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KIN 68 Viz of S&C

Film Critique Assignment – Film Critique 2 – Characters

Students will submit two, 2-4page typewritten film critiques during the semester. Critique will be focused on two of the full-length feature film screened in class. Each critique will have particular requirements (see below) based both on the content of the film as well as class readings and discussion. Critiques will include a minimum of 2 academic sources and 1 popular source.

Character Narrative Development Essay #2 – Lords of Dogtown (10%)

2pp 3-4 refs = C range

3 pp 5-6 refs = B range

4 pp 7-8 refs = A range

Writing about Narrative and Character Development

Although many films vary from classical structure, one paradigm has dominated narrative film production for the last hundred years. The classical paradigm emphasizes dramatic unity, plausible motivations, and coherence of its constituent parts. Classical plot structures are linear, beginning with an exposition that situates the characters in the place and time and introduces the protagonist and the main conflict of the film. The following scenes intensify this conflict in a rising pattern of action. This escalation is treated in terms of case-effect, with each scene implying a link to the next. The conflict builds to its maximum tension in the climax. After the climax, the dramatic intensity subsides in the resolution. The story ends with some kind of formal closure.

Syd Field, the author of several noted handbooks on screenwriting, claims that the classical paradigm plays out in film in terms of a three-act structure: setup, confrontation, and resolution.

What is three-act structure (Links to an external site.) (链接到外部网站。)?

Basic Structure, 6-12 paragraph essays, 2pp.-4pp., with Title page and References pages. APA format.

  1. Title Page

Title page should include:

  1. Running Head (left justified, upper case letters, paper title)
  2. Title of Paper (be specific here!)
  3. Author Name
  4. University
  5. Class Name & Section if applicable
  6. Professor
  7. Date (e.g. 4 January 2007)
  8. Pg #s in upper right hand corner preceded by truncated running head title
  9. Upper left corner TITLE (upper case) – this is a running head
  10. Except for running head and pg numbers, everything else on title page is centered and double spaced
  11. 12 pt. Font only
  12. Introduction (1-2 paras)
  • Optional – cite an interesting quote to frame the discussion
  • Topic sentence
  • Statement of purpose (what you will write about and discuss do in the paper)
  • Goals of paper
  • Basic film info
  • State characters and Theme

Background (1-2 paras)

  • History around skateboarding
  • The time period of the film
  • Larger social issues of the time
  • Development of skate subculture

Character Narratives (4-6 paras total)

Stacy Peralta & the American Dream (1-2 paras)

  • identify the main theme of each paragraph
  • cite academic research
  • cite EG from the film

Tony Alva – Consequences of Success (1-2 paras)

  • identify the main theme of each paragraph
  • cite academic research
  • cite EG from the film

Jay Adams & Art, Identity, & Commercialism (1-2 paras)

  • identify the main theme of each paragraph
  • cite academic research
  • cite EG from the film

Conclusion (1-2 paras)

  • Summarize the main content of paper
  • Wrap up main themes of paper
  • Reference any additional journal materials
  • Current state of skate subculture
  • Final thoughts and looking forward, larger social importance


  1. New page unto itself
  2. APA style is usually cited: Last Name, First Name 1st Letter. (year). Article title. Journal title, vol, pp. .
    e.g. citation: Johnson, B. (2007). Learning to read the media. Journal of Popular Culture, 11, 124 – 135.
  3. See webct handouts for detailed APA citation examples
  4. See Purdue owl link for more on APA

*Film critique: Some things to pay attention to:

A film critique is somewhat different from a review. A critique is an analytical essay on a film, in which you state your opinion on the “aesthetic quality” of the film and then give your reasons for your opinion. Do not limit yourself to reacting to the film (“I loved it !”) and do not use generic terms like “incredible,” “wonderful,” “marvelous,” etc. Unlike a review, you assume that the reader has already seen the movie; you do not need to give an extensive plot summary; you do not need to hide plot information so as not to spoil the surprise of the viewer; and you do need to be consistently analytical and critical. You might focus in your review on whether the main elements of the film come together to make a coherent, meaningful and moving film. You should probably focus on the following:

  1. Does the movie want to be more than entertainment (ambition)?
  2. How strong is the script (and dialogue)?
  3. Are the characters believable?
  4. Are the actors appropriately cast?
  5. What is the theme of the film? Is it obvious or only subtly evident? Do the plot, acting, and other elements in the film successfully impart the theme to the viewer?
  6. Is the setting/locale appropriate and effective?
  7. Is the cinematography effective? Does the film make certain use of color, texture, lighting, etc. to enhance the theme, mood, setting?
  8. Is the sound track effective and appropriate? Is the music appropriate and functional, or is it inappropriate and obtrusive?
  9. Are camera angles used effectively? Are they ever used for a particular effect?
  10. Are there special effects (and/or special effects makeup) in the film? If so, are they essential to the plot? Are they handled skillfully? Do they serve a necessary function, or does the film sacrifice plot or characterization for the effects themselves?
  11. Does the film make use of symbols or symbolism? What purpose do the symbols serve? Are they used effectively? How does the symbolism in the film contribute to or enhance the film’s overall theme?

Most importantly, how does the film-maker either accomplish or fall short of their objective.

It is very important to focus the attention of the reader to examples that support your point(s). Just like in a legal case, you must provide “evidence” from the film to support your position. Therefore, taking good notes is essential to writing a solid critique.

In a perfect world, you would watch the film more than once after you had established a ‘game plan’ for your critique; that way you could scour the movie for examples of the success or failure of the movie to reach those goals.

Film Critique

Research Synthesis guidelines:

  1. Summarize ideas from a section of your source, or quote exactly the sentences or passages that may prove useful. If you use an exact quotation, place it in quotation marks. Whether you summarize or quote, be certain to indicate all the necessary information about the source, including the page numbers.
  2. When quoting sentences or passages directly, be discriminating. Do not simply copy long paragraphs that seem important but that you have not entirely digested or understood. If you consider carefully the passages that may be helpful to your argument later, the research will help refine your argument at an early stage. No one incorporates every note or summary gathered from secondary sources into the final draft. If you use judgment and reflect on the material you are choosing, however, you will not be faced with a massive pile of notes that have scattered rather than clarified your ideas.
  3. Never change occasional words from a quoted passage and copy it as if it were a summary. If that passage appears in your essay, it will look very much like plagiarism.
  4. Sometimes, it is advantageous to omit words or phrases from a quotation because they are not relevant to your point. When you do this, indicate the omission with ellipses (three spaced periods).
  5. Whether you are summarizing or quoting directly, you may wish to jot down your response to the material, such as, “Galperin is the only critic to recognize how literary this movie is.” Be sure to mark off these reflections clearly from the quoted or summarized passage with either brackets or double parentheses.

Essay guidelines:

  1. Begin by rereading the notes you have taken and sorting them into categories, such as “historical background material” or “themes.”

Not all the information you have gathered will necessarily be useful as you begin to focus your topic. A good writer learns to differentiate between what is truly useful and what is not. Overloading your essay with an enormous number of quotations will not improve it; needless information will only bury your argument. If you have already sketched an outline, now is the time to rework it in light of your research. This reworking of the outline may involve only fine tuning, such as adding some transition sections or expanding a section. Or you may have to rethink your most important premise, shifting and restructuring it to account for some of your recent findings. If your original approach was based on auteurist presumptions that are out of line with the limited control the director had over the particular film, the facts require you to reformulate your argument. As you develop your ideas for this first draft, you should be able to state a fairly clear and precise thesis for the paper.

  1. Write, type, or print out your quotations exactly as they will appear in your final draft. Put short quotations (four lines or less) between quotation marks and run them into your text. Longer quotations are not enclosed within quotation marks; instead, they are indented and separated from your prose by a triple space. Be certain that you have copied the quotations accurately.
  2. Add to your quotations all relevant bibliographical information. This material will appear later in your list of works cited, but it is advantageous to have it before you so that you can easily identify the source when you do your final draft.
  3. Get all titles, dates, and technical information right at this point. Include the date the film was released in parentheses next to the title. If you intend to use both the foreign-language title and the English title, be sure to double-check both. When using an author’s name in your text, give the full name as it appears in the article, book, or review. In subsequent references to this author, use just the last name (it is unnecessary in most cases to use a title like Professor or Ms).
  4. This early draft may also be the best place to write out concrete descriptions of the shots or sequences to which you refer. When your points require the use of other films as examples, consider and insert those titles.
  5. When you revise this draft, introduce your research and quotations with a lead-in so that you get the most from them.
  6. If your last draft is easy to read, it will be much easier to revise on the computer screen.
  7. After you have printed out a final draft of the essay, check the titles, dates, and page numbers of all your bibliographical information. Be sure you have included all the works used in the works-cited section (pp. 171–174) and, if you choose to, all the works you consulted (but, perhaps, did not use) in a works consulted section (p. 171).
  8. Be certain to save and back up your work on your computer and make an extra copy of it before submitting the paper in case the original is lost or misplaced by you or your instructor. “Upload all papers to Canvas dropboxes.”

*Reference: Crosson, R. (2009). Intro to writing about film. NY: Routledge.

Formatting the Essay*

The introduction needs to accomplish three objectives. It needs to:

  1. Interest your reader in the paper,
  2. Place your subject in context, and
  3. Introduce your thesis.

Tip: Don’t start writing the introduction first. Begin writing the body of your paper, and leave your introduction to a later time when you feel ready to write it.

Some strategies for drawing the readers into the essay:

  • Begin with a relevant and attention-getting quotation. For film topics, quotations from or about the film work very well.
  • Pose an important question.
  • Begin with a brief descriptive or narrative passage.
  • Begin with a paraphrase of a commonly held view that you immediately question.

Tip: Avoid “dawn of time” introductions. The introduction should be natural to the scope of your paper.

When you place your subject in context, you need to give the minimal amount of information for the reader to understand the thesis. You need to take into account:

  1. What information is absolutely necessary for understanding the thesis and what information can be explained later in the essay.
  2. What the reader can already be expected to know. You don’t need to include background information that would be evident to the reader.

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