT is Saturday, and it's been a busy week...

I will push the REVIEW'S DUE DATE to MONDAY for both sections. 

I will see you tomorrow - please read the following:

In an effort to give you more direction, and hopefully inspiration, I discovered some helpful links and wish to share my own thoughts on the writing process. 
Ultimately, you're finding your voice as a writer. And that can take a lifetime.

A movie review allows you to share your insights as well as your personality. Consider the reviews that you have read and how the writers used diction, punctuation, and tone as well as humor to convey their opinions of the film.

A few words about my thinking behind today's quiz...

By dividing the reviews into three sections - in essence, the beginning, middle,  and end - I wanted to see if you could identify the voice of each writer. It is interesting to note the allusions and diction for the respective audiences of the NY Times, USA Today, and Roger Ebert. In Part II, I wanted to see if you could begin the writing process for your review. I think it is valuable time to begin by writing in hand, so we are not able to delete and edit as quickly plus the physical writing of filling a page can be gratifying. I also wanted you to write to write freely without being critically assessed; instead, I gave you a time frame to stretch yourself to fill a page (or more) with words that may or may not end up in your final review. (Having reread the reviews closely and written about them to some extent, please be ready to discuss your insights tomorrow in class.)

For many writers (and students), beginning the writing process can be daunting and a blank computer screen can be intimidating to say the least. When I was in grad school, I had a tremendous break through in my writing when I read Anne Lamott's enlightening essay, "Shitty First Drafts" that offers priceless advice on the writing process based on her own experience: 
          Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere. Start by getting something -- anything -- down on paper. A friend of mine says that the first draft is the down draft -- you just get it down. The second draft is the up draft -- you fix it up. You try to say what you have to say more accurately. And the third draft is the dental draft, where you check every tooth, to see if it's loose or cramped or decayed, or even, God help us, healthy. 
To be inside the mind of a writer like Anne Lamott, I no longer felt alone with my fears and anxiety around writing. In writing more in the early process - maybe twice as much more - the next draft that you will write and revise becomes... easier.

Again, the hardest part is starting the process and avoiding the procrastination pitfall. I hope these reviews and this quiz gives you some momentum with your review.

Great Advice from K.M. Stockton:
The Golden Rule of Writing Successful Movie Reviews This is the one, unbreakable rule of writing a successful movie review that you absolutely must follow every single time in every single movie review: do not summarize the movie in your review. 
Why? Quite simply, the reader isn't reading your movie to learn what the movie is about; they are reading your movie review because they want to know whether that movie is worth watching or if it would be a waste of their time.But, if you shouldn't include summary, what, then, should you include in your movie review? 
Things to Include in Your Successful Movie Review Acting or voice talentsThe directorProducers or producing companiesSequels and prequelsMemorable quotesRelease dateRatingA short (extremely short) amount of synopsis that does not reveal plot twists or the endingAnd most importantly, you need to include: 
Your opinion

Outline of a Movie Review The following outline will show you the sort of bare-bones skeleton of a successful movie review that was mentioned previously.
          TITLE (Includes the movie title.)
SUBTITLE (Optional, but this is a good place for that catchy, clever title you were thinking of using.)
OPENING HOOK (Here you can tease the reader with a quote, a question, a bit of tantalizing summary, etc., without actually mentioning the movie. You just need to get the attention of the reader.)
BODY-Synopsis-Facts-Opinion (Work in the facts as you give your opinion on the movie. This is also the place to weave in a little bit of summary, but keep it short and broken up. Remember, the reader wants your opinion.)
CONCLUSION (You can recommend it - or not - to anyone, everyone, only so-and-so, etc.)

Develop Your Voice

Understand the difference between voice and tone and how it translates to the page.

Check out these links:

Grammar Girl's "Understanding Voice and Tone in Writing"

Steve Erickson: Do you think cinephilia is more stigmatized for women than other kinds of ‘geeky’ pursuits, like following science fiction or particular TV shows? Looking at online film discussion groups, this often seems to be the case.
Manohla Dargis: I find the gender divide puzzling, and exasperating. I wish there were more women – as well as more black, Asian and other non-white male critics writing about film in this country – not because of some “politically correct” imperative but because it makes the discussion more interesting. It’s unbelievably tedious how similar in voice and thought many American film writers are, no matter what clique, school of thought or dead film critic to which they adhere.
Frankly, I am pretty bored with most of the film criticism I read, to the point that I am beginning to think we need to start re-examining what it is and what it’s good for, if anything. Of course, most of what’s out there isn’t really criticism but a degraded form of reviewing – just thumbs up, thumbs down, with a heavy dose of plot synopsis. Even reviewers who are somewhat more ambitious than the average hack tend to write about movies as if they’re reviewing books. They pay very little if any attention to the specifics of the medium, to how a film makes meaning with images – with framing, editing, mise en scène, with the way an actor moves his body in front of the camera. To read most film critics in the United States you wouldn’t know that film is a visual medium.
There is smart writing on movies out there – Film Comment and Sight and Sound are two oases – but there is a wearying homogeneity nonetheless. I’m not really sure where it comes from or why it exists. All I know is that there are received ideas about how to look and write about movies, and that not many critics deviate from those received ideas. (And frankly, it can be hard to do so when you’re on deadline and when you’re writing a lot. I’m still figuring out how to get out of the box.) At least some of it, I think, is due to the phenomenon of critics who absorb the ideas and voice of other critics. Although I’m sure it would horrify Hoberman to hear this, there are writers who now slavishly write in imitation of Jim’s style, much as an older generation imitates the late Pauline Kael in voice and prejudice. The thing is that although Jim’s imitators can, to a modest degree, approximate his style they’re simply nowhere as smart. They also don’t get that he has a definite worldview and that his style dovetails with that worldview.

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