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From Movie Addict to Film Critic
Submitted by: Betty Jo Tucker
Fledgling Film Critic
I've always been a movie addict, so after retiring from the field of education, I threw myself into a movie-going frenzy. With nothing to stand in my way, I began thinking about becoming a film critic. When I found out that David Elliott, among San Diego’s most prominent movie critics, taught a class on this very subject at the Learning Annex, I signed up. For homework, David asked students to write a review of Atlantic City. Surprisingly, my review earned his encouragement, so I continued with my new goal.
After sending several reviews to local newspapers, I ended up with articles accepted regularly in a variety of publications. Being a bona-fide film critic meant invitations to screenings, receiving press kits and the opportunity to interview movie stars and other film-related personnel during their personal appearance tours in the area. Yay!!!
I see all types of films – with the exception of torture-porn – and have a high tolerance for bad movies. There’s almost always something positive to point out in each movie. Even though I might feel mostly negative about a film, I can hardly wait to write and talk about it with others. However, I usually find a way to let readers or listeners know about my biases regarding any subject matter, actors, themes, etc. related to the movie in question.
I tend to be more versed in classic films than in modern movies and more a fan of classic films than a critic. In fact, I don’t think I’ve written a review of any classic movie – but I watch them strictly for pleasure (hooray for Turner Classic Movies!). My critical nature comes out in connection with modern movies because those are the ones I have been reviewing since becoming a film critic.
Independent films are very important to me because so many independent filmmakers ask me to review their excellent non-mainstream movies. For example, I’ve been fortunate to see every film Dr. Ravi Godse has made so far and continue to be impressed with his unique humor that shines through in Dr. Ravi & Mr. Hyde, I’m Schizophrenic and So Am I, and Help Me Help You. Others that come to mind are Henry Jaglom’s highly entertaining Queen of the Lot, Vohn Regensburger’s lovely and haunting Last of the Romantics, and Christian de Rezendes’ hilarious short film Cat Scratch.
While I still enjoy films primarily for their escapist entertainment value, the critic in me looks for impressive artistry, a great story, and memorable performances. Because I see so many movies a year, I can’t help comparing cinematic elements and performances. Plus, since all art is autobiographical, if the movie reminds me of something in my own life, that factor definitely resonates with me -- and I usually elaborate on.
When writing a review, I like to offer more than an opinion of each movie, so I attempt to give the reader something to think about in terms of what matters in a particular film, but with a different twist whenever possible. When people disagree with me about a movie, I want them to have a better understanding of their own values, opinions, and beliefs after reading my review. But most of all, I hope they are enlightened and entertained.
While growing up, I always looked forward to seeing movie musicals, especially those big, splashy ones from Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It made me sad when musicals began to wane. From the 1970s on, fewer and fewer musicals have graced our movie theaters each year. Still, many that have appeared are choice. And with the recent success of such films as Frozen, Hairspray, Mamma Mia and Les Misérables, I’m hoping for a re-birth of my favorite film genre. While we may never see the likes of Gene Kelly and Judy Garland again, there are lots of talented performers and directors working in films today with the potential to bring back a bit of that old musical magic – albeit with a modern twist. Adam Shankman worked wonders on Hairspray, while Baz Luhrmann and Rob Marshall proved they have what it takes with their dazzling work on Moulin Rouge and Chicago, respectively. And many current stars, like the multi-talented Hugh Jackman, can sing and dance up a storm -- if only given the chance. However, I think most future movie musicals will continue to be either adaptations of Broadway hits or Disney animated flicks, simply because there’s a built-in audience for both.
Betty Jo Tucker is editor/lead film critic for Reel Talk Movie Reviews, a website with over 4,000 film reviews and 800 featured articles. She is also an award-winning author of Confessions of a Movie Addict, Susan Sarandon: A True Maverick, and It Had To Be Us (co-writing as Elizabeth Lawrence). Her radio show, Movie Addict Headquarters, airs on BlogTalkRadio (http://blogtalkradio.com/movieaddictheadquarters). Her personal website is http://www.bettyjotucker.com.
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Betty Jo Tucker is editor/lead film critic for Reel Talk Movie Reviews, a website with over 4,000 film reviews and 800 featured articles. She is also an award-winning author of Confessions of a Movie Addict, Susan Sarandon: A True Maverick, and It Had To Be Us (co-writing as Elizabeth Lawrence).