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Reviews vs. Reactions

Here’s the crux of this week’s editorial: reviews vs. reactions. When Movies had to share the collective Progressive Culture spotlight, we were only free to publish one article per movie. Usually those articles would take the form of reviews and sometimes reactions. Apparently there was some confusion about the purpose of each, and that confusion become manifested by nasty little comments underneath the articles. In order to alleviate the confusion and save the feelings of our contributors, I propose this Movie Writing Manifesto to describe the differences between a review and a reaction.

A review is an argument. It is an argument for or against going to see a movie. The argument is formed around a critical assessment of some or all of the major elements of a film. These include, but are not limited to, cinematography, script, acting, special effects, soundtrack/score, direction, tone, subject matter, editing and choreography. Of course, any such argument is completely subjective, but at least an appearance of objectivity is desired. Not everyone is going to agree on the quality of the individual elements or the film as a whole, but it is a critic’s job to explain why he or she felt the way he or she did about a certain movie.

A reaction is an editorial. Its purpose is to stimulate and continue discussion of a film, usually by focusing on an individual element or two of the film. The elements which a reaction centers on deal more with content than form (form being the realm of a review). These include themes, characters, aspects of the story and context of the film. A reaction is blatantly subjective and makes no attempt to critically analyze a film.

So far we have yet to post any real reaction pieces, but we’re looking forward to that starting soon. That, of course, means we’re going to need even more submissions! If you fancy yourself a movie writer, I need to hear from you! Let me know you’re interested, and I’ll do my best to get you involved.

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Next week: Why should Christians care about movies?

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