The film review will be on the film “The Descendants” (USA, Alexander Payne, 2011. It is due on Wednesday, four weeks from now (Wednesday-Thursday, March 23-24, 2016) and must be typed and proofread/spell-checked. The paper must be turned in before or at the start that class. Late papers are penalized one letter grade for every class day (week) late. If two weeks late, it is minus two letter grades. Obviously, it is to your advantage to turn in papers on time.
Note that this is a scholarly film review, thus it is a little different and longer than a typical newspaper published film review. A review essay will be about 500-750 words long and between 2 to maybe 3 ½ pages maximum double spaced with reasonable margins. Ours may be a bit longer since this is a scholarly-based review and we have academic requirements such as citing sources, providing appropriate examples to support our arguments, pulling in related discussions or evidence from printed sources, etc. Hence, your review might range somewhere between two and five pages on average.
While the review can take many forms and cover a wide variety of concepts, the structure is remarkably the same from one to the next. When writing your review, consider the following structure:
1) You need to do an Introduction where you introduce your film review and likely spell out the basic credits such as title, year, genre, the director, maybe screenwriter, might reference music or soundtrack and you mention main actors. Don’t forget that the Intro is where the “thesis statement” goes (where you state the objective or “point” of your essay). Then a very brief summary of the plot is normally given in a second paragraph and within this you often address the place and time, background info on the story and maybe a reference to the genre if not done above.
2) Then you typically will look at 3-5 dimensions or criteria upon which you are evaluating the film. Often, you devote a paragraph to each.
3) Your analysis may involve one, but normally 3-5 of the following, or possible (an)other variable(s) not listed here:
• are characters believable? developed appropriately/effectively?
• are actors cast appropriately? do they perform effectively
• what is the theme of film?
• is the setting/locale, time period appropriate and effective? is set, décor, landscape/geography effective?
• is the cinematography effective? does the film make use of color, texture, lighting, movement etc. to enhance theme, mood, setting, etc.?
• is editing effective?
• is the sound track effective?
• is music appropriate/functional? or inappropriate/obtrusive?
• are camera angles used effectively? Used for a particular effect?
• Are there special effects and if so, are they essential to plot? Necessary, sacrifice plot, skillfully handled?
• does film use symbols or symbolism? If so, what purposes are serve? Used effectively? How does it contribute to film overall?
• is there a moral or message?
• are there attributes that can be attributed to contributions by the director? how does film compare to director’s other work?
• who is the audience and did film achieve its objective or appeal to intended audience?
• Whatever arguments you make, don’t forget to include examples. You cannot make critical arguments without providing specific evidence. Otherwise, how does the reader know what you are saying?
4) One option (not mandatory) is to study the PROS versus CONS overall, reflect on and discuss these.
5) However you have written it, you finally draw conclusions. What is your opinion of the film? Review the arguments/evidence you have laid out above and then draw conclusions.
6) Quality of writing also is important as well as degree of research carried out, and as I said above: effort to bring outside sources and even opinions into your discussion ,and effort made to attribute credit to outside sources used. Use complete bibliographic style for references. This includes proper style for online sources and location.
Good luck! Ask if you have any questions.
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