How to be a Film Critic

This is probably the best primer on how to review films.

I love how Siskel approaches film reviews as if he’s a beat reporter. The key is to get the reader immediately interested in what you’re writing about. I too often fall into the “formal” category that Siskel talks about. I get too concerned about what the right words to use are or how the sentence sounds that I lose sight of what’s really important and interesting about reviewing a film: my reaction to it.

I think that this is a great video resource for me because I’ve pretty much fallen into all the traps that Siskel and Ebert lay out here. I avoid the first person and talk about the audience as if I’m watching from above. I’m shy about making it explicit that my review is about my reaction to a film and not something implicit in the film itself. Softening my criticism because I want it to be liked. I tend to forget that this is supposed to be an art, not a science.

For me, this is the best resource I’ll probably ever have on film criticism because it reminds me that reading books about film and techniques may help, but at the end of the day, it’s a process that doesn’t have a rigid structure. It’s just an emotional reaction, articulated.

To quote Ebert:

“If you laughed, say you laughed. If you cried, say you cried.”

That’s all you need to know.


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