Element Descriptor

Being able to give a succinct overview of a film (including documentaries) and make informed judgements on who might find it enjoyable/provocative/useful is helpful because it points colleagues towards the good stuff and away from the dross….Quentin Tarantino quips: “When people ask me if I went to film school, I tell them ‘no, I went to films” . Indeed, films can be a great educator, and entertainer – for all nooks and crannies of human experience. When we need to engage as many as possible with the climate crisis, a medium such as film is an important tool. Films can help us think differently, get new people on board; they can also be a vessel for denialist arguments or falsehoods, which must be clearly refuted. Just as it is possible to become a filmmaker without formal schooling, so it is possible to improve your film reviewing skills through practice… and watching.

Level descriptors

Can write a short film review about a single movie, perhaps in a genre they particularly know or with actors whom they have seen before. The review may follow a template and / or borrow from other criticism. The review may concentrate on plot and actors, and may be largely descriptive.Can write a short film review about a single movie, with comparisons or references to other films. The review will draw out major themes, as well as plot and actors. It may also cover one or more of the following elements: direction, dialogue, cinematography, sound. Research may be required for the film review and the writer may have consulted existing reviews for information / inspiration.Can write reviews of multiple lengths, about films across a range of genres. An expert film reviewer will also be able to adjust their style for different audiences, and will clearly have their own voice. They will be less likely to draw on existing reviews, and they are confident in proposing an opinion in contrast to mainstream thinking or film criticism. The piece will range across elements, including, where appropriate, technical elements (editing, sound, production). Their review will help others to decide whether or not to see the film and/or will provoke responses.Knocks out an insightful review on any film, from German expressionism to Chilean LGBT arthouse without any need for further research. Picks up points Kermode and A.O. Scott. They may deploy technical or specialist language, but not let this detract from the review. Their writing has a singular voice and will help others to decide whether or not to see the film and/or will provoke responses.

Element Overview Essay

This is a draft. If something doesn’t make sense, or you see typos, or if you have further ideas, please email us on contact@activecitizenshiptoolkit.net

The reason film reviews are done badly is that most people have no call in their life to do them and so end up talking about Do they like the actor? What else has the director done?

The consequences are that good films that deserve more attention don’t get it. And that bad films are not given a big red flag saying “stay away from this if you value your time.”

The fixes are come up with a basic template. A basic set of questions or film review doesn’t have to be a work of art. It can perfectly serviceably explained The outline of the plot but no spoilers, the quality of the acting in the script, how many cliches you can go through the Bechdel test of how bad it is on gender? Or I’m sure there’s a race equivalent with the Bechdel. And if it’s a political film, you can talk about the broader context within which it sits and the purposes to which it can be put. And whether it is or it’s not. A good candidate for showing as part of a discussion.

Development Resources

Assessment Resources