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FILM 206: Research & Writing Methods

Film Reviews vs Film Criticism

Film criticism and film review are often used interchangeably, however they are differences between them.

Film / Movie reviews

Film reviews are written for the general public and published in magazines, newspapers or online very soon after the film's release. Their purpose is to describe the plot, characters, director, etc in order to provide a rating or recommendation rather than analysis.

Film criticism

Film criticism is the study, interpretation, and evaluation of a film and its place in cinema history.  it is the scholarly and in depth analysis of film published in academic articles and books many years after a film is released; The criticism can focus on a single film, a genre of films, a director's or actor's oeuvre and more. It is often framed through the lenses of film theory.

In-depth criticism and analyses of some feature films or mainstream films, foreign films, independent films, documentaries, etc. may be found in more scholarly or academic publications (e.g. Film Quarterly, Cinema Journal, Film International).

Film Criticism and Analysis - Start Here

Indexes over 560 journals with more than 160 full-text journals, and 160 full-text books.
This resource is an authoritative guide to the current scholarship (in all formats) on all aspects of cinema, television, and media studies, with original introductory and commentary text followed by an annotated list of cited works.

Criticism and Analysis - Also Useful

Academic Search Complete
A scholarly, multi-disciplinary database providing indexing and abstracts for thousands of journals and other publications.
MLA International Bibliography
Comprehensive index to scholarly writing on literature, language, linguistics, literary criticism, folklore, drama, literary genres
Film Journals in JSTOR

Finding Film Reviews

Movie reviews are published when a film premieres nationally so it is useful to know the premiere date. This information can be determine by checking IMDB (Internet Movie Database), the American Film Institute Catalog (films prior to 1971), and the All Movie Guide.

Film reviews are usually written by entertainment reporters and published in newspapers & magazines.

Sources for Film Reviews

Has full-text runs scanned cover-to-cover in color of core U.S. and U.K. trade papers and magazines, such as Variety, Boxoffice, Broadcast, The Hollywood Reporter, and American Cinematographer to name a few. 

American Film Institute Catalog
The AFI Catalog lists films, with plot summaries, filmographic information, and more ...

Includes film reviews from over 700 Canadian journals and newspapers.
For 1920 - 1998, Check Omni
Good for reviews of current and retrospective Canadian films. To find reviews in the print volumes, look under the heading Moving picture reviews from 1927 through 1986 and under the heading Movie reviews from 1987 onwards.

Proquest Historical Newspapers (including New York Times)

Readers Guide Retrospective, 1890-1982

Variety (Online)
The show-business daily.

Web Resources

Reviews of the latest releases with interviews and articles covering the film industry. Classic reviews include critiques of 75 classic titles from 1931 to 1991.  
Compiles critical reviews and assigns each movie an overall score.
Reviews for new and recent films in theaters, DVD and Blu-ray releases, and film classics.
Browse or search thousands of movie reviews. Included in this free archive are all of the films reviewed since 1960.
Offers a critical reaction on movies from the nation's top print and online film critics.