FLMS3007: Film Reviewing


FLMS3007: Film Reviewing

Module tutor: Dr Katie Barnett
Email: k.barnett@worc.ac.uk
Lecture / seminar: Tuesday, 13:15 – 16:15


Module Description

This module develops students’ skills in writing about film for a general public audience, while also exploring issues of film evaluation and aesthetics.  Throughout the module, students will be expected to attend several new releases at the cinema and write short reviews of those films. The module will examine the notion of the “value” of individual films in a number of social, political, cultural and intellectual contexts, through in-depth discussion of critical and theoretical material.

Topics for discussion will include: locating individual critical responses within wider contemporary film culture, differentiating between popular and academic source materials and reading reviews as cultural discourse (i.e. through reception studies). This module is intended to act as both a summation to many of the academic modules students have experienced across their degree, while also developing transferable skills within the film reception marketplace.

Intended Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  1. Critically evaluate a new film to a professional standard;
  2. Critically consolidate and extend a systematic and coherent argument based on their own criteria and sense of aesthetics;
  3. Utilise research skills to access the complex exhibition and distribution contexts of a variety of world cinemas;
  4. Utilise the highly specialised scholastic skills to consider film reviews and other ancillary materials as forming a “public discourse”.

Attendance Requirement

Attendance on all modules is compulsory to foster a culture of engagement and student progression. Excessive absenteeism, on any module and at any level, could jeopardize the student receiving credit for having taken that module.

To further foster a culture of engagement and student progression Film Studies has an explicit attendance policy, which requires students to attend a minimum of 75% of any module to be recognized as having taken the module.

Absence should be reported to the IHCA (ihcastudentabsence@worc.ac.uk) and your module tutor (k.barnett@worc.ac.uk).

Resource list

The official resource list for FLMS3007: Film Reviewing is available via the library website here: https://worc.rl.talis.com/lists/203D2869-BF71-C9BB-289F-12DC546F58F3.html

 Contact details

Dr. Katie Barnett, k.barnett@worc.ac.uk

Office hours: Wednesdays 14:00-15:00; Thursdays 11:00-12:00 (Bredon 202)

I endeavour to reply to all emails within 48 hours during the week (Mon-Fri, 9-5). I do not respond to emails over the weekend or on University closed days.

General information about the module, readings, or the assignment can be found in this guide or on the module’s Blackboard page, which will be updated regularly.


Weekly Schedule

Week Date Topic
1 31/1/17 Functions of Film Criticism
Reading Bordwell, D. 1991. “Why Not to Read a Film”, in Making Meaning: Inference and Rhetoric in the Interpretation of Cinema. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, pp.249-274.
Screening The Birth of a Nation (USA; D. W. Griffiths, 1915)

His Girl Friday (USA; Howard Hawks, 1940)

L’Avventura (Italy; Michelangelo Antonioni, 1960)

2 7/2/17 What Makes a Film Great?
Reading “The 50 Greatest Films of All Time.” Sight and Sound, Sept. 2012. Available: http://www.bfi.org.uk/news/50-greatest-films-all-time
Screening Vertigo (USA; Alfred Hitchcock, 1958)

Citizen Kane (USA; Orson Welles, 1941)

Tokyo Story (Japan; Yasujiro Ozu, 1953)

3 14/2/17 Screening and discussion: Don’t Look Now
Reading Reviews in class
Screening Don’t Look Now (UK/Italy; Nicolas Roeg, 1973)
4 21/2/17 Film review workshop
Reading n/a
Screening n/a
5 28/2/17 The Great Reviewers
Reading Frey, M. 2015. “The Anxiety of Influence: The ‘Golden Age’ of Criticism, the Rise of the TV Pundit, and the Memory of Pauline Kael”, in The Permanent Crisis of Film Criticism: The Anxiety of Authority. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, pp.101-124.
Screening TBA
6 7/3/17 Reviewing the Remake
Reading Verevis, C. 2006. “Remaking Film: Commerce”, in Film Remakes. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, pp.37-57.
Screening Let the Right One In (Sweden; Tomas Alfredson, 2008) / Let Me In (USA/UK; Matt Reeves, 2010)
7 14/3/17 Screening and discussion: Mustang
Reading Reviews in class
Screening Mustang (Turkey; Deniz Gamze Ergüven, 2015)
8 21/3/17 Film review workshop
Reading n/a
Screening n/a
9 28/3/17 Paratexts and Reissues
Reading Gray, J. 2010. “Bonus Materials: Digital Auras and Authors”, in Show Sold Separately: Promos, Spoilers, and Other Media Paratexts. New York: New York University Press, pp.81-116.
Screening Star Wars (USA; George Lucas, 1977)

Ran (Japan; Akira Kurosawa, 1985)

10 4/4/17 Screening and discussion: The Neon Demon
Reading Reviews in class
Screening The Neon Demon (France/Denmark/USA; Nicolas Winding Refn, 2016)
Easter Break
11 25/5/17 Popular Film Criticism
Reading Reviews in class
Screening TBA
12 2/5/17 Assignment tutorials


Assignment 1: Portfolio of four movie reviews

Throughout the module, you will be required to write movie reviews of 500+ words each.

For this assignment, you will submit a single document of four reviews.  The reviews you produce must reflect the range of issues and criteria studied on the module, and should display a wide range of viewing material.

At the beginning of your portfolio you should include your updated and more developed criteria of assessment, demonstrating what you look for in a film.

While these reviews do not need to conform to strict essay-writing guidelines, they will be assessed on basic grounds of grammar, syntax and spelling. Your reviews should reflect the learning objectives of the module and should be of publishable quality.

Total Length: 2000 words
Weighting:  40%
Due: Friday 31st March 2017, 3pm (via SOLE)


Assignment 2: Essay

Through reading a substantial number of film reviews by a single critic, write an essay on what that critic’s criteria are for “good” AND / OR “bad” films.  You will need to support your analysis with appropriate research (i.e. references to both the reviews you are looking at AND other relevant sources).

Essays will be graded on a criteria consisting of your understanding of the reviewing process and the critic’s criteria for assessing films, the extent (and sophistication) of the research conducted, the quality of your textual analysis (of the reviews themselves) and the basic qualities of essay writing demonstrated.

Length: 2000 words
Weighting: 60%
Due:  Wednesday 17th May 2017, 3pm (via SOLE)


You should submit your assignments online via your SOLE page. Please be sure you are familiar with the submission process. If thought necessary, your work may be entered in the turnitin plagiarism checker.